Montgomerie, Robert (d.1609) (DNB00)

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MONTGOMERIE, ROBERT (d. 1609), titular archbishop of Glasgow, was the third son of Hugh Montgomerie of Hessilhead, Ayrshire, by a daughter of Houston of Houston, and a younger brother of Alexander Montgomerie [q. v.] the poet (pedigree in General G. S. Montgomery's History of the Montgomerys). He is mentioned by the first general assembly of the reformed kirk, 20 Dec. 1560, as one of those thought able to minister (Calderwood, ii. 46), and was appointed to the charge of Cupar Fife about 1562. In 1567 he was translated to Dunblane, and in 1572 to Stirling. He was one of a commission who in 1572 met in the house of Knox to arrange certain articles to be propounded to the regent and council (ib. iii. 210); in 1580 he received a commission to warn the bishops of Argyll and the Isles to appear before the assembly to answer such things as might be laid to their charge (ib. p. 465); and in 1581 he was named a commissioner for the establishment of a presbytery in Stirling and Linlithgow (ib. p. 524).

After the death in 1581 of James Boyd, titular archbishop of Glasgow, James VI, on the recommendation of Esmé Stewart, duke of Lennox, presented Montgomerie with the bishopric, Montgomerie, on the payment of 1,000l. Scots, giving a bond to Lennox to dispone to him and his heirs all the income of his see. The general assembly censured Montgomerie for agreeing to accept a bishopric, and interdicted him from undertaking the office. Montgomerie was supported by the king and council, who denied the illegality of episcopacy, but the kirk met this by articles against Montgomerie, declaring him unfit for any high office, and commanding him to remain at Stirling under pain of the highest censures of the kirk (ib. p. 580). Montgomerie thereupon set them at defiance, and on 8 March entered the church of Glasgow accompanied by a band of the royal guard, and in the king's name commanded the officiating minister to come down from the pulpit (ib. p. 595). This he declined, and through the interference of the laird of Minto, Montgomerie was induced to desist (ib.} The students of Glasgow University also took the part of the kirk against Montgomerie, and on 22 April were summoned to answer before the council on 10 Sept. for riots in opposition to him (Reg. P. C. Scotl. iii. 490). On 12 April an order was also made by the council forbidding the presbyteries, synods, and general assemblies of the kirk from proceeding against Montgomerie (ib. p. 476). Nevertheless the kirk resolved to proceed to excommunication, unless he desisted from his purpose (Calderwood, iii. 596-7), and summoned him to appear before the next general assembly. He appeared, and, after protesting against their proceedings as illegal, declined their jurisdiction in the matter in dispute. They were proceeding to his excommunication when a messenger from the king appeared charging them to desist under pain of rebellion and horning, and although this did not prevent them passing a resolution for his excommunication, they resolved to delay sentence till they had held further conference with him. The result was that he 'granted, as appeared with all submission, his offences in every point, to the great admiration and contentment of the assembly,' and promised to 'attempt nothing further concerning the bishopric' (ib. pp. 599-607). Finding afterwards, however, that he had the strong support of the king and council, he resiled from his promise, and consequently on 10 June was excommunicated by the presbytery of Edinburgh (ib. p. 621). As excommunication by the kirk then meant expulsion from all human society, the Earl of Gowrie was on 26 June summoned before the presbytery of Edinburgh for having received Montgomerie into his house (ib. p. 622). Notwithstanding also that on 25 July proclamation was made at the cross of Edinburgh in the king's name declaring the excommunication null and void, he was expelled from the town of Edinburgh, where he had shown himself publicly in the streets. As he was removed out of the town the people waited for him, 'craftsmen with batons, wives and boys with stones and rotten eggs. If he had not been conveyed by the provost down the Kirk Wynd, he had barely escaped danger of his life' (ib. p. 634). The incident so tickled the fancy of the king that 'he lay down on the Inch of Perth not able to contain himself for laughter.' Soon afterwards occurred the raid of Ruthven, which was followed on 12 Sept. by a proclamation by the king virtually resiling from all further opposition to the assembly. Montgomerie consequently on 13 Nov. presented a supplication to the presbytery of Edinburgh containing a confession of his offences and a suit to be restored, but was directed to make his suit to the general assembly (ib. p. 691). On 22 May 1584 his excommunication was declared by parliament to be null and void, but on 7 Dec. 1685 the king promised that he should be produced for trial before the first general assembly he should appoint (the king's interpretation of his acts of parliament set forth in May 1584, ib. iv. 469-63). Finally in 1587 Montgomerie, finding the bishopric to be of no pecuniary value to him, resigned it, and the assembly on certain conditions agreed to 'dispense with' him 'in some ceremonies used in repentance' (ib. p. 631). On his supplication the assembly in 1588 further decided that he might be admitted pastor over a flock, provided he was 'found qualified in life and doctrine' (ib. p. 670). He was accordingly in the same year settled at Symington, Ayrshire, whence in 1589 he was transferred to Ayr. He died after 25 March 1609. By his wife Beatrice Jameson he had a son Robert, who after the appointment of his father to the bishopric of Glasgow obtained from the king the stipend of the kirk of Stirling until the grant was revoked on 1 Nov. 1583 (Reg. P. C. Scotl. iii. 606).

[Histories of Calderwood and Spotiswood ; James Melville's Diary ; Reg. P. C. Scotl. vols. iii-iv. ; Keith's Scottish Bishops; Hew Scott's Fasti, ii. 144, 188, 459, 671, 715; General Montgomery's Hist, of the Montgomerys.]

T. F. H.