This is a scion of the noble house of MONTGOMERY, Earls of Eglinton, in Scotland.
SIR ALEXANDER MONGOMERIE,
descended from Roger de Montgomerie, kinsman of WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR, and commander of the van guard at Hastings, was raised to the Scottish peerage, in 1448-9, as LORD MONTGOMERIE.He wedded Margaret, 2nd daughter of Sir Thomas Boyd, of Kilmarnock, and had a son,
ALEXANDER, Master of Montgomerie, who married Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Sir Adam Hepburn, of Hales.
Dying before his father, in 1452, he left three sons and a daughter, viz.
ALEXANDER, successor to his grandfather, as 2nd Lord; his son and heir HUGH, 3rd Lord, was cr EARL OF EGLINTON;The second son of the Master of Montgomerie, and brother of the second Lord,
ROBERT, laird of Braidstone;
Hugh, of Hislot;
Margaret, m to Alexander, 1st Lord Home.
ROBERT MONTGOMERY, obtained for his patrimony, from his grandfather, Alexander, 1st Lord, in 1452, the lands of Braidstane, thus becoming its laird.
He was succeeded by his son,
ROBERT, 2nd Laird, who left a son and heir,
ROBERT, 3rd Laird, whose son and successor,
ADAM, 4th Laird, had two sons, of whom
The youngest son,ADAM,who inherited as 5th Laird, and purchased other lands from Hugh, Earl of Eglinton, married and had four sons, of whom, HUGH (Sir), 6th Laird, who settled in Ulster, and was raised to peerage, as VISCOUNT MONTGOMERY, of Ards, County Down. He had previously, in 1605, obtained a grant from from JAMES I of the third part of Conn O'Neill's great territory in the counties of Down and Antrim. His lordship was grandfather of HUGH, 3rd Viscount Montgomery, who was created, in 1661, EARL OF MOUNT ALEXANDER, honours which expired with THOMAS, 7th Earl, in 1758;George, Dean of Norwich, afterwards Lord Bishop of Meath;Patrick, a colonel in the French army during the reign of HENRY IV;ROBERT, of whom hereafter.
ROBERT MONTGOMERY, was father of
who went over to Ulster in the early part of the reign of JAMES I with his cousin Hugh, 6th Laird of Braidstane, afterwards Viscount Montgomery, his lordship having brought several of his clan from Scotland, that they might settle upon his new estates, and assist upon the plantation of the country.
To this John he granted lands at Gransha, in the Ards, where he (John) settled, where he was esteemed a man of opulence, which supposition caused his house to be attacked by robbers, himself, his wife, and all his servants were inhumanely murdered, save one, who escaped with his son,HUGH MONTGOMERY,
who had been left for dead in attempting to defend his father, but recovering from his wounds, he lived to an old age, on his property at Maghera, County Londonderry, to which he removed after the attack on his paternal dwelling. He represented the borough of Newtownards in Parliament, from 1635-41, and lies buried with his father in the church of Donaghadee.He left two sons, the elder of whom,
was an officer in the army and distinguished against the insurgents in 1641. He was captain in Sir John Montgomery's regiment, and afterwards major under Sir Charles Coote. He resided at Maghera.His only son,
WILLIAM MONTGOMERY, who married Mary, eldest daughter and co-heir of Captain James Magill, of Kirkistown, County Down, by which marriage he acquired a great accession of property, had an only son, his successor,
an officer of dragoons, who served with reputation in Spain, under Charles Mordaunt, the great Earl of Peterborough. Captain Montgomery purchased, ca 1715, the estate of Grey Abbey, from his kinsman, James Montgomery, and rebuilt the mansion-house, the former having been burnt accidentally in 1695.By his first marriage, in 1719, to Catherine, daughter of Francis Hall, of Strangford, he had issue,
WILLIAM, his heir.
Captain Montgomery died in 1755 and was buried in the family vault under the alter in the abbey.
HUGH MONTGOMERY, of Grey Abbey, a clergyman of the established church.
This gentleman resided constantly at the abbey, made considerable improvements there, and extended his landed possessions by purchase.He married, in 1782, the Hon Emelia Ward, youngest daughter of Bernard, 1st Viscount Bangor, and had issue, his successor,
WILLIAM MONTGOMERY, of Grey Abbey, who wedded at Brussels, in 1817, Amelia Elizabeth, second daughter of the Hon Thomas Parker (2nd son of 3rd Earl of Macclesfield).
Mr Montgomery, high sheriff of County Down in 1824, left issue,
HUGH, his heir;
WILLIAM EDWARD, of whom presently;
ROBERT ARTHUR, succeeded his brother;
Percy Hugh Seymour;
FRANCIS HENRY, succeeded his brother, Robert;
George Fitzmaurice, commander of Chinese Maritime Customs, 1880-1908, b 1861, m in 1905 Mildred Mary, daughter of the Rev Preb. E F Clayton, vicar of Ludlow, d 1944, leaving issue, HUGH EDWARD, of whom hereafter.
HUGH MONTGOMERY JP DL (1821-94), of Grey Abbey,
born at Florence, Italy, who became representative of the branch of the house of Montgomery settled in Ulster, and of that of Braidstane in Scotland. This gentleman married Lady Charlotte Elizabeth Herbert, daughter of Edward, 2nd Earl of Powis, in 1846.His eldest son,
MAJOR-GENERAL WILLIAM EDWARD MONTGOMERY JP DL, of Grey Abbey, High Sheriff, 1900, died without an heir in 1927, when he was succeeded by his brother,
Hugh Geoffrey Clive, b 1966;
Rose Evelyn, b 1968;
Frances Mary, b 1970;
Flora Anne Selina, b 1974.
The manorial demesne, long known as Rosemount, was established in the early 17th century, and the present house was built in the early 1760s.
Originally the property of the Clandeboye O’Neills, Grey Abbey was granted in 1607 to Sir Hugh Montgomery.
In 1634, his son, Sir James, built a ‘noble house and stately out-offices’.
It was described by William Montgomery in 1683 thus:
a double roofed-house and a baron and fower flankers with bakeing and brewing houses, stable and other needful office houses….built after the forraigne and English manner; with outer and inner courts walled about and surrounded with pleasant gardens, orchards, meadows and pasture inclosures under view of ye said house called Rosemount from which ye manner taketh name. The same was finished by …Sir James AD 1634.In 1701, William Montgomery was to add to this account that
"...only some small convenient additions of buildings and orchards were made by ye sd William and improved lately by his sd son James. "Harris’s County of Down, 1744, related that
Rosemount was the mansion house of Sir James Montgomery …he built here a noble house and stately out-offices (which were afterwards burnt down Ann. 1695) and laid out fine gardens behind it, executed in the form of a regular Fortification, some Bastions of which are yet to be seen. However the present worthy proprietor [William Montgomery] has built a neat and commodious house with handsome offices on part of the site of the former offices, and laid out his gardens and Out-grounds about it in elegant taste.This house, too, built in 1717 by William Montgomery (d 1725), was itself later burnt.
In the absence of surviving 17th or 18th century Montgomery estate maps (no doubt burnt in one of those fires or in a fire in a fire in the agent’s house), it is difficult to be certain where exactly these various early buildings stood.
The house, which was accidentally burnt in 1695, may have stood in the vicinity of the present stable yard, and indeed could have the 1717 house, but some believe could have stood on the seaward side of the present mansion.
The ‘fortified’ garden may have occupied what is now the walled garden to the north-west, but there seems to be no physical sign of this today.
It is possible that the present yard, being a complex of 18th and 19th century buildings, could incorporate elements of the ‘handsome offices on part of the site of the former house’, mentioned by Harris in 1744.
The present house (above), Rosemount, located on a rise in the park, was built from 1762 by William Montgomery, who had succeeded to the property in 1755.
It was still being erected when James Boswell visited the place on 2nd May 1769 and noted the excellent house of Mr Montgomery’s own planning, and not yet finished.
The house is a three-storey block over basement, Palladian in style, with six bay entrance front, hipped roof and balustraded roof parapet.
There is a three-sided bow in the centre of the garden front (Gothic windows on ground floor, inspired by Castle Ward, are a later addition, possibly ca 1785) and canted projections and diagonally set single-storey side porches on the side elevations, the latter being added in 1845-6 to design of James Sands, commissioned by Hugh Montgomery, who succeeded to the family property from his father William in 1831.
The roof-balustraded parapets were also added in the 1840s. A single-storey smoking room extension was added to the north-east in 1895.
The existing naturalistic landscape park with its woodlands, shelter belts, meandering walks and sweeping carriage drives, was laid out as a setting for this house in the 1760s or 1770s.
The old abbey ruins were made a feature of this park and a sunken drive was created below the garden front of the house.
In the 1840s, a masonry pedestrian humped bridge was built, allowing access to the park across this sunken way.
Near the abbey a well house was built in the 1770s, known as ‘The Nun’s Well’, possibly replacing a medieval well-house mentioned by Harris in 1744.
The stable yard, being a complex of one and two-storey ranges of both 18th and 19th century construction, including a free-standing game larder, are hidden within the park, as is the walled garden lying to the north-west.
The three 19th century gate lodges were added in the 19th century; viz. the old gate lodge ca 1820, known as Rosemount Cottage, made redundant by a re-alignment of the public road; the Abbey entrance of ca 1815-20; and the village West Gate Lodge of ca 1860.
The entrance lodge is in Georgian-Gothic style, as is the pinnacles gate-screen, and appears to have been inspired by the lodges at Mount Stewart, designed by George Dance (the younger), in 1808-09.
In 1843, the garden designer, Ninian Niven, made some alterations to the park layout, notably adding a parterre to the terrace on the north east side of the house. This has been grassed over in recent decades.
The parkland survives today in good order and contains fine mature trees with shelter belts and woodlands down to the lough shore.
Contemporary ornamental planting is maintained to the east and west of the north front; the south entrance front is in lawns, with a sweeping carriage drive.
Part of the walled garden to the northwest of the house is cultivated. A portion of what was once a much larger orchard is retained.
Mr William Montgomery, who lives with his family at Grey Abbey estate today, is descended from the younger brother of the 1st Earl of Mount Alexander, Sir James, who was given the Grey Abbey estates which remain, in part, in the family today.
The family is, therefore, of the same family but not directly descended from him.
In early Victorian times, the family owned land in the Ards Peninsula extending to some 5,000 or more acres, though this figure would have been closer to 100,000 acres in the 16th century.
The Montgomerys also owned the Tyrella estate, near Rathmullan, County Down - it having come into the family through the marriage of William Montgomery to Suzanne Jelly in 1749.
Mrs Daphne Montgomery is the granddaughter of 1st Viscount Bridgeman. William Montgomery is a Trustee of Weston Park estate in Shropshire.
The Bridgeman family inherited Weston Park itself during the 18th century and today it is run as a trust by the Weston Park Foundation.
Images of Grey Abbey House by kind permission of William Montgomery. First published in May, 2010; revised in 2014.