Sir James Montgomery, 1st Baronet

Last updated

Queensberry House, Canongate Edinburgh Queensberry House, Canongate Edinburgh.jpg
Queensberry House, Canongate Edinburgh
Stobo Castle, Scottish Borders Stobo Castle, Scottish Borders.JPG
Stobo Castle, Scottish Borders
Sir James Montgomery's gravestone at Stobo Kirk Sir James Montgomery Stobo Kirk.JPG
Sir James Montgomery's gravestone at Stobo Kirk

Sir James Montgomery, 1st Baronet Stanhope, FRSE (1721 – 2 April 1803) was a Scottish advocate, judge, country landowner, agriculturalist and politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1766 to 1775. In 1783 he was a joint founder of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. [1]



Montgomery was born at Macbie Hill in Peeblesshire in October 1721, the second son of William Montgomery, Sheriff-Depute of Peeblesshire, of Coldcoat or Macbie Hill, Peeblesshire. His mother was Barbara Rutherford, daughter of Robert Rutherford of Bowland, Stow, Midlothian. [2] In Edinburgh he resided at Queensberry House on the Royal Mile and was its last resident as a private house. Here he famously had a black servant named "Hannibal". [3]

After schooling at the parish school at West Linton, Montgomery studied law at the University of Edinburgh, and was called to the Scottish bar on 19 February 1743. In 1748, after heritable jurisdictions had been abolished, he was appointed the first sheriff of Peebles under the new system. On 30 April 1760, thanks to the influence of his friend Robert Dundas, then newly appointed lord president, he succeeded Sir Thomas Miller, Lord Glenlee as Solicitor General for Scotland jointly with Francis Garden (1721–1793). In 1764, he became sole solicitor-general, and in 1766 Lord Advocate in succession to Miller, to whose parliamentary seat for the Dumfries Burghs he succeeded also. [2]

But at the general election of 1768, Montgomery was returned for Peeblesshire, a seat which he retained till he was raised to the bench. A learned lawyer and an improving landlord, he was peculiarly fitted to deal with the question of entails, which had now become pressing, owing to the extent to which details fettered the practical management of land. The existing statute was Sir George Mackenzie's Act of 1685, and since it passed 485 deeds of entail had been registered under it. The public demanded a reform; the Faculty of Advocates had passed resolutions approving it. Montgomery accordingly introduced a measure in March 1770, which passed into law (10 Geo. Ill, c. 51) and considerably enlarged the powers of the heir of an entail in respect of leasing and improving the entailed lands, and even provided for the exchange of land in spite of an entail. [2]

Though he remained in parliament, Montgomery took little further interest in its proceedings after the passage of his bill. In June 1775, he was created Lord Chief Baron of the Scottish Exchequer, and in 1781 he was elected fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland; he resigned his judgeship in April 1801. In July 1801, he was created a Baronet. [2]

Montgomery was, like his father, skilled in farming, and in 1763 bought a half-reclaimed estate of Lord Islay's in Peeblesshire, originally called Blair Bog, but afterwards 'The Whim,' which eventually became his favourite residence. In 1767, he bought for £40,000 Stanhope and Stobo with its feudal barony in Peeblesshire, part of the estates of Sir David Murray, 4th Baronet, which had been confiscated for their owner's complicity in the Jacobite rising of 1745. He thenceforward chiefly resided in the country, where his good methods of farming and the improvements which he promoted, notably the Peebles and Edinburgh road in 1770, gained for him the title of 'The Father of the County.' [2]

Montgomery died at Stobo on 2 April 1803 [2] and is buried in Stobo churchyard.


Montgomery married Margaret Scot, daughter and heiress of Robert Scot of Killearn, Stirlingshire. They had four sons, and three daughters:

Montgomery was succeeded in his baronetcy by James, his second son, afterwards Lord Advocate, his first-born son, William, a lieutenant-colonel in the 43rd foot, having predeceased him. [2]

Montgomery and his wife, Margaret Scott, are buried in a walled-off part of the cemetery at Stobo Kirk near Peebles, with an unusual wall lining of yew hedge. His home had been the nearby Stobo Castle, which he purchased in 1767 for the sum of £40,500. [4]

Montgomery was grandfather to James Francis Montgomery. [1]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Peeblesshire</span> Historic county in Scotland

Peeblesshire, the County of Peebles or Tweeddale is a historic county of Scotland. Its county town is Peebles, and it borders Midlothian to the north, Selkirkshire to the east, Dumfriesshire to the south, and Lanarkshire to the west.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ilay Campbell, Lord Succoth</span> Scottish judge and politician (1734–1823)

Sir Ilay Campbell, 1st Baronet, Lord Succoth, (1734–1823) was a Scottish advocate, judge and politician. He rose to be Lord President of the Court of Session.

Peeblesshire was a Scottish county constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom (Westminster) from 1708 until 1868. It elected one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post voting system.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thomas Miller, Lord Glenlee</span> Scottish judge and politician

Sir Thomas Miller, 1st Baronet FRSE, known as Lord Barskimming (1766–88) and Lord Glenlee during his judicial service, was a Scottish advocate, judge, politician and landowner. He was a founder member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1783, and served as the society's first vice-president, 1783 to 1786.

The baronetcy of Cuninghame of Corsehill was created in the Baronetage of Nova Scotia and conferred upon Alexander Cuninghame of Corsehill, a Scottish baron and landowner in Dumfriesshire and a great-great-great-grandson of the 4th Earl of Glencairn. The fourth baronet's father added the name Montgomery before his own on inheriting the estate of Kirktonholm.

Sir David Dalrymple, 1st Baronet, of Hailes was a Scottish advocate and politician who sat in the Parliament of Scotland from 1698 to 1707 and in the British House of Commons from 1707 to 1721. He served as Lord Advocate, and eventually Auditor of the Exchequer in Scotland in 1720.

Richard de Morville, Lord of Cunninghame succeeded his father, Hugh de Morville, as Constable of Scotland and in his Scottish estates and English lands at Bozeat in Northamptonshire, and Rutland, as well as a number of feus of the Honour of Huntingdon.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stobo Castle</span> Castle in Scottish Borders, Scotland, UK

Stobo Castle is located at Stobo in the Scottish Borders, in the former county of Peeblesshire. The Manor of Stobo was originally owned by the Balfour family. It became the family seat of the Graham-Montgomery Baronets from 1767. The building of the present castle began in 1805 and was completed in 1811 under the supervision of architects Archibald and James Elliot. It is currently operated as a health spa. The house is protected as a category A listed building, while the grounds are included in the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland, the national listing of significant parks and gardens.

Three Steuart baronetcies were given to three brothers, the first, fourth, and seventh of the seven sons of Sir James Steuart, knight, Lord Provost of Edinburgh, who died in 1681.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alexander Murray, Lord Henderland</span> Scottish judge and politician (1736–1795)

Alexander Murray, Lord Henderland was a Scottish judge and politician.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sir James Montgomery, 2nd Baronet</span> Scottish politician and lawyer (1766–1839)

Sir James Montgomery, 2nd Baronet Stanhope, FRSE was a Scottish politician and lawyer who served as Lord Advocate of Scotland 1804 to 1806.

Sir James Nasmyth, 1st Baronet, also known as James Naesmith, was a successful Scottish lawyer.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Barony of Stobo</span>

The Barony of Stobo is a Scottish feudal barony which takes its name from Stobo in the Scottish Borders.

Sir Archibald Hope, Lord Rankeillor was a Scottish advocate and judge, the second son of John Hope, Lord Craighall, the grandfather of the botanist John Hope and the great-grandfather of the chemist Thomas Charles Hope, FRSE.

SirThomas Hope, 8th Baronet was a Scottish aristocrat, lawyer and agricultural reformer.

Lieutenant-Colonel Sir James Graham-Montgomery, 4th Baronet was a Scottish British Army officer and landowner.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sir George Montgomery, 2nd Baronet</span>

Sir George Montgomery, 2nd Baronet was a British Army officer and Tory politician of Scottish and Anglo-Irish descent.

The Montgomery baronetcy, of Stanhope in the County of Peebles, was created in the Baronetage of the United Kingdom on 16 July 1801 for the Scottish lawyer and politician James Montgomery. The second Baronet represented Peeblesshire in Parliament. The third Baronet represented both Peebles and Peebles and Selkirk in Parliament. He assumed the additional surname of Graham. The seventh Baronet was Lord-Lieutenant of Kinross-shire. He assumed the surname of Purvis-Russell-Montgomery in 1906 and Purvis-Russell-Hamilton-Montgomery in 1933. The eighth and ninth Baronet have used the surname Montgomery only. The ninth Baronet was Lord-Lieutenant of Perth and Kinross.

Sir Robert Hay, 8th Baronet of Smithfield and Haystoun DL JP was a Scottish baronet.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sir John Hay, 5th Baronet</span> Scottish baronet, banker and landowner

Sir John Hay, 5th Baronet of Smithfield and Haystoun was a Scottish baronet, banker and landowner.


  1. 1 2 Biographical Index of Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783–2002 (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. ISBN   0-902-198-84-X.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Hamilton 1894.
  3. "Montgomery, Sir James, 2nd bt. (1766–1839), of Stobo Castle, Stanhope, Peebles. | History of Parliament Online".
  4. Seymour, p. 10


Wikisource-logo.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Hamilton, John Andrew (1894). "Montgomery, James William". In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography . Vol. 38. London: Smith, Elder & Co.


Legal offices
Preceded by Solicitor General for Scotland
With: Francis Garden 1760–64
Succeeded by
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Dumfries Burghs
Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Peeblesshire
Succeeded by
Academic offices
Preceded by Rector of the University of Glasgow
Succeeded by
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baronet
(of Stanhope)
Succeeded by