Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Montgomery, Robert (1680-1731)

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MONTGOMERY, Sir ROBERT, eleventh Baronet of Skelmorlie (1680–1731), the projector of a scheme for colonisation in America, born at Skelmorlie Castle, Ayrshire, in 1680, was son of Sir James Montgomery or Montgomerie, tenth baronet (d. 1694) [q. v.], by his wife Lady Margaret, second daughter of James Johnstone, second earl of Annandale (Douglas, ed. Wood, i. 74). Robert entered the English army and saw service in the war of the Spanish succession (1702-13). Like his father he early interested himself in practical schemes of colonisation, and after the peace he set about a project which the war had deferred. On 19 June 1717 he received from the lords proprietors of Carolina a grant of land between the rivers Allatamaha and Savanna, and published a full prospectus of the method by which he proposed to settle the territory, which he called the Margravate of Azilia. His tract was entitled 'A Discourse concerning the designed Establishment of a New Colony to the South of Carolina,' 1717. On 20 Feb. 1718 the lords proprietors recommended him to the council as life governor of the southern part of Carolina; on attendance before the council he stated that he had raised 30,000l. among his friends, and needed no money from the crown. On 24 July the scheme was approved. But it seems never to have taken practical shape. It is doubtful whether he even went out to Carolina himself. Doubtless the assumption of the government by the crown a little later put an end to the project, for on 15 Sept. 1720 an application was made to the council to restrain action 'upon some advertisement now published by Sir Robert Montgomery,' which suggested that he was sending persons 'to the Golden Islands, one of which islands lies in the mouth of the River Allatamaha, which has been proposed to be secured.' In August 1731 he died in Ireland, and in the following year a new undertaker made the first effort to plant, under the name of Georgia, the territory which had belonged to Montgomery. He married Frances, eldest daughter of Colonel Francis Stirling; she died at Skelmorlie on 9 June 1759, leaving three daughters, one of whom,Lillias, inherited Coilsfield; she married Alexander Montgomerie, by whom she was mother of Hugh, twelfth earl of Eglinton [q. v.], and died at Coilsfield on 18 Nov. 1783. On Sir Robert's death his title devolved on his uncle, Sir Hugh Montgomery, M.P. for Glasgow, and became extinct on Sir Hugh's death, 14 Jan. 1735.

[Douglas's Peerage of Scotland, ed. Wood, i. 508-9; Appleton's Cycl. of American Biog.; reprint of Montgomery's Discourse in Peter Force's Selection of Tracts and Papers on North America, Washington, 1836-46; State Papers in Record Office.]

C. A. H.