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First Foot Guards

Lord Sandwich
First Lord of the Admiralty during the Revolutionary War


John Montague, fourth Earl of Sandwich (1718-92) 
"Jemmy Twitcher", and the originator of the sandwich.
This portrait hangs in the Captain James Cook Memorial Museum in Whitby, Yorkshire

Politician, able administrator, and First Lord of the Admiralty, and rebuilder of the Navy during the Revolutionary war. Lord Sandwich was responsible for many naval reforms. He was an industrious worker, often laboring into the night. He was not hugely wealthy, but had a checkered personal life - he was an inveterate gambler, and a member of 'the Monks of Medmenham' or Hellfire Club. He was known to use language that was 'colorful' to say the least. The sandwich was named for him, as were the Sandwich Islands (now Hawaii).


One famous riposte:
Speaking of John Wilkes, a reformer, and fellow rake:
Sandwich: "You will die either on the gallows or of the pox."
Wilkes: "That must depend on whether I embrace your lordship's principles or your mistress."

Lord Sandwich's common-law wife, Martha Ray (or Reay), was actually murdered by a jealous clergyman.
A wag at the time wrote:

A clergyman, O wicked one
In Covent Garden shot her.
No time to cry upon her God.
It's hoped he's not forgot her.

The minister was hanged for his crime. Sandwich was much distressed by the shooting.

John Montague succeeded to the peerage as Fourth Earl of Sandwich at the age of 11. He was educated at Eton and Cambridge, then went on a prolonged Grand Tour. Returning to England, he became politically allied with John Russell, Duke of Bedford, and served as a Lord of the Admiralty under Pelham.

He was First Lord of the Admiralty and Secretary of State under George Grenville, and re-appointed First Lord in 1771, serving throughout the War of American Independence. This saw embarrassing incidents such as the Battle of Ushant and the subsequent court martial of Keppel and the prospect of Britain losing command of the seas in the face of war with all the other major maritime powers.

Sandwich was dubbed, "Jemmy Twitcher" because of the fads which characterized his last years of his control of the Admiralty.

In parliament in 1763, he read out passages from an obscene poem, An Essay on Woman by John Wilkes. His purpose was to discredit Wilkes, but many remembered that they were both members of the lewd and salacious Hellfire Club, and his attempt backfired. Many condemned him for betraying a former colleague. Even the leader of the Club, Sir Francis Dashwood, was heard to comment that it was the first time he had ever heard Satan speak against sin.

Sandwich had a tragic family life that was very much in the public eye. By 1755 he separated from his wife, Dorothy. Lady Sandwich was apparently having progressive mental problems. In1767 she was declared by the Court of Chancery a ward of court for being insane for over two years. Sandwich was much depressed by her insanity.

Martha Ray became Sandwich's mistress around 1762, when she was 17 years old. She was a milliner's apprentice with a fine voice. He had her trained under the best teachers in England, and she sang very well.

They lived together for 17 years as man-and-wife. Divorce was not possible for Sandwich, and his wife's severe insanity was a source of constant depression; Martha Ray apparently provided him with a happy and secure home in London.

Sandwich was very affectionate with his children by Martha Ray, and two sons from this marriage became very successful.


One of Sandwich's finest achievements was the outfitting and dispatching of Captain Cook on his round-the-world research voyage, 1778. Captain Cook named the Sandwich Islands (now Hawaii) in the Pacific after him. You might notice that the state flag still caries the Union Jack in its canton.


On the origin of the Sandwich
The definitive biography is probably The Insatiable Earl: A Life of John Montagu, Fourth Earl of Sandwich by NAM Rodger.

Reportedly, Sandwich did not want to leave the gambling table and called for a slice of salt beef to be brought to him between two slices of bread. Rodger refutes this:

There is no supporting evidence for this piece of gossip, and it does not seem very likely that it has any foundation, especially as it refers to 1765, when Sandwich was a Cabinet minister and very busy. There is no doubt, however, that he was the real author of the sandwich, in its original form using salt beef, of which he was very fond. The alternative explanation is that he invented it to sustain himself at his desk, which seems plausible since we have ample evidence of the long hours he worked from an early start, in an age when dinner was the only substantial meal of the day, and the fashionable hour to dine was four o'clock.' (Rodger, p. 79)


On the murder of Martha Reay

Martha Reay met James Hackman at a dinner party at Hinchingbrook (Sandwich's country home), where, to Sandwich's chagrin, he promptly fell in love with her. Finding that she always declined his attentions, he waited for her outside Covent Garden with a brace of pistols on the night of 7 April 1779, intending to plead his case once more. When she emerged from the theater and was standing on the street with some friends, he shot her in the head. 
She was aged thirty-four. Sandwich was working late at the Admiralty. On 16 April 1779 the twenty-seven year-old was tried at the Old Bailey, and on the 27 April, accompanied by James Boswell, he was taken to the gallows at Tyburn, and hanged.


Hackman had left the army, and entered the clergy, apparently with the intent of marrying Martha and living as a vicar. On 7 April 1779, Hackman approached her after the Opera while she was entering her carriage (and while Sandwich was working late). Hackman shot her in the face with one of his two pistols, killing her, and then failed to kill himself with the other. He was convicted of murder and executed. Most accounts describe Hackman as "mentally unbalanced". Sandwich was apparently deeply wounded by the tragic loss of Martha and retreated ever more into his work.

Mr James Hackman was born at Gosport, in Hampshire. His parents purchased
him an ensign's commission in the 68th Regiment of
Foot. He had not been long in the army when he was sent to command a recruiting party, and being at Huntingdon he was frequently invited to dine with Lord Sandwich. There it was that he first became acquainted with Miss Reay. This lady was the daughter of a staymaker in Covent Garden, and served her apprenticeship to a mantua-maker in George's Court, St John's Lane, Clerkenwell. She was bound when only thirteen, and during her apprenticeship was taken notice of by Lord Sandwich who took her under his protection, and treated her with much tenderness. No sooner had Mr Hackman seen her than he became enamoured of her, though she had then lived for nineteen years with his lordship. Finding he could not obtain preferment in the army, he turned his thoughts to the Church, and entered into orders. Soon after he obtained the living of Wiverton, in Norfolk.

Miss Reay was extremely fond of music, and often attended the opera.
On the evening of 7 April 1779 Hackman took a walk to the Admiralty, where he saw Miss Reay go into the coach along with Signora Galli, who attended her. The
coach drove to Covent Garden Theatre, where she stayed to see the performance of Love in a Village. Mr Hackman went into the theatre at the same time, but, not being able to contain the violence of his passion, returned to his lodgings,
and having loaded two pistols again went to the playhouse,
where he waited till the play was over. As Miss Reay was ready to step into the coach he took a pistol in each hand, one of which he discharged against her, which killed her on
the spot, and the other at himself, which, however, did not take effect.
He then beat himself on his head with the butt-end, in order to destroy himself, so fully bent was he on the destruction of both. After some struggle he was secured, and his wounds dressed. He was then carried before Sir John Fielding, who committed him to Tothill Fields Bridewell, and next to Newgate Prison.

During the procession to the fatal tree at Tyburn he seemed much affected, and said but little; and when he arrived at Tyburn, and got out of the coach and mounted the cart. After some time spent in prayer he was hanged, and his body was carried to Surgeons' Hall for dissection.

On the town of Sandwich
Sandwich an ancient seaport on the south shore of England, in the county of Kent. The 'wich' part in an interesting word that means a trading town, usually referring to very ancient establishments (before the year 500). The 'sand' part refers to the sandy nature of the location. Sandwich is one of the 'Cinque Ports'.



George Martinelli, Jemmy Twitcher. A Life of the Fourth Earl of Sandwich (Cape, London, 1962 )

The Case and Memoirs of the late Rev. Mr. James Hackman, and of his Acquaintance with the late Miss Martha Reay (Kearsley, London, 1779).


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