Henry Montgomery

Life
1788-1865; b. 16 jan., Killean [var. Killead], Co. Antrim; regarded as founder of the liberal tradition of modern Presbyterianism, instigated by the secession to form the non-subscribing Presbyterian Church; ed. privately and Glasgow, 1904; MA, 1807; ord. 1809; Presbyterian pastor, Dunmurry, Co. Down; first advocated Catholic Emancipation, 1813; head of English at Belfast Academical Institution, 1817; rebutted Henry Cooke’s attack on Arianism in the BAI, and also his larger attempt to tighten Presbyterian discipline; speech in favour of religious liberty, Strabane, 1827; adopted remonstrance, 1829, and fnd. remonstrant Synod of Ulster, leading Unitarianism in secession for Presbyterian Synod, 1830; supported Catholic Emancipation and Disestablishment but opposed Repeal; defeated Cooke in attempt to exclude Unitarians from faculty in BAI, elected Prof. of Ecclesiastical History by Antrim and Munster Synods combined; original editor of Bible Christian; author of many pamphlets; contributed ‘Outlines of the History of Presbyterianism in Ireland’ to the Irish Unitarian Magazine, 1846-47; d. 18 Dec.; there is a portrait by J. P. Knight. ODNB DIH FDA WJM

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Criticism
John M. Barkley, A Short History of the Presbyterian Church [q.d; infra]; Andrew Boyd, Montgomery and the Black Man (Dublin: Columba Press 2006), 88pp.

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Commentary
John M. Barkley, A Short History of the Presbyterian Church [q.d], remarks that ‘Montgomery was loved by his friends and respected by his enemies ... Cooke on the other hand was extremely self-possessed and appeared to have been admired rather than loved’ (117pp.).

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Quotations
Bon mot: Montgomery is said to have remarked of the Westminster Confession that it either contradicts what is said in the Bible, in which case it is heretical, or reiterates what is stated in the Bible, in which case it is redundant. (Information supplied by Jim Brown; UUC/Philosophy.)

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References
Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 3, notes that Henry Montgomery anonymously published 3 long articles in the Belfast daily Northern Whig, Dec. 1829-Jan. 1830, attacking the landlordism of Marquis of Hertford in Co. Antrim; when Hertford threatened libel, O’Connell volunteered to act in his defence; Montgomery’s friendship with O’Connell ended when the former published an attack on the latter, 1 Feb. 1831. (Letters selected in FDA3, 341ff.)

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Notes
Thomas Witherow: Autobiography of Thomas Witherow (1990 edn.) makes allusion to Montgomery: ‘He was in every way an amiable and estimable man, whom I could have loved as well as admired, had it not been that his Arian opinions made me afraid of him’ (quoted by J. W. Nelson, reviewing the autobiography in Linen Hall Review (Sept. 1991).

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