MONTGOMERIE, Hugh (1739-1819), of Skelmorlie and Coilsfield, Ayr.
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Family and Education
b. 29 Nov. 1739, 1st s. of Alexander Montgomerie of Coilsfield by Lilias, da. and h. of Sir Robert Montgomerie, 11th Bt., of Skelmorlie. m. settlement 3 June 1772, his cos. Eleanora, da. of Robert Hamilton of Bourtree Hill, Ayr, 3s. 3da. suc. mother in Skelmorlie estates 1783; fa. in Coilsfield estates 1783; third cos. Archibald Montgomerie† as 12th Earl of Eglintoun [S] 30 Oct. 1796; cr. Baron Ardrossan [UK] 15 Feb. 1806; KT 22 May 1812.
Entered army 1756; lt. 62 Ft. 1757, capt. 1762; capt. 1 Ft. 1767, maj. 1774; maj. Western fencibles 1778 (disbanded 1783), lt.-col. 1782; inspector of military roads in Scotland 1789; lt.-col. Argyll fencibles 1793; col. West Lowland fencibles 1793; col. Glasgow regt. 1793-5; lt.-gov. Edinburgh Castle 1794-8; col. Ayr militia 1802-7, 2 Ayr vol. inf. 1804.
Ld. lt. Ayr 1796-1819; rep. peer [S] 1798-1806; councillor of state [S] to Prince of Wales 1806-d.
Montgomerie was a man of cultivated tastes. He was especially fond of music, playing on the ’cello and composing a number of popular airs. He was the heir of the 11th Earl of Eglintoun, but as a Member of the Parliament of 1784, he occasionally found that his own opinions clashed with those of the earl. He had vacated his seat on being appointed inspector of military roads and during his term of office he greatly improved and extended the roads in the Highlands.
An agreement in 1784 between Henry Dundas and Eglintoun reserved Ayrshire for Sir Adam Fergusson in 1790. Montgomerie, acting on behalf of Eglintoun, drew Dundas’s attention to an opposition, led by Lord Cassillis, arising in the county, but added: ‘You may depend I will do everything in my power’.1 In fact, the election came on too soon for the threat to mature and Fergusson was unanimously returned. Montgomerie was persuaded to stand at the next election in spite of his opinion that he could not afford to represent the county: he was the only reputable candidate the Eglintoun interest could propose. It was firmly allied to Dundas, who gave Montgomerie his support, but was opposed by William Fullarton, standing on Cassillis’s interest. After a severe struggle Montgomerie prevailed. Fullarton began a petition but before it could be heard, Montgomerie succeeded to the peerage.
As 12th Earl of Eglintoun, he acquiesced in Dundas’s suggestion that Fullarton should succeed him as county Member and again supported him in 1802. In return Dundas helped him to keep at bay Lord Cassillis’s pretensions in 1803, when Eglintoun secured the return of Sir Hew Dalrymple Hamilton.2 Relations between them were damaged by Eglintoun’s suspicion that Hamilton was building up his own interest and in 1806, when Eglintoun received a British peerage from the Grenville ministry, he insisted on Hamilton’s supporting them.3 In 1807 he allied with Lord Melville to oust Hamilton, only to see Melville assist in Hamilton’s restoration on a vacancy in 1811 at the expense of his own brother. In May 1811 Hamilton wrote of him to Melville: ‘Lord Eglintoun is attached to no party but to the Prince personally ... He destests Lord Grenville and admires Lord Grey. His private friendship is with Lord Moira, with whom he is in close correspondence.’ Eglintoun was ‘much hurt at the triumph obtained over him’ and assured Melville that he would again put up his brother at the general election and that the latter would not oppose the ministry,4 but his brother was defeated in 1812 and had to wait until 1818 for the county seat. Eglintoun died 15 Dec. 1819, esteemed as an agricultural improver and for his plan to make the harbour of Ardrossan the port of Glasgow.