Montgomery Surname Meaning, History & Origin
are French. The surname came from the
ancient castle of
Saint Foi de Montgomery in the diocese of Lisieux in Normandy. It was born by Roger de Montgomerie, a Norman
lord who came to England with William the Conqueror and was one of his
then to Ireland with the Ulster plantations
of the 17th century. There
were some interesting early
this Montgomery family history. Today
there are more Montgomerys
in America than in the UK and Ireland. The
Montgomerie spelling variation persists, although it is not that common
Montgomery Resources on
- Clan Montgomery Clan International
Montgomery clan website.
- The Montgomerys and Their Descendants
D.B. Montgomery’s 1903 book.
- Moville in Donegal
Montgomerys at Moville.
- A Montgomery Family Genealogy.
Montgomery from Ireland to America.
Sir Roger de Montgomery was one of the chief
advisors to William the Conqueror in his invasion of England. As a result he was rewarded with large land
grants there. According to the Doomsday
Book of 1086 he owned 150 castles and lordships in ten counties of
England. Notably he was granted lands on
the Welsh border in the county which later took his name,
Montgomeryshire. He built Shrewsbury Abbey
in 1083 where he is
What happened to that vast inheritance is unclear.
His son Hugh, known as Hugh the Red, died
unmarried without heir. Another son Robert
de Belleme inherited but forfeited after leading a rebellion against
I in 1101.
of his generation, the sons of William’s companions who had earned
honors and titles at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
This newer generation did not share the
values and attitudes of their fathers but rather had different
altogether. They had inherited their
wealth and status, not earned it. Yet they
expected royal favor and patronage without attending court or serving
in any capacity. They often rebelled
when they felt they were not being treated with the dignity and respect
Later Montgomerys in England seem to have come through
the back door, via Ireland. Montgomerys from Blessingbourne in Tyrone were
civil servants, diplomats, and army officers in the early 1900’s. Bernard Montgomery, the British Field
Marshall during World War Two, was born in London.
His roots, however, were in Moville in SE
Donegal which he had visited with his mother as a boy.
de Mundegumri was the
name-bearer in Scotland, a charter witness around the year 1165. This Robert, said to have been a grandson of
Robert de Montgomery, came to Scotland as a follower of the FitzAlans
also from Shropshire. Robert was granted
lands by King David I in Renfrewshire.
The manor of Eaglesham became the clan seat of the Montgomerys
Sir John Montgomery, the 7th chief of the clan, distinguished himself
at the Battle of Otterburn in 1388 when he captured Harry Hotspur, the
the Percys. He acquired the Eglinton
barony in north Ayrshire and his line became the Earls of Eglinton in
The Montgomerys played both sides
of the religious divide in that century.
First they were loyal Catholics of Mary, Queen of Scots. But a later chief had become a staunch
Presbyterian covenanter by the time of the English Civil War.
Their home for a
while was Androssan on the Ayrshire coast where the 10th Earl Alexander Montgomerie was murdered
1769. Their home from 1797 to 1925 was
There were subsidiary
Montgomery branches in north Ayrshire, at Hessilhead and Braidstane. Alexander Montgomerie, a younger
son of the Laird of Hessilhead, was a poet in the court of James VI in
1580’s. Hugh Montgomery of Braidstane
became close to
James I on his accession to the English throne in 1603.
He was thereby able to obtain
half of the O’Neill lands in Ireland as the basis for a Scottish Ulster
Ireland. Sir Hugh Montgomery, Viscount of the Great
Ards as he became, is known as one of the founding fathers of the
Ulster Scots in
Ireland. The Laird of Braidstane’s
Scots colony was established there around 1607.
the first 51 families that
emigrated from Ayrshire and settled on the Montgomery land, only six
them by the name of Montgomery.”
Sir Hugh made his
home on the Ards Peninsula at Grey Abbey, where now stands Rosemount
(built in 1762). The Rev. Hugh
Montgomery fled the house during the Irish Rebellion of 1798. But Montgomerys have lived there ever
since. A descendant is the actress Flora
close to Ulster and other Montgomerys crossed the Irish Sea as well:
- Hugh Montgomery, a kinsman of the Viscount,
was settled at Derrygonnelly in county Fermanagh in 1618.
A later Hugh came into possession of the
Blessingbourne estate in Tyrone in 1730 through marriage.
- a Montgomery family
was at Killaghtee in SE Donegal around 1628. Samuel
Montgomery was a prosperous wine merchant in Derry
and built his
family home, New Park, at
1750. Later Montgomerys were colonial
administrators in India.
- while Alexander Montgomery of Hessilhead came at the
time of Cromwell in the 1640’s and made his home at Croghan in Donegal. His son John was captured by rebels and
narrowly escaped death. His grandson
Alexander was appointed High Sheriff of Monaghan in 1718.
The family home there was at Ballyleck.
Montgomery was born at Killead in county Antrim in 1743.
His line included the Rev. Henry Montgomery,
a Presbyterian minister who founded the liberal Remonstrant
Synod of Ulster, and two 19th century emigrants who made themselves
fortunes – Archibald
Montgomery in New York and Josiah Montgomery in New Zealand. Archibald’s line in America extended to the
actor Robert Montgomery and his daughter Elizabeth
The first Montgomery to
come to America was probably William Montgomery from the Maypole parish
Ayrshire. His father Hugh had fallen on
hard times there. One son James sought
to support the family as a merchant in Glasgow.
But William decided to emigrate and came to Monmouth county in
Jersey in 1702. He named his tract
Eglinton and it remained with the family until the early 1800’s.
early arrivals were Scots Irish from Ulster.
Montgomery came from Antrim to Boston in 1718, part of a Scots Irish
New England at that time. Reportedly
they had to spend the winter on the Maine coast before finding a home
became Londonderry, New Hampshire. Later
Montgomerys were farmers in Strafford county.
Hugh and his son John
Montgomery had fought at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.
Hugh died while John survived. He
emigrated from Donegal to Delaware with
his family in 1720. They made their home
in the Mill Creek Hundred. William
Montgomery, born there in 1736, was a colonel in the Revolutionary War
later a Pennsylvania Congressman. A
later William built the William Montgomery House in Mill Creek Hundred
the year 1810. It still stands.
James and John
Montgomery, also from Donegal, came to that Scottish haven of Virginia,
county, in 1747. James made his home at
Richard Montgomery from a well-to-do Donegal family
had come to New York in 1772 and, at the outbreak of war, taken the
rather than the British side. He led the
American attack into Canada in 1775 but died in the assault on Quebec
City. He was remembered as an American
hero of the War. His home in
New York is now the General Montgomery house and museum.
Montgomerys had arrived in America in
many different places, Tennessee appeared to have had a lot of them by
John Montgomery had
migrated west from Augusta county, Virginia to Tennessee in the 1770’s. He explored the area that today bears his
name (Montgomery county) and later founded the town of Clarksville. He was killed in 1794 in an Indian
William Montgomery, a surveyor,
had arrived in Sumner county from Pennsylvania in 1782, settling in
Island. He also had Indian problems.
April 1788 William’s three sons – John, Robert and Thomas – were killed
Indians outside of their father’s house.
had hobbled out into the orchard where his brothers were trimming apple
trees. The Indians rushed out from a
neighboring thicket and scalped all three, leaving their bodies in a
heap on a
William lived until 1835. His
farm become the
center of the Shackle Island community and was the location for a
mill, sawmill, and fulling mill.
Thomas Montgomery meanwhile came to Blount county from
his family in 1791. Later Montgomerys
lived on a farm near Snow Hill.
Montgomery was an attorney in Nashville when the War of 1812 broke out. He enlisted.
He was killed at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, but was
remembered. Montgomery counties in Alabama and Texas were both
said to be named
after him. Lemuel was descended from
Hugh Montgomery, an Irish immigrant and merchant in the 1760’s in
Montgomery from Kintyre in Scotland came with his wife and family to
Bay on Prince Edward Island in 1775. His
house, still preserved there, was home to five generations of
remained in Montgomery hands until the late 1950’s. One line of
descent led to
Senator Donald Montgomery of Park Corner and his son Hugh, father to
famous author of Anne of Green Gables,
Montgomery’s Inn in Toronto dates back to 1830 when it had
been first opened by Thomas Montgomery.
He had immigrated from Fermanagh some fifteen years earlier and
previously worked in the salt trade and as a surveyor.
The hey-day of the inn was the 1840’s when
many thousands of Irish immigrants, fleeing the potato famine, crowded
Toronto. Montgomery’s Inn continued
until the mid-1850’s, although Thomas himself did not die until 1877. The inn can be seen today in its preserved
state as a museum.
Another tavern owner in Toronto was John Montgomery, the son
of an Empire Loyalist from Connecticut.
His tavern also started in 1830. It
served as a base for the rebels during the Upper Canada Rebellion of
New Zealand. William Montgomery,
brought up in Belfast
after his father died, went to sea in 1834 at the age of 13. By the age of 30 he had bought his own ship
and sailed to Australia. He joined the
Victorian Gold Rush but was unsuccessful.
He departed for Christchurch, New Zealand where he was
successful as a timber
merchant and later entered politics. He
died there in 1914 in his early 90’s.
Select Montgomery Miscellany
Montgomery Origins. Although there
are many stories of the origin of the Montgomery name, one old theory explains
that the name is a corruption of Gomer’s Mount or Gomer’s Hill (from the Latin Mons
Gomeris), any of a number of hills in Europe named in attribution
to the biblical patriarch Gomer. But this does
not explain the final -y or -ie (the phonetic evolution
would have been Montgomers) and this does not correspond to the old mentions
of the place-name Montgomery in Normandy.
The Memorables of the Montgomeries meanwhile contained a narrative in rhyme published in Glasgow in 1770 which referred to the origin of the Montgomery name as follows:
“A noble Roman was the root
From which Montgomeries came,
Who brought his legions from the war,
And settled the same
Upon an hill ‘twixt Rome and Spain,
Gomericus by name;
From which he and his offspring do their
surname still retain.”
relevant probably is the explanation that the name came from the
name Gumarik, a compound of guma meaning “man” and rik
meaning “powerful.” The latter
regularly gives the final –ri or -ry
as in French first names such as Henri or Thierry.
Moreover a name still used as a surname in
France is Gommery, from the older first name Gomeri.
The earliest known person to be styled with
the name is Roger de Montgomerie, found in a contemporary document as
the 11th century Norman nobleman, Roger de Montgomerie the First Earl
Salisbury who owned the village of Montgommery that is
today in Calvados department. Alternatively
a Hugh de Montgomery is given
as the Earl’s father by a Norman chronicler writing in the next
Early Accounts of Montgomery Family History. There were three early accounts of Montgomery family history:
- first was James Fraser’s 1859 book Memorials of the Montgomeries.
was T.H. Montgomery’s 1863 book A Genealogical History of
the Family of
then there was D.B.
Montgomery’s 1903 work The Montgomerys
and Their Descendants.
was an even earlier account of the Montgomerys in Ulster.
Known today as The Montgomery Manuscripts,
these were written down by William
Montgomery of Rosemount in county Down between the years 1697 and
were eventually published in book form together with a preface by
McKnight in 1830.
Mention should also be made of the manuscript compiled by Hugh
Montgomery in the 1750’s. It came to be known as the Broomlands Manuscripts and dealt
with early Montgomery history.
The Murder of Alexander Montgomerie. Alexander Montgomerie the 10th Earl of Eglinton was mortally wounded on the beach near his stables at Parkhouse on his own estate of Ardrossan by an excise officer named Mungo Campbell, following a
poaching and the latter’s right to bear arms on the earl’s grounds.
There were two important issues that presaged the shooting.
Firstly, it transpired
Bartleymore, a favorite servant
of Lord Eglinton, had had dealings with contraband goods.
Mungo had come across Bartleymore on the
seashore with a cart containing eighty gallons of rum, which he duly
contraband. Bartleymore was held in the
Irvine Tolbooth and only escaped deportation to the colonies through
influence of his master. He held a grudge from that day forward and was
determined to get his revenge when the opportunity presented itself.
happened to be crossing part of Lord Eglinton’s estate on a road when a
started up and ran through the dyke. He automatically shot it
with the gun he
was carrying. The Earl happened to hear
the gunshot. At his meeting with the Earl, Mungo apologized for his
which he explained as having been due to the suddenness of the hare’s
October 24, 1769 Alexander Bartleymore was told that two men, one with a gun, had been seen
crossing the Earl’s
land. Bartleymore said that Mungo Campbell was one of the two suspected
and the Earl decided to investigate, leaving his carriage and
the beach on horseback.
Upon catching up with Mungo the Earl demanded that he
hand over the gun he was carrying. Mungo
refused, saying that he would rather die. The Earl then ordered his
fowling-piece to be brought from the carriage, saying that he was as
shot as Mungo. The Earl continued to walk towards Mungo who retreated,
backwards. However he stumbled on a
stone, fell on his back, and the Earl moved quickly to grab his gun.
point Mungo fired at Lord Eglinton who was mortally wounded in the bowels. Mungo threw
his gun away and
tried to wrest the earl’s gun from his servant.
He failed and was attacked by the Earl’s servants.
then taken to Irvine by cart, then to Ayr, later to Glasgow, and
Edinburgh. The mortally wounded Lord Eglinton reportedly said to
Mungot hat he
would not have shot him. Mungo was sentenced to be taken to the
Edinburgh and fed on bread and water only.
On 11 April 1770 he was taken to the Grassmarket to be hanged.
The Montgomerys of Moville in Donegal. An insight into the social life in Moville was to be found in the diary of Jane Harvey, who spent August
1876 in that area.
One of the big events of the summer season was the
Flower Show which was promoted mainly by the gentry. The Regatta took
8th August and enjoyed a wider appeal. After listening to the
band of the 91st
regiment of Highlanders, in the evening Jane went in the evening to a
Kilderry which ended at 5.20 a.m.
She knew Ferguson Montgomery, a keen sportsman
who organized games of tennis and croquet for the ladies on the front
New Park, watched by his parents, Sir Robert and Lady Montgomery.
James preferred cricket, however, and he played a weekly match at
Bathing took place at Drumaweir and afterwards everyone boarded the
boat for Moville.
In the evenings Lady Montgomery was busy organizing
and games of whist in the schoolhouse or parlor for her guests. On
attended both morning and evening church services and listened to the
the young Henry Montgomery, later Bishop of Tasmania.
She described him as impressive but felt he
did a better job in the morning.
When her holiday ended, she took the evening
steamer from Moville back to Derry.
Montgomery County in Texas. Some have Montgomery county in Texas named after
Montgomery county in Alabama which was in turn named after the patriot
Montgomery who died in the War of 1812.
one local story has it that Montgomery took its name from
William Montgomery, a surveyor and widower, who came to Texas in 1822
sons. In 1830 he settled some seven
miles southwest of the town of Montgomery in what is present day Grimes
county. It is claimed by descendants that
was named after this surveyor.
1975 Robin Montgomery wrote in The History
of Montgomery County as follows:
reason the town and county came to be
named for Andrew Montgomery lies in the events surrounding his trading
post. Andrew immediately set about
encouraging settlers to venture down these roads to become his
clientele. In this manner Andrew’s Trading Post became the major pivot
around which the settlement of the later Montgomery county region
revolved. Andrew’s last name became a
unifying element among the gradually expanding circle of settlement.”
William or Andrew who gave his name to Montgomery county?
Family tradition rather than fact seems to
have been the basis for both of these assertions.
Lucy Maud Montgomery. Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote her first novel in 1905. It was rejected by every single publishing
house that received it. A few years later, Montgomery tried shopping it again and succeeded.
Her story about the adventures of a red-headed girl in
Island became a smash hit. That novel ultimately became one of Canada’s
all-time popular books, being translated into around twenty languages
selling more than 50 million copies to date.
Anne of Green Gables and its many sequels
made Montgomery a wildly
successful author and turned PEI into a destination for the book’s
Elizabeth Montgomery’s Ancestry. Elizabeth Montgomery, the star of Bewitched, died in 1995. Her father Robert Montgomery was also a
well-known actor. Their roots went back
to a colorful Irishman named Archibald Montgomery.
Archibald was born in Belfast
in 1821 and sailed to America aboard the Henry
1849. He settled in Brooklyn and became
a charter member of the New York Produce Exchange. The Irishman enjoyed
success in his adopted homeland, owning grain warehouses which were
as “the most extensive on the Atlantic docks,” as well as ships that
were “well known in all European ports.”
He developed in later life
what was seen as an eccentric devotion to pigeons, dogs and other
he brought into his home. According to Robert
grandfather brought horses into the dining room and fed them at
and Christmas. In 1884 Archibald was
arrested for habitual drunkenness after one of his sons, James, secured
Robert Montgomery called his grandfather “a grand guy,” while
others thought Archibald was a madman. The immigrant was regarded as
“the most respected and hated gentleman in Brooklyn.”
His son Henry,
President of the New York Rubber Company, committed suicide by jumping
Brooklyn Bridge in 1922. Henry’s son
Robert, who grew up in New York City, made his breakthrough into films
1930’s. His daughter Elizabeth, actress
and star of Bewitched, was born in
Select Montgomery Names
- Roger de Montgomery was one of William the Conqueror’s principal advisors. He was granted lands on the
Welsh border in the county which later took his name.
- Sir Hugh Montgomery is considered one of the
founding fathers of
the Scots Ulster plantation of the 17th century.
- John Montgomery was an 18th century American soldier, settler and explorer. He is credited with the founding of
Clarksville, Tennessee. Montgomery
county in Tennessee was named after him.
- Sir Bernard Montgomery was a British Field Marshall of the Second World War, famous
for his desert victory at Alamein in 1942.
- Wes Montgomery was an American
jazz guitarist, widely considered one of the greatest who ever played.
- Colin Montgomerie is a Scottish professional golfer who has won a record eight European Tour Order of Merit titles.
Select Montgomery Numbers Today
- 15,000 in the UK (most numerous
in Northern Ireland)
- 39,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
- 15,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)
Select Montgomery and Like Surnames.
The Norman Conquest brought new rulers to England and they brought their names and language, a form of French, with them. Over time their names became less French and more English in character. Thus Hamo became Hammond, Reinold Reynolds and Thierry Terry and so forth. The names Allen, Brett, Everett, and Harvey were probably Breton in origin as Bretons also arrived, sometimes as mercenaries.
The new Norman lords often adopted new last names, sometimes from the lands they had acquired and sometimes from places back in Normandy. Over time the name here also became more English. Thus Saint Maur into Seymour, Saint Clair into Sinclair, Mohun into Moon, and Warenne into Warren.
Here are some of these Norman and Breton originating names that you can check out.
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