George Montgomery (bishop)

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The Rt. Rev. Dr. George Montgomery (1562–1621) was a Scottish churchman, promoted by James VI and I to Irish bishoprics.


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 was a Montgomery cousin.[1][2] After James I had made him Dean of Norwich in 1603,[3] he was appointed the first Protestant Bishop of Raphoe, in 1605.[4] There he began the construction of The Cathedral Church of St. Eunan.[5] 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.[6]

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, the rebels burnt the Bishop's house and his library of two thousand books because of their "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.[7]

From 1610 he was Bishop of Meath, retaining the Norwich deanery to 1614, and the Raphoe bishopric for the rest of his life. Bishop Montgomery was also rector of Chedzoy.[8]

After his death in London in 1620/21 his body was taken to Ireland and buried at Ardbraccan church.[9]


He married firstly Susan Steyning, and secondly Elizabeth Brabazon, daughter of Edward Brabazon, 1st Baron Ardee and sister of William Brabazon, 1st Earl of Meath. He had one daughter Jane, who married Nicholas St Lawrence, 11th Baron Howth. Her father, who had accumulated great wealth, was able to provide a dowry of £3000, a considerable sum at the time.


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".


Further reading[edit]

  • 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.
Church of Ireland titles
Preceded by
Miler Magrath
Bishop of Clogher
Succeeded by
James Spottiswood
Preceded by
Eugene O'Doherty
Bishop of Derry
Succeeded by
Brutus Babington
Preceded by
Art O'Gallagher
Bishop of Raphoe
Succeeded by
Andrew Knox
Preceded by
Roger Dod
Bishop of Meath
Succeeded by
James Ussher