John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich

John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, PC, FRS (3 November 171830 April 1792) succeeded his grandfather, the 3rd Earl, in 1729, at the age of ten. During his life he held various military and political offices (such as Postmaster General and First Lord of the Admiralty), but is perhaps most well-known for being claimed to have originated the sandwich.


Educated at Eton and at Trinity College, Cambridge, Montagu spent some time in travelling, and on his return to England in 1739 he took his seat in the House of Lords as a follower of the Duke of Bedford. He was soon appointed one of the Commissioners of the Admiralty under Bedford and a Colonel in the Army.

In 1746 he was sent as a plenipotentiary to the congress at Breda, and he continued to take part in the negotiations for peace until the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle was concluded in 1748. In February 1748 he became First Lord of the Admiralty, retaining this post until June 1751. In August 1753 Sandwich became one of the principal Secretaries of State, and while filling this office he took a leading part in the prosecution of John Wilkes for obscene libel although he had been associated with Wilkes in the notorious Hellfire Club. John Gay's The Beggar's Opera was played in Covent Garden shortly thereafter, and the similarity of Sandwich's conduct to that of Jemmy Twitcher, betrayer of Macheath in that play, permanently attached to him that appellation.

Lord Sandwich was Postmaster General in 1768, Secretary of State in 1770, and again First Lord of the Admiralty in Lord North's administration from 1771 to March 1782. Despite the number of important posts that he held during his career, Sandwich's incompetence and corruptness inspired the suggestion that his epitaph should read: "Seldom has any man held so many offices and accomplished so little."

His incompetence in the Admiralty was said to have undermined the seaworthy efforts in the American Revolutionary War.

Sandwich married Dorothy Fane, daughter of the 1st Viscount Fane, by whom he had a son, John, Viscount Hinchingbrooke (1743 – 1814), who later succeeded as 5th Earl. Sandwich's first personal tragedy was his wife's deteriorating health and eventual insanity. Later Sandwich found 16 years of happiness with the talented opera singer Martha Ray, who bore him a number of children of whom Basil Montagu (1770 – 1851), writer, jurist and philanthropist, was one. Tragedy was to strike again in April 1779 when Ray was murdered in the foyer of the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden by a jealous suitor, James Hackman, Rector of Wiveton. Sandwich never recovered from his grief.

The Sandwich

The modern sandwich is possibly named after Lord Sandwich but not invented by him. However, the exact circumstances of the invention are still the subject of debate. A rumour in a contemporary travel book called Tour to London by Pierre Jean Grosley formed the popular myth that bread and meat sustained Lord Sandwich at the gambling table. The sober alternative is provided by Sandwich's biographer, N.A.M. Rodger, who suggests Sandwich's commitments to the navy, to politics and the arts mean the first sandwich was more likely to have been consumed at his desk.

It is also possible that Sandwich's Grisons Republic born brother-in-law, Jerome de Salis, taught him about sandwiches.

Sandwich Islands

Sandwich was a great supporter of Cook’s Pacific exploration, and supplied Admiralty funds for the purchase and fit-out of the Resolution, Adventure and Discovery. Captain James Cook named the Sandwich Islands, (now Hawaii), which were discovered in 1778, after him, as well as the South Sandwich Islands, and also Montague Island in Alaska.


After his Naval career, Sandwich turned his energy toward music. He became a great proponent of "Ancient music" (defined by him as music more than two decades old). He was the patron of the Italian violinist Felice Giardini, and created a "Catch Club", where professional singers would sing "ancient" and modern catches, glees, and madrigals. He also put on performances of George Frideric Handel's oratorios, masques, and odes at his estate. Sandwich was instrumental in putting together the Concert of Ancient Music, the first public concert to showcase a canonic repertory of old works.


  • 1718 The 4th Earl of Sandwich is born on November 3 1718
  • 1729 Succeeds his grandfather, Edward the 3rd Earl, in the earldom
  • 1729 Educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge
  • 1740/41 (old style/new style), March 14, marries The Hon. Dorothy Fane at St. James's, Westminster
  • 1746 Sent as plenipotentiary to the congress at Breda, and continues to take part in the negotiations for peace until the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle is signed in 1748
  • 1748 Becomes First Lord of the Admiralty
  • 1763 Becomes one of the principal secretaries of state
  • 1768 Appointed Postmaster General
  • 1770 Becomes Secretary of State
  • 1771–1782 Becomes First Lord of the Admiralty again
  • 1779 His mistress Martha Ray, mother of nine of his children, murdered by her admirer James Hackman
  • 1782 Retires in March
  • 1792 Dies on April 30



External links

Search another word or see corruptnesson Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature