MONTGOMERY, Sir James, 2nd bt. (1766-1839), of Stobo Castle, Stanhope, Peebles.
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Family and Educationb. 9 Oct. 1766, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Sir James Montgomery†, 1st bt., of Stanhope and Margaret, da. and h. of Robert Scott of Killearn, Stirling. educ. Edinburgh h.s.; Edinburgh Univ. 1784; adv. 1787. m. (1) 1 Aug. 1806, Lady Elizabeth Douglas (d. 28 Oct. 1814), da. of Dunbar, 4th earl of Selkirk [S], 1s. d.v.p. 2da.; (2) 13 May 1816,1 Helen, da. of Thomas Graham† of Kinross House, Kinross, 3s. 2da. (1 d.v.p.). suc. fa. as 2nd bt. 2 Apr. 1803. d. 27 May 1839.
Ld. advocate [S] Dec. 1804-Mar. 1806; presenter of signatures in exch. [S] for life.
Capt. R. Edinburgh vols. 1797, Peebles yeoman cav. 1803; dep. gov. British Linen Co. 1817.
Montgomery, the son and heir of a lord chief baron, who had been the last resident of Queensberry House in Edinburgh’s Canongate and kept a black servant called Hannibal, was an undistinguished lord advocate in Pitt’s second ministry, the possessor of a sinecure worth £610 a year and a ‘steady adherent’ of the 1st and 2nd Lords Melville.2 He built Stobo Castle, 1805-11. Like his father, he was on intimate terms with ‘Old Q’, the degenerate 4th duke of Queensberry, who on his death in 1810 left him a legacy of £20,000. In 1818 Montgomery successfully petitioned chancery for confirmation of his entitlement to the sum of £10,000, plus interest, which Queensberry had bequeathed to his late first wife. As one of Queensberry’s trustees he was nominally involved in a series of lawsuits over the administration of his contentious will.3
Montgomery continued to sit unopposed for Peeblesshire on the family interest. Melville thought he had ‘a fair claim as an active and resident vice-lieutenant’ to the vacant lord lieutenancy in October 1820, but he was not appointed.4 He was a virtual cipher in the House in this period, when his only certain known votes were with the Liverpool ministry against repeal of the assessed taxes, 10 Mar. 1823, and the Wellington administration for Catholic emancipation, 6 Mar. 1829. It is not clear whether it was he or James Montgomerie who voted against the production of papers on the attack on the Irish viceroy, 24 Mar. 1823. He presented constituency petitions for repeal of the duty on notaries’ licences, 5 Apr., and against interference with the Scottish banking system, 7 Apr. 1826.5 He took three weeks’ leave to attend to urgent private business, 17 Feb. 1825; it was noted that session that he had ‘attended seldom, and voted with ministers’.6 At his election dinner in 1830 he was reported to have proposed the toast, ‘The French revolution, and may the French nation finish in the same spirit what they have so nobly begun’.7 Ministers counted him among their ‘friends’. He gave up his seat in January 1831 ‘on account of his health’.8 Montgomery, who was said to have a paranoid dread of being overtaken by poverty, despite his very considerable wealth, died in May 1839.9 By his will, dated 10 Dec. 1838, he left all his property to his eldest son, successor and residuary legatee, Graham Montgomery (1823-1901), Conservative Member for Peeblesshire, 1852-68, and Selkirkshire and Peeblesshire, 1868-80. He gave £10,000 to his daughter Mary Fleming, £1,200 to his second son John Basil, £20,000 to his third son Thomas Henry and £1,000 to his brother Robert. His personalty was sworn under £18,000 in the province of Canterbury.10