MONCK, Nicholas (c. 1610-61)

MONCK, Nicholas (c. 1610–61)

cons. 6 Jan. 1661 bp. of HEREFORD

First sat 20 Nov. 1661; last sat 21 Nov. 1661

b. c.1610, 5th but 3rd surv. s. of Sir Thomas Monck of Potheridge (Powderwick), Devon and Elizabeth, da. of Sir George Smyth of Madford (Maydeworthy), Devon; bro. of George Monck, duke of Albemarle. educ. Wadham, Oxf., matric. 1629, BA 1631, MA 1633, ord. 1634,1 DD 1660. m. lic. 7 Oct. 1642, Susanna (d.1666), da. of Thomas Payne, rect. Plymtree and wid. of Christopher Trosse (d.1635), priest, 1s. (d.v.p.) 2da. d. 17 Dec. 1661; will 16 Dec. 1661, pr. 13 Mar. 1662.2

Rect. Langtree, Devon 1640-?1662, Plymtree, Devon 1647, Kilkhampton, Corn. 1653-61; provost, Eton, 1660.

Also associated with: Potheridge, Devon.

It has been the fate of Nicholas Monck, the bishop of Hereford for less than a year in 1661, to be remembered as the ‘unremarkable’ country parson who was promoted to the episcopate merely as a reward to his more able brother. Certainly, Nicholas Monck retained his Devonshire living throughout the Interregnum because of the general’s position. Yet he was one of the clerics on the planning lists for the restored Church.3 Nicholas and George Monck were related to John Granville (later earl of Bath) who marked out Nicholas for royal service in the 1650s. Granville owned the advowson of Kilkhampton, worth some £300 a year, and, recognizing the potential utility of his kinsman, presented Nicholas Monck to the living on the condition, it was later said, that he assist the royalist cause.4

After the death of Oliver Cromwell in the autumn of 1658, Granville allegedly called on Nicholas Monck’s services in a secret mission to bring General Monck over to the royalist cause. After the Restoration, Granville’s patronage continued to prove lucrative. He presented Nicholas Monck to the king where the ‘honest plain hearted’ cleric supposedly impressed the monarch with his candour.5 In June 1660 the future earl of Bath was again instrumental in Nicholas Monck’s appointment as provost of Eton. There he received an annual allowance of £500 together with his requirements for subsistence, remuneration which he was to be allowed to keep in commendam for two years after his elevation to Hereford in December 1660.6

Monck attended the House of Lords for only the first two days of the session in November 1661 before falling ill and dying at his lodgings in Old Palace Yard, Westminster. The rewards for royal service had been considerable; Monck, the youngest son of an impoverished gentry family and a country parson for most of his career, was able to bequeath to his wife and daughters over £4,000.7 His daughters both married future Members of the Commons: Mary to Arthur Farwell and Elizabeth to Curwen Rawlinson.8

The precipitate nature of Bishop Monck’s elevation, brief tenure of office, and sudden death left diocesan affairs in some confusion. In April 1662, Edward Hyde, earl of Clarendon, received a petition from Monck’s widow, Susanna, for an order to the new bishop, Herbert Croft, to seal several leases which Nicholas had signed over to his brother but had been unable to seal himself.9 Croft was duly ordered to grant a lease to Susanna and her two daughters, the loss of fines to Croft amounting to £5,000.10

After lying in state in the Jerusalem Chamber, Monck was given a lavish funeral in Westminster Abbey on 20 Jan. 1662. The occasion set the aesthetic tone for the Restoration Church in its emphasis on pomp and hierarchy.11


  • 1 Salmon, Lives, 272.
  • 2 TNA, PROB 11/307.
  • 3 Eg. 2542, f. 267.
  • 4 T. Gumble, Life of General Monck, Duke of Albemarle, 104; J. Price, Mystery and Method of his Majesty’s Happy Restoration, Laid Open to Publick View (1680) unpaginated.
  • 5 CCSP, iv. 119, 260, 330, 359, 465, 490; Price, Mystery and Method; P. Barwick, Life of the Reverend Doctor John Barwick DD, 192-5.
  • 6 Kennett, 192; H.C. Maxwell Lyte, History of Eton College, 1440-1910, pp. 249, 252; CSP Dom. 1661-2, p. 30; Addenda, 1660-85, p. 16.
  • 7 PROB 11/307.
  • 8 HP Commons 1660-90, ii. 303; iii. 317.
  • 9 CSP Dom. 1661-2, p. 351; Bodl. Tanner 147, f. 102.
  • 10 CSP Dom. 1678 and Addenda, 1674-9, p. 198; Tanner 147, f. 79.
  • 11 Kennett, 580; Evelyn Diary, iii. 307.