The History of  
Hinchingbrooke House  

the Hart of Hinchingbrooke

hyncel

wylton

oliver cromwell

edward montagu

pepys

fourth earl

5th-7th earls

Eighth Earl

ninth earl

headteachers

housetour

school

 

 

John Montagu, Fourth Earl

In 1760 the 4th Earl made some alterations and is said to have added two or three rooms, but probably the work was chiefly of the nature of readjustment rather than actual addition.

House in 1730

John Montagu, 4th Earl (known by the modern nickname "the Insatiable Earl" after a biography by N A M Bodger) lived an active life.
He studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, explored France, Italy, Greece and Turkey and not only studied the Turkish language but had his portrait painted in Turkish costume (above).
Later he became First Lord of the Admiralty and was patron to Captain James Cook who explored New Zealand, Australia and Polynesia. He was also known as The Turk after his travels to Turkey and later "Jemmy Twitcher" after a character in Beggars Opera.

Place names such as Hinchingbrooke Island and Brampton Island off Queensland, and Montague Island in the South Sandwich Islands are evidence of Cook's thanks to the 4th Earl. In 1774 the Earl entertained a Polynesian named Omai at Hinchingbrooke, where Omai made a barbecue from heated stones in the grounds and cooked mutton for the family. (924kb)

The Earl's wife was declared insane in 1767 and he took as a mistress 17-year old Martha Ray who lived with him at Hinchingbrooke as husband and wife for seventeen years, while they had five children. The Earl was a leading light in reviving early music, particularly the work of Handel for which he arranged a hugely successful centenary celebration.
Martha Ray was a talented singer and Hinchingbrooke became famous for its musical gatherings in the middle of the 18th century. The Earl added the Gothic windows to the library and the Montagu room at this time.

One writer said at this time:
"Few houses were more pleasant and instructive than his Lordship's. It was filled with rank, beauty and talent and everyone was at his ease."

In 1779 Martha was murdered by the jealous and unbalanced Captain Hackman who shot her in the foyer of the Opera House at Covent Garden - a violent crime for which he was tried and executed.

John Montagu fourth Earl of Sandwich died in 1792 and is probably best remembered now for the bread and beef convenience food which took his name. It is more likely that he ate this as part of his working day at the admiralty than, as some have suggested, because he spent so long gambling. The original sandwich was in fact a piece of salt beef between two slices of toasted bread.

The Enlightenment

This was a name given to the popular interest in knowledge. In the 1700s many new discoveries were made - of knowledge and of places.

Art - The Royal Academy was founded in 1768
Literature and Language - Dr Samuel Johnson published his Great Dictionary in 1755; Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift, William Blake.
Music - Purcell, Handel (Messiah 1741)
Philosophy - The idea of the noble savage - Jean Jacques Rousseau; David Hume
Science - Linnaeus - classification of flora and fauna; followers included Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander both on James Cook's ship, Endeavour. Isaac Newton.
Time - John Harrison in 1759 created a watch accurate enough to calculate longitude. Replicas of Harrison's machine were used on Cook's voyages.

 

How was the Fourth Earl typical of the people of The Enlightenment?

Other Links

Omai

Captain James Cook

Letters from Sandwich to Banks
14th Aug 1774
A | B
6th Oct 1782
A | B | C