George Montgomery (bishop)

Arms of Montgomerie: Azure, three fleurs-de-lys or
Composite arms of George Montgomery, as shown on the monumental brass mural monument in Washfield Church, Devon, erected by him in memory of his mother-in-law Alice Fry (died 1605).

The Rt Rev. Dr George Montgomery (1562–1621) (alias Montgomerie[1]) was a Scottish protestant cleric, promoted by King James VI and I to various Irish bishoprics. He held the offices of Rector of Chedzoy, Somerset; Dean of Norwich (1603); Bishop of Raphoe, Bishop of Clogher, Bishop of Derry (1605); Bishop of Meath (1610).


He was born in North Ayrshire, the younger son of Adam Montgomery, 5th Laird of Braidstane, and brother of Hugh Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery, who used his influence on George's behalf. Their mother Margaret Hessilhead was a cousin.[2][3] After James I had made him Dean of Norwich in 1603,[4] he was appointed the first Protestant Bishop of Raphoe, in 1605.[5] There he began the construction of The Cathedral Church of St. Eunan.[6] At the same time he was made Bishop of Clogher and Bishop of Derry; and in 1607 lobbied Lord Salisbury for the establishment of free schools in Ulster.[7]

In 1608 when O'Doherty's Rebellion broke out, the settlement of Derry was captured and burnt by the rebels led by Sir Cahir O'Doherty. Although Montgomery and O'Doherty had been on good terms before the rising, (both had quarreled with Sir George Paulet, the Governor of Derry, who is often blamed for provoking the rebellion), the rebels burnt the Bishop's house and his library of two thousand books because of their supposedly heretical content. The Bishop's wife and sister were taken as hostages by the rebels, but were eventually freed by Crown forces.

From 1609 he assisted in the plantation of Scots in western Ulster.[8]

From 1610 he was Bishop of Meath, retaining the Norwich deanery to 1614, and the Raphoe bishopric for the rest of his life. Montgomery was also rector of Chedzoy.[9]

After his death in London in 1620/21 his body was taken to Ireland and buried at Ardbraccan church.[10]

Marriage and childrenEdit

He married twice:

Arms of George Montgomery impaling Steyning, 1605 monumental brass, Washfield Church, Devon. The crest of Montgomery is shown on a helm above: A dexter hand couped holding a fleur-de-lys
Monumental brass mural monument in Washfield Church, Devon, erected by Montgomery in memory of his mother-in-law Alice Fry (died 1605). His arms are shown on the escutcheon at sinister, impaling Steyning: Argent, a bat displayed sable.
  • Firstly to Susan Steyning (died 1614), the eldest daughter of Phillip Steyning (1509–1589), lord of the manor of Holnicote in Somerset,[11] by his wife Alice Fry (1533–1605), a daughter of William Fry, lord of the manor of Yarty in Devon.[12] Montgomery erected a monumental brass tablet in Washfield Church in Devon to his mother-in-law Alice Fry, on which are engraved his arms impaling Steyning. It comprises a lengthy rhyming verse on the lady's good moral character, composed by Montgomery.[13] Susan Steyning's younger sister Margaret Steyning married John Willoughby of Payhembury in Devon, with whom Montgomery frequently corresponded. The correspondence was preserved by Willoughby's granddaughter Mary Willoughby, the wife of George Trevelyan, lord of the manor of Nettlecombe in Somerset, which collection is now known as the Trevelyan Papers. These provide an important source for the biography of Montgomery. By his wife Susan Steyning he had children as follows:
    • Jane Montgomery, their only daughter, who in 1618 married Nicholas St Lawrence, 11th Baron Howth, whose family her father described as "a noble house, the best of the Pale of Ireland".[14] Montgomery provided her with a dowry of £3000, a considerable sum at the time. Though not a love marriage it was apparently a happy one.
  • Secondly he married Elizabeth Brabazon, daughter of Edward Brabazon, 1st Baron Ardee and Mary Smythe, and sister of William Brabazon, 1st Earl of Meath. After his death she made two further marriages: to Sir John Brereton, Serjeant-at-law (Ireland), and finally to Sir John Bramston, the Lord Chief Justice. This last marriage was the revival of a longstanding attachment: her father had forbidden them to marry, but her brother Lord Meath made no objection. She died in 1647. Her stepchildren remembered her fondly as a good wife and kindly stepmother, but not as someone for whom they would expect their father to cherish a long romantic attachment, being short, fat, red-faced and badly dressed.


He was praised in his time as "no lazy bishop nor idle patriot" and was called the "darling and chief advocate of the Church of Ireland". He was also noted for his loyalty to his brother Lord Montgomery, his "best and closest friend".


  1. ^ As he spelled his name on the mural monument he erected to his mother-in-law Alice Fry in Washfield Church, Devon
  2. ^ "The Scots in Ulster: Scottish Landlords". Retrieved 2018-05-04.
  3. ^ "404Error".
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-05-15. Retrieved 2009-08-08.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-10-07. Retrieved 2009-08-08.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "St. Eunan's Cathedral, Raphoe".
  7. ^ [1][dead link]
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-17. Retrieved 2009-08-08.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ "Chedzoy: Church - British History Online".
  10. ^ The antiquities and history of Ireland Sir James Ware. Retrieved 2012-02-06.
  11. ^ Hancock, Frederick, The Parish of Selworthy in the County of Somerset, Taunton, 1897, pp. 128–132 [2]
  12. ^ Vivian, Lt.Col. J.L., (Ed.) The Visitations of the County of Devon: Comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1531, 1564 & 1620, Exeter, 1895, p.375
  13. ^ Hancock, p.130
  14. ^ Letter from Bishop Montgomery to his brother-in-law John Willoughby, Trevelyan Papers, quoted in Hancock, p.146

Further readingEdit

  • Henry A. Jefferies, George Montgomery, first Protestant Bishop of Clogher (1605–1621). Clogher Record: Journal of the Clogher Historical Society, 16:3 (1999), 127-29. ISSN 0412-8079.