General John, 2nd Duke of Montagu, Master General of the Ordnance, 1740 (c)
Oil on canvas by George Knapton (1698-1778), 1740 (c).
Three-quarter-length, to right, wearing star and sash of the Order of the Garter, and the ribbon of the Order of the Bath, the White Tower of the Tower of London in the distance.
Montagu (1688 (c)-1749) succeeded his father to the dukedom in 1709 and married John 1st Duke of Marlborough's youngest daughter but, although they had two sons, when Montagu suddenly died of a 'violent fever' he had no surviving male heirs and the title became extinct. Montagu House, his London home, became the repository for national treasures which opened in 1759 as the British Museum.
The duke held a number of official positions, officiating as High Constable at the Coronation of George I who appointed him Colonel of the First Troop of Horse Guards, Gold Stick and Governor of St Lucia and St Vincent. In 1740 during George II's reign, he became Master General of the Ordnance for one year, being reinstated in 1743 and holding the post until his death.
Montagu also raised a regiment of horse and a regiment of 'Ordnance Foot' in 1745, both of which served briefly in the south of England. He was Master of the Great Wardrobe, Colonel of the Queen's Regiment of Horse, a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and a Fellow of the Royal Society. Clearly a man of considerable talents, he was something of a practical joker as his mother-in-law, Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough irritably reported: he delighted 'to get people into his gardens and wet them with squirts, to invite people to his country house and put things in their beds to make them itch'.
NAM Accession Number
National Army Museum, Out of Copyright
National Army Museum, Study collection