Lady Elizabeth Montagu
1 October 1862
Volume 9, page 218, sitting number 11,869.
[An inked inscription in the lower margin identifies the sitter as ‘Elizabeth C. Montagu.’ The identification above the corresponding portrait in the Silvy daybooks originally read ‘Lady by order of Lord R. Montagu’ but this has been amended so that it now reads ‘Lady […] Montagu.’ Presumably the central words were inked over after the sitter’s marriage to Lord Robert Montagu, which took place a fortnight after her visit to Silvy’s studio.]
Born at Holton in Suffolk on 15 May 1839, Elizabeth Catherine Wade was the daughter of William Wade. According to the 1861 census, her father, her brother William, and her uncle Denny were all coopers. She herself was at one point a housemaid. Her marriage in Paddington on 18 October 1862 to Lord Robert Montague, second son of the 6th Duke of Manchester, shocked society to its core.
This was the groom’s second marriage. He had previously been married to Ellen Mary née Cromie, who had borne four children before her early death in 1857. His marriage to the former housemaid Betsy Wade produced another six children.
The family resided for many years at 41 Queen’s Gate, South Kensington. At the time of the 1881 census, the household included a governess and ten servants.
Lord Robert Montague represented Huntingdonshire in the House of Commons between 1859 and 1874 and was the MP for West Meath from 1874 to 1880. He was created a Privy Councillor in 1867, He died, aged 77, on 6 May 1902, leaving an estate valued at £38,171. Various obituaries mentioned that ‘He became a convert to Roman Catholicism in 1870, but in 1882 rejoined the Church of England’ (St James’s Gazette, 7 May 1902).
Lady Montagu died, aged 69, on 29 December 1908 at her residence, 129 Cromwell Road. She left an estate valued at £5210.
[A portrait of Lord Robert Montague appears on page 4 of this section.]