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Hugh Montgomery.

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Hugh Montgomery.

(1560 - 1636 )

Hugh Montgomery along with Sir James Hamilton played a pivotal role in the introduction of Scottish planters to Ulster, Montgomery was born near Beith in Airshire, he was the son of Adam Montgomery, the 5th Laird of Braidstane. He was educated in the University of Glasgow after which he spent some time at the French Royal court.

Montgomery served as a Captain of Foot of a Scottish regiment, serving under William I of Orange in the Dutch war against Spain. After the death of his parents in 1587 he inherited his fathers title, becoming 6th Laird of Braidstane shortly thereafter he married Elizabeth Shaw. His younger brother George was appointed Dean of Norwich in 1602, it is said he used this position to gather information about events in the English court which he passed on to James VI of Scotland, this helped Montgomery to establish a relationship with King James VI of Scotland, which he was later to put to great advantage.

Montgomery-Cunningham feud here ?

In late 1602, Con O'Neill owner of the vast Clandeboye estate in Ulster was arrested by Sir Arthur Chichester for "levying war" against Queen Elizabeth I of England and Ireland, he was imprisoned in Carrickfergus castle, it appears the charge was based on the fact that one of O'Neill's men had killed one of the Queens soldiers. Chichester no doubt seen this as an opportunity to gain control of the O'Neill estate.

Queen Elizabeth I died on 23rd March 1603 she was succeeded by James VI of Scotland, son of Mary Queen of Scots who Elizabeth had beheaded in 1587 after a nineteen year imprisonment. James was crowned King James I of England in July 1603.

In 1606 Ellis O'Neill the wife of Con O'Neill contacted Montgomery and proposed that if he could secure a royal pardon for her husband, the O'Neill's would give him half their lands, Montgomery arranged for Con O'Neill's escape from Carrickfergus Castle, he was taken to Lags and then to Montgomery's seat at Braidstane Castle where the deal was concluded, after which they set out for London to seek the Royal pardon.

A new player James Hamilton was soon to join the game of greed, which resulted in a feud lasting many generations, Hamilton was a neighbours of Montgomery, he too had the ear of the new king and heard of the deal from a contact in the royal court. He also made his way to London, an agreement was signed by the king in April 1605 dividing the Clandeboye estate equally between Hamilton, Montgomery and O'Neill.

Montgomery also secured for his brother George, title of Bishop of Derry and Raphoe which brought with it control of vast areas of church lands, this was later to result in the plantation of western Ulster, George Montgomery was the first Scottish Bishop appointed in Ireland.

Hamilton made his way to Dublin where Sir Arthur Chichester was no doubt more than a little annoyed when he learned that he had not benefited from the plan that he had conceived.

Meanwhile Montgomery and O'Neill traveled back to Ulster via Scotland, to take possession of the estate which was much despoiled and depopulated as a result of Chichester's scorched earth policy in Ulster, where the population regardless of age or sex had been slaughtered, crops and food stores destroyed and animals that could not be carried off killed. His actions and those of his contemporaries Carew and Lord Mountjoy have earned them a place among the most reviled men in Irish history.

With their title secure Montgomery and Hamilton set about populating the land with Scottish settlers, the first wave of which arrived in May 1606

On May 3, 1622, Montgomery was made Viscount Montgomery.

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