Biography James Montgomery

James Montgomery

photo of James Montgomery
  • Time Period1771 - 1854
  • Place
  • CountryScotland

Poet Biography

James Montgomery was born November 4, 1771, in Irvine, Ayrshire, Scotland. At the age of seven, he was sent to the Fulneck Seminary in Yorkshire. In 1787, he left the seminary to work in a shop in Mirfield, near Wakefield. He soon grew tired of this, and moved to a similar position at Wath, near Rotherham, but soon realized that it was unsuitable as his previous job. He went to London to try to secure a publisher for the poems written in his youth, a venture that proved a failure. In 1792, he left Wath, and went to Sheffield, where he became an assistant to Mr. Gales, an auctioneer, bookseller, and printer of the Sheffield Register.

Gales left England in 1794 to avoid political prosecution, leaving Montgomery to overtake the Register, which he changed the name of to the Sheffield Iris, and continued to serve as editor for 32 years. He was sent to prison twice, once for reprinting a song commemorating the fall of Bastilles, and then for an account of a riot in Sheffield.

In his lifetime, Montgomery published several poems, and composed some 400 hymns. His published works include Prison Amusements (1797), The Wanderer of Switzerland (1806), The West Indies (1807), Greenland and Other Poems (1819), Songs of Zion (1822), The Christian Poet (1825), and The Poet’s Portfolio (1835)

James Montgomery died on April 30, 1854, in Mount, Sheffield, England. A statue was erected in the Shef­field cem­e­tery in his memory,as well as a public hall was named after him, and a stained glass window was placed in the parish church.