Born: November 3, 1718
Died: April 30, 1792

The Man

The most famous person to hold this title was John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich, who later gained the additional title of first Lord of the Admirality. Sandwich was also a member of several gentleman's clubs of the day, including the pseudo-Turkish Divan Club, and the notorious Hellfire Club. Sandwich was also a member of the ultra-conservative political faction known as the "King's Friends," who swore to agree with the English king (George II and George III during Sandwich's time) on every issue, because it was more important to preserve the power of the monarchy against "democratic" political radicals and treasonous American colonists. This, despite the fact that both monarchs Sandwich served had periods of questionable sanity.

The fact that Sandwich, along with the other King's Friends, encouraged King George III's policy of tyranny with respects to the American colonists ironically makes him one of the men most singularly responsible for the American Revolution.

Sandwich's time as the first Lord of the Admirility has been both praised and reviled by historians. Perhaps the best thing that could be said of Sandwich was that he took to his work with great amounts of energy at a time when his fellow Lords tended to do nothing. In this way, he revolutionized the British Navy. Unfortunately, as the Encyclopaedia Britannica says, his tenure was "unique in the history of the British Navy for incapacity." He was the Ed Wood of the naval world.

Despite all of that, Captain Cook named the Sandwich Islands for him, as they were found during his tenure. These days we usually just call them Hawaii.

The Legend

The Earl of Sandwich is famous for inventing the sandwich, although he almost certainly did not. Humans, including Western Europeans, had been putting meats, cheeses and vegetables in tortillas, pitas, and even in between slices of bread for ages. The Earl of Sandwich simply introduced this traditional workman's fare to the upperclass of England. There are two stories about how this happened.

The first, and most famous story is based on a known truth: the Earl's gambling addiction. There are accounts of how he would sit down to the card table and not leave for at least 24 hours. The Earl would not even allow himself meal breaks, and, so the story goes, he asked the wait staff to put some meat and cheese between some slices of bread so that he could eat without getting his fingers greasy.

The second story claims that Sandwich was shot when he was 17 and working in His Majesty's Navy, which left him with a gastro-intestinal problem that prevented him from digesting solid foods. Later in life, he visited France, where land-owners were required to feed their workers at noon. In order to keep the workers on the field, a popular option was to send the workers meat, potatoes and other things held between two thick slabs of bread. The Earl was reportedly so impressed with this efficiency that he began to feed his own servants this way when he returned.

And Oh, The Sex

In his own day, the Earl of Sandwich was more famous for being a rake, that is a playboy. One of his relationship changes was forever recorded in the classic Mother Goose rhyme "Lucy Locket lost her pocket." Portraits of his youth show him to be quite attractive (although given his lifestyle, this probably changed as he aged). He was fond of deflowering virgins, once boasting, "the corruption of innocence being in itself my end." This may have also lead to one of his unofficial titles, "the most universally disliked man in England." Of course, sex with virgins was popular in Sandwich's day because it prevented VD. Nevertheless, Sandwich had at least one venerial desease that affected his brain. He fought well over 20 duels, usually against the husband or father of some girl he'd enjoyed. Sandwich had to be accompanied by guards everywhere he went so that he would not be attacked by angry mobs.

Like many of his contemporary Englishmen, the Earl of Sandwich was fond of being flogged by prostitutes in an attempt to kick-start a virility that was floundering as a result of STDs.

Like many educated men of his day, the Earl of Sandwich was also highly antireligious, and greatly enjoyed his membership in the Hellfire Club, as it not only provided excellent opportunities for sating his sexual appetites, but also gave him intelligent colleagues with which to practice Hellfire's Black Mass, which was more a parody of Catholic and Anglican doctrine than the gnostic Satanism it purported to be.

Sandwich accused the highly liberal John Wilkes of Obscenity, an irony that was not lost on his peers in Parliament, and ultimately had him declaired an Outlaw. This did not stop Wilkes from escaping to France only to return to England a few years later, while still outlawed, and win a seat in Parliament.

Mannix, Daniel P., The Hellfire Club. New York: ibooks, inc. 2001.

Montague, Bruce John Montagu 1712-1792

Newsday Millenium Card: Fourth Earl of Sandwich

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