Papers of James Montgomery (1771-1854)

Scope and Content

The collection is composed of: an original hymn, dated Edinburgh, 25 October 1841, entitled The Christian graces; and, a covering letter addressed to Robert Scott Moncrieff, Dalkeith.

Administrative / Biographical History

The minor poet James Montgomery was born in Irvine, Ayrshire, on 4 November 1771. He was sent to the Moravian school (the Moravians are a religious community) at Fulneck, near Leeds, and while there began writing poetry. Work followed in a bakery and then in a store, and then to the offices of the Sheffield Register. Facing prosecution, the proprietor and editor of the journal - a reformer - escaped to America, and Montgomery became the working editor and then the owner of the title which he changed to the Sheffield Iris. He too faced prosecution over his publishing content and he spent time in York Castle prison for describing a Sheffield riot in 1795. Poetry rather than journalism was his forte however and his work included The ocean (1805), The common lot (1805), The wanderer of Switzerland (1806), The West Indies (1809), The world before the flood (1812), Greenland (1819) and The pelican island (1827). James Montgomery died on 30 April 1854.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.

Acquisition Information

Among miscellaneous letters, purchased E. Hall, February 1976, Accession no. E76.8.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol. 13. Masquerier-Myles. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1909.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.


Check the local Indexes for details of any additions.

Related Material

The local Indexes show various references to Montgomery related material (check the Indexes for more details): letters (3) to D. Laing, 1821-1823, with a copy of his poem Night, at La.IV.6; letter to Montgomery from Mrs. Anna Maria Hall, 1844, at Gen. 1730 onwards; letter of Eliza Mitchell about the planting of a tree in honour of his birthday, 1849, at Gen. 1971/2/31; and, facsimile signature, undated, with a printed extract on Montgomery. In addition, the UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes several locations of Montgomery related material.