Edward Wortley Montagu (traveller)

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A 1775 portrait of Edward Wortley Montagu by Matthew William Peters

Edward Wortley Montagu (15 May 1713 – 29 April 1776) was an English author and traveller.

He was the son of Edward Wortley Montagu, MP and of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, whose talent and eccentricity he seems to have inherited.

He twice ran away from Westminster School, and the second time made his way as far as Porto. He was then sent to travel with a tutor in the West Indies, and afterwards with a keeper to the Netherlands. He made, however, a serious study of Arabic at Leiden (1741), and returned many years later to prosecute his studies. His father made him a meagre allowance, and he was heavily encumbered with debt.

He served in the British army from 1743-1748, first as a cornet in the 7th Dragoon Guards and later as a captain-lieutenant in the 1st Regiment of Foot. He fought at the Battle of Fontenoy. He left the army in 1748. He thereafter traveled in various parts for many years, writing brief diary notes of his travels along with occasional sketches; and finally returned to his studies in 1769.

He was Member of Parliament (MP) for Huntingdonshire in 1747, and was one of the secretaries at the conference of Aix-la-Chapelle that closed the War of the Austrian Succession. In 1751 he was involved in a disreputable gaming quarrel in Paris; arrested for cheating a Jew at cards and then robbing him when he refused to pay;[1] and was imprisoned for eleven days in the Châtelet. He was cleared after the first court hearing before the decision was overturned by the Parlement of Paris and he was ordered to pay a fine of 300 livres. He continued to sit in parliament, and wrote Reflections on the Rise and Fall of the Antient Republics ... (1759). His father left him an annuity of £1000, the bulk of the property going to Lady Bute, the author's sister,

He set out for extended travel in the East, and George Romney describes him as living in the Turkish manner at Venice. He had great gifts as a linguist, and was an excellent talker. His family thought him mad, and his mother left him a single guinea in her will, but her annuity devolved on him at her death. He died at Padua in Italy.


  1. ^ Jeremy Black, The British and the Grand Tour, 1985, p. 118.
  • Curling, Jonathan (1954). Edward Wortley Montagu 1713–1776: The Man in the Iron Wig. The Rogues Gallery Number One (Illustrated ed.). London: Andrew Melrose. 
  • Isobel Grundy, "Edward Wortley Montagu", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (subscription)
  • Gruber, Ira (2010). Books and the British Army in the Age of the American Revolution. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. 
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Montagu, Lady Mary Wortley". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Thomas Foster
William Breton
Member of Parliament for Bossiney
with Richard Heath

Succeeded by
Richard Heath
William Ord
Preceded by
Coulson Fellowes
William Montagu
Member of Parliament for Huntingdonshire
with Coulson Fellowes

Succeeded by
Coulson Fellowes
The Lord Carysfort
Preceded by
William Ord
William Montagu
Member of Parliament for Bossiney
with Edwin Sandys 1754–1761
John Richmond Webb 1761–1766
Lord Mount Stuart 1766–1768

Succeeded by
Lord Mount Stuart
Henry Luttrell