Montagu’s journals revealed a subtle ability and versatility of character and in many ways he was quite similar to his cousin, Samuel Pepys, whom Montagu was patron to. He was many things: an able soldier, a distinguished admiral, a Fellow of the Royal Society and an ambassador and diplomat. He was highly valued and liked by both Cromwell and Charles II; and praised by Clarendon and Milton. He delivered Charles II to England from exile and fought in the Dutch Wars, but was killed at the Battle of Solebay before he could reach the age of fifty.
His command of the Naseby, 1660
Edward Montagu was in command of the Naseby which transported Charles II at Dover in 1660. The Naseby was chosen to take Charles II back to England upon the restoration of the monarchy. On 3 May 1660, Edward Barlow witnessed, on board the ship, the proclamation of Charles as King of England, when every member of the crew was given a pint of wine to drink the king’s health.
Barlow provides a watercolour of the Kent coast depicting HM ships with one of the ships presumed to be the Naseby off the coast near Dover Castle. Also shown are the places Margate, Sandwich and Deal. It was at Dover where the King landed and proceeded to London for his coronation.
The Fire of London
Within a volume of correspondence kept by Edward Montagu is a letter from Henry Bennet, Earl of Arlington to Edward about the Great Fire in 1666, which is not as far as I am aware documented elsewhere in our archive (apart from another letter in the same volume). Here is an extract:
"this post will carry your ex[cellency] the narratives of a sad calamity befallen as the burning of a great part of the city, which continuing soe many dayes & with such violence was most terrible & distracting to us not only for the thing itself but the consequences of it, but God bee thanked it ceased at last- wee may say with truth miraculously, without being accompanied with any further circumstances to affright us, so that now God bee thanked we are in our witts again, & all but the loosers as chearful as if noe such thing had befallen us."
Death of Edward during the Battle of Solebay, 28 May 1672, as part of the Third Anglo- Dutch War
John Narbrough wrote an account of the battle (JOD/3) and was second captain on the Prince, 100 guns, which was used by the Duke of York, James Stuart, as his flagship for part of the battle. Narbrough was made rear admiral and knighted shortly afterwards.
Sir Edward is mentioned as one of the eight commanders that perished in the battle. He was in command of the Blue Squadron, in the Royal James which was a 102 gun, first rate ship of the line built by Anthony Deane and only saw four months service as she was burnt and then sank at the battle. Sir Edward came under attack from the Dolfijin and Groot Hollandia before being harassed by Dutch fireships. The ship’s captain, Richard Haddock survived and wrote an account of the death of Sir Edward, which is included in SAN/A/3.
An interesting section of the account written by Narbrough concerns his feelings towards Prince James Stuart, Duke of York:
"I doe absolutly beleaue noo Prince upon ye whole earth can compare with his R Highness in gallant resolution in fighting his enemy and with soe great conduct & knowledge in navigation as neuer any Generall understood before him, hoo is better aquainted in those seas than many Masters which are now in his fleet, He is Generall, Souldier, Pilot, Master, Seaman, to say he is every thinge that man can be And most pleasant when ye great shott are thundering about his eares…"
Mike Bevan, Archivist