Boughton and Beyond: An investigation of the local, national and global estate interests and activities of John, 2nd Duke of Montagu, 1709 -1749
thesisposted on 11.09.2018, 11:44 authored by Helen Louise Bates
John, 2nd Duke of Montagu (1690-1749) was an eighteenth-century aristocrat who held public office and owned extensive estates scattered across England, with the ancestral seat centred at Boughton House, Northamptonshire. Many of his activities have escaped the historical record, overshadowed by an inordinate focus on his love of hoaxing and practical jokes together with his arboricultural interests. This thesis presents new material and reappraises his most significant activities and interests with a particular focus on those which had a socio-economic impact on his estates. It offers an analysis of his preoccupations as an absentee landlord through his communications with his estate stewards regarding managing, consolidating and even expanding these vast estates, including his efforts to obtain a Crown grant for the islands of St Lucia and St Vincent in 1722. Offering the first in-depth analysis of this colonial venture, this study reveals who was involved and how the venture was managed, and considers whether the source of its funding was from gains made from the South Sea Bubble. It also presents new findings on the impact of the Bubble on the Duke’s estates, suggesting that he tackled the economic downturn by launching work creation schemes. In addition the Duke’s campaign to restore seigneurial rights on his estates and to enforce his regional profile is explored. This found expression in his quest to develop his ‘evidence room’ and in estate architecture, interior decoration and the revival of folkloric ceremonies. Finally the thesis reassesses surviving material to gain a greater understanding of the Duke’s overlooked military interests and how these impacted on his estates, ranging from the development of his armoury at Boughton, to raising regiments in the 45.