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Elizabeth Montagu Yorkshire Places Mapping Project

Elizabeth Montagu had many connections with Yorkshire. Her father's family, the Robinsons, had lived in the county since at least early in the seventeenth century. Her husband, Edward Montagu, also owned significant estates there, of which she became sole owner after his death.

The objective of our interactive map is to enable users to click on the places associated with the Robinson and Montagu families and read descriptions of the locations and biographies of the people associated with them. We have also included pictures of the places as they exist today, which were especially taken for the purpose.

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Project Information

The primary researcher of the project is Rhiannon Parker-Nicholls, currently a student at Oxford Brookes University, under the supervision of Joanna Barker, who has contributed the entries on Allerthorpe, Burneston, Scorton and Rokeby Park. Rhiannon has carried out on-the-ground research, visiting the locations and talking to the current occupants of many of the properties, who have provided her with information and documents. We are grateful to everyone who has given us their time and cooperation.

We are particularly grateful to Professor Tony Pollard, author of A Perfect Paradise: Eryholme from 1066 to the Present Day (Fonthill Media, 2019), who has given us much useful information and written the location note for Eryholme. (The phrase ‘a perfect paradise' comes from Elizabeth Montagu's letter to Elizabeth Carter of 1st July 1775).

Montagu's father, Matthew Robinson, inherited West Layton Hall near Richmond and Edgley Park in West Burton in Wensleydale. He did not enjoy living in the countryside, but was constrained by his limited means and growing family; they spent much of their time in Cambridge with his wife's mother and her second husband, Dr Conyers Middleton. When his wife, Elizabeth Drake, inherited Mount Morris at Monks Horton in Kent, the family moved there and did not return to Yorkshire, and after his wife's death, he moved permanently to London.

After Matthew's death in 1777, his Yorkshire properties passed to his son, Matthew Robinson Morris, 2nd Lord Rokeby, who does not appear to have visited them, but lived permanently at Mount Morris.

Matthew's uncle, Rev Matthew Robinson, had been vicar of St Lambert's Church in Burneston, and left money to establish almshouses in the village. Elizabeth Montagu remembered him fondly and frequently visited the almshouses to pay her respects on her journeys north.

Matthew's cousin, Sir Thomas Robinson, designed and built a magnificent Palladian mansion at Rokeby Park, near Barnard Castle, but got into debt and had to sell it in 1769, much to the disappointment of the Robinson family. He had previously designed the west wing of Castle Howard, following his marriage to Elizabeth Howard, eldest daughter of the 3rd Earl of Carlisle.

Edward Montagu also inherited estates in Yorkshire. His father, Charles Robinson, had purchased Allerthorpe, Burneston and Swainby, near Northallerton, and also Eryholme near Darlington, and put them in trust for his wife, Sarah Rogers, to secure her widow's jointure. On her death, they passed to Edward, who similarly used the properties to secure his wife's jointure. Soon after their marriage in 1742, the couple went to stay in Allerthorpe Hall, accompanied by Elizabeth's sister Sarah; Edward returned to London but the women stayed there for five months. When Edward died in 1775, he left his entire estate to his wife, and one of the first things she did was to visit all her estates in Yorkshire and meet her tenants and stewards there. She maintained a keen interest in the success of the farms, from which she drew an important part of her income.

The 3rd Baron Rokeby was Morris Robinson, elder brother of Matthew Montagu, Elizabeth's adopted heir. Morris had many disappointments in life: having hoped for a significant inheritance from Rt Rev Richard Robinson, Primate of All Ireland and 1st Baron Rokeby of Armagh, he was crushed when the Primate left him hardly enough cash to pay his debts. He was MP for Boroughbridge from 1790-1796 and never married, though an illegitimate son is recorded as dying in the town in 1811 at the age of 19. Morris inherited the Yorkshire properties, which were entailed on the male line, and although he became the owner of Mount Morris, he moved from Kent and built a house at Littleburn, near Edgley. He died there and is buried in St Andrew's Church in Aysgarth.

Another location connected with the Montagus is Bedale, where their friend Leonard Smelt was one of the main promoters of a plan to build a canal to link the River Swale to the River Ure. Edward Montagu sank a considerable amount of money in the project, which was expected to benefit his adjacent estates, but the canal was never built.

Please note that all dates and location information are provisional, initially taken from the library and archive catalogues. As our section editors continue to work through the material we will update our database and the changes will be reflected across the edition.

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