Ward's Book of Days.

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What happened on this day in history.


On this day in history in 1718, was born John Montagu, Fourth Earl of Sandwich.

Sandwich was a politician, a traveller and a naval official whose life was too hectic for meals and so he invented the comestible that was named after him.

Sandwich inherited the earldom aged eleven. He was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, after which he undertook a grand tour of Europe, from which he derived a life-long passion for travel and exploration. After taking his seat in the House of Lords, Sandwich soon became one of the commissioners of the Admiralty. This post enabled him to travel to the peace conference at Breda and to pass the vacant time with wanderings on the Continent.  

Sandwich took up his seat in the Lords and served the government in a variety of positions. He was Postmaster General, Secretary of State for the North, and had other minor posts but never stayed at any job for long as his work was interrupted by his frequent journeys to the Continent. In 1771, Sandwich found a post to his taste, First Lord of The Admiralty. His enemies stated that he used his position to collect bribes but nothing was ever proved. He did divert public fund to enable James Cook to explore the Pacific and his grateful client named the Sandwich Islands, now called Hawaii, in his honour.  

Sandwich took his job as First Lord seriously but during the American War of Independence, kept the greater part of the fleet in home waters to defend Britain against the French. His enemies blamed him for losing the American colonies but Sandwich maintained that he kept Britain safe from serious attack.  

Sandwich is justly famous for the invention of his eponymous comestible, which he did by instructing his servants to prepare a chunk of meat between two slices of bread, in order to cut back on the time taken for meals. His opponents stated that he used to do this so that he could carry on gambling without stopping to eat, but it is most likely that he found it convenient, both for working at his Admiralty desk, and for his travels abroad.  

Sandwich died on April 30th 1792. His descendant, the 11th Earl, now operates a sandwich restaurant in the United States.  

People who have had things named after them

John Sandwich

Arthur Wellington

James Cardigan

John McAdam

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