The House and Family of Montgomerie (Seton-Winton) - Garde Bien - Hazard Yet Forward

The Great Garden of Pitmedden, of the Seton Baronets of Pitmedden.Cadets in the Setonl Household

The name Montgomery (or "Montgomerie") derives from an ancient Norman family who held the Castle St. Foy de Montgomery near Lisieux in France. Clan tradition asserts that the name can be traced to a 9th-century Viking raider called Gomeric who ventured south until he reached Normandy. He was the son of Ingvar Ragnarsson, and his name meant "powerful man." Gomeric settled in the Calvados area and fortified a hilltop on which to live. This place was known as "Mont (mount) Gomeric," and within a few generations it became the family name of Montgomery.


A later ancestor was Roger de Montgomerie (at the time, spelling variations included "Mont Gommeri" and "Mundegumerie"), who was related to William I, the Conqueror, and was granted lands in England in the 11th century following the invasion of 1066. He later invaded Wales and in time gave his name to a town and an entire county, Montgomeryshire. His son, also named Roger de Montgomerie, was created Earl of Arundel and later 1st Earl of Shrewsbury (or Earl of Shropshire) and was a personal advisor of King William I.

The first of the family in Scotland was Robert de Montgomerie who obtained a grant of the lands of Eaglesham in Renfrewshire, for some time the principal home of the Montgomeries.

A descendant of Robert was Sir John Montgomery, who led the Clan Montgomery at the Battle of Otterburn in 1388 where the English were defeated. He was one of the heroes of the day as he distinguished himself by capturing Sir Henry Percy who was known as "the Hotspur". The Percy family paid a great ransom for the release of Henry "Hotspur" Percy and this money enabled the Clan Montgomery to build the Polnoon Castle.  Sir John Montgomerie became Lord of Eaglesham and died about 1398. His grandson, Sir Alexander Montgomerie (d. circa 1460), was made a Lord of the Scottish parliament about 1445 as Lord Montgomerie, and Sir Alexander’s great-grandson Hugh, the 3rd Lord (c. 1460-1545), was created 1st Earl of Eglinton, or Eglintoun, in 1508.

In 1488 the Clan Montgomery had burned down the Clan Cunningham's Kerelaw Castle. The two clans had been on opposing sides at the Battle of Sauchieburn, with Hugh Montgomery among the victorious rebels and Alexander Cunningham, the 1st Earl of Glencairn slain with the defeated James III. A longstanding rivalry (principally over the Bailieship of Cunninghame) was now a vendetta.
During the 16th century the long-running feud continued. Edward Cunningham of Auchenharvie was slain in 1526 and Archibald Cunningham of Waterstoun in 1528; Eglinton Castle was burned down by the Cunninghams in the same year.


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The 2nd Earl of Eglinton had led the Clan Montgomery in support of Mary Queen of Scots at the Battle of Langside in 1568, where the Queen was defeated. The Earl was declared guilty of treason by the Regency and imprisoned in Doune Castle. When the Earl, chief of Clan Montgomery was released, he tried to secure the safety and toleration of Catholics in the wake of the Reformation.  Hugh, who was a person of importance during the minority of James V, was succeeded by his grandson, also Hugh (d. 1546), and then by the latter’s son, Hugh (c. 1531-1585), who became 3rd Earl of Eglinton.  The 3rd Earl was a firm supporter of Mary queen of Scots, for whom he fought at Langside, and of the Roman Catholic Church; his son and successor, Hugh, was murdered in April 1586 by the Cunninghams, a family with which his own had an hereditary blood feud:

In April 1586, Hugh Montgomery, 4th Earl of Eglinton, aged twenty-four, was travelling to Stirling to join the Court having been commanded to attend by the King, accompanied only by a few domestic servants. He stopped at Lainshaw Castle to dine with his close relative, a Montgomery, the Lord of Lainshaw, whose Lady was a Margaret Cunningham of Aiket Castle, with sisters married to John Cunningham of Corsehill and David Cunninghame of Robertland. It seems that a plot to kill the Earl had been organised and the Lady, or some say a servant girl who was also a Cunningham, climbed to the battlements after the meal to hang out a white table napkin and thereby sprung the trap. Thirty Cunninghames attacked the Earl as he crossed Annick Ford and cut his servants to pieces; the Earl himself was dispatched with a single shot from the pistol of John Cunningham of Clonbeith Castle. His horse carried his dead body along the side of the river, still known as the 'Weeping', 'Mourning' or 'Widows' path.

A wave of bloody revenge swept over Cunninghame and elsewhere. Cunningham relatives, friends and supporters were killed without mercy. Aiket was killed near his home; Robertland and Corsehill escaped to Denmark. Clonbeith was traced to Hamilton Palace and hacked to pieces by Robert Montgomery and John Pollock. Robert also killed the Earl of Glencairn's brother the Commendator of Kilwinning Abbey, Alexander of Montgreenan, thought to have instigated Hugh's murder. He rode to Montgreenan and shot the Commendator at his own gate.  The government of King James VI of Scotland eventually intervening and managed to make the chiefs of the two clans shake hands.  In 1661 Lord High Chancellor William Cunningham, 9th Earl of Glencairn, married Margaret Montgomery, daughter of Alexander, 6th Earl of Eglinton, drawing a line under the feud.

In 1600 the Clan MacAlister had also attacked the Clan Montgomery. They seized everything belonging to the Chief John Montgomery of Skelmorlie including £12,000 worth of possessons. Two years later, chief Archibald MacAlister along with Angus Og MacDonald carried out a similar attack on the inhabitants of the Isle of Bute against the Clan Stuart. A year afterwards Archibald MacAlister and Angus Og MacDonald were accused of being rebels, charged with treason and hanged in Edinburgh Tollbooth.

In 1612, by the death of Hugh, the 5th Earl, the male line of the Montgomeries became extinct.  Having no children Earl Hugh had settled his title and estates on his cousin, Sir Alexander Seton of Foulstruther (1588-1661), a younger son of Robert Seton, 1st Earl of Wintoun (c. 1550-1603), and his wife Margaret, daughter of the 3rd Earl of Eglinton.  Alexander, who thus became the 6th Earl of Eglinton and took the, name of Montgomerie, was commonly called Greysteel; he was a prominent Covenanter and fought against Charles I. at Marston Moor.  Later, however, he supported the cause of Charles II, and fell into the hands of Cromwell, who imprisoned him.

This succession was not without contention, and King James VI personally intervened and objected.  It was only through the negotiation and the influence of Alexander Seton, 1st Earl of Dunfermline and Chancellor of Scotland as well as her Majesty Queen Anne that Sir Alexander Seton of Foulstruther was able to become the 6th Earl of Eglinton.  However, the arrangement precluded that he and his heirs take the name of Montgomerie for that family line to continue, and no longer to be known as 'Seton'.


Views of the original castle of Eglinton:

The ancient Eglinton Castle The ancient Eglinton Castle


His fifth son, Robert Montgomerie (d. 1684), was a soldier of distinction and fought against Cromwell at Dunbar and at Worcester, afterwards escaping from the Tower of London and serving in Denmark.  Robert’s elder brother, Hugh, 7th earl of Eglinton (1613-1669), who also fought against Cromwell, was the grandfather of Alexander, the 9th Earl (c. 1660-1729), who married, for his third wife, Susannah (1689-1780), daughter of Sir Archibald Kennedy, Bart., of Culzean, a lady celebrated for her wit and beauty.  Alexander, the 10th Earl (17 23-1769), a son of the 9th Earl, was one of the first of the Scottish landowners to carry out improvements on his estates.  He was shot near Ardrossan by an excise officer named Mungo Campbell on the 24th of October 1769, in a dispute about Campbell's right to bear arms on Lord Eglinton's grounds.

His brother and successor, Archibald, the 11th Earl (1726-1796), raised a regiment of Highlanders with which he served in America during the Seven Years’ War.  As he left no male issue he was succeeded in the Earidom by his kinsman Hugh Montgomerie (1739-1819), a descendant of the 6th Earl, who was created a peer of the United Kingdom as Baron Ardrossan in 1806.  Before succeeding to the Earldom Hugh had served in the American war and had been a member of parliament; after this event he began to rebuild Eglinton castle on a magnificent scale and to construct a harbour at Ardrossan.

Eglinton Castle before demolitionThis Earl’s successor was his grandson, Archibald William, the 13th earl (1812-1861), who was born at Palermo in the 29th of September 1812.  His father was Archibald, Lord Montgomerie (1773-1814), the eldest son of the 12th Earl, and his mother was Mary (d. 1848), a daughter of the 11th Earl. Educated at Eton, the young Earl’s main object of interest for some years was the turf; he kept a large racing stud and won success and reputation in the sporting world. In 1839 his name became more widely known in connexion with the famous tournament which took place at Eglinton castle and is said to have cost him £30,000 or £40,000.

This was made the subject of much ridicule and was, partly spoiled by the unfavourable weather, the rain falling in torrents. Yet it was a real tournament and the “knights “ broke their spears in the orthodox way.  Prince Louis Napoleon (Napoleon III.) took part in it, and Lady Seymour, a daughter of Thomas Sheridan and the wife of Lord Seymour, afterwards 12th duke of Somerset, was the queen of beauty.  A list of the challengers with an account of the jousts and the melee will be found in the volume on the tournament written by John Richardson, with drawings by J. H. Nixon.  It is also described by Disraeli in Endymio’n. 

Eglinton was a staunch Tory, and in February 1852 he became Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland under the Earl of Derby.  He retired with the ministry in the following December, having by his princely hospitality made himself one of the most popular of Irish Viceroys.  When Derby returned to office in February 1858 he was again appointed Lord-Lieutenant, and he discharged the duties of this post until June 1859. 

The Eglinton Castle BridgeAlso in 1859, Lord Eglinton petitioned Queen Victorian to succeed to the Honours of the Earl of Winton; an Earldom which had been held by his kinsfolk, the Setons, from 1600 until 1716 when George Seton, the 5th Earl (c. 1678-1740) was deprived of his honours for high treason.  Within the same year, his claim was recognized and he was created 1st Earl of Winton within the United Kingdom as a new creation.  The Earl died on the 4th of October 1861, and was succeeded by his eldest son Archibald William (1841-1892). When this Earl died in 1892 his younger brother George Arnulph (b. 1848) became 15th Earl of Eglinton and 3rd Earl of Winton (UK).

The Earls of Eglinton continued the Seton's Templarist traditions, later continued in Freemasonry, and were Grand Masters of the Grand Lodge in Scotland (and the Order of the Temple).  Alexander Montgomerie, 10th Earl of Eglinton, was Knight of the Red Feather in the 18th century and who passed the Ceremonial Sword onto Lord Kilmarnock, and was Grand Master of the Grand Lodge following shortly after Hugh Seton of Touch, in 1750-51.  Archibald Seton Montgomerie, 16th Earl of Eglinton and 4th Earl of Winton was Grand Master in 1920-21, and Archibald Montgomerie, 17th Earl of Eglinton and 5th Earl of Winton was Grand Master from 1957 to 1961.



Lords Montgomerie (1449)

Hugh Montgomerie, Lord Montgomerie, Heir Apparent to the Earl of Eglinton and Winton.Earls of Eglinton (1508)

Seton Earls of Eglinton (16



Earls of Eglinton and Winton, UK (1859)

The present head of the family is Archibald George Montgomerie, 18th Earl of Eglinton and 6th Earl of Winton (UK).

The Heir Apparent is the present holder's son Hugh Archibald William Montgomerie, Lord Montgomerie (b. 1966)


Montgomerie's Regiment

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