Montagues of Granborough

by Paul Hillier-Montague

The information here is all work in progress and liable to alteration.

The earliest origin of the Montague family name is not easy to define, there are two areas that go back as far as the 12th Century but connecting them is difficult and good raw data is scarce. Reconstructing the evidence has gone well and yielded some surprisingly good results, one particular area is the origin of the Montagues at Granborough.

One point to bear in mind when considering the origin is the Certificate of Musters for Buckinghamshire in 1522. The principal location for residence is Boveney in the parish of Burnham and seven names are given: two William Mountegues, William Mountague Senior, John Mountegue, Agnes Mountegue, John Mountague and Robert Mountague. The only other given is a John Montigew at Weston Turville, aside from that there are no recorded Montagues at Granborough or for that fact, anywhere else in Bucks (there was a Robert Montague at Halton in 1522 but that seems to be due to a change of name) so where did they come from?

One particular and notable origin is from William Mountague of Boveney, Fisherman. The Will of William Mountague (1551) survives and is stated as "‘Will'm Mountagewe the Elder of Boveny in the p'r'she of Burnh'm, Fyssherman." William mentions in his Will: "‘Will'm Mountagewe of Br[a]y, my eldyst sonne was to receive the messuage at Bray where he was living, over the river northwestward in Berkshire".

A grant from 1517 also shows the following: "Grant by Thomas Ferrour alias Turnour of Bray County of Berks, to Robert Norres and William Mountagewe of Bray, of lands in Bray and Cokham for the use of Agnes the wife of Thomas Ferrour.”

It is from this William that the story really begins as William of Bray also had a son of the same name and he appears in the parish register at Waddesdon and married Agnes Nicholls, the date of the marriage is 3 Nov 1538. The first question is naturally, how do I know that he is the son of William of Bray? The Will of William Mountague of Bray also survives and he mentions "Allys my daughter". The Will of his son William Mountague (now at Waddesdon) mentions ‘my sister Allys’. This coupled with the 1522 Certificate of Musters is the only proof available so far but there is no other possible other explanation given the scarcity of the name anywhere else. Why William moved there is unknown and I can only speculate as to the reasons for this, it is unlikely that we will ever know for sure.

William's presence at Waddesdon may well have contributed to a marriage as there is a Parish record for a marriage on 17 June 1548 when Alice Monntigue married William Boton. The above Alice is most likely William's sister.
The Botons are to be found within the Winslow Manor Court Books names index and are prominent from at least 1428 but William at the date of 1548 is not to be found.

No more is heard of the Montagues at Waddesdon until 1595 when a Thomas Monntigue married a Margaret Robuson.
The father of Thomas is not known and he does not appear within the early Montagues for Waddesdon so his origin is unknown at present but Thomas fathered two sons and three daughters.

Granborough from 1600

This is the first appearance within the Winslow manor records: Thomas was amongst many at the Presentment of the tenants of the Manor 1600, he appears again in 1603 in a dispute with Sir John Fortescue which involved many of the residents and this continued until 1613. A Joan Mountague was living in Winslow in 1642 but her connection to the rest of the family is unknown.

In the Court Baron dated 24th April 1648 Thomas is one of the Jurors and shows that his position within the community had become an important one, this continues until at least 1690 as Thomas also had a son by the same name who undoubtedly had assumed his father's position (probably the Thomas Mountecue who married Plesant Hardin at Winslow, 25 March 1661) but by now there was to be a change. This branch of the family did not prosper, at least according to the archives but there was one further Thomas who was born in 1661 but after that there is no further archival evidence for any additional sons for this branch.

Granborough from 1690

The parish register for Granborough shows another Thomas who was born 16 October 1690 but this time the parents were John Montague and Margaret. The Montague family at Waddesdon had, by now, become numerous and it appears that John had moved from Waddesdon to Granborough and from here the family grew in numbers. John fathered six sons: Thomas (1690), John (1692), William (1694), Edward (1695), Joseph (1700) and Henry (1702). He also had a daughter, Plaisance Mountague (1698) or Pleasant as is spelt in the Court Baron and View of Frankpledge for 22 April 1702.

The Court Rolls of the Manor of Winslow go into great detail for the sons of John Montague and offer flesh and blood amongst the bare bones of the parish records. What is also most enlightening is the assistance of the Court Rolls in obtaining the date of John’s death:
Court baron and view of frankpledge for 22 April 1702
John Mountague sr died seised of 6 acres in the fields of Granborough. On 8 Dec last he surrendered all to his own use for his life, then to John Mountague his son, who is to pay £5 each to William and Pleasant Mountague, son and daughter of John sr. John jr was called and did not come
The sons and daughters as described also corroborate and augment the parish records. This is not the only detail that can be observed from other additional entries.


One of the joys of genealogy is understanding what your ancestors actually did for a living and that is revealed from the court archives for Winslow. In the Court Baron for 26 October 1722 we find;
Daniel Gyles and Joseph Turner surrendered the parcel of land [described as above] divided by William Gyles to build the "Meeting House for such People who are or shalbe called or distinguished by the Name or Names of Baptists dissenting from the Way and Comunion of the Church of England and Presbitery to meet in for to Worshipp and serve God", and the Meeting House. ... To the use of Thomas Mountague of Grandborough Yeoman, Elias Clarke of Quainton gentleman, James Britain of Winslowe Yeoman, William Foster of Oveing gentleman, Mathew Deely of Winslowe Bricklayer, Thomas Wootton jr of Whitchurch Tayler, Robert Bell of Swanbourne Yeoman, Daniel Gyles jr of Winslowe Draper & Daniel Deely of Winslowe Bricklayer ...
A Yeoman can be described as one who works his own land for his own profit; in some places they owned more than 100 acres but in the manor of Winslow it applied to people with much smaller holdings. It has been said that it is difficult to know the differences between a rich Yeoman and a poor Gentleman, such as they are. Throughout the entire Montague history that I have seen, the rank of Yeoman is one of the most common and in a large number of cases they obtained the rank of Gentleman.

Thomas was not the only Baptist Montague in North Bucks: John Mountague of Waddesdon was listed as among the dissenters who “scruple the baptizing of infants” at the Bucks Quarter Sessions, Midsummer 1689, along with some of the Winslow Baptists.

In Waddesdon in the early 18th century we have another John Montague, Gentleman who was prominent in the Courts at Aylesbury and was also Bailiff to the trustees of the Duke of Wharton. John's lands were extensive and they bordered on the land of the Duke of Wharton, as such he was well placed to exercise the rights of the court of law and oversee the use of the land as he saw fit.

From the View of Frankpledge and Court Baron of 17 April 1727 we also have:
Officers chosen: ...Tithingmen of Grandborough: John Stevens Newhouse and William Mountague in place of Benjamin Holland Shepherd and Thomas Mountague
By 1727 the Montagues had earned themselves a place of trust and dignity, as was so often found elsewhere, the sons of John Mountague of Waddesdon had advanced themselves and were climbing the social ladder.

Will of Thomas Mountague of Granborough, yeoman, 1728 (proved 1729)

The above shows the position and status that the family had achieved but what else did they do to earn money? Some of those answers are to be found elsewhere. In the View of Frankpledge and Court Baron 23 October 1730 there is listed:
John Mountague (son of John Mountague sr late of Grandborough Cordwainer deceased) and Ann his wife surrendered 1 land in Grandborough and 2 acres and 4 ridges.
John Montague sr was a shoemaker (from Cordovan or new leather). It is possible that he was an apprentice taught by a Guild master in London. Another skilled man was Henry, younger brother to John and his trade is described in View of frankpledge and court baron 22nd Oct 1731:
Thomas Mountague, a customary tenant, and Ann his wife out of court on 16 March last surrendered a selion of grassland in Mill Feild in Grandborough beside Wheathill extending to Tomalins Close; and a ridge of arable land at Portway in Adams Leyes Feild, the land of George Thorpe west, containing together 1 acre, and common of pasture for 1 cow and 5 sheep. To the use of Henry Mountague of Grandborough Blacksmith, who was called and did not come; 1st proclamation made.
That still leaves William, who is also mentioned in the same court;
William Mountague of Grandborough Shoomaker out of court on 21 Oct last surrendered a messuage in Grandborough in his own occupation. To the use of William Bayly of Bottle Claydon Labourer, on condition that it will be void if William Mountague pays him £15 with interest on 21 April next.

The Court Rolls for Winslow have provided a great deal of data for the Montague family including additional data that is lost to the parish records as well as the occupations of the said family, this would also be the same for all of the residents. What has still yet to be revealed is the data from the Court Rolls for Waddesdon which is close by and they survive in vast numbers and are held by the British Library. If these were transcribed and presented in the same manner as Winslow then our knowledge of the Aylesbury area would benefit greatly, I hope that in the near future such a project could be achieved.

The last Montague recorded in the Granborough parish registers is Thomas Mountague, buried 30 June 1766.

Quainton and onwards

There is one other brother that has not been mentioned so far as he does not appear in the Winslow archives even though he was born in Granborough as were his brothers. Joseph Montague did not stay in Granborough as he moved back towards Waddesdon and settled in Quainton and raised five daughters and one son. His son was also named Joseph and his son in turn was Thomas.

Little is known of Thomas and the Parish records are immensely difficult to track but one thread has been lifted and the parish records connect to what was my 3rd great grandfather. John Montague was born in Staines, Middlesex in 1805 and moved to Portsmouth where he joined the Royal Navy. He served on HMS Bellerophon, second ship to bear that name and he was awarded several service medals; Naval general service medal, 1840-1841 in Syria, St Jean D’Acre medal, 1840-1842 in Syria and Naval general service medal 1840-1842 in Syria and China. He also earned the Baltic medal whilst serving on HMS Esk in the Crimean war.

What is also curious is that there was a Thomas Montague who served on HMS Powerful and earned the Naval general service medal 1794-1799 during the French revolutionary wars.

The absence of data for Thomas and his leaving Quainton could well be explained by his tour of duty with the Royal Navy and for the sudden appearance at Staines, his son John was born in 1805 so the dates fit extremely well.   

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