Douglas-Scott-Montagu, John Walter Edward, second Baron Montagu of Beaulieu 1866-1929, pioneer of motoring, was born at 3 Tilney Street, London, 10 June 1866. He was the elder son of Lord Henry John Douglas-Scott-Montagu, first Baron Montagu of Beaulieu, who was the second son of Walter Francis Scott, fifth Duke of Buccleuch [qv.]. After sitting in the House of Commons for twenty-three years, first as member for Selkirkshire (1861-1868) and then for South Hampshire (1868-1884), Lord Henry Scott-Montagu was raised to the peerage in 1885. He married the Hon. Cecily Susan, younger daughter of John Stuart-Wortley, second Baron Wharncliffe [qv.].
John Scott-Montagu was sent in 1880 to Eton, where he was in Mr. Marindin's house and was one of the school shooting eight in 1884 and 1885. From Eton he proceeded to New College, Oxford, and stroked the college boat in 1887 and 1888. In the first of these years New College went head of the river, but in the second lost two places. After leaving the university Scott-Montagu worked for some time in the shops of the London and South Western Railway Company at Nine Elms, and made himself a competent mechanic and engine-driver. He then travelled in Canada, the United States of America, South Africa, and the East. At the general election of 1892 he entered the House of Commons as conservative member for the New Forest division of Hampshire. He represented this constituency until, on the death of his father in 1905, he succeeded to the peerage.
Lord Montagu was one of the pioneers of motoring in England. He was always ready to adopt new ideas, and the motor-car made a special appeal to his engineering tastes. He was a firm believer in the internal combustion engine as the engine of the future for road traffic. In the opening years of the twentieth century he travelled all over England, explaining the advantages of the new system of locomotion and combating the prejudice against it. Among other feats he took King Edward VII for his first trip in a motor-car in 1900, and he was the first motorist to drive into Palace Yard. He also founded and edited for many years a weekly periodical, The Car Illustrated, with its associated publications of maps and roadbooks. He wrote numbers of articles and letters to the press on motoring and the use of the highways, dealing with the subject rather, it must be admitted, from the motorist's than from the pedestrian's point of view. There can be no doubt that Montagu's energetic advocacy played no small part in the extension of motoring and in the development of the modern motor-car.
Lord Montagu's intimate acquaintance with the technical side of mechanical transport made his assistance of great value in all problems connected with the subject. He spoke both in the House of Commons and in the House of Lords with the authority of a recognized expert, defending the motor industry from needless restrictions and from the attacks of vested interests. He served as a member of the Road Board from 1909 to 1919.
When the European War broke out in 1914 Lord Montagu at once rejoined his old militia regiment, the 7th battalion of the Hampshire Regiment, and was sent out to India. In 1915 he was appointed adviser on mechanical transport services to the government of India, a post which he held until 1919. Here again his knowledge and experience admirably fitted him for the position, and his efficiency was rewarded by a C.S.I. in 1916 and a K.C.I.E. in 1919. During the War he had a remarkable escape from drowning, for he was on board the Persia when in 1916 she was torpedoed by a German submarine in the Mediterranean. He was rescued from a partially submerged boat, after being many hours in the water and suffering terrible hardships. He was at first reported to be lost, and he had the unusual experience of reading obituary notices of himself
The progress of aviation interested Lord Montagu greatly. In 1916 he called the attention of the House of Lords to the importance of air policy, and in the following year he visited Canada in order to lecture on aviation. He believed in the future of the seaplane as the best defence against submarines.
A man of vigorous and inquiring mind, Lord Montagu did not confine his activities to mechanical pursuits. He was a landowner in Hampshire and verderer of the New Forest, as his father had been before him. He made himself master of the details of estate management; he was fond of natural history, and an authority on the fauna and flora of the Forest; and there were few branches of rural life on which he was not full of information. He made great numbers of friends in all classes, friends who, even if some of them were occasionally amused by the wide range of his enthusiasms, found in him a most attractive companion.
Lord Montagu married twice: first, in 1889 Lady Cecil Victoria Constance (died 1919), eldest daughter of Schomberg Henry Kerr, ninth Marquess of Lothian [qv.], secondly, in 1920 Alice Pearl, daughter of Major Edward Barrington Crake, Rifle Brigade. By his first wife he had two daughters, and by his second a son, Edward John Barrington (born 1926), who succeeded his father as third baron, and three daughters. Lord Montagu died in London 30 March 1929.
A cartoon of Lord Montagu by Spy appeared in Vanity Fair 8 October 1896.
The Times, 1 April 1929
Lady Troubridge and Archibald Marshall, John, Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, 1930.
Contributor: A. Cochrane.