Monk, George

, duke of Albemarle, memorable for having been the principal instrument in the restoration of Charles II. to his crown and kingdoms, was descended from a very ancient family, and born at Potheridge, in Devonshire, Dec. 6, 1608. He was a younger son; and, n | provision being expected from his father, sir Thomas Monk, whose fortune was reduced, he dedicated himself to arms from his youth. He entered in 1625, when not quite seventeen, as a volunteer under sir Richard Grenville, then, at Plymouth, and just setting out under lord Wimbledon on the expedition against Spain. The year after he obtained a pair of colours, in the expedition to the isle of Rhee; whence returning in 1628, he served the following year as ensign in the Low Countries, where he was promoted to the rank of captain. In this station he was present in several sieges and battles; and having, in ten years service, made himself absolute master of the military art, he returned to his native country on the breaking out of the war between Charles I. and his Scotish subjects. His reputation, supported by proper recommendations, procured him the rank of lieutenant-colonel, in which post he served in both the king’s northern expeditions; and was afterwards a colonel, when the Irish rebellion took place. In the suppression of this he did such considerable service, that the lords justices appointed him governor of Dublin but the parliament intervening, that authority was vested in another. Soon after, on his signing a truce with the rebels, by the king’s order, September 1643, he returned with his regiment to England; but, on his arrival at Bristol, was met by orders both from Ireland and Oxford, directing the governor of that place to secure him. The governor, however, believing the suspicions conceived against him groundless, suffered him to proceed to Oxford on his bare parole; and there he so fully justified himself to lord Digby, then secretary of state, that he was by that nobleman introduced to the king; but his regiment was given to colonel Warren, who had been his major. As some amends for this, the king made him major-general in the Irish brigade, then employed in the siege of Nantwich, in Cheshire; at which place he arrived just soon enough to share in the unfortunate surprisal of that whole brigade by sir Thomas Fairfax. He was sent to Hull, and thence conveyed in a short time to the Tower of London, where he remained in close confinement till Nov. 13, 1646; and then, as the only means to be set at liberty, he took the covenant, engaged with the parliament, and agreed to accept a command under them in the Irish service. Some have charged him with ingratitude for thus deserting the king, who had been very kind to him during his | confinement, and in particular had sent him from Oxford 100l. which was a great sum for his majesty, then much distressed. It has, however, been pleaded in his favour, that he never listened to any terms made him by the parliamentarians while the king had an army on foot. Whatever strength may he in this apology, it is certain that when his majesty was in the hands of his enemies, he readily accepted of a colonel’s commission; and, as he had been engaged against the Irish rebels before, he thought it consistent with the duty he owed, and which he had hitherto inviolably maintained to the king, to oppose them again. He set out for Ireland, Jan. 28, 1646-7, but returned in April on account of some impediments. Soon after, he had the command in chief of all the parliament’s forces in the north of Ireland conferred upon him; upon which he went again, and for the following two years performed several exploits worthy of an able and experienced soldier. Then he was called to account for having treated with the Irish rebels; and summoned to appear before the parliament, who, after hearing him at the bar of the house, passed this vote, Aug. 10, 1649, “That they did disapprove of what major-general Monk had done, in concluding a peace with the grand and bloody Irish rebel, Owen Roe O’Neal, and did abhor the having any thing to do with him therein; yet are easily persuaded, that the making the same by the said major-general was, in his judgment, most for the advantage of the English interest in that nation; and, that he shall not be further questioned for the same in time to come.” This vote highly offended the major-general, though not so much as some passages in the House, reflecting on his honour and fidelity. He was, perhaps, the more offended at this treatment, as he was not employed in the reduction of Ireland under Oliver Cromwell; who, all accounts agree, received considerable advantage from this very treaty with O‘Neal. Monk’s friends endeavoured to clear his reputation his reasons for agreeing with O’Neal were also printed yet nothing could wipe off the stain of treating with Irish rebels, till it was forgotten in his future fortune.

About this time his elder brother died without issue male; and the family estate by entail devolving upon him, he repaired it from the ruinous condition in which his father and brother had left it. He had scarce settled his private affairs, when he was called to serve against the | Scots (who had proclaimed Charles II.) under Oliver Cromwell; by whom he was made lieutenant-general of the artillery, and had a regiment given him. His services were now so important, that Cromwell left him commander in chief in Scotland, when he returned to England to pursue Charles II. In 1652, he was seized with a violent fit of illness, which obliged him to go to Bath for the recovery of his health: after which, he set out again for Scotland, was one of the commissioners for uniting that kingdom with the new-erected commonwealth, and, having successfully concluded it, returned to London. The Dutch war having now been carried on for some months, lieutenant-general Monk was joined with the admirals Blake and Dean in the command at sea; in which service, June 2, 1653, he contributed greatly by his courage and conduct to the defeat of the Dutch fleet. Monk and Dean were on board the same ship; and, Dean being killed the first broadside, Monk threw his cloak over the body, and gave orders for continuing the fight, without suffering the enemy to know that we had lost one of our admirals. Cromwell, in the mean time, was paving his way to the supreme command, which, Dec. 16, 1653, he obtained, under the title of protector; and, in this capacity, soon concluded a peace with the Dutch. Monk remonstrated warmly against the terms of this peace; and his remonstrances were well received by Oliver’s own parliament. Monk also, on his return home, was treated so respectfully by them, that Oliver is said to have grown jealous of him, as if he had been inclined to another interest, but, receiving satisfaction from the general on that head, he not only took him into favour, but, on the breaking out of fresh troubles in Scotland, sent him there as commander in chief. He set out in April 1654, and finished the war by August; when he returned from the Highlands, and fixed his abode at Dalkeith, a seat belonging to the countess of Buccleugh, within five miles of Edinburgh: and here he resided during the remaining time that he stayed in Scotland, which was five years, amusing himself with rural pleasures, and beloved by the people, though his government was more arbitrary than any they had experienced. He exercised this government as one of the protector’s council of state in Scotland, whose commission bore date in June 1655. Cromwell, however, could not help distrusting him at times, on account of his popularity; nor was this distrust entirely | without the appearance of foundation. It is certain the fcing entertained good hopes of him, and to that purpose sent to him the following letter from Colen, Aug. 12, 1655.

"One, who believes he knows your nature and inclinations very well, assures me, that, notwithstanding all ill accidents and misfortunes, you retain still your old affection to me, and resolve to express it upon the first seasonable opportunity; which is as much as I look for from you. We must all patiently wait for that opportunity, which may be offered sooner than we expect when it is, let it find you ready and, in the mean time, have a care to keep yourself out of their hands, who know the hurt you can do them in a good conjuncture, and can never but suspect your affection to be, as I am confident it is, towards

Yours, &c. Charles Rex."

However, Monk made no scruple of discovering every step taken by the cavaliers which came to his knowledge, even to the sending the protector this letter; and joined in promoting addresses to him from the army, one of which was received by the protector March 19, 1657, in which year Monk received a summons to Oliver’s house of lords. Upon the death of Oliver, Monk joined in an address to the new protector Richard, whose power, nevertheless, he foresaw would be but short-lived; it having been his opinion, that Oliver, had he lived much longer, would scarce have been able to preserve himself in his station. And indeed Cromwell himself began to be apprehensive of that great alteration which happened after his death, and fearful that the general was deeply engaged in those measures which procured it; if we may judge from a letter written by him to general Monk a little before, to which was added the following remarkable postscript: “There be that tell me, that there is a certain cunning fellow in Scotland, called George Monk, who is said to lie in wait there to introduce Charles Stuart; I pray you, use your diligence to apprehend him, and send him up to me.” It belongs to history to relate all the steps which led to the restoration of Charles II. and which were ably conducted by Monk. Immediately after that event, he was loaded with pensions and honours; was made knight of the garter, one of the privycouncil, master of the horse, a gentleman of the bedehamber, first lord-commissioner of the treasury; and soon after created a peer, being made baron Monk of Potheridge, Beauchamp, and Tees, earl of Torrington, and duke of | Albemarle, with a grant of 7000Z. per annum, estate of inheritance, besides other pensions. He received a very peculiar acknowledgment of regard on being thus called to the peerage; almost the whole house of commons attending him to the very door of the house of lords, while he behaved with great moderation, silence, and humility. This behaviour was really to be admired in a man, who, by his personal merit, had raised himself within the reach of a crown, which he had the prudence, or the virtue, to wave: yet he preserved it to the end of his life: insomuch, that the king, who used to call him his political father, said, very highly to his honour, “the duke of Albemarle demeaned himself in such a manner to the prince he had obliged, as never to seem to overvalue the services of general Monk.*‘ During tRe remainder of his life he was consulted and employed upon all great occasions by the king, and a.t the same time appears to have been esteemed and beloved by his fellow-subjects. In 1664, on the breaking out of the first Dutch war, he was, by the duke of York, who commanded the fleet, intrusted with the care of the admiralty: and, the plague breaking out the same year in London, he was intrusted likewise, with the care of the city by the king, who retired to Oxford. He was, at the latter end of the year, appointed joint-admiral of the fleet with prince Rupert, and distinguished himself with great bravery against the Dutch. In September 1666, the fire of London occasioned the Duke of Albemarle to be recalled from the fleet, to assist in quieting the minds of the people; who expressed their affection and esteem for him, by crying out publicly, as he passed through the ruine’d streets, that,” if his grace had been there, the city had not been burned." The many hardships and fatigues he had undergone in a military life began to shake his constitution somewhat early; so that about his 60th year he was attacked with a dropsy; which, being too much neglected, perhaps on account of his having been hitherto remarkably healthy, advanced very rapidly, and put a period to his life, Jan. 3, 1669-7O, when he was entering his 62d year. He died in the esteem of his sovereign, and his brother the duke of York, as appears not only from the high posts he enjoyed, and. the great trust reposed in him by both, but also from the tender concern shewn by them, in a constant inquiry after his state during his last illness, and the public' and princely paid to his memory after his decease; for, his | funeral was honoured with all imaginable pomp and solemnity, and his ashes admitted to mingle with those of the royal blood; he being interred, April 4, 1670, in Henry the Vllth’s chapel at Westminster, after his corpse had lain in state many weeks at Somerset-house.

The duke of Albemarle’s character has been variously represented, and some parts of it cannot, perhaps, be defended without an appeal to those principles of policy which are frequently at variance with morality. Hume, however, thinks it a singular proof of the strange power of faction, that any malignity (alluding to such writers as Burnet, Harris, &c.) should pursue the memory of a nobleman, the tenour of whose iife^was so unexceptionable, and who, by restoring the ancient and legal and free government to three kingdoms plunged in the most destructive anarchy, may safely be said to be the subject in these islands, w4io, since the beginning of time, rendered the most durable and most essential services to his native country. The means also, by which he atchieved his great undertakings, were almost entirely unexceptionable. “His temporary dissimulation,” continues Hume, “being absolutely necessary, could scarcely be blameable. He had received no trust from that mongrel, pretended, usurping parliament whom he dethroned therefore could betray none he even refused to carry his dissimulation so far as to take the oath of abjuration against the king.” Yet Hume allows that in his letter to Sir Arthur Hazelrig (in the Clarendon papers) he is to be blamed for his false protestations of zeal for a commonwealth.

This extraordinary man was an author: a light in which he is by no means generally known, and yet in which he did not want merit. After his death, was published, by authority, a treatise which he composed while a prisoner in the Tower: it is called, “Observations upon military and political Affairs, written by the honourable George Duke of Albemarle,” &c. London, 1671, small folio. Besides a dedication to Charles II. signed John Heath, the editor, it contains thirty chapters of martial rules, interspersed with political observations, and is in reality a kind of military grammar. We have, besides, “The Speech of general Monk in the House of Commons, concerning the settling the conduct of the Armies of Three Nations, for the Safety thereof;” another delivered at Whitehall, Feb. 21, 1659, to the members of parliament, at their meeting | before the re-admission of their formerly-secluded members and “Letters relating to the Restoration,London, 1714-15. 1


Biog. Brit. Life by Gumble, 1611, 8vo, and by Skinner, edited by Webster, 2d edition, 1724. Letters by eminent persons, 1813, 3 vols. 8vo.