John Monckton, 1st Viscount Galway

John Monckton (1695 - 15 July 1751) was a British 18th century Whig politician. He was elevated to the Irish peerage as the first Viscount Galway.

Background and education

John Monckton was the eldest son of Robert Monckton (1659-1722), lord of the manors of Cavil, near Howden, and Hodroyd, near Barnsley, Yorkshire.[1] A strong opponent of the policies of James II, Robert Monckton had gone into exile in the Netherlands and returned with the invading army of William III in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. This established a strong family connection with the Whig party and Robert had gone on to win the borough of Pontefract from the Tories in the general election of 1695,[2] and later to represent Aldborough. Robert's wife, and John's mother, was Theodosia Fountaine, an heiress from Melton, East Riding of Yorkshire. John Monckton was educated at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, which he entered in 1713.[3][4]

Political career

Monckton stood unsuccessfully as a Whig candidate for Clitheroe at the election of 1722. Victory in the seat depended on control of burgages. Having bought a number of burgages to no effect, Monckton decided to sell them to Sir Nathaniel Curzon, one of the victorious Tory candidates. As part of the deal, Curzon deferred to Monckton for the following parliament, and he was duly elected MP for Clitheroe on 23 August 1727, holding the seat until 1734.[5] On 17 July 1727 the grateful Whig government of Robert Walpole made Monckton Viscount Galway and Baron of Killard, both in the Irish peerage. An Irish peerage allowed the holder to continue sitting in the British parliament, and was a way of honouring a useful political ally.

In 1729 Galway purchased 77 burgages in Pontefract, his father's former constituency, for £6000 from the Bland, Dawnay, Frank families. This placed himself and Sir William Lowther in joint control of the borough and they agreed to nominate a member each at subsequent elections. When Galway's tenure at Clitheroe elapsed in 1734, he was elected MP for Pontefract, along with Lowther.[6] He held the seat until 1747, when he ceded it to his eldest son, but resumed it in 1749 to acquire a profitable post which required him to be an MP.[7]

From 1734, Galway profited enormously from offices in the patronage of the government. First he was appointed Commissioner of Revenue in Ireland, a post he held until 1748. In 1749 he was recommended for the post of Surveyor-General of Lands, Woods and Forests in England and Wales by the Prime Minister, his brother-in-law, Henry Pelham. Writing to his brother, the Duke of Newcastle, Pelham pointed out that “the great expense he has been at in bringing himself in, and, at last, his purchasing a borough are merits we don't meet with every day." Galway held the post of Surveyor General and the Pontefract constituency until his death in 1751.

Hodroyd Hall, near Barnsley, seat of the Monckton family since the early 17th century.
Serlby Hall. The 1st Viscount Galway's hall was replaced by William, the 2nd Viscount, who was largely responsible for the present building.


Monckton inherited the family estate of Hodryd Hall from his father in 1722. It had been the seat of the Moncktons since the early 17th century. In 1725 he purchased the Serlby estate in North Nottinghamshire and began the building of the new family seat of Serlby Hall, where he built up a notable collection of paintings. He was a member of the Society of Dilettanti.


Monckton's first wife was Lady Elizabeth Manners, daughter of John Manners, 2nd Duke of Rutland. She died in 1730. Their children were:

  • Robert Monckton (1726-1782), notable Army General and colonial administrator.
Memorial to Jane Westenra and her children, Brewood parish church, Staffordshire.

Galway's second wife was Jane, daughter of Henry Warner Westenra of Rathleagh, Queen's County (Ireland). She outlived him, surviving to 1788. Their children were

  • Edward Monckton (1744-1832), of Somerford, Staffordshire, an MP for 32 years.


  1. "Biography of Robert Monckton (c.1659-1722)". Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  2. "Pontefract". Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  3. "Biography of John Monckton, 1st Viscount Galway (1695-1751)". Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  4. "Monckton, John (MNKN713J)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  5. "Clitheroe". Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  6. "Pontefract". Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  7. "MONCKTON, John, 1st Visct. Galway [I] (1695-1751), of Serlby, Notts.". Retrieved 21 November 2015.
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