MONTGOMERIE, John II (1680-1731), of Giffen, Ayr.
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Family and Education
bap. 11 Sept. 1680, 1st s. of Hon. Francis Montgomerie* by his 2nd w. educ. Glasgow 1694. m. contract 28 Sept. 1704, Lady Mary, da. of John Carmichael, 1st Earl of Hyndford [S], 1da. suc. fa. by 1729.
Burgess, Ayr 1701, Edinburgh 1713; freeman, New York 1728.1
Master of mint [S] June 1710–d.; groom of bedchamber to Prince of Wales 1714–27; capt.-lt. 3 Ft. Gds. 1715–17, capt. and lt.-col. 1723, left army by 1727; gov. New York and New Jersey 1727–d.2
Elected unanimously for Ayrshire in 1710 on the interest of his cousin, the 9th Earl of Eglintoun, and with some assistance from his own father, the outgoing Member, John Montgomerie enjoyed for a while the best of both worlds in terms of political patronage. Francis Montgomerie’s long membership of the old Scottish Court party headed by the Duke of Queensberry, and his close association with his nephew Seafield, had already succeeded in procuring from the Godolphin (Sidney†) ministry, at Seafield’s intercession, a grant to John of the mastership of the Scottish mint, a post which after a short time decayed into a sinecure while retaining its salary of £200 p.a. The connexion with Seafield also ensured that lines of communication would be maintained after 1710 with the new English administration led by Robert Harley*, a benefit reinforced though Lord Eglintoun’s episcopalian sympathies and friendships, which by extension gave Montgomerie some temporary credibility with Tory interests on either side of the border. He was in fact listed as a Court Tory in the analysis of the new Scottish parliamentary representation prepared by the Duchess of Buccleuch’s chaplain, Richard Dongworth, and during the first session figured among the ‘Tory patriots’ who favoured peace and the ‘worthy patriots’ who exposed the mismanagements of the previous ministry. Socially, he frequented the Anglo-Scottish dining group of Lord Ossulston, mixing with Tories and Whigs (the former mainly of the Scottish variety and the latter English). In the division of 7 Feb. 1712 on the Scottish toleration bill he contrived to be absent, being ‘at Richmond’ in Surrey, but the following year did nail his colours to the mast. Having attended the initial meeting of Scottish MPs on 23 May 1713 at which, in response to the imposition of the malt tax on Scotland, it was unanimously agreed to seek the co-operation of the representative peers in moving a repeal of the Union, he carried over his opposition to the ministry into the proceedings on the French commercial treaty, voting on 4 June against the second reading of the bill confirming its 8th and 9th articles, and again at the engrossment stage on the 18th. The published list of the latter division was quite clear about the mainspring of Montgomerie’s opposition, classifying him as a Whig, while at his re-election for Ayrshire in October, his parliamentary conduct was heartily approved, ‘particularly . . . his care and support of the Presbyterian church as by law established’.3
Marked as a ‘Hanoverian’ in the list of the new Scottish Members compiled by Lord Polwarth, and described by the journalist George Ridpath as zealous for the Protestant succession, Montgomerie told on 4 Mar. 1714 against hearing at the bar of the House a petition against the return of the Squadrone Whig Sir John Anstruther, 1st Bt.*, for Anstruther Easter Burghs. He was later recorded as voting on 18 Mar. against the expulsion of Richard Steele, and on 12 May in support of the Whig motion to extend the scope of the schism bill to include popery.
After the Hanoverian succession Montgomerie was rewarded for his loyalty with an office in the household of the Prince of Wales. Re-elected in 1715, he was naturally classified as a Whig in the Worsley list. His political allegiance in this Parliament was to the ‘Leicester Fields’ party, with a secondary affiliation to the Duke of Argyll. In consequence he divided from the ministry in 1717 (over the attack on Lord Cadogan [William*]) and lost a recently acquired army commission, only for this to be regranted in 1723, and enhanced, at the Prince’s request. Financial difficulties forced him to sell his estate in about 1725, and two years later to renounce his parliamentary seat. At the Prince’s accession to the throne he was given the lucrative post of governor of New York and New Jersey, where, despite an affable demeanour, he failed to distinguish himself. He courted popularity rather than attempting any forceful political leadership, preferring wherever possible to appease local interests. Understandably, the colonists liked him as ‘an honest gentleman’. He died in New York of a stroke, on 1 July 1731. No will being discovered, administration was granted there to one Charles Home.4
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: D. W. Hayton
- 1. Carnegie Lib. Ayr, Ayr burgh recs. B6/18/8, council mins. 19 June 1701; Scot. Rec. Soc. lxii. 145; New York Hist. Soc. 1885, p. 110.
- 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. xxiv. 343.
- 3. HMC 14th Rep. III, 208; Newton Corresp. v. 58, 212; SHR, lx. 63; NLS, ms 1392, f. 80; Aberdeen Univ. Lib. Duff House (Montcoffer) mss 3175/2380, ‘Resolution of the Commons to call a Meeting of the Lords’,  May 1713; Parlty. Hist. i. 69; Huntington Lib. Huntington mss HM44710, f. 262.
- 4. Governors of New Jersey ed. Stellhorn and Birkner, 48–52; New York Hist. Soc. xxvii. 34.