Check all the Clans that have DNA Projects. If your Clan is not in the list there's a way for it to be listed.
Glenora Single Malt Whisky

Electric Scotland's Classified Directory An amazing collection of unique holiday cottages, castles and apartments, all over Scotland in truly amazing locations.
Scottish Review

Click here to get a Printer Friendly Page

The Scottish Nation
Montgomery


MONTGOMERY, the surname of the noble family of Eglinton, which traces its descent from Roger de Mundegumbrie, Viscount de Hiesmes, son of Hugh de Mundegumbrie and Joceline de Beaumont, niece of Gonnera, wife of Richard, duke of Normandy, treat-grandmother of William the Conqueror. Roger de Mundegumbrie, thus nearly allied to the ruling house of Normandy, after having obtained great distinction under the Norman banner in France, accompanied his kinsman, William the Conqueror, into England, and commanded the van of the invading army at the decisive battle of Hastings in 1066. In reward of his bravery he was, by the Conqueror, created earl of Chichester and Arundel, and soon after of Shrewsbury. He also received from him large grants of land, becoming, in a short time, lord of no fewer than fifty-seven lordships throughout England, with extensive possessions in Salop. Having made a hostile incursion into Wales, he took the castle of Baldwin, and gave it his own name of Montgomery, a name which both the town in its vicinity and the entire county in which it stands have permanently retained.

It is not known whence the name was derived. Eustace, in his ‘Classical Tour,’ vol. i. p. 298, mentions a lofty hill, called Monte Gomero, not far from Loretto; and in the old ballad of ‘Chevy Chase,’ the name is given as Mongon-byrry.

The first of the name in Scotland was Robert de Montgomery, supposed to have been a grandson of Earl Roger. When Walter, the son of Alan, the first high steward of Scotland, whose castle of Oswestry was in the vicinity of Shrewsbury, came to Scotland to take possession of several grants of land which had been conferred upon him by David I., Robert de Montgomery was one of the barons who accompanied him from Wales, and received from him the manor of Eglisham, in the county of Renfrew. This was for two centuries the chief possession of the Scottish section of the Montgomeries, and still remains their property undiminished as at first. Robert de Montgomery is a witness to the foundation charter of Walter, the high steward, to the monastery of Paisley in 1160, and to other charters between that year and 1175. He died about 1177.

In the Ragman Roll appear the names of John de Montgomery, and his brother, Murthaw, as among the barons who swore fealty to Edward I. in 1296. The former is designated of the county of Lanark, which then comprehended the county of Renfrew. The latter was the reputed ancestor of the Montgomeries of Thornton.

Sir John Montgomery, the seventh baron of Eaglesham, one of the heroes of the battle of Otterburn, married Elizabeth, only daughter and sole heiress of Sir Hugh de Eglinton, justiciary of Lothian, and niece of Robert II., and obtained with her the baronies of Eglinton and Ardrossan. He was the ancestor of the earls of Eglinton, as mentioned under that title, where the lineage of that noble family has been already given.

_____

A baronetcy of the United Kingdom was possessed by the family of Montgomery of Macbeth Hill, or Magbie Hill, Peebles-shire, descended from Troilus Montgomery, son of Adam Montgomery of Giffen, a cadet of the Eglinton family, living in the reigns of James V., and Mary queen of Scots. It was conferred, 28th May, 1774, on William Montgomery of Magbie Hill, but expired on the death of his son, Sir George Montgomery, second baronet, 9th July 1831.

Sir William’s brother, Sir James Montgomery, of Stanhope, Peebles-shire, an eminent lawyer, was also created a baronet. Born at Magbie Hill, in 1721, he was educated for the Scottish bar, and attained to considerable distinction as an advocate. On the abolition of the heritable jurisdictions in Scotland in 1748, he was one of the first sheriffs then named by the crown, and he was the last survivor of those of this first nomination. He rose gradually to the offices of solicitor-general, and lord-advocate, and in 1775 was appointed lord-chief-baron of the court of exchequer in Scotland. Upon his retirement from the bench in 1801, he was created a baronet of the United Kingdom. His exertions in introducing the most improved modes of agriculture into Peebles-shire gained for him the title of ‘Father of the county.’ He died April 2, 1803, at the age of 82. His eldest son, William, lieutenant-colonel 43d foot, having predeceased him, he was succeeded by his 2d son, Sir James, 2d baronet, born Oct. 9, 1766; appointed lord-advocate in 1804, resigned in 1806; at one time M.P. for Peebles-shire. He died May 27, 1839.

His sons by a first wife having predeceased him, he was succeeded by his eldest son by his 2d wife, daughter of Thomas Graham, Esq. of Kinross. This son, Sir Graham Montgomery, 3d baronet, born July 9, 1823, graduated at Christ Church, Oxford, B.A.; married in 1845, Alice, daughter of John James Hope-Johnston, Esq. of Annandale, M.P. Issue 4 sons and 4 daughters. Sons: James Gordon Henry, born Feb. 6, 1850, Basil-Templer, Charles Percy, and Arthur Cecil. M.P. for Peebles-shire, 1852; lord-lieutenant of Kinross-shire, 1854.

The first of the family of Montgomerie of Annick Lodge, Ayrshire, was Alexander, second son of Hugh Montgomerie of Coilsfield, brother of Hugh, twelfth earl of Eglinton. His son, William Eglinton Montgomerie, succeeded him in 1802. The eldest sister of the latter, Elizabeth, was the first wife of the Right Hon. David Boyle, lord-justice-general of Scotland, and died in 1822.

_____

The Irish family of Montgomery of Grey Abbey, county Down, is descended from Sir Hugh Montgomery, sixth laird of Braidstone, in the parish of Beith, Ayrshire, a cadet of the noble house of Eglinton, and the principal leader in the colonization of Ulster in 1606. The insurrectionary disturbances in Ireland before the death of Queen Elizabeth, had placed a large extent of confiscated property at the disposal of the crown. The laird of Braidstone, with a view of obtaining some portion of it, effected the escape of Con O’Neil, the chief of Ulster, from the castle of Carrickfergus, where he had long been imprisoned. O’Neil, in consequence “granted and assigned one half of all his land estate in Ireland” to him “his heirs and assigns.” Thereafter, O’Neil and Braidstone went to Westminster, when, through the influence of Braidstone’s brother, George, who was chaplain to his majesty, O’Neil received pardon of the king; Braidstone was knighted, and orders were given that the agreement betwixt them should be confirmed by letters patent, under the great seal of Ireland, “at such rents as therein might be expressed, and under condition that the lands should be planted with British protestants, and that no grant of fee farm should be made to any person of mere Irish extraction.”

In the winter of 1605, Sir Hugh Montgomery obtained from O’Neil a deed of feofment of all his lands. In the following May, the plantation of Ulster had begun. Amongst the gentlemen who joined Sir Hugh in the enterprise were, John Shaw of Greenock, Patrick Montgomerie of Blackhouse, Colonel David Boyd, Patrick Shaw of Kerseland, Hugh Montgomerie, junior, Thomas Nevin of Monkreddin, Patrick Mure of Dugh, Sir William Edmiston of Duntreath, and Mrssrs, Neill and Calderwood; besides a great many retainers. In 1610, only four years after the first planting, Sir Hugh brought before the king’s muster-master 1,000 able fighting men.

The success of this Scotch enterprise led to the formation of the London companies in 1612, and thus was founded the protestant province of Ulster, which, says Hume, from being “the most wild and disorderly province of all Ireland, soon became the best cultivated and most civilized.”

In 1622, Sir Hugh Montgomery was raised to the peerage of Ireland as Viscount Montgomery of Ardes, county Down. He was grandfather of Hugh, third Viscount Montgomery of Ardes, created in 1661, earl of Mount Alexander. These titles expired with Thomas, seventh earl, in 1758.

The Montgomeries of the Hall, county Donegal, possessing a baronetcy of the united kingdom, of the creation of 1808, and the Montgomeries of Convoy House, in the same county, are also descended from the Eglinton family, their progenitors in Ireland being among the settlers in Ulster in the reign of James VI. And I.

MONTGOMERY, ALEXANDER, a celebrated poet of the reign of James VI., supposed to have been a younger son of Montgomery of Hazlehead Castle, in Ayrshire, a branch of the noble family of Eglinton, was born probably about the middle of the 16th century. Of his personal history there are no authentic memorials. In his poem, entitled ‘The Navigatioun,’ he calls himself “ane German born.” Dempster describes him as “Equus Montanus, vulgo vocatus;” but it is certain that he was never knighted. In the titles to his works he is styled “Captain,” and it is conjectured that he was at one time a commander in the body guard of the Regent Morton. Melvil, in his ‘diary,’ mentions him about 1577, as “Captain Montgomery, a good honest man, and the regent’s domestic.” His poetical talents procured him the patronage of James VI., from whom he enjoyed a pension. In his majesty’s ‘Reulis and Cautelis to be observit and eschewit in Scottish Poesie,’ published in 1584, the royal critic quotes some of Montgomery’s poems, as examples of the different styles of verse.

In his latter years, he seems to have fallen into misfortunes. His pension was withheld from him. He was also involved in a tedious law-suit before the court of session, and he was for some time the tenant of a gaol. One of his minor pieces is entitled ‘The Poet’s Complaynte against the Unkindnes of his Companions, when he wes in Prissone.’ His best known production is his allegorical poem of ‘The Cherrie and the Slae,’ on which Ramsay formed the model of his ‘vision,’ and to one particular passage in which he was indebted for his description of the Genius of Caledonia. It was first published in 1595, and reprinted in 1597, by Robert Waldegrave, “according to a copie corrected by the author himselfe.” Another of his compositions is styled ‘The Flyting betwixt Montgomerie and Polwart.’ He also wrote ‘The Minde’s Melodie,’ consisting of Paraphrases of the Psalms, two of which were printed by Ramsay in his Evergreen. Foulis of Glasgow published, in 1751, an edition of his poetry, and Urie of the same place brought out another in 1754. He composed a great variety of Sonnets in the Scottish language; and among the books presented by Drummond to the university of Edinburgh is a manuscript collection of the poems of Montgomery, consisting of Odes, Sonnets, Psalms, and Epitaphs. His death appears to have taken place between 1597 and 1615, in which latter year an edition of his ‘Cherrie and Slae’ was printed by Andrew Hart. In 1822 a complete edition of his poems was published at Edinburgh, under the superintendence of Mr. David Laing, with a biographical preface by Dr. Irving.

MONTGOMERY, JAMES, an eminent religious poet, was born in Irvine, in Ayrshire, November 4, 1771. His father, the Rev. John Montgomery, of Irish birth though of Scottish extraction, was a preacher in the church of the United or Moravian brethren. When the poet was about four years and a half old, his parents returned to their native parish in the county of Antrim, in the north of Ireland. About two years afterwards he was sent to the seminary of the United Brethren at Fulneck, near Leeds, for his education, and he remained there for ten years. In 1783, his parents went to preach the gospel among the slaves in the West Indies, where they both died, his mother at Tobago in 1790, and his father at Barbadoes in 1791.

He was early inspired with a desire to write poetry by hearing a portion of Blair’s ‘Grave’ read. When only ten years old, the bent of his mind was shown by his composition of various little hymns. About 15 he began to write a heroic poem on the subject of ‘Alfred.’ He was first placed as an assistant in a general dealer’s shop, at Mirfield near Fulneck, but anxious for a higher occupation, he one day set off, with three shillings and sixpence in his pocket, to walk to London. He was at a little public house at Wentworth, when a youth of the name of Hunt entered, and getting into conversation with him, informed him that his father, who kept a general store at Wath, in a neighbouring village, required an assistant. He accordingly applied, and was successful. The following year (1790) he obtained an introduction to Mr. Harrison, a London publisher, and having offered him a manuscript volume of his verses, the latter took him into his shop as an assistant, although he declined to publish his poems. In two years more, namely in 1792, he was fortunate enough to obtain a situation in the establishment of Mr. Gales, a bookseller of Sheffield, who had set up a newspaper called the Sheffield Register. In a short time his employer had to leave England, to avoid imprisonment for printing articles too liberal for the then government, and Montgomery, at the age of twenty-two, became the editor and publisher of the paper, the name of which, on its becoming his part property, he changed to the more poetical one of The Sheffield Iris.

At that period, the government, apprehensive of the diffusion in England of the democratic and republican principles of the first French revolution, watched with a jealous eye the freedom of the press. In January 1794, amidst the keen political excitement that prevailed, Montgomery was prosecuted by the Attorney General on a charge of having reprinted and sold to a street hawker, six quires of a ballad, written by a clergyman of Belfast, commemorating ‘The fall of the Bastile’ in 1789, which by the crown was interpreted into a seditious libel. Being found guilty, notwithstanding the innocence of his intentions, he was sentenced to three months imprisonment, in the castle of York, and to pay a fine of £20. In the following January he was again tried, for a second imputed political offence, the publication in his paper of a paragraph which reflected on the conduct of a magistrate in quelling a riot at Sheffield. He was again convicted, and sentenced to six months’ imprisonment in York castle, to pay a fine of £30, and to give security to keep the peace for two years. “All the persons,” said Montgomery, writing in 1825, “who were actively concerned in the prosecutions against me in 1794 and 1795, are dead, and, without exception, they died in peace with me. I believe I am quite correct in saying that from each of them distinctly, in the sequel, I received tokens of good will, and from several of them substantial proofs of kindness. I mention not this as a plea in extenuation of offences for which I bore the penalty of the law; I rest my justification, in these cases, now on the same grounds, and no other, on which I rested my justification then. I mention the circumstance to the honour of the deceased, and as an evidence that, amidst all the violence of that distracted time, a better spirit was not extinct, but finally prevailed, and by its healing influence did indeed comfort those who had been conscientious sufferers.”

After his release, his health having been affected by the confinement, he went for a few weeks to Scarborough, and then resumed his duties as editor of the Iris. The proprietorship of that paper up to July 3d, 1795, had been a co-partnery between the poet, and Benjamin Naylor, but at that date the partnership was dissolved. Montgomery, who thence became sole proprietor, giving an engagement for the payment of £1,600, the sum originally paid for the property; and although he considered the terms somewhat hard, a few years of industry and prosperity enabled him to liquidate the bond. To the columns of his paper he had contributed occasional pieces of poetry, as well as written for it a series of Essays, of an entertaining or satirical nature, entitled ‘The Enthusiast.’ Between 1790 and 1796 he had written a novel in four volumes, which was never printed, and was ultimately committed to the flames. He had also composed various hymns, both political and religious, and written four addresses, which were spoken at the theatre at Sheffield. At the beginning of 1797, he published his first work, entitled ‘Prison Amusements, by Paul Positive.’ A name which he early adopted for his juvenile pieces, and the initials of which were often mistaken for those of Peter Pindar, the celebrated satirist of the day. The volume contained twenty-four poems, many of which, as the Preface states, were composed in bitter moments, amid the horrors of a gaol, under the pressure of sickness. One of the most conspicuous pieces in the volume was entitled the ‘Pleasures of Imprisonment.’ It was afterwards corrected and greatly abridged by the author. The largest and most elaborate piece, however, was ‘The Bramin,’ in two cantos, and in heroic verse. The same year he commenced a new series of Essays, in the columns of the Iris, under the designation of ‘The Whisperer, or Hints and speculations by Gabriel Silvertongue, Gent.’ These lucubrations were, the following year, collected by the author, and published in a volume at London. He afterwards got ashamed of the work, and did all he could to suppress it.

In 1801, with the view of extending his poetical claims, he transcribed three of his poems, from the columns of the Iris, and with the signature of Aleaeus, sent them to the editor of the ‘Poetical Register.’ These were the ‘Remonstrance to Winter,’ ‘The Lyre,’ in blank verse, and ‘The Battle of Alexandria.’ In the following year he also contributed some pieces to the same publication, and on both occasions his poems were highly eulogized by Dr. Aikin, in noticing that work in the ‘Annual Review,’ and quotations given. From this period till 1806, he wrote and inserted in the columns of the Iris many of the best of his minor pieces, such as ‘The Pillow;’ ‘The Thunder Storm;’ ‘The Joy of Grief;’ ‘The Snowdrop;’ ‘The Ocean;’ ‘The Grave;’ ‘The Common Lot,’ &c. In that year appeared ‘The Wanderer of Switzerland, and other Poems,’ among which were the pieces named and others. On its publication, it was at once acknowledged that a new poet had arisen whose claims to have his name inscribed on the bard-roll of his country could not be disputed. The work was most favourably received, and in the course of a few weeks every copy of the first edition was sold. A second edition was also speedily exhausted. A third edition of a thousand copies was issued by Messrs. Longman and Co., the eminent London publishers, who had entered into an arrangement with the author for the purpose. Among other periodicals which welcomed Mr. Montgomery’s work with high and discriminating praise, was the ‘Eclectic Review,’ then conducted by Mr. David Parken, a barrister. This gentleman soon entered into a correspondence with the poet, which led to his becoming one of the regular contributors to that publication, when he had for his associates such men as Robert Hall, Adam Clarke, Olinthus Gregory, and John Foster.

On the appearance in 1807, of the third edition of ‘The Wanderer of Switzerland,’ the Edinburgh Review opened its batteries upon it, and in a most abusive critique predicted “that in less than three years nobody would know the name of the ‘Wanderer of Switzerland,’ or any of the other poems in the collection.” As in the memorable case of Lord Byron, however, the judgment of the public reversed the decision of the critic. Within eighteen months, a fourth edition of 1,500 copies of the condemned volume was passing through the press where the Edinburgh Review itself was printed, and fifteen years afterwards, namely in January 1822, it had reached its ninth edition. At that period Montgomery acknowledged that so great had been the success of the work that it had produced him upwards of £800, and more than twelve thousand copies had been sold, besides about a score of editions printed in America.

In Byron’s ‘English Bards and Scotch Reviewers,’ published in 1809, Montgomery found himself noticed in this strain:

“With broken lyre and cheek serenely pale,
Lo! Sad Aleaeus wanders down the vale!
Though fair they rose, and might have bloomed at last,
His hopes have perished by the northern blast;
Nipped in the bud by Caledonian gales,
His blossoms wither as the blast prevails!
O’er his lost works let classic Sheffield weep;
May no rude hand disturb their early sleep!”

And in a note he adds, “Poor Montgomery, though praised by every English Review, has been bitterly reviled by the Edinburgh! After all, the Bard of Sheffield is a man of considerable genius; his ‘Wanderer of Switzerland’ is worth a thousand ‘Lyrical Ballads,’ and at least fifty ‘Degraded Epics.’”

Mr. Montgomery’s next work was ‘The West Indies,’ a poem in four parts and in the heroic couplet, written in honour of the abolition of the African slave-trade by the British legislature in 1807. It was produced at the request of Mr. Bowyer, the London publisher, to accompany a series of engravings representing the past sufferings and the anticipated blessings of the long-wronged Africans, both in their own land in the West Indies, and appeared in 1809 in connection with poems on the same subject, by James Grahame, author of ‘The Sabbath,’ and Miss Benger. When Montgomery’s poem was republished by itself, accompanied by about twenty occasional poems, upwards of ten thousand copies were sold in ten years. His parents had laid down their lives in behalf of the enslaved and perishing negro, and in this poem, their son, with a vigour and freedom of description and a power of pathetic painting entirely his own, raised his generous appeal to public justice in the negro’s behalf, which, no doubt, had its effect when, twenty years after, slavery itself was abolished in all the colonies belonging to Britain.

In the spring of 1813, Mr. Montgomery published ‘The World before the Flood,’ a poem in ten cantos in the heroic couplet, suggested to the poet by a passage in the eleventh book of Paradise Lost referring to the translation of Enoch. He had now begun to take an active and prominent part in the religious and benevolent meetings of Sheffield and its neighbourhood, particularly in connexion with missionary movements, the Bible Society, and the Sabbath School Union, and in 1814 he was regularly admitted a member of the Moravian church, of which his brother, the Rev. Ignatius Montgomery, was a minister. He himself had been intended for the ministry in connexion with the United Brethren, had not his early tendency to poetry prevented his entering upon the studies necessary for it. Another of his brothers, Robert Montgomery, was a grocer at Woolwich. They were all three educated at the Moravian seminary at Fulneck. While the poet was there, the institution was on one occasion visited by no less a personage than Lord Monboddo, the celebrated Scottish judge. None of the boys had ever seen a lord before, and Monboddo was a very strange-looking lord indeed. He wore a large, stiff, bushy periwig, surmounted by a huge, odd-looking hat; his very plant coat was studded with broad brass buttons, and his breeches were of leather. He stood in the schoolroom, with his grave absent face bent downwards, drawing and redrawing his whip along the floor, as the Moravian teacher pointed out to his notice boy after boy. “And this,” said the Moravian, coming at length to young Montgomery, “is a countryman of your lordship’s.” His lordship raised himself up, looked hard at the little fellow, and then shaking his huge whip over his head, “Ah,” he exclaimed, “I hope his country will have no reason to be ashamed of him.” “The circumstance,” said the poet, “made a deep impression of my mind, and I determined, -- I trust the resolution was not made in vain, -- I determined in that moment that my country should not have reason to be ashamed of me.”

In January 1817 a volume was published, entitled ‘The State Lottery, a Dream,’ by Samuel Roberts, a friend of Montgomery, directed against that species of national gambling, which, too long authorized by government, was some years after put an end to by act of parliament. The book contained ‘Thoughts on Wheels, a poem in five parts,’ by James Montgomery, in which he introduced an ‘Ode to Britain,’ written in a lofty strain of patriotism, which was included in the first edition of the poet’s collected poems in 1836, and a quarter of a century after its first publication he recited it at a public breakfast given to him at Glasgow, when he visited Scotland in 1841.

In 1819 he produced ‘Greenland and other Poems.’ The principal piece is in five cantos, and contains a sketch of the ancient Moravian church, its revival in the 18th century, and the origin of the missions by that people to Greenland in 1733. The poem as published is only a part of the author’s original plan. It consists of a series of episodes, some of which are very beautiful, while the glowing descriptions of the peculiar natural phenomena of the arctic regions are striking and original. In 1822 appeared his little volume of ‘Songs of Zion,’ being imitations or paraphrases of the Psalms of David. In the following year he was elected vice-president of the Sheffield Literary and Philosophical Society, then newly formed, when he delivered the opening lecture; “thus,” says his biographers, “presenting himself for the first time in that interesting character which he was destined so often afterwards to sustain, not only before his own townspeople, but in various other places.” In this address, speaking of the literature of some of the celebrated nations of antiquity, whose political vicissitudes fill so large a space in the page of history, he made this striking remark: “There is not in existence a line of verse by Chaldaean, Babylonian, Assyrian, Egyptian, or Phoenician bard.”

“The had not poet, and they died.”

In December of the same year, he delivered a ‘Lecture on Modern English Literature’ before the same Society. It is comprised in the series afterwards published.

In 1824, a request having been made to him by his publishers, Messrs. Longman and Co., to supply them with as much matter in prose as would make two volumes, appeared anonymously his ‘Prose by a Poet.’ Some of the most interesting portions of this work had been reconstructed out of the best written of his newspaper articles, and for a time it sold well, but did not long retain its popularity. Montgomery himself remarked that ‘Prose by a Poet’ would probably fail to please either of two large classes of readers, namely, persons of taste merely, who would be disgusted with the introduction of religious sentiments; and individuals of a decidedly religious character, who would consider much of the matter too light or sentimental; and he was not mistaken. The same year was published a volume entitled ‘The Chimney Sweeper’s Friend, and Climbing Boys’ Album,’ containing pieces by different authors, ‘arranged by James Montgomery,’ and dedicated to the king, George IV. The work was got up, mainly by Montgomery’s exertions, to aid in effecting the abolition, at length happily accomplished, of the cruel and unnatural practice of employing boys in sweeping chimneys.

In 1825 his connexion with the Iris terminated, as he that year disposed of the newspaper and his printing business and materials to Mr. John Blackwell, who had been at one time a Methodist preacher, but afterwards became a dealer in old books, and was then a printer and stationer. On his retirement from the paper, which he had conducted for thirty years, every class of politicians in the town of Sheffield united in giving him a public dinner, Lord Milton, afterwards Earl Fitz-William, in the chair, as a testimony that there was among them but one feeling of goodwill towards him, and but one opinion as to the integrity with which he had for so long a time discharged his duties as an editor. The dinner took place on the poet’s birthday, November 4th, 1825, when 116 gentlemen sat down to the table. In returning thanks, the poet entered into some details relative to his early life, as well before as after his residence in Sheffield; alluding also to his varied labours and ultimate success as a poet, in which character his name will be known to all time. He spoke with pardonable pride of the success which had crowned his labours as an author, “Not indeed,” he said, “with fame and fortune, as these were lavished on my greater contemporaries, in comparison with whose magnificent possessions on the British Parnassus my small plot of ground is no more than Naboth’s vineyard to Ahab’s kingdom; but it is my own; it is no copyhold; I borrowed it, I leased it from none. Every foot of it I enclosed from the common myself; and I can say that not an inch which I had once gained have I ever lost.” Some of his friends who could not attend, including many ladies, afterwards presented him with 200 guineas, to be applied to the revival of a mission which his father, the Rev. John Montgomery, had begun in Tobago, but which had been suspended since his death in 1791. The proprietor of the estate on which it was situated, Mr. Hamilton, a Scotchman, had in his will bequeathed £1,000, contingent on the renewal of the mission. To this sum, the two hundred guineas were to be added, and the gift was accompanied by the delicate request that the renewed mission should be distinguished by the name of Montgomery, in honour both of himself and his father.

At the close of 1825 appeared ‘The Christian Psalmodist; or Hymns, Selected and Original.’ These compositions, 562 in number, are from a great variety of authors, including one hundred from his own pen, which form part fifth of the collection. The compilation was made for Mr. Collins, the Glasgow publisher (who died January 2, 1853) and for it he received one hundred guineas. The prefatory essay contains some judicious remarks on the writing of hymns, as one branch of the poetic art, and on the works of Bishop Kenn, Dr. Isaac Watts, Addison, Toplady, Charles Wesley, and others who have excelled in it. Montgomery also wrote an Introductory essay to an edition of Cowper’s poems, then about to be issued by Messrs. Chalmers and Collins.

In 1827, appeared ‘The Pelican Island,’ by Mr. Montgomery, a poem in blank verse, suggested by a passage in Captain Flinders’ ‘Voyage to Terra Australis,’ describing the existence of the ancient haunts of the pelican in the small islands on the coast of New Holland. The narrative is supposed to be delivered by an imaginary being who witnesses the series of events related after the whole has happened. To the ‘Pelican Island’ was added, as usual, some of his smaller poems. Previous to its publication a work called ‘The Christian Poet’ was issued by Mr. Collins of Glasgow, with an admirable introductory essay by Mr. Montgomery, a species of writing in which he excelled. He also wrote the Introductory Essays to new editions of ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress,’ ‘The Olney Hymns,’ the ‘Life of the Rev. David Brainerd,’ and other works published by the same firm. In 1830 he contributed to the Cabinet Cyclopedia the brief memoirs of Dante, Ariosto, and Tasso, which appeared in the series of ‘Literary and Scientific Men of Italy.’ The same year he compiled for the London Missionary Society, ‘The Missionary Journal,’ from a vast mass of valuable materials which had been placed in his hands, for which he received £200. He also delivered a course of lectures on the History of English Literature before the members of the Royal Institution of Great Britain at London. The following year he lectured on Poetry at the same Institution. Both courses he prepared for the press and published in 1833.

In 1841 he visited Scotland, for the first and only time since his childhood. On this occasion he accompanied the Rev. Mr. Latrobe. Their main object was the promotion of the missions of the United Brethren, but Montgomery had also a great desire to see the land of his birth. “Scotland,” he said, in a letter, written in July 1844, to the committee of the Burns’ Festival, “took such early and effectual root in the soil of my heart that to this hour it appears as green and flourishing, in the only eyes with which I can now behold it, as when, after an absence of more than threescore years, I was favoured to see it with the eyes that are looking on this paper. Though scarcely four and a half years old when removed, I have yet more lively, distinct, and delightful recollections of little Irvine, its bridges, its river, its street aspect, and its rural landscape, with sea-glimpses between, than I have equal reminiscences of any subsequent period of the same length of time, spent since then in fairer, wealthier, and more familiar, and therefore less romantic, England. Yet those fond recollections of my birthplace, and renewals of infant experience had become, through the vista of retrospect, so ideal, that when, in the autumn of 1841, for the first time, I returned to the scenes of my golden age, the humble realities, though as beautiful as heaven’s daylight could make them in the first week of a serene October, I could hardly reconcile with the ideal of themselves, into which they had been transmuted by frequent repetition and retouching – every time with a mellowing stroke – in the process of preserving the identity of things, ‘that were to me more dear and precious,’ which had been so soon and so long removed out of sight, but never out of mind. I can, however, say that with the brief acquaintance which on that occasion I made with my country and my birthplace, and especially with what is the glory and the blessing of both, the frank, and kind, and gracious inhabitants, -- my brief acquaintance, I was going to say, with these had more than ever endeared to my better feelings the land that gave me birth and the blood kindred with whom I felt myself humbly but honestly allies.” In a postscript he explained that by “blood kindred,” he meant his kinship to all the blood of Scotland, neither less nor more, pretending to no affinity with the noble house of Eglinton.

He was received with great enthusiasm by the magistrates and inhabitants of Irvine. That town is distinguished as “the only spot in Scotland where the United Brethren first found a footing.” The house in which the poet was born is still (1856) standing in Halfway Street. In his father’s time the dwelling-house was under the same roof with the little chapel in which he ministered. The latter was afterwards converted into a weaver’s shop. A tablet has been placed on the wall to remind visitors that that humble dwelling was the birthplace of the author of ‘The World before the Flood.’ His reception in Edinburgh and Glasgow was also most gratifying to his feelings. In the latter city a public breakfast was given to him.

A collected edition of his works with autobiographical and illustrative notes, had been published in 1841, and in 1851 the whole of his works appeared in one volume 8vo. In 1853 he issued a collection of ‘Original Hymns, for Public, Private, and Social Devotion.’ IN his latter years he enjoyed a pension of £150.

One of his last public appearances was at the meeting of the Wesleyan conference at Sheffield in October 1852. He entered leaning heavily on the arm of Dr. Hannah, and was by him conducted to a seat in front of the platform. A few appropriate words from Dr. Hannah introduced him to the Conference. The president addressed him in simple and graceful terms. Then the aged and hoary poet, somewhat bent and very feeble in body, with the silver hair shining in flakes as it fell thin upon his temples, or waved slightly upwards from the side of his head, stepped forward to the front of the platform, and, raising his hands in prayer and blessing, pronounced the words – “The Lord bless and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you; the Lord life up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.” The beautiful and impressive way in which he uttered the last words of this prayer was said to have been inexpressibly affecting.

Mr. Montgomery, who was never married, died at his residence, The Mount, Sheffield, May 1, 1854, and was buried at Sheffield. His portrait is subjoined:


[portrait of James Montgomery]

His funeral was a public one, and a monument was afterwards erected to his memory in the town of Sheffield. ‘Memoirs of the Life and Writings of James Montgomery, including Selections from his Correspondence, remains in prose and verse, and Conversations on various subjects; by John Holland and James Everett;’ have been published in six volumes 8vo, London, 1854-56.


Return to The Scottish Nation Index Page

 


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus

Quantcast