Montagu North 1712-1779

From Book Owners Online

Montagu or Mountague NORTH 1712-1779

Biographical Note

Born at Rougham, Norfolk, younger son of the lawyer, politician and writer Roger North and Mary Gayer. Matriculated at Jesus College, Cambridge in 1731 as a scholar; BA 1734, MA 1737, DD 1767. He was ordained in 1738, becoming Rector of Sternfield, Suffolk in 1739 until his death. He was Prebendary of Windsor from 1775. He oversaw editions of several of his father’s works.


In 1734 North inherited from his father ‘a tenth part of my Rougham Libray folio’s and others such as shall be esteemed most fitt for the profession of General Scholarship in the way of a Devine’. (If what this constituted was not clear or failed to be decided satisfactorily by two friends noticed in the will, he was to make his own appropriate choice.) A second codicill to his father’s will left him ‘all my Musick Books and Papers’.

His books are not mentioned in his will, and they would have been included with the residue of his personal estate which was divided equally between his nephew Edward Roger North, and nieces Jane Boydell and Armine North. It seems his heirs were not interested in attempting to preserve the library intact: in 1781 the London bookseller Thomas Payne printed a catalogue of ‘near forty thousand volumes of curious and rare books’, which included North’s ‘Library’, but as this was mixed with ‘several other Collections’ it is far from straightforward to establish which books North had owned.

Characteristic Markings

As a student he had a printed book label ('E Libris / Mont. North / Coll Jes. Cant 17 ') (Lee 493), similar in style to that used by his sister Katherine. A copy of Maittaire’s edition (1721) of the Batrachomyomachia with this label on the front paste-down was auctioned in 2003 (Freeman’s Philadelphia, September 18, Lot 511).


  • Will of Montagu North, The National Archives, PROB 11/1058/103.
  • Will of Roger North, The National Archives, PROB 11/667/291.
  • Chan, M. ‘North, Roger (1651–1734), lawyer, politician, and writer’. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  • Thomas Payne and Son. A catalogue of near forty thousand volumes of curious and rare books; containing the library of the late Rev. Montagu North, D.D. The second part of the curious collection of ... the late Mr. Pheringer, and of several other collections... Which will be sold, ... this day, January 1781, ... . London, 1781 [ESTC T30151].
  • Blatchly, J. 'Square fleuron-bordered labels from Cambridge and Bury St Edmunds', Bookplate Journal, 6.2 (2008), pp. 113-22. (p. 118).
  • Lee, B. N. Early printed book labels. Pinner, 1976.