12th Duke of Manchester (1985-2002)
Born 1938 Died 2002

Angus Montagu, 12th Duke of Manchester, or Prisoner No. 19127-018 as he became known in the state of Virginia, was born on the 9th October 1938 at Kimbolton Castle in Huntingdonshire, the younger son of Alexander George Monatgu, 10th Duke of Manchester and Nell Vera Stead. However since his father was soon posted to Ceylon as a result of the outbreak of war, Angus and his brother followed their parents to Ceylon where they were largely raised by Celyonese Nuns. Angus was later to complain that the nuns used to beat him and cut off his blond hair to make dummies of the baby Jesus.

His father, the 10th Duke effectively abandoned England after the end of World War II, moving to Kenya in 1946 where he farmed a 10,000-acre estate. During the 1950s he disposed of the family seat at Kimbolton Castle and most of its treasures and by the 1960s most of the English estates had gone as well. However it seems as if the 10th Duke was not that successful in his Kenyan venture as by the time he died at London in 1977, he had dissipated most of his wealth.

Of course this did not directly effect our Angus Montagu as it was his elder brother who inherited the dukedom but little else in 1977. Meanwhile, after briefly attending Gordonstoun School, Angus served in the Royal Marines for three years, before exploring a variety of alternative career opportunities. He was a jobber on an oilfield in Texas, a water-ski instructor in Florida, before moving to Australia in 1959, after which he was employed as a trouser salesman in Sydney and later as a crocodile wrestler. In 1961 he married a secretary named Mary McClure from Geelong, an event which was described by the Australian press as the 'romance of the year'. Mary bore him two sons and a daughter before they separated in 1965. Angus then moved to England and eventually was divorced from his wife in 1970, marrying a Diane Plimsaul, of Wimborne, Dorset in 1971. After a period spent in Canada and a series of unsuccessful business ventures, the Duke divorced his second wife in 1985, marrying for the third time a Mrs Ann-Louise Bird in 1989.

Along the way his elder brother Sidney Arthur Montagu, 11th Duke of Manchester died without male heirs in 1985, leaving Arthur with the distinguished title of Duke of Manchester but no money to speak of.

It was in 1991 that the Duke came to public prominence when he became the chairman of a company named Link International, acting in partnership with a Canadian businessman Carroll Tessier. Link International became involved in an attempt to rescue the Tampa Bay Lightning ice hockey team, but despite appearances Link International had no money and the promised finance never appeared. The FBI and Scotland Yard took an interest in the affair and in June 1995 federal indictments were issued against the Duke of Manchester and four other men: two Americans (who both pleaded guilty), a London lawyer (who disappeared), and another individual who skipped bail and fled to Russia.

Actually this wasn't the first time that the Duke had been in trouble with the law. In 1985 he found himself at the Old Bailey charged with three other men with attempting to defraud the National Westminster Bank of some £38,000 by raising loans against the security forged US savings bonds. Whereas his co-defendants were convicted the Duke was acquitted, apparently because he was considered too stupid to actually understand what was going on. As the presiding judge declared "On a business scale of one to ten, he is one or less, and even that flatters him. He was absurdly stupid."

This was essentially the basis of the Duke's defence to the federal indictments laid against him in 1995, but unfortunately for the Duke once he was extradited to the United States and stood trial in March 1996, he found the American judge and jury somewhat less impressed than their British equivalent with his claims of aristocratic incompetence. The jury found him guilty on four out of the five charges laid against him (conspiracy and three counts of wire fraud) and so in June 1996 he was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail, beginning his time in solitary confinement in Petersburg, Virginia. He was eventually released in November 1998, and flew home to Britain, where his third wife promptly divorced him.

In the Easter of 2000, he was married for the fourth and final time to an ex model by the name of Biba Hiller, although this marriage fared no better than his prior attempts at matrimony and was soon dissolved in the following year. The 12th Duke then took to conducting wealthy American tourists on personalised tours of Stratford-upon-Avon in order to earn a living.

Angus Montagu died of a heart attack on the 25th July 2002 at the age of 63.


SOURCES

  • A genealogical survey of the peerage of Britain at www.thepeerage.com
  • An unattributed obituary of the 12th Duke reproduced at http://pages.prodigy.net/ptheroff/gotha/manchester.html
  • Three Old Lords at http://www.goodbyemag.com/jul02/lords.html
  • Craig Basse, Notorious duke, tied to Lightning, dies St. Petersburg Times, published August 1, 2002
  • The Scotsman: Duke was king of the fools August 10 2002 http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/08/09/1028158015033.html?oneclick=true

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