James Montagu 1568-1618

From Book Owners Online

James MONTAGU or MONTAGUE 1568-1618

Biographical Note

Born at Boughton, Northamptonshire, son of Sir Edward Montagu. Matriculated at Christ’s College, Cambridge 1585, but did not graduate; appointed the first master of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, 1596, newly founded by an endowment from his great aunt, Frances Sidney, Countess of Sussex. Chaplain to James I, and Dean of the Chapel Royal , 1603; he became a close and trusted servant of the King. Dean of Lichfield 1603, Dean of Worcester 1604. Bishop of Bath and Wells 1608, translated to Winchester 1616. Theologically, Montagu has been described as an archetypal Jacobean conformist Calvinist, sympathetic to puritan thinking but dedicated to upholding ecclesiastical discipline, episcopacy, and such ceremonies as were decreed to be observed. He edited the Works of James I, published in 1616 (STC 14344).


Montagu bequeathed all his books, “in all places where they are”, to Sidney Sussex College. The collection was valued at £200 and involved carriage expenses from Montagu’s houses in Farnham, London and Waltham. There is no contemporary inventory and the books are not all readily identifiable in the College today, nor is it known what proportion may have been lost subsequently, but the size has been estimated at 800-1000 volumes. Examples: Sidney Sussex, Cambridge A.1.12, E.2.3, E.3.3, L.3.33, and many more; British Library Davis 96.

Characteristic Markings

A few of Montagu’s early acquisitions are inscribed with his name and purchase price, but he did not generally do this. Many of the books at Sidney Sussex carry an armorial stamp with Montagu’s arms as Bishop of Winchester, and some carry a printed gift label dated 1621.