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Montgomery


The Montgomerys are a Lowland clan of Anglo-Norman origin. Roger de Montgomery called "The Great" was father to another Roger, born about 1030 who was joint Regent of Normandy when William the Conqueror invaded England in 1066. Montgomery followed King William to England where he was created Earl of Arundel, he was later made Earl of Shropshire or Shrewsbury and the county of Montgomery is named after him. The first of the family in Scotland was Robert de Montgomerie who obtained a grant of the lands of Eaglesham in Renfrewshire, for some time the principal home of the Montgomeries. His descendant John Montgomerie of Eaglesham was the distinguished warrior who captured Henry Percy called Hotspur at the Battle of Otterburn in 1388. With Percy's ransom he built the castle of Polnoon as well as acquiring the lands of Eglinton and Ardrossan through his marriage to Elizabeth of Eglinton. His grandson, Sir Alexander was created Lord Montgomerie and became a member of the King's council. Hugh, t he 3rd Lord Montgomerie was created Earl of Eglinton in 1507. He was amongst those who opposed James III and fought at Sauchieburn in 1488, where the king lost his life. He also received the Isle of Arran with the custody of Brodick Castle. The 2nd Earl remained a devout Catholic at the Reformation and fought on the side of Mary Queen of Scots at her final defeat at Langside in 1568. He was declared guilty of treason and imprisoned in Doune Castle. When he was released he tried to secure the safety and toleration of Catholics in the wake of the Reformation. Ironically his daughter Lady Margaret married Robert Seton, 1st Earl of Winton, a loyal Covenantor in the wars of Charles I and it was their son, Alexander Seton who took the name Montgomerie who became the 6th Earl of Eglinton. He was also a Presbyterian supporter and followed Charles II. He was imprisoned for his Royalist sympathies by General Monk in 1659 after the death of Cromwell however in the following year it was Monk himself who restored the monarch to his throne. The 9th Earl was one of the Privy Council of King William and later Queen Anne and during the rebellion of 1715 actively promoted the training of the fencible men of Ayrshire. The 11th Earl raised the 77th Foot Highlanders. The 13th Earl was renowned for his celebrated tournament at Eglinton Castle in 1839. The Montgomeries and the Cunninghams had one of the longest running feuds in Scotland; in the 16th century Eglinton House was burnt and the 4th Earl was killed by Cunninghams, finally it was resolved by the government.


Additional Information

The Norman family de Montgomery (or de Montgomerie, or de Mundegumbrie) held the castle of Sainte Foy de Montgomerie at Lisieux prior to the Norman Conquest.  The most likely source of the name is a reference to the hill (“mont”) on which the castle is built and a nearby village named after a Roman Commander called Gomericus.

The second Roger de Montgomerie, joint Regent of Normandy, was a key supporter to William the Conqueror (whose great-grandmother was Roger’s great-aunt) in the conquest of England in 1066, providing sixty ships for the purpose and commanding the right flank of the army at the battle of Hastings. 

After the invasion, Roger was first rewarded with the Earldom of Arundel and then later (in 1071) with the Earldom of Shrewsbury where he based himself, founding an abbey and building a castle there.  In 1093 Roger entered Wales at or about the location of the small town that now bears his name, where he had first built a fort to oversee the river crossing.  He made his way down, via Cardigan where he also built a castle, to Pembroke – then an important port – and captured the town and its fort which he then built up with earthwork & timber walls but no separate motte (presumably being confident enough in the fort’s elevated position).  Roger de Montgomerie was a prolific builder of castles, generally in the standard Norman motte-and-bailey style, being responsible for over 70 across England and Wales.

The year after taking Pembroke, Roger fell ill and returned to Shrewsbury Abbey where he was nursed until his death that same year (1094).  Roger was buried at the Abbey he had founded, but his tomb was ransacked during the reformation;  it was later restored and now stands in his memory in the south aisle of the (now slightly curtailed!) Abbey.

Roger had five sons, of whom the youngest, Arnulf, received Pembroke castle on Roger’s death.  Three of the other sons moved to Scotland, and are presumed to be the fathers of the clan Montgomery (or “Montgomerie”).   Robert, the remaining son, stayed with Arnulf at Pembroke, but they were thrown out of the castle in 1102 after backing a failed uprising to overthrow Henry I;  Arnulf fled to Ireland and is presumably the original source of early Irish Montgomery families (before the regular boat trips between northern Ireland and western Scotland began to include Montgomery clansmen!);  Robert’s fate is unknown, but it could be that he maintained a low profile until the noise died down, and went on to become the source of the English Montgomery families.

The spelling of the name seems to have been standardised by the English as “Montgomery”, which is also reflected in Irish families, and the “Montgomerie” spelling only appears in Scotland, though everyone seems to have dropped the “de” fairly early on! 

This information was obtained from various sources, but primarily Shrewsbury Abbey and Pembroke Castle; all was publicly available, much of it being from the tourist guides that can be bought at these two sites.

Hope that’s useful / interesting.

Monty


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