Montgomerie, Alexander (1660?-1729) (DNB00)

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MONTGOMERIE, ALEXANDER, ninth Earl of Eglinton (1660?–1729), eldest son of Alexander, eighth earl of Eglinton, by his first wife, Lady Elizabeth Crichton, eldest daughter of William, second earl of Dumfries, was born about 1660. From the time of the death of his grandfather, Hugh [q. v.], in 1669, he was boarded with Matthew Fleming, the minister of Culross, Perthshire, who superintended his education at the school of Culross until 1673, when he was sent to the university of St. Andrews, where he remained till Lammas 1676. A few months after leaving the university he married Lady Margaret Cochrane, eldest daughter of Lord Cochrane, the son of the first Earl of Dundonald, on which occasion his father made over to him the Eglinton estates. After the revolution he was chosen a privy councillor by King William, and also a lord of the treasury. In 1700 he obtained a letter from the king to sit and vote in the Scots parliament in place of the lord high treasurer. He succeeded to the earldom on the death of his father in 1701. On Queen Anne's accession in 1702 Eglinton was chosen a privy councillor, and in 1711 he was named one of the commissioners of the chamberlain's court. In 1710, and again in 1713, he was elected one of the Scottish representative peers. Lockhart, who was his son-in-law, states that when he himself proposed to bring in a bill for resuming the bishops' revenues in Scotland, and applying them to the episcopal clergy there, Eglinton gave his support to the measure, and assured Queen Anne that the presbyterians would not actively oppose it (Papers, i. 450). This is corroborated by Wodrow, who asserts that Lockhart, either in the House of Peers or in the privy council, proposed 'that as we are one in civil we should be one in church matters' (Analecta, i. 318). Wodrow also states that his speech on patronage and toleration was 'so very good' that it was supposed 'it was done by somebody for him' (ib. p. 320). In June 1712 he also proposed a bill for prolonging the time for taking the oath of abjuration till 1 Nov. (ib. ii. 54).

Lockhart affirms that Eglinton at last professed himself a Jacobite, and promised him three thousand guineas ' to help the j Pretender in his restoration' (Papers, ii. 9). Wodrow also relates that shortly before the rebellion in 1715 Eglinton 'was at a meeting of the Jacobites where the rebellion, as to the manner of carrying out, was concerted, and heard all their proposals' (Analecta, ii. 359). Nevertheless, during the crisis he raised and disciplined the Ayrshire fencibles, with which on 22 Aug. he joined the Earls of Kilmarnock and Glasgow and Lord Semple at Irvine in support of the government (Rae, History of the Rebellion, 2nd edit. p. 203). He died suddenly at Eglinton on 18 Feb. 1729. Between nine hundred and a thousand beggars are stated to have attended his funeral, 50l. being divided among them.

Eglinton was thrice married. By his first wife, Margaret Cochrane, he had three sons and six daughters : Hugh, lord Montgomerie, died in 1696; Alexander, died young; John, died young; Catherine, married to James, fifth earl of Galloway; Elizabeth, died young; Jean, died young; Euphemia, married to George Lockhart of Carnwath [q. v.]; Grace, to Robert, sixth earl of Carnwath; and Jean, to Sir Alexander Maxwell of Monreith, Wigtownshire. By his second wife, Lady Anne Gordon, daughter of George, first earl of Aberdeen, lord high chancellor of Scotland, he had one daughter, Mary married to Sir David Cuningham of Milncraig, Ayrshire a celebrated beauty, whose charms are sung by Hamilton of Bangour. By his third wife, Susannah, daughter of Sir Archibald Kennedy of Culzean, Ayrshire, he had three sons and seven daughters : James, lord Montgomerie; Alexander, tenth earl of Eglinton, and Archibald, eleventh earl, both of whom are separately noticed; Helen, married to the Hon. Francis Stuart of Pittendriech, third son of James, eighth earl of Moray; Mary, to Sir Alexander Macleod of Macleod; Frances, unmarried; Christian, married to James Moray of Abercairney; Grace, to Charles Byrne, a cornet in Eland's dragoons; Charlotte, died young; and Susannah, unmarried.

The third Countess of Eglinton (1689-1780) and her daughters were celebrated for a characteristic gracefulness of feature and bearing known as the 'Eglinton air.' The personal attractiveness of the countess was also enhanced by her wit and her intellectual accomplishments. To her Allan Ramsay dedicated his 'Gentle Shepherd,' and to the dedication Hamilton of Bangour added a poetical address to the countess in heroic couplets. Subsequently Allan Ramsay presented to her the original manuscript of the poem, and it was given by her to James Boswell. The countess entertained Dr. Johnson in 1773 at Auchans, Ayrshire, on his return from the Hebrides. Although then in her eighty-fifth year, she retained much of her personal charm and her intellectual vivacity. Johnson told her she 'was married the year before he was born,' upon which she said 'she might have been his mother and would adopt him,' and at parting embraced him as her son. She died 18 March 1780, at the age of ninety-one. Two engravings of the Countess Susannah, from family portraits, are in Sir William Fraser's 'Earls of Eglinton.' One by Gavin Hamilton [q. v.] belongs to the Rev. W. K. R. Bedford of Sutton Coldfield.

[Lockhart Papers; Wodrow's Analecta (Spalding Club); Rae's Hist, of Rebellion; Johnson's Tour to the Hebrides; Sir William Fraser's Earls of Eglinton; Douglas's Scottish Peerage (Wood), i. 506–7.]

T. F. H.