John Montagu

John Montagu (17971853), Colonial Secretary of Van Diemen's Land from 1834 to 1842, was a competent and assiduous colonial administrator who took a particular interest in the improvement of convict discipline. With a vast experience in colonial affairs, Montagu established himself as the architect of the continuation of transportation to Van Diemen's Land after 1839, and, buoyed by his intimacy with the Colonial Office, acquired an 'influence and authority in the administration far exceeding that which properly belonged to his office'. In 1841, a case of misadventure finally divided the colonial government in Van Diemen's Land, and Montagu was dismissed from office. His legacy was significant, and his reports show that he was culpable for the penal crisis that gripped Van Diemen's Land after 1841.

Further reading: ADB 2; C Joel, 'Party politics and penalism, an analysis of the role of John Montagu in the penal politics of Tasmania, 18361845', MA thesis, UT, 1971.

Craig Joel