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Henry Hutchinson Montgomery (1847–1932)

by G. H. Stephens

This article was published:

Henry Hutchinson Montgomery (?-1932), by unknown photographer

Henry Hutchinson Montgomery (?-1932), by unknown photographer

Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts, State Library of Tasmania, AUTAS001125882977

Henry Hutchinson Montgomery (1847-1932), bishop, was born on 3 September or 3 October 1847 at Cawnpore, India, eldest son of (Sir) Robert Montgomery, magistrate and collector and later lieutenant-governor of the Punjab, and his wife Ellen Jane, née Lambert. Montgomery was educated at Harrow, where he excelled at sport, and at Cambridge (B.A., 1870; M.A., 1873; D.D., 1889) where, as an athletic Trinity College undergraduate, he was reputed to have achieved the formidable leap up the hall steps. Trained for the ministry by Charles Vaughan, his first headmaster at Harrow, he was made deacon at Chichester in 1871 and ordained priest in 1872.

Montgomery's clerical advancement was rapid. Appointed curate of Hurstpierpoint, Sussex, in 1871, he moved to Christ Church, Southwark, in 1874, St Margaret's, Westminster, in 1876 and, as vicar, to St Mark's, Kennington, in 1879. In 1889 he was chosen as fourth bishop of Tasmania.

On 28 July 1881 at Westminster Abbey, Montgomery had married Maud, the 16-year-old daughter of Frederic William Farrar, canon of Westminster and formerly Montgomery's housemaster at Harrow. Farrar was a noted 'Broad Churchman' and Montgomery's own theological position was described as 'much the same … only less so'. From Vaughan he had imbibed a deep regard for Scripture and Church, and from A. P. Stanley, dean of Westminster, to whom he had been private secretary, he derived a belief in the importance of a national Church. The practicalities of domestic life he left to his determined young wife who organized their nine children (according to the most famous of them, Bernard Law, later Viscount Montgomery of Alamein) along military lines.

'A man must be a leader in the Colonies', Montgomery later wrote of the role of bishop. 'The quiet, harmless man will fail. It is all push … all pioneer work, even in the cities'. Immediately on arrival in Tasmania he proceeded with the completion of the cathedral as a diocesan focus, notwithstanding objections from country parishes. But he also journeyed to remote west-coast mining settlements and showed deep concern for Bass Strait Aborigines. In Hobart and Launceston he encouraged pastoral work among the disadvantaged: he attempted to develop the ministry to the Chinese—somewhat hampered by the missioner Yung Choy's lack of English—and created a home and hospital for prostitutes and unmarried mothers.

Montgomery believed that the Church had to witness to a high moral standard in a particularly corrupt society. He thus opposed George Adams, gambling and drinking, although not himself a total abstainer. He argued for Church instruction in schools, the revival of the Sunday School movement and the strengthening of church schools.

Above all he saw himself as a missionary bishop. He wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1901: 'It is because the work is all Missionary here that I love it so. Great questions such as Education, Temperance, Social problems between classes, come to me as duties. Missionary questions come to me as joys'. His vision outdistanced Tasmania. He dreamt of an Anglican Church in Australia with an effective general synod, a national primate and an indigenous clergy. Such a Church, he believed, could lead to the conversion of the Pacific. In 1892 he lobbied for the creation of the diocese of New Guinea and after visiting the diocese of Melanesia wrote a significant report on missionary strategy, The Light of Melanesia (1896). He was also locally bedevilled by narrow-minded Evangelical criticism concerning ritualism, confession and prayers for the dead.

During Montgomery's Tasmanian episcopate Church membership grew from nearly 81,000 to nearly 88,000 and the number of buildings from 75 to 125. Montgomery organized the first Tasmanian Church Congress (1894) and celebrations for the jubilee of the Australian Board of Missions (1900). But clearly he found the challenge of Tasmania too small. In June 1901 he accepted the episcopal secretaryship of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel and took up the post next January.

A prebendary of St Paul's, London, from 1902, Montgomery was Ramsden preacher that year and in 1918. In 1905 he was appointed a prelate of the Order of St Michael and St George and in 1908 received honorary degrees from the universities of Oxford and Durham. He retired in 1919 and from 1921 lived on the family estate, New Park, Moville, Northern Ireland. He was appointed K.C.M.G. in 1928.

Montgomery published many papers and books ranging from impassioned pleas for the protection of mutton-birds to biographies of eminent ecclesiastics, reflections on mission work, visions of the Church, old age and personal joy. He died at New Park on 25 November 1932, survived by his wife, five sons and two daughters.

Select Bibliography

  • Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, Memoirs (Lond, 1958)
  • 'Obituary', Times (London), 28 Nov 1932, p 19
  • P. R. Hart, The Church of England in Tasmania under Bishop Montgomery, 1889-1901 (M.A. thesis, University of Tasmania, 1965)
  • letter books (Diocesan Registry, Hobart).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

G. H. Stephens, 'Montgomery, Henry Hutchinson (1847–1932)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 21 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (Melbourne University Press), 1986

View the front pages for Volume 10

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Henry Hutchinson Montgomery (?-1932), by unknown photographer

Henry Hutchinson Montgomery (?-1932), by unknown photographer

Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts, State Library of Tasmania, AUTAS001125882977

Life Summary [details]


Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, India


25 November, 1932 (aged ~ 85)
Moville, Ireland

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Religious Influence

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