MONTGOMERY, Sir George, 2nd bt. (1765-1831), of Macbie Hill, Peebles.
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Family and Educationb. 1765, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Sir William Montgomery, 1st bt., of Macbie Hill and Dublin, MP [I], and 2nd w. Anne, da. of Humphrey Evatt of Mount Louise, co. Monaghan. unm. suc. fa. as 2nd bt. 25 Dec. 1788. d. 10 July 1831.
Lt. 68 Ft. 1778; capt. army 1783; capt. 14 Drag. 1786; ret. 1790.
Montgomery’s family was a cadet branch of that of the earls of Eglinton, based in Ayrshire. His grandfather William bought Coldcoat in Peeblesshire in the early eighteenth century and renamed it Macbie Hill. William’s elder son and namesake, who was born in 1777, migrated to Dublin, where he prospered as an army contractor. He sat in the Irish Parliament for Ballynakill, Queen’s County, from 1768 until his death in 1788, and was created a baronet in 1774. With his first wife, Hannah Tomkyns of Londonderry, he had a son, William Stone Montgomery, who entered the army and died in 1777 of wounds sustained in the American war. His second wife bore him two sons, George and Robert, who both joined the army. Robert, lieutenant-colonel of the 9th Foot, was killed on 6 Apr. 1803 by Captain Macnamara of the navy in a duel on Primrose Hill, which arose from a minor altercation earlier that day in Hyde Park, where their Newfoundland dogs had started fighting.1
George Montgomery retired from the army soon after being served heir to his father, who in 1767 had, with the consent of the Irish viceroy Lord Townshend (his future son-in-law), bought for £2,300 the office of auditor of impressed accounts, with reversion to George. On his father’s death Pitt’s ministry got his agreement to a recall of the patent, on condition that he was given an office of £800 a year. Soon afterwards he was made clerk of the head permit office, with an engagement to have the salary supplemented to £800. On 23 July 1789 Montgomery had one William Matthews named as his trustee in the office. On his death in 1796 Matthews was replaced by one Joseph Webb, who continued to pay the emoluments to Montgomery until July 1808, when the Portland ministry’s Act (48 Geo. III, c. 56) abolished the fees. In 1810 Montgomery went to Dublin and memorialised the viceroy, the duke of Richmond. His claim for compensation was referred to the commissioners of customs, who ruled that the fees were his legal property. He received regular quarterly payments amounting to £492 a year until 5 Apr. 1812, when the Liverpool ministry removed him from the compensation list, after Webb had been given another office and persuaded to relinquish his trust. Montgomery laid his case before Robert Peel, the new Irish secretary, in July 1813, complaining that ‘a series of injuries not easily reconciled under the term of inadvertancy’ had caused him ‘much trouble and inconvenience’, and pressing for legislation to amend the Act of 1808 so as to make a compensatory pension payable to the person for whom the trust was held. Peel told Richmond that ‘this case certainly calls for redress’, but that it would be preferable to avoid recourse to Parliament. Montgomery persisted, and on Peel’s advice Richmond personally assured him, on the eve of his departure from Ireland in August 1813, that he would do his utmost to obtain ‘satisfaction’ for him. He was subsequently offered a compensatory pension, but in January 1814 he rejected it as falling ‘very far short of my claim’. Both Peel and the new lord lieutenant, Lord Whitworth, who thought he was being ‘unreasonable’, were ready to call his bluff of taking legal action. The outcome is unclear, but Montgomery was evidently pacified in some fashion.2
He offered for Peeblesshire, promising to ‘promote the safety of the king and constitution’, when his first cousin Sir James Montgomery, who had held the seat for over 30 years, retired in January 1831. A threatened challenge came to nothing and he was returned unopposed.3 While Montgomery was connected through two of his sisters’ marriages to the Tory Beresfords, his sister Harriet was married to George Byng, the veteran Foxite Whig Member for Middlesex. An Edinburgh Whig had reported that he was ‘quite right in politics, supports ministers, reform, retrenchment and economy’;