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Sandwich, John Montagu, 4th Earl
b. Nov. 13, 1718
d. April 30, 1792, London, Eng.

Having succeeded his grandfather, Edward Montagu, the 3rd Earl, in 1729, he studied at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, and traveled abroad and then took his seat in the House of Lords in 1739. He served as postmaster general (1768-70) and secretary of state for the northern department (1763-65, 1770-71). In the latter capacity he took a leading part in the prosecution (1763) of John Wilkes, the British politician and agitator, whose friend he once had been, thereby earning the sobriquet of "Jemmy Twitcher," after a treacherous character in John Gay's Beggar's Opera. He also was first lord of the Admiralty (1748-51, 1771-82). During the latter period his critics accused him of using the office to obtain bribes and to distribute political jobs. Although he was frequently attacked for corruption, his administrative ability has been recognized. However, during the American Revolutionary War he insisted upon keeping much of the British fleet in European waters because of the possibility of French attack, and he was subjected to considerable criticism for insufficient naval preparedness.

His interest in naval affairs and his promotion of exploration led the English explorer Captain James Cook to name the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) after him in 1778. His Voyage Round the Mediterranean was published in 1799. In his private life Sandwich was a profligate gambler and rake. The sandwich was named after him in 1762 when he spent 24 hours at a gaming table without other food.

Sandwich lost office again with the fall of Grenville in July 1765. He continued to hope for employment, but a clever and ruthless colleague was not wanted in the weak and unstable Chatham and Grafton ministries. In these years, however, his private life regained some of its equilibrium. Long parted from his wife, who was now completely insane, Sandwich took as his mistress about 1761 the seventeen-year-old Martha Ray (1742?–1779), with whom he lived contentedly for eighteen years in as near a regular married life as propriety permitted. They had five children, with whom Sandwich's relations were notably warmer than with his legitimate family. These years also saw a new flowering of another of Sandwich's interests, music.

Sandwich died on 30 April 1792 at his home in Hertford Street, London, and was buried at Barnwell, Northamptonshire, on 8 May. His obituaries were respectful. It was nineteenth-century whig historians, the heirs of his political opponents, who effectually blackened his name, and only the publication of some of his papers in the 1930s began the process of rehabilitation. Sandwich's career as a politician was only partly successful, and for much of it he was a controversial figure. He suffered in part from his ill-concealed ability and ambition, uncomfortable to the second-rate; and illegitimate in a peer, whose political position was supposed to rest on independent wealth. A poor earl who needed his salary was always open to the suspicion of corrupt dependence. The unequalled skill with which Sandwich sustained his parliamentary interest in Huntingdon and Huntingdonshire without the money normally considered essential reinforced the impression of a clever but dangerous man.

fashionable or wealthy man of dissolute or promiscuous habits. As : a rake's progress a progressive deterioration, especially through self-indulgence.
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