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The Burns Encyclopedia
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Montgomerie, James (1735 — 1829)

A fellow mason of Burns, he became involved in a cause celebre of 1787. Chambers recorded the story: 'A legal point arose between Mr Maxwell Campbell of Skerrington, Cumnock, in Ayrshire and Captain James Montgomerie, late of the 93rd Foot as to whether the former could prosecute the latter for the dishonour of his wife without previously divorcing her. Mrs Campbell, an heiress in her own right, had left her husband to go with the Captain, to whom she had borne a child.'

Writing to Gavin Hamilton from Edinburgh on 8th March 1787, Burns said: 'Poor Captain Montgomerie is cast... their Gravities on the Bench were unanimously of opinion that Maxwell may prosecute for damages directly, and need not divorce his wife at all if he pleases.'

From Burns's obvious sympathy with the Captain and the lady, whom he described as 'the hapless Fair one', it would appear that he decision was not a popular one, and that there were extenuating circumstances. The reason the husband would not divorce his wife was, of course, that in so doing he would lose her estate.

Montgomerie rose to be Lieutenant General James Montgomerie of Wrighthill and was elected to represent Ayrshire in Parliament in 1818, 1820 and 1826. Train alleges that 'Highland Mary' was his mistress.

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Robert Burns Store

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Complete Burns Songs

linn recordings of burns Linn Records have completed their landmark recording of all 368 Burns songs, available as individual CDs or a 12 volume presentation box set. We have full details. Click here...


Burns Music & Recordings
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Burns Chess Sets

Burns Chess SetsUnique collectors' pieces based on Burns' life and works. (The ideal gift for your Burns Supper guests!) Click here...

Scotweb Store

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