Thursday, September 12, 2013

Samuel Rutherford's connection with the Ulster-Scots Montgomeries of County Down

In Edinburgh on 24 March 1640 the famous Scottish Presbyterian minister Samuel Rutherford married Joan/Jean Montgomery. She was the daughter of an Edinburgh merchant and widow of a Hugh Montgomery who is described as 'sometime of Balharie in the country of Doune'. Joan's surname had been Mackmath/MacMath/McMath before she married Montgomery. I have discovered the connection in a legal document during Cromwell's occupation of Scotland, written in Edinburgh on 26 July 1653, seemingly granting a large amount of formerly Montgomery lands in Wigtownshire to John Shaw of Greenock. The Shaws and Montgomeries were also intermarried; the Shaws too had land in Ulster, initially near Ganaway between Millisle and Ballywalter, and later at Ballygally Castle.

As I've blogged here before, Rutherford was a close associate of many of the early Ulster Presbyterian ministers such as John Livingstone, Robert Blair, Robert Cunningham and John MacLellan. In 1640 he, Livingstone and Maclellan were reported to the church authorities for encouraging people to organise communal Bible studies and prayer meetings in their homes at evening time, outwith the formal church services. Anyway, here is the text of the document -


REGISTER OF THE GREAT SEAL of SCOTLAND (RMS) Under the Commonwealth (Cromwell).
Vol. X, pages 81 & 82, #164....
July 26 1653. (short extract)

The Keepers grant to Johne SHAW of Grenocke / Greenock (m. to.................?)
the 10 pound land of PORTRIE, (Wigtownshire, Scotland) viz : -
MARROK (Marroch / Marrock) with the castle, tower and fortalice of DUNSKEY situate thereupon ;
corn-mill of PORTRIE, with the 3 mills and mill-lands, etc. viz :-
10 pound land of PORTRIE,
5 pound land of KINGHILT,
3 merk land of DUNTOUNE,
port called PORTPATRICK ;
lands of MAROK and DUNTOUNE,
with several crofts of the said port ;
3 merk land of ENOCH ;
2 merk land of MEKEL PIGMANOCH;
3 merk land of CRAIGOCH ;
town or burgh of MONGRUMIE (MONTGOMERIE)
sea port of old called PORT PATRICK and now PORT MONGRUMIE,
with the whole anchorages, tolls, customs, and other privileges, &c., pertaining thereto, -
with the castles, towers, fortalices, manor-places, &c., of the foresaid lands,
all lying within the sheriffdom of WIGTON (Wigtownshire, Scotland) ; -

which lands pertained to HEW (MONTGOMERY), now Viscount of Airds / Ards,
his father
, and were apprised from him on 1st August 1650,
at the instance of JOANE MONTGRUMIE (Montgomerie) alias MACKMATH,
relict (widow) of the deceased HEW MONTGRUMIE (Montgomery) sometime of BALHARIE in the country of Doune,(co.Down, N. Ireland)
gentleman, and of (Rev.) SAMUELL RUTHFUIRD , professor of divinity, University of Saint Andrews,
now spouse of JOANE (widow of) MONTGRUMIE (Montgomerie) alias (nee) MACKMATH,
for his interest, which decree of apprising was assigned by the said JOANE MACKMATH
with consent of the said SAMUELL RUTHFUIRD to
Andrew WARDLAW, merchant burgess of Edinburgh,
by assignation dated 15th June 1653,
and was assigned by the said Andrew WARDLAW
to the said Johne SHAW
by translation dated 22nd July 1653 :-
With precept of sasine.
P.R. vii. 82.


It's hard to believe that such a legal document would make a mistake on the identities of the people involved.

• This shows that the Hugh Montgomery who had been Joan's husband, was one of the Montgomeries of the Ards. That's the only reason she would have been involved in the issue involving Dunskey Castle and the surrounding lands.

• Depending upon how you read it, perhaps she was a hitherto-unknown third wife of Sir Hugh Montgomery, the first Viscount of the Great Ards? He died in 1636, his second wife Sara (nee Maxwell) died on 29 March 1636, and he himself died in May of the same year. But did he marry Jean MacMath within these last few weeks of his life?!

• This was Rutherford's second marriage. He had been minister of Anwoth near Dumfries from 1627-1638.

• Dunskey Castle near Portpatrick, a castle which had been acquired by the Montgomeries in the 1620s (this document in Latin states 8 Feb 1620 as the date Hugh Montgomery bought 'Doneskey')

• So where is 'Balharie'? One online source suggests 'Ballehenrie' or Ballyhenry between Comber and Newtownards, however there is a Ballyharry townland outside Newtownards on the road to Donaghadee - both areas were 100% Montgomery land back in the early 1600s.

Some online descriptions of the Rutherford/Montgomery marriage:

'... In 1640, after ten years as a widower, Samuel Rutherford married Jean McMath, a woman who was evidently fitted for such a husband. She was described as "a woman of great worth and piety". One person who knew them both said, "I never knew any among men exceed him, nor any among women exceed her". Before he went south to the Westminster Assembly, three children were born to them, but two of them died in infancy...'

'... but this marriage also was filled with much grief. Although his wife outlived him, he lost his children through untimely deaths. The first two died while he was away in London attending the Westminster Assembly; only one of the five more children given him lived. God, however, uses even a man's sorrow for the comfort of others. To one who lost a son he wrote: "Your Lord may gather His roses and shake His apples at what season of the year He pleaseth." And to another he wrote: "I know there is a true sorrow that is without tears; and I know there is a real sorrow that is beyond tears."...

'... In the year 1640, he married his second wife, Jean M'Math, "a woman," says one, "of such worth, that I never knew any among men exceed him, nor any among women exceed her. He who heard either of them pray or speak, might have learnt to bemoan his own ignorance. Oh how many times I have been convinced, by observing them, of the evil of unseriousness unto God, and unsavouriness in discourse." They had seven children; but only one survived the father, a little daughter, Agnes, who does not seem to have been a comfort to her godly mother ...'


• Jean MacMath outlived Rutherford - he died in 1661 and was buried at St Andrews; she is said to have died on 16 May 1675 and was buried at Greyfriars in Edinburgh.

• Here is a letter Rutherford wrote to Jean's sister Agnes upon the death of one of her children (click here)

• Information about other 17th century McMaths in Edinburgh is available here, from The Abbotsford Club


Robert Campbell said...

The idea Bible studies and home prayer groups was blamed on the Sixmilewater Revival. Scots who had lived in Ulster during the revival and subsequently returned to Scotland brought this practice with them.

They also [it is believed] brought the idea of the communion season with them - Saturday service of preparation, Lord's Day - communion service, Monday - thanks giving service.