Edward Wortley Montagu, from Wortley in Yorkshire, was the MP for Peterborough from 1734 to his death in 1761. His father the Hon. Sidney Wortley Montagu had been MP for Peterborough from 1698 until his death in 1727 (with two terms as the Huntingdon MP between 1713 and 1722). He had been known as Sidney Montagu, but added Wortley after he married Anne, the illegitimate heir of Sir Francis Wortley.
Edward famously eloped with Lady Mary Pierrepont in 1712 who upon marriage became Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. She left a large collection of letters detailing their relationship and time they spent together in Turkey whilst Edward was working as the British Ambassador. She is also noted as the first person to bring inoculation to the UK.
Edward Wortley, as he referred to himself, followed his father to the post of Peterborough’s MP in 1734 and remained the city’s representative until his death in 1761. His name lives on in The Wortley Almshouses, known locally as The Wortley Arms.
In 1744 Wortley gifted two buildings and four acres of land on Westgate to the Feoffees, who oversaw charity in the city of Peterborough, but not as almshouses: he gifted a workhouse. The workhouse was created to support the poor of the city and was an addition to the workhouse in Cumbergate which had been created in 1726. The people living there would have been working in the four acres of farm land attached to the property to earn their keep. In 1791 William Watson, a farmer, left the workhouse after 12 years of running it to move to Uppingham to ‘farm their poor’. It is the same workhouse that purportedly inspired Charles Dickens in his writing of Oliver Twist.
A new workhouse was built on Thorpe Road in 1836, so the Wortley workhouse was converted into almhouses for the poor instead.
Edward Wortley died in 1761 and left an extensive will. In a codicil to the will he provided £200 for people in Peterborough on his death, which was a considerable sum of money. He left most of his money and estate to his children Edward, an eccentric man who died without children, and Mary who married John Stuart 3rd Earl of Bute. Stuart became the British Prime Minister a year after Edward’s death.
The building can be easily viewed on Westgate and is currently used as a public house.
Peterborough Almshouse Trust, Release of Lease and Release, 1744, PAS/ALM/2/1/10/10/8.
Cruickshanks, E. and Harrison, R., Montagu, Edward Wortley (1678-1761), History of Parliament Online (see link).
Peterborough Workhouse, Stamford Mercury, 12 August 1791, p. 4.
Picture: The Wortley Almshouses cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Ian S - geograph.org.uk/p/2805244.