MONTGOMERY, Henry Hutchinson (1847-1932)


MONTGOMERY, Henry Hutchinson (1847-1932)
anglican bishop of Tasmania
belonged to an Irish family which came from Scotland early in the seventeenth century, and which traced its descent from Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Shrewsbury, cousin of William the Conqueror. At Hastings he was in command of the French on the right. Henry Montgomery, the second son of Sir Robert Montgomery, whose prompt action in disarming the troops at Meerut at the beginning of the Indian mutiny saved the Punjab, was born at Cawnpore, India, on 3 October 1847. He was educated at Harrow, and Trinity College, Cambridge. At Harrow he was captain of the football team, was for three years in the cricket eleven, and won several races at the school sports including the hurdles. At Cambridge, though a steady worker, he was not a distinguished scholar; he graduated with a second class in the moral science tripos in 1869. He was ordained deacon in 1871 and priest in 1872. After curacies at Hurstpierpoint and Christ Church, Blackfriars-road, he became an assistant to Canon Farrer at St Margaret's, Westminster, in 1876, and in 1879 was appointed to the important living of St Mark's Kennington, where he spent 10 strenuous years. In 1889 he was appointed Bishop of Tasmania and was consecrated in Westminster Abbey on 1 May 1889.
Montgomery who had married in 1881 Maud, daughter of Canon Farrer, landed at Hobart in October 1889 with a family of five young children, and immediately set to work to raise £10,000 to build the chancel of St David's cathedral. This was eventually done, but the financial crisis which began in the early nineties effectually prevented further building. Montgomery, however, became a missionary bishop, travelling to the most remote parts of the island, and continually visiting his country clergy. He was an excellent administrator and was completely happy in his work, but in June 1901 he received a telegram asking him to become secretary to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. He decided it was his duty to accept the position and, leaving Australia in November, began his new work in London on 1 January 1902. During his episcopate, in spite of financial difficulties, the number of churches had increased from 72 to 125 and the other activities of the diocese in the same proportion.
When Montgomery began his work in London he found that the conditions were quite primitive, there was not a typewriter in the office, and shorthand writers were unknown. There was also some opposition to his methods by some of the older members of the committee, but he wore this down and soon put new life into the organization. When he came the yearly income was £88,000 but before he left it had passed £150,000. The great Pan-Anglican congress of 1908 was mostly his scheme, and he travelled largely and kept closely in touch with every function of the society. He retired in 1919 at the age of 72, and in 1921 went to the family estate at Moville in northern Ireland. During the last years of his life he did much parish work and writing, including The Life and Letters of George Alfred Lefroy (1920), The Joy of the Lord (1931), and Old Age (1932). About 20 other volumes and booklets are listed at the end of his biography. He died at Moville on 25 November 1932. His wife survived him with five sons and two daughters. He was made a prelate of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1906, and was created K.C.M.G. in 1928.
Tall and commanding yet humble, a mystic, a visionary, and yet a great administrator, Montgomery lived a long life of service and wisdom dedicated to his church and his country. His son, Field-marshall Sir Bernard Law Montgomery, born in England in 1887, and partly educated in Tasmania, became a distinguished general who won the battle of El Alamein in October 1942, and was in command of the British forces during the successful invasion of France and Germany in 1944-5.
M. Montgomery, Bishop Montgomery: A Memoir; The Times, 28, 29, 30 November 1932; W. R. Barrett, History of the Church of England in Tasmania; Burke's Peerage, etc., 1933; Who's Who, 1943.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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