MONTGOMERIE, James (1755-1829), of Wrighthill, Ayr.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press

Constituency

Dates

1818 - 13 Apr. 1829

Family and Education

b. 26 Feb. 1755, 6th s. of Alexander Montgomerie of Coilsfield and Lilias, da. and h. of Sir Robert Montgomerie, 11th bt., of Skelmorlie. m. 1 June 1824,1 Isabella Harriet, da. of Thomas Jackson of Westbury, Glos., s.p. d. 13 Apr. 1829.

Offices Held

Ensign 51 Ft. 1773 (to Minorca 1774), 13 Ft. 1775; adj. to Gen. Sir James Murray, home 1776; lt. 13 Ft. 1779; capt. 93 Ft. 1780; brigade maj. to Maj.-Gen. Bruce at home 1794, brevet maj. 1794; lt.-col. 6 W.I. regt. 1795 (Martinique), 31 Drag. 1796; in command at St. Kitts 1796-8; 45th regt. 1798, invalided home; brevet col. 1802; lt.-col. 64 Ft. 1804, brig.-gen. W.I. 1804; commander, Tobago 1804-5; gov. Demerara and Berbice 1805-8, Dominica 1808-12 (home 1809); maj.-gen. 1809; col. 74 Ft. 1813; lt.-gen. 1814; col. 30 Ft. 1823-d.

Biography

Montgomerie, a professional soldier and former colonial governor, was returned unopposed for Ayrshire for the second time in 1820, supported by his great-nephew, the 13th earl of Eglinton.2 He was a fairly regular attender who gave a mainly silent support to Lord Liverpool’s ministry. Votes attributed to ‘J. Montgomery’ in the sessions of 1821-3 were almost certainly his, not those of Sir James Montgomery, the virtually inactive Member for Peeblesshire. In April 1820, at the time of the Scottish insurrection, he reported to the government’s Scottish manager Lord Melville that, ‘hearing of the very unsettled state of the county’, he had returned to Ayrshire ‘to offer any services in my power’; he evidently shared the opinion of ‘many of the best informed gentlemen’ that ‘martial law for a time would have a very good effect’.3 He voted to defend ministers’ conduct towards Queen Caroline, 6 Feb. 1821. He paired against Catholic relief, 28 Feb. He presented the Ayrshire freeholders’ petition against the Scottish juries bill, 10 May 1821.4 He divided against more extensive tax reductions, 21 Feb. 1822. In his only reported speech, 29 Mar. 1822, he argued that ‘change of circumstances and manners’ required the sheriff of Glasgow to be permanently resident, like his Edinburgh counterpart.5 He presented a petition from the planters of Dominica, where he had been governor, against equalizing the East and West Indian sugar duties, 19 Mar. 1823.6 He voted against repeal of the Foreign Enlistment Act, 16 Apr., parliamentary reform in Scotland, 2 June, and inquiry into delays in chancery, 5 June. However, he divided with the minority to abolish the death penalty for larceny, 21 May 1823. He voted for the Irish unlawful societies bill, 25 Feb., against Catholic claims, 1 Mar., and paired against the relief bill, 21 Apr., 10 May 1825. He divided with the minority against the Leith docks bill, 20 May 1825. It was said of him at this time that he ‘attended frequently and voted with ministers’.7 He voted against the motion to condemn the Jamaican slave trials, 2 Mar. 1826. He presented Ayrshire and Kilmarnock petitions against any alteration to the Scottish banking system, 9, 10 Mar.8 He divided against Russell’s resolutions to curb electoral bribery, 26 May 1826. At the general election that summer he was returned unopposed.9

He attended the county meeting on distress, 9 Aug. 1826, when he lamented the ‘long continued want of regular employment among the operative manufacturers’ and moved that a subscription be raised for their relief.10 He was granted six weeks’ leave on account of illness, 23 Mar. 1827, and appears to have been an invalid for the remainder of his life. A visitor that summer found him ‘much better in health than I [expected] from the accounts I had heard’, but it was thought unlikely that he would offer again at the next general election.