Dukes of Great Britain


George Monk, duke of Albemarle,

a distinguished military commander, and the great promoter of the restoration of Charles II., was the son of Sir Thomas Monk, of Potheridge, near Torrington, in Devonshire, and was born in 1608. Being a younger son, he entered the army as a volunteer, served under his relation Sir Richard Grenville, in an expedition to Spain, and afterwards for some years in the Netherlands. On the breaking out of the war between Charles I. and the Scots in 1639, he obtained a colonel's commission, and attended the king in both his expeditions to the north. When the Irish rebellion began in 1641, his services were so important, that the Lords Justices appointed him governor of Dublin.

On his return to England he was sent to relieve Nantwich, was taken prisoner by the army of the parliament, and sent to the Tower, where he remained till 1646. The royal cause being ruined, he obtained his liberty on condition of taking a command in Ireland, and soon concluded a peace with the rebels, for which the parliament passed upon him a vote of censure. Cromwell, however, made him lieutenant general, and gave him the chief command in Scotland. Monk distinguished himself at the battle of Dunbar, and afterwards in the war with the Dutch, for his successes in which he received great honours.

He resumed his command in Scotland. But the Protector had strong suspicions of Monk's sincerity; and not long before his death wrote him a letter, to which he added this postscript 'There be that toll 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. On the decease of the Protector, the resignation of power by his son, and the contest of parties which subsequently took place, Monk availed himself of the commanding situation which he occupied, to crush the republicans, and promote the recall and restoration of the Stuart family to the throne, in the person of Charles II.

As the reward of his loyalty, he was created Duke of Albemarle, with a pension of £1000 a year, made a privy councillor, and invested with the order of the Garter. In 1664 he was appointed admiral of the fleet in conjunction with Prince Rupert, and in 1666 obtained a great victory over the Dutch, in a battle which lasted three days. He died in 1670, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. Guizot has written a History of General Monk, which has been translated into English. A portrait of Monk, after a miniature by Cooper, is in the National Portrait Gallery.

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George, Duke of Clarence,

son of Richard, duke of York, and brother of Edward IV., was born in Dublin, in 1449. He was created duke of Clarence at the coronation of Edward, and was soon after named lieutenant of Ireland. Jealousy of the Woodville family led him to take part with the great Earl of Warwick, whose daughter Isabel he married in 1469. In the following year he was declared, with Warwick, a rebel and fled to France; but soon returned and assisted Warwick in assuming the supreme power. On Edward's return to England in 1471, Clarence forsook his father-in-law and joined his brother. Some accounts charge him with a share in the murder of prince Edward after the battle of Tewkesbury. In 1477, soon after the death of his wife and his son Richard, he quitted the court; again offended the king; was attainted of treason, and was found dead in the Tower, February 18, 1478. The popular rumour that he was drowned in a butt of malmsey is unconfirmed by evidence.

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William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland;

second son of George II., was born in 1721, and at an early age entered on the duties of a military life. At the battle of Dettingen, in 1743, he was wounded, while fighting by the side of his father; and in 1745 he signalised himself, when commander-in-chief of the British army in Flanders, at the battle of Fontenoy, where, however he was obliged to yield the palm of victory to Marshal Saxe. On his return to England he took the field against the Scottish rebel troops, whom he defeated at the battle of Culloden; but he stained his laurels by unnecessary cruelty. He afterwards served again on the continent, but only to be defeated. His service ended with the capitulation of Closter-Seven, which was disavowed by the government. Died 1765.

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The above information was gleaned from various sources and then put together by Colin Hinson ©1996.

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