Montagu, Basil (1770–1851)

Lawyer and author, illegitimate son of John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich (1718–1792; DNB) and the actress Martha Ray (d. 1779; DNB). Montague, like Southey, was a member of Gray’s Inn, and was called to the Bar in 1798. He was a friend of William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge and in 1795 Wordsworth and his sister, Dorothy, undertook the upbringing of his two-year old son, Basil (1793–1830), by his first wife who had died in childbirth in 1793. His second marriage, in 1806, was to Laura Rush (d. 1806). Like his first wife, she died in childbirth. In 1808 Montagu married his housekeeper and children’s governess, Anna Dorothea Benson (1773–1856). Montagu had three sons with his second wife, and two sons and a daughter with his third.

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