Select Montgomery Miscellany

Here are some Montgomery stories and accounts over the years:

Montgomery Origins

Although there are many stories of the origin of the Montgomery name, one old theory explains that the name is a corruption of Gomer's Mount or Gomer's Hill (from the Latin Mons Gomeris), any of a number of hills in Europe named in attribution to the biblical patriarch Gomer.  But this does not explain the final -y or -ie (the phonetic evolution would have been Montgomers) and this does not correspond to the old mentions of the place-name Montgomery in Normandy. 

The Memorables of the Montgomeries
meanwhile contained a narrative in rhyme published in Glasgow in 1770 which referred to the origin of the Montgomery name as follows:

"A noble Roman was the root 
From which Montgomeries came, 
Who brought his legions from the war,  
And settled the same  
Upon an hill 'twixt Rome and Spain,  
Gomericus by name; 
From which he and his offspring do their surname still retain.”  

But more relevant probably is the explanation that the name came from the Germanic first name Gumarik, a compound of guma meaning "man" and rik meaning "powerful."  The latter regularly gives the final –ri or -ry as in French first names such as Henri or Thierry.  Moreover a name still used as a surname in France is Gommery, from the older first name Gomeri.  

The earliest known person to be styled with the name is Roger de Montgomerie, found in a contemporary document as father of the 11th century Norman nobleman, Roger de Montgomerie the First Earl of Salisbury who owned the village of Montgommery that is  today in Calvados department.  Alternatively a Hugh de Montgomery is given as the Earl's father by a Norman chronicler writing in the next generation.

Early Accounts of Montgomery Family History

There were three early accounts of Montgomery family history:  
  • first was James Fraser's 1859 book Memorials of the Montgomeries.
  • second was T.H. Montgomery’s 1863 book A Genealogical History of the Family of Montgomery  
  • and then there was D.B. Montgomery’s 1903 work The Montgomerys and Their Descendants. 
But there was an even earlier account of the Montgomerys in Ulster.  Known today as The Montgomery Manuscripts, these were written down by William Montgomery of Rosemount in county Down between the years 1697 and 1704,   His reports were eventually published in book form together with a preface by William McKnight in 1830.

Mention should also be made of the manuscript compiled by Hugh Montgomery in the 1750's.  It came to be known as the Broomlands Manuscripts and dealt with early Montgomery history.

The Murder of Alexander Montgomerie

Alexander Montgomerie the 10th Earl of Eglinton was mortally wounded on the beach near his stables at Parkhouse on his own estate of Ardrossan by an excise officer named Mungo Campbell, following a dispute about poaching and the latter's right to bear arms on the earl's grounds.

There were two important issues that presaged the shooting.

Firstly, it transpired that Alexander Bartleymore, a favourite servant of Lord Eglinton, had had dealings with contraband goods.  Mungo had come across Bartleymore on the seashore with a cart containing eighty gallons of rum, which he duly seized as contraband.  Bartleymore was held in the Irvine Tolbooth and only escaped deportation to the colonies through the influence of his master. He held a grudge from that day forward and was determined to get his revenge when the opportunity presented itself.

Second, Mungo happened to be crossing part of Lord Eglinton's estate on a road when a hare started up and ran through the dyke.  He automatically shot it with the gun he was carrying.  The Earl happened to hear the gunshot. At his meeting with the Earl, Mungo apologised for his behaviour, which he explained as having been due to the suddenness of the hare's appearance.

On October 24, 1769 Alexander Bartleymore was told that two men, one with a gun, had been seen crossing the Earl’s land. Bartleymore said that Mungo Campbell was one of the two suspected poachers and the Earl decided to investigate, leaving his carriage and proceeding down the beach on horseback.

Upon catching up with Mungo the Earl demanded that he hand over the gun he was carrying.  Mungo refused, saying that he would rather die. The Earl then ordered his fowling-piece to be brought from the carriage, saying that he was as good a shot as Mungo. The Earl continued to walk towards Mungo who retreated, walking backwards. However he stumbled on a stone, fell on his back, and the Earl moved quickly to grab his gun.

At this point Mungo fired at Lord Eglinton who was mortally wounded in the bowels.  Mungo threw his gun away and tried to wrest the earl's gun from his servant.  He failed and was attacked by the Earl's servants.

Mungo was then taken to Irvine by cart, then to Ayr, later to Glasgow, and finally to Edinburgh.  The mortally wounded Lord Eglinton reportedly said to Mungot hat he would not have shot him.  Mungo was sentenced to be taken to the tolbooth in Edinburgh and fed on bread and water only.  On 11 April 1770 he was taken to the Grassmarket to be hanged.

The Montgomerys of Moville in Donegal

An insight into the social life in Moville was to be found in the diary of Jane Harvey, who spent August 1876 in that area. 

One of the big events of the summer season was the Moville Flower Show which was promoted mainly by the gentry. The Regatta took place on 8th August and enjoyed a wider appeal.  After listening to the band of the 91st regiment of Highlanders, in the evening Jane went in the evening to a ball at Kilderry which ended at 5.20 a.m.

She knew Ferguson Montgomery, a keen sportsman who organized games of tennis and croquet for the ladies on the front lawns of New Park, watched by his parents, Sir Robert and Lady Montgomery.

Jane’s son James preferred cricket, however, and he played a weekly match at Pennyburn.  Bathing took place at Drumaweir and afterwards everyone boarded the Harts’s boat for Moville.

In the evenings Lady Montgomery was busy organizing concerts and games of whist in the schoolhouse or parlor for her guests. On Sundays Jane attended both morning and evening church services and listened to the sermon of the young Henry Montgomery, later Bishop of Tasmania.  She described him as impressive but felt he did a better job in the morning.

When her holiday ended, she took the evening steamer from Moville back to Derry.

Montgomery County in Texas

Some have Montgomery county in Texas named after Montgomery county in Alabama which was in turn named after the patriot Lemuel Montgomery who died in the War of 1812.

However, one local story has it that Montgomery took its name from William Montgomery, a surveyor and widower, who came to Texas in 1822 with his sons.  In 1830 he settled some seven miles southwest of the town of Montgomery in what is present day Grimes county.  It is claimed by descendants that the county was named after this surveyor.

In 1975 Robin Montgomery wrote in The History of Montgomery County as follows:

“The reason the town and county came to be named for Andrew Montgomery lies in the events surrounding his trading post.  Andrew immediately set about encouraging settlers to venture down these roads to become his neighbors and clientele. In this manner Andrew’s Trading Post became the major pivot point around which the settlement of the later Montgomery county region revolved.  Andrew’s last name became a unifying element among the gradually expanding circle of settlement.”

Was it William or Andrew who gave his name to Montgomery county?  Family tradition rather than fact seems to have been the basis for both of these assertions.

Lucy Maud Montgomery

Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote her first novel in 1905.  It was rejected by every single publishing house that received it. A few years later, Montgomery tried shopping it again and succeeded.

Her story about the adventures of a red-headed girl in Prince Edward Island became a smash hit. That novel ultimately became one of Canada’s most all-time popular books, being translated into around twenty languages and selling more than 50 million copies to date.

Anne of Green Gables and its many sequels made Montgomery a wildly successful author and turned PEI into a destination for the book’s thousands of fans.

Elizabeth Montgomery's Ancestry

Elizabeth Montgomery, the star of Bewitched, died in 1995.  Her father Robert Montgomery was also a well-known actor.  Their roots went back to a colorful Irishman named Archibald Montgomery.

Archibald was born in Belfast in 1821 and sailed to America aboard the Henry Clay in 1849.  He settled in Brooklyn and became a charter member of the New York Produce Exchange. The Irishman enjoyed much success in his adopted homeland, owning grain warehouses which were described as "the most extensive on the Atlantic docks," as well as ships that were "well known in all European ports."

He developed in later life what was seen as an eccentric devotion to pigeons, dogs and other animals which he brought into his home.  According to Robert Montgomery, his grandfather brought horses into the dining room and fed them at Thanksgiving and Christmas.  In 1884 Archibald was arrested for habitual drunkenness after one of his sons, James, secured a warrant.

Robert Montgomery called his grandfather "a grand guy," while others thought Archibald was a madman. The immigrant was regarded as both "the most respected and hated gentleman in Brooklyn."

His son Henry, President of the New York Rubber Company, committed suicide by jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge in 1922.  Henry’s son Robert, who grew up in New York City, made his breakthrough into films in the 1930’s.  His daughter Elizabeth, actress and star of Bewitched, was born in 1933

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