William Montagu, The Earl Of Salisbury


  • Richest of the Rich position: 127
  • Birth/Death: 1301-1344
  • Origin of wealth: Land
  • Wealth: £25,000
  • Net National Income: £5m
  • Net National Income Percent: 0.5%
  • In Today’s Money: £5.549 billion

The Montagu family were established in the West Country at the time of the Conquest in 1066, and had prospered in royal service. Born in 1301, William Montagu formed a close friendship with Edward III during his early military career. This friendship lasted throughout his life and was the source of most of his great wealth.

He started well by leading a coup d’etat against Edward’s enemies, Isabella and Mortimer. For that he was given lands worth £1,000 a year. Made Earl of Salisbury in 1337, he was created Earl Marshall the following year and granted more West Country land plus the Lordships of Denbigh, Wark on Tweed, the Channel Isles, Lundy and the Isle of Man. He spent most of his life fighting wars and died from a jousting accident aged just 43.

At his death he was worth £25,000, 0.5% of net national income when it stood at £5m. In today’s money that would be worth £5.5bn.

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