MONTGOMERIE, John I (d. 1725), of Wrae, Linlithgow.
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Family and Education
5th s. of George Montgomerie of Broomlands, ?Ayr. educ. w.s. 1687. m. (1) 2 Feb. 1689, Penelope, da. of Sir Robert Barclay of Perceton, Ayr; at least 1s. (2) Sept. 1696, Janet, da. of Thomas Gray, merchant, of Edinburgh.1
MP [S] Linlithgowshire 1704–7.
Dir. Bank of Scotland 1706.2
Burgess, Edinburgh 1706.
Commr. excise [S] 1707–Mar. 1709; jt. under-sec. of state [S] Feb. 1709–?1711.3
As a younger son of a lesser laird, Montgomerie necessarily clutched at any opportunity for advancement. The income from his professional fees and the portions from two marriages may have been sufficient in themselves to fund his acquisition in 1697 of the estate of Wrae in Linlithgowshire, which he thereafter adopted as his designation, but by 1702 his commercial activities were extensive enough to have involved him in the farm of the Scottish customs, and in 1706 he was able to invest the requisite capital in the Bank of Scotland to qualify as a director. Government favour had already come his way, albeit in driblets: in 1697 he had received a crown grant of ‘the three-pound land of Holmes of Dundonald, in Ayrshire’, on the resignation of the previous grantee; and six years later he received another grant, this time of the lands and teinds of ‘Magdalens’, which were then erected into a barony. He came into the Scottish parliament soon afterwards, at a by-election in July 1704 for Linlithgowshire, having taken sasine of another property in the county only a few months before. Montgomerie supported the Court over the Union, and was appointed a commissioner of the excise in Scotland, at a salary of £300 p.a. In this capacity he accompanied a detachment of troops to Glasgow to take part in the pacification of disturbances there against the excise, his connexions with the merchant community helping him to put across a convincing explanation of the new methods of collection. He did not, however, obtain a place in the contingent of Scottish Members sent to Westminster in 1707. He stood unsuccessfully for Linlithgowshire in 1708.4
In February 1709 Montgomerie replaced Sir David Nairne as under-secretary of state for Scotland, serving as private secretary to Queensberry. He was returned to the British Parliament early in 1710, as a nominee of the Court peer Lord Bute at a by-election for Buteshire. Again he had been provided with an appropriate qualification shortly before the election, taking sasine of a property on Great Cumbrae island on 16 Jan. Little is known of his participation in Commons’ business, which would in any case be difficult to distinguish from that of his namesake Hon Francis Montgomerie*. As a Court man, he naturally voted in favour of the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell.5
Buteshire, which alternated its representation, did not elect in 1710, and either no alternative was provided for Montgomerie or he stood down voluntarily. After Queensberry’s death in July 1711 the Scottish secretaryship was temporarily suppressed, and Montgomerie did not wait to serve under a new master. Although out of the House, he was brought to its attention by the commissioners of public accounts in January 1712. Montgomerie had allegedly paid over money to Robert Walpole II* in order to obtain forage contracts, and while his own testimony failed to confirm this point he did admit that various sums had been given to other government officials. Personal financial difficulties had come to a sudden crisis. He had evidently been operating as a private banker, and just at this time his business failed. In June 1713 it was reported to the Duke of Atholl that
Mr John Montgomerie of Wrae [is] gone out of the way for debt, to the surprise of everybody, and it’s computed he will be in upwards of £20,000 st[erling] of debts. It’s thought he will have funds on the other hand to clear the most part of it if not all.
One Scottish official commented in August that Montgomerie’s ‘going off was a great surprise to all people here, but . . . he, being a wise man, immediately made over his effects to his creditors and appears publicly’. His problems were aggravated by the Treasury’s pursuit of the accounts of the Scottish customs farmers, which had still not been delivered some seven years after the Union. Possibly in order to protect himself against impending legal action, Montgomerie seems to have contemplated a second parliamentary candidature for Buteshire, but by now Lord Bute’s interest was committed to a nominee of the Duke of Argyll. In the event, the customs farmers reached a composition with the Treasury in 1714, and parliamentary privilege was not needed. Montgomerie died on 11 Mar. 1725, and was succeeded by his son George.6
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: D. W. Hayton
- 1. Hist. Scot. Parl. ii. 509; APS, ix. 140; xi. 142; Scot. Rec. Soc. xxvii. 487; lxii. 145; W. Forbes, Jnl. of Session (1714), 715.
- 2. C. A. Malcolm, Bank of Scotland, 299; SRO, Hay of Belton mss GD73/1/42b, stockholders in Bank of Scotland, 1719.
- 3. Cal. Treas. Bks. xxi. 261, 282, 402; xxiii. 108, 175; NLS, Advocates’ mss, Wodrow pprs. letters Quarto 5, f. 24; SRO, Montrose mss GD220/5/196/1, John Bruce* to Montrose, 8 Feb. 1709.
- 4. Hist. Scot. Parl. 509; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxii. 91; CSP Dom. 1697, p. 496; 1703–4, p. 432; P. W. J. Riley, Union, 331; Luttrell, Brief Relation, vi. 173; Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1702–7, pp. 522–4.
- 5. P. W. J. Riley, Eng. Ministers and Scotland, 133; SRO, Hamilton mss GD406/1/5554, John Hamilton to the Duke of Hamilton, 16 Aug. 1709; SRO Indexes, iii. 607.
- 6. CJ, xvii. 18, 24, 29–30, 96; Atholl mss at Blair Atholl, box 45, bdle. 11, no. 29, John Douglas to Atholl, 13 June 1713; SP54/5/69; Roxburghe mss at Floors Castle, bdle. 1079, William Jameson to Countess of Roxburghe, 5 Aug. 1713; SRO Indexes, iii. 607; ix. 751; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxviii. 92–93; Hist. Scot. Parl. 509.