James Montgomery

James Montgomery, 1855

James Montgomery, son of John Montgomery, a Moravian minister, was born at Irvine, Ayrshire, Nov. 4, 1771. In 1776 he removed with his parents to the Moravian Settlement at Gracehill, near Ballymena, county of Antrim. Two years after he was sent to the Fulneck Seminary, Yorkshire. He left Fulneck in 1787, and entered a retail shop at Mirfield, near Wakefield. Soon tiring of that he entered upon a similar situation at Wath, near Rotherham, only to find it quite as unsuitable to his taste as the former. A journey to London, with the hope of finding a publisher for his youthful poems ended in failure; and in 1792 he was glad to leave Wath for Shefield to join Mr. Gales, an auctioneer, bookseller, and printer of the Sheffield Registernewspaper, as his assistant. In 1794 Mr. Gales left England to avoid a political prosecution. Montgomery took the Sheffield Register in hand, changed its name to The Sheffield Iris, and continued to edit it for thirty-one years. During the next two years he was imprisoned twice, first for reprinting therein a song in commemoration of “The Fall of the Bastille,” and the second for giving an account of a riot in Sheffield. The editing of his paper, the composition and publication of his poems and hynms, the delivery of lectures on poetry in Sheffield and at the Royal Institution, London, and the earnest advocacy of Foreign Missions and the Bible Society in many parts of the country, gave great variety but very little of stirring incident to his life. In 1833 he received a Royal pension of £200 a year. He died in his sleep, at the Mount, Sheffield, April 30, 1854, and was honoured with a public funeral. A statue was erected to his memory in the Sheffield General Cemetery, and a stained glass window in the Parish Church.

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