A distinguished military commander, and the facilitator of the restoration of Charles II, George Monck was the son of Sir Thomas Monck, of Potheridge, near Torrington, in Devonshire, and was born in 1608. Monck was a younger son, and so he entered the army as a volunteer, and served under his relation Sir Richard Grenville, in an expedition to Spain, and afterwards for some years in the Netherlands. At the outbreak of the war between Charles I and the Scots in 1639, he obtained a colonel's commission, and attended the king in both his expeditions to the north. When the Irish rebellion began in 1641, the Lords Justices appointed him governor of Dublin.
On his return to England he was sent to relieve Nantwich, was taken prisoner by the army of the parliament, and sent to the Tower, where he remained until 1646. The royal cause being ruined, he obtained his liberty on condition of taking a command in Ireland, and soon concluded a peace with the rebels, for which the parliament passed upon him a vote of censure. Cromwell, however, made him lieutenant general, and gave him the chief command in Scotland. Monck distinguished himself at the battle of Dunbar, and afterwards in the war with the Dutch.
Monck resumed his command in Scotland, but by then the Lord Protector had strong suspicions of Monck's sincerity to the cause and seemed to believe that Monck intended to restore Charles II to the throne. When the Protector died, and his son resigned, Monck filled part of the power vacuum by attaking the republicans and promoting the recall and restoration of the Stuart family to the throne, in the person of Charles II, just as the Protector suspected he might do. Not long before he died, in a postscript of a letter Cromwell had written, he said: 'There be that toll me that there is a certain cunning fellow in Scotland, called George Monck, who is said to lie in wait there to introduce Charles Stuart; I pray you use your diligence to apprehend him and send him up to me.'. History might have been quite different if Monck had been arrested at that time.
As the reward of his loyalty, he was created Duke of Albemarle, with a pension of 1,000 pounds a year. He was made a privy councillor and invested with the Order of the Garter. In 1664 he was appointed admiral of the fleet in conjunction with Prince Rupert, and in 1666 obtained a great victory over the Dutch. He died in 1670, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.