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James Montgomery & The 'sheffield Iris', 1792-1825


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#1 Bayleaf

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 03:50 PM



This article first appeared in the Transactions of The Hunter Archaeological Society Vol 10 p173 and is reproduced by kind permission of the Society.



(Notes in [ ] appear at the end).




JAMES MONTGOMERY AND THE `SHEFFIELD IRIS', 1792-1825:

A STUDY IN THE WEAKNESS OF PROVINCIAL RADICALISM

By J. WIGLEY



Since the publication in the early 1960's of several studies of English newspaper history there has begun a process of detailed examination of particular facets of that history, [1] as a result of which it has become necessary for us to re-interpret our ideas about some of the men who struggled to develop and defend English newspapers in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.



This article is such a re-interpretation. It deals with a period when certain editor-owners of provincial newspapers disregarded their functions as booksellers and printers, and transformed pages previously devoted to advertisements, agricultural prices and news of local misfortune into a means for the dissemination of ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity.



Such new publications quickly came to the notice of men obsessed by the supposed dangers posed by France and by the fear of domestic insurrection, so successive governments attempted to stifle both the newspapers and their progenitors by using techniques which were remarkably effective in retarding the growth of English Radicalism.



James Montgomery's place in this story is of peculiar importance both because he served on the very first of the campaigning newspapers-Joseph Gales's Sheffield Register[2]

- re-founded it as the Iris when Gales fled the country under threat of government prosecution, was himself imprisoned twice for seditious libel after which he moderated his views, and because he illustrates the way in which Dissent embraced something like Rationalism only to flee from it to Romanticism and then to an Evangelicalism which accorded well enough with a political position which appeared conservative when compared with the militant working class agitation of the years following the Napoleonic Wars. Indeed, most of Montgomery's biographers have done little more than attempt to reconcile his early career with what they regarded as the necessary political concomitants of their own religious views, and to present him as a paragon of Christian virtue . [3]



Montgomery was born in Scotland in 1771 to John and Mary Montgomery who sailed for the West Indies as Moravian missionaries leaving James to be educated within the sheltered confines of the Moravian Academy at Fulneck from which he was eventually dismissed for something like loss of faith.



Then the school apprenticed him to a Moravian shopkeeper from whom he decamped after the death of his parents, presented a poem to Earl Fitzwilliam, fled from employment by a grocer, and failed to make his fortune as a literary genius in London.



Shortly after having returned to Yorkshire, he answered an advertisement in Gales's Sheffield Register and was taken an as office-boy-cum-apprentice.



Sheffield in 1792 was a town of some 40,000 people, many of whom gained their livelihood from coal-mining, steel-making, the manufacture of silver plate, and the cutlery trade. It has been suggested that the structure of the latter trade - a small unit of production based on a rented water-wheel - lacked rigid distinctions between master and man, so producing a social fluidity which enabled Sheffield to avoid class cleavage and remain united in a common radicalism [4] But one contemporary writer suggested that small units of production enabled the masters to control their men more closely, [5] the men's violent agitation was opposed by a Union of Employers, [6] and gradations of radical feeling certainly underlay much of Sheffield's political life.



Gales, a friend of Thomas Paine, issued his Register in 1787 using it to recommend a national system of education, reprint articles by Priestley and Mackintosh, and to follow an anti-clerical anti-Government line amidst disorders which broke out in Sheffield in 1790 and 1791 over low wages, and enclosures by the vicar, squire and magistrate James Wilkinson. Wilkinson had been an associate of Wyvill's Yorkshire Association, but by 1792 political activity in Sheffield was dominated by the Sheffield Society for Constitutional Information (for which Gales printed a sixpenny edition of Paine's Rights of Man), a body which claimed to have 2,000 members and which, by espousing manhood suffrage, soon alienated Whig sympathizers like -the Unitarian steelmaker Samuel Shore. [7]



In January 1792 Wilkinson reported to Earl Fitzwilliam, the Lord Lieutenant, that he suspected . . . some respectable people among the Quakers . . . of being associated with the Society [8] and throughout 1792 Fitzwilliam received abstracts of business conducted at its meetings. [9]



During the year a barracks sufficient for 200 cavalry was run up outside the town and in December magistrate Athorpe gave Fitzwilliam a long report concerning the possibility of any attempt at armed insurrection [10]



Fitzwilliam communicated with the Government which became alarmed at the extent of the Society's contacts with its far more famous contemporaries in Edinburgh and London, [11] realized how Gales's Register was spreading radicalism throughout the north [12] and used the occasion of a public meeting in Sheffield in April 1794 to issue charges of conspiracy against Gales and two other of his employees, Henry Redhead Yorke and Thomas Davison [13] Gales and Davison fled to America, and Yorke was imprisoned for two years, after which he became a staunch patriot [14]



Montgomery, at the age of twenty-three, was now given a chance to show how far he had absorbed Gales's ideas and to act as the mainstay of Sheffield radicalism. He was a rumbustious anti-clerical, but, as with Gales, his adherence to radicalism was tempered by a certain lack of specific ideas for reform: he discounted revolutionary violence on the ground of all men's common brotherhood and humanity, thinking his own sympathy for universal suffrage would be lost sight of amidst riot, and appeared to predict that the people would be led into confusion by ignorant men whose only achievement would be to give tyrants a chance to return. [15] Here was both excessive idealism and defeatism.



The Register had sold 2,025 copies in May 1794 and seemed to be in a strong position but Gales was in fact bankrupt [16] so Montgomery had to enter into partnership with James Naylor, a Unitarian Minister, to buy the newspaper side of Gales's business. Naylor brought out the first issue of the re-named newspaper-The Iris ­on 4 July 1794 and according to Montgomery was responsible for a policy of comparative neutrality which lost nearly one-half of the former readership. [17]



Montgomery wrote to another Unitarian, Joseph Aston, that he was ashamed to compare the `. . cringing, trembling . . .' Iris with the `. . . firm and manly , . ' Register, explained how Naylor was `. . . averse to high-seasoned politics . . . ', and told how he himself sympathized with the now shaken Society, yet was less forthright than Gales: `. . . I shall not banish independent politics from my plan . . . I shall endeavour to wean the public from violent and intimidating language on political themes . . .'. [18]



The Iris thus aimed at a form of liberal consensus, deprecated war fever, lamented the rise of political violence, stated its loyalty to the pure form of the Constitution, recorded its unease over political trials, and continued to report news of the apparently rather whiggish Society. [19]



Even that was too much for the authorities. During October 1794 Montgomery was served with a magistrate's warrant for publishing and printing a seditious libel against the King's ministers, examined in Sheffield, and tried at Doncaster on 22 January 1795. Despite the efforts of Felix Vaughan, a supporter of the London Corresponding Society, who acted as his lawyer, Montgomery was found guilty and sentenced to three months in York Castle with a fine of £20.



The circumstances of Montgomery's accusation - of printing for an unknown beggar a ballad which had been in common circulation far several years - led him to suspect that the ballad, entitled the Patriotic Song, was used as a mere pretext against him, [20] and in 1839 he came into the possession of documents which showed how Treasury Solicitor White had authorized a Sheffield attorney, J. Brookfield, to manage the Doncaster prosecution . [21] White had sent out a general letter recommending such prosecutions [22] and Brookfield had replied in March 1794 `We have a set of sad Dogs here, and nothing but a little wholesome Correction will, I am afraid, keep them quiet' [23]



Whilst Montgomery was in prison Naylor announced that the Iris would concentrate upon news of scientific interest and instruction as an alternative to personal views and political passion, [24] and after Montgomery was released in April the Iris continued to counsel the rectification of abuses whilst hoping `. . . that the working people in Sheffield have too much good sense, and are far too much the friends of peace and order, to make it at all probable that they will ever have recourse to violent means for the purpose of remedying an evil, which instead of being removed, would thus most certainly be aggravated and increased . . .' [25]



On 3 July 1795 Montgomery's partnership with Naylor was dissolved [26] and the tone of the Iris changed almost immediately. It bitterly attacked food speculators, supported Sheffield reformers, lauded Charles James Fox, deprecated the Seditious Practices and Meetings Bills, and favoured Parliamentary reform . [27] The last page of the Iris was devoted to a correspondence column and to detailed news from France, Montgomery calling for a quickly negotiated peace. [28]



But Montgomery was already threatened by another trial. On 7 August 1795 the Iris had carried a description of the dispersal of a crowd which had shown its sympathy for soldiers who complained of their pay and conditions in the recently built barracks: `. . . R. A. Athorpe Esq., Col. of the Volunteers ... commanded the people instantly to disperse, which not being immediately complied with, a person, who shall be nameless, plunged with his horse among the unarmed, defenceless people, and wounded with his sword, women and children promiscuously . . .' [29] For that statement Montgomery was examined before Wilkinson, and on 14 October 1795 made the subject of a warrant for producing `. . . false, scandalous and malicious libel . . .'. [30]



Montgomery had no doubt that `. . . the prosecution is levelled at the Iris: they are determined to crush it . . .'. [31] He was quite right. At his trial in Doncaster an 21 January 1796 he came before three of the five magistrates who had tried him a year previously whilst the fourth, Athorpe, was now chief witness far the prosecution.



Despite Felix Vaughan's efforts Montgomery was found guilty and sentenced to six months in York Castle with a fine of £30, besides being bound over for two years at £300 surety. [32]

The Duke of Portland, Home Secretary, had already written to Wilkinson thanking him for his services, and asked him to thank `. . , that active and worthy magistrate and officer, Mr. Athorpe ... ' . [33]



Montgomery had been shocked by his first imprisonment [34] His second damaged his health so much that he had to recuperate at Scarborough and convinced him of the necessity of avoiding anything of which the authorities disapproved. Whilst at York he wrote to John Pye Smith, who had offered to manage the Iris for him and later became a Congregational divine, `. . . I will learn henceforth to be a hypocrite . . .' [35] and exercised an anxious oversight of the Iris which was posted to him weekly. ` . . I have received and read the Iris. I confess I trembled at many passages; you have glanced along the edge of a razor from beginning to end: do rein in your Pegasus - he will not be less mettlesome but more surefooted ... the Sheffield news is too bold: talk of Death but never Murder: beware how you attack established laws or established ministers . . . be firm, and cool and moderate . . . beware of being hurried away by generous indignation, imprudent zeal for truth . . .'. [36].



Smith was slow to learn his lessons so Montgomery warned him `. . . not to hack and hew Pitt quite so much in the London News . . .'[37] and cautioned `During this electioneering period be an your guard not to tell all the truth you know: there are some truths, which, like ancient coins, must be kept only in private cabinets and not circulated among the swine ... do not say anything about corruption . . .'. [38] A general homily­`. . , the crisis of affairs is very delicate at present. Do not throw any reflections on the conduct of the Administration respecting peace or war: in one word-be quiet . . ,' [39] -was followed by a refusal to allow the Iris to be drawn into a dispute between masters and men in the cutlery trade. [40]



It is perfectly obvious that Montgomery had decided to escape the threat of future imprisonment by avoiding politics and had conceived a deep reluctance to take part in the public life of Sheffield. The first issue of the Iris after his resumption of control in August 1796 contained in place of a leading article a piece beginning `Harvest again approaches to gladden the heart of the labourer, to enliven the cottage of the peasant, to pour the tide of plenty into the country . . .' [41]



For a while the last page remained a place for discussion of local problems caused by the war but by the end of 1796 English news had been almost entirely replaced by long and detailed reports of the European conflict. Montgomery ridiculed the danger of invasion and continued to speak out for a negotiated peace, [42] but during 1797 his optimistic view of the French was shaken and he called for a united, peaceful and patriotic populace. [43]



Unwelcome news from abroad caused him to curtail further the political content of the Iris and by the end of 1799 it bare little relation to its former self. In April 1800 Montgomery announced his intention to reduce his editorial matter to a Weekly Recapitulation of Facts and Rumours [44] and between then and 1805 the Iris was practically dormant.

There were several other reasons for its condition. After the collapse of the Tory Courant in 1797 he was without a rival in Sheffield; he did love England [45] and he had managed to persuade himself that by refusing to side with either reactionaries or reformers he was asserting his independence. [46] He had little business ability, was in financial difficulty, [47] devoting much of his time to composing Romantic poetry of a quality which gained him a largely transient reputation, [48] and passing through a major mental and spiritual crisis.

On the one hand he seems to have fallen in love with Gales's sister in whose Sheffield house he lived. On the other he had indulged in agonizing speculation on the nature of sin, death, and salvation as early as 1792 [49] and by 1797 seemed, perhaps helped by his two imprisonments, to have fallen into a state of mental and spiritual despair [50] which went unrelieved until he fell under Wesleyan influences in 1802 [51] and began, after his romance ended in 1805, [52] to throw off his depression.



In that year he published for a group of Quakers a pamphlet entitled The Soldier No Christian and feared a prosecution. [53] In the same year he began to move in local society, meeting the Unitarian manufacturer and diarist T. A. Ward; [54] and took the opportunity in 1806 to rebuke Pitt and to repeat his earlier praise of Fox [55] That was timely, for in 1807 the aged Samuel Shore formed a Committee to support Fitzwilliam's son Lord Milton who stood for the West Riding as a Whig. [56] Montgomery `. . . espoused the cause of Lord Milton, the popular candidate, a young man of respectable talents, high political enthusiasm and irreproachably pure character . . '. [57] In other words, he was now prepared to follow in the footsteps of some who had deserted the Society in 1792 and some of those whose relatives had taken a prominent part in putting it down.



The 1807 election also stimulated the production of a Tory newspaper, the Sheffield Mercury, and for a time Montgomery feared for the survival of his Iris, [58] going so far as to meet the threat by criticising the bombardment of Copenhagen [59] and maintaining an acrimonious campaign against Cobbett's justification of the war .' [60]



By 1810 and 1811 the Iris contained a series of mild-mannered estimates of the state of public affairs but on the political issues of the day - the formation of the Sheffield Pitt Club and Samuel Shore's Friends of Reform in 1810, the holding of a public dinner for Major Cartwright in 1812 - the Iris maintained a strict neutrality. When the Friends of Reform took part in the 1812 election the Iris's only comment was `. . . the people of England are at the game of Elections, staking their country on the colour of a ribbon, and gladly losing it to any candidate for whom they are tempted to vote, by the lure of self-interest or from spleen to their neighbours . . .' . [61]



As Montgomery was drawn further into the evangelical religious life of Sheffield­ - he is the fourth most prolific hymn writer, and author of Angels from the Realm of Glory - he adopted a system of values and interests which occupied him to the exclusion of those of the Unitarian reformers. They were values of a particular type. He attacked bitterly the slave trade and the policies of the Dutch in South Africa, but did so in order to prevent the rise of a `. . Genghis Khan of Africa . . .' [62] and hoped a combination of Christianity and civilization would make the black South Africans `. . . meekly obedient to their superiors . . .'. [63]



Within Sheffield itself Montgomery became a leading light of the Sunday School Union whose task soon came to be, in the words of its latest historian, `. . . a means whereby the path of economic progress might be smoothed and the revolutionary instincts of the awakening working class assiduously tempered . . .': [64] Whilst championing the climbing boys he produced, for George, IV, an eulogy on the excellence of English society as turgid as it was patriotic [65] and henceforth bothered Lords Milton and Lyttelton with his campaign for the abolition of the State Lottery. [66]

Such were his pre-occupations by 1815. It remained for him to respond to the peace. After complimenting Napoleon on his ability and chiding the allies for restoring the Bourbons [67] it was necessary for him to take an attitude to post-war distress and agitation.



As early as 1801 upwards one-quarter of Sheffield's population had been out of work [68] and it has been shown that such conditions, even allowing for the collapse of the Society by 1795 or 1796, stimulated the formation of secret working class organizations. [69]



E. P. Thompson has indicated that the Combination Acts brought local Jacobins into such a connection with trades unionists that Sheffield acted as a centre of disaffection far the whole of Yorkshire and Lancashire [70] whilst in 1812 the Sheffield mob disliked all but a `. . . thorough Reformer . . .'. [71]



During the previous fifteen years, far from supporting such men, Montgomery had been content, helped certainly by Tory control of the post office services [72] to see his newspaper relinquish its early position as radical torch to the north and midlands - in 1796 the Iris was sold in Halifax, Leeds, Wakefield, Hanley, Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Barnsley, Stockport, Manchester, Doncaster, Newark, Nottingham and Birmingham - for the role of local newssheet. That role would now, in the slightly less repressive conditions of peace time, be tested.



Montgomery was aware of distress and drew solutions for it from the whole range of contemporary reformist ideas - emigration, longer credit, a reduction of jobbery and corruption, economy and retrenchment, a reduction of interest rates, abolition of the national debt, all-round reduction of tax, tithe and rent but his most consistent theme was to counsel the poor to be patient and draw strength from the benevolent operation of the poor laws. [73]



In October 1816 he declined to be `. . . for the people or against them . . .' lest, in a time of admitted calamity, he became an unwilling cause of violence . [74] Those sentiments called forth a letter which accused Montgomery of trying `. . . to sneak into favour with the aristocratic party . . .' by deserting the popular cause, [75] so he took the opportunity to state his own ideas in a reply which virtually ridiculed the idea that political reform could result in economic alleviation. [76] When the Sheffield operatives lost patience and rioted in the December of 1816 he wrote that only a few `. . . unprincipled ruffians . . . cowardly instigators . . .' had been behind an attempt to overcome the basic decency of Sheffield men and refused to acknowledge that they suffered from problems that were not of their own making: [77] agitators had ruined the cutlery trade by enforcing rates which made it impossible for their masters to sell at a profit . [78] His solution would be to deprive the ringleaders of poor relief in order to break their power and raise the rest of the men `. . . to their former level of respectability . . . and liberty to act for themselves individually and make the best bargains they can with their employers . . .' [79]



Having thus made clear the gulf which divided him from the working classes of Sheffield, Montgomery proceeded to vex the politically inclined middle classes by taking an equivocal attitude towards Parliamentary reform. He praised the `. . . three­ fold perfection . . .' of King, Lords and Commons which constituted `. . . the most perfect legislative system which the polity of man has yet devised . . .' [80] and wanted only such changes - a single day's polling, [81] and transfer of representation from the corrupt seats to more populous places - as would reduce the moral contagion of the existing system, thinking Sheffield (part of the West Riding constituency) was better unenfranchised than corrupt. [82]



Montgomery's decisive break with the middle class reformers took place over his reaction to the Peterloo Massacre. At that time he was staying in Leamington with his brother Ignatius, a Moravian pastor, having left the Iris in the hands of his office-man John Ray who commented in an article that `. . . If it shall be found that one of our most sacred rights as a people - the right of assembling to discuss public grievances - has been rashly and boldly invaded ... then shall we be among the first to imprecate the country's indignation on the instigators of so atrocious a violation of our constitution . . .'. [83]



Montgomery who, as in the days of his second imprisonment, was receiving a weekly copy, wrote back reproving Ray and enclosed a refutation for insertion in the Iris. [84] When Ray informed him that T. A. Ward and the now patriarchal Samuel Shore were organizing a meeting of protest over Peterloo Montgomery sent a complete commentary in advance of it taking place [85] causing Ray to refuse to print more than a quarter of a description of the meeting which Ward brought to the Iris office. [86]



Such behaviour was unwise for Ray had told Montgomery of his `. . . unpopularity among the Radicals; they are quite indignant at your supposed cowardice in not standing forth as a champion of their cause, and lots of pretty names are consequently heaped upon the Iris. This sort of spirit is running so high as to have suggested the establishment of a newspaper . . .'. [87] On 11 December 1819 the first issue of the whiggish and reforming Sheffield Independent and Commercial Register was on sale. T. A. Ward became its editor a few years later. _



Montgomery had already returned to Sheffield and condemned the whole course of English radicalism since 1789: `. . . The promiscuous fraternity of all classes as fellow-members of political clubs in that age of liberty was more calculated to debase the virtuous than to amend the profligate . . whilst the Radicals of the 1800's were `. . . a degenerated race ... almost exclusively wretches . . ' whose only motive was to spread infidelity and anarchy - by blinding the people to the fact that `. . . if authority must be exercised by man over his fellows, it is for the interest of all, that it should be in the hands of those who, by rank, education, and property, have the best means and the highest motives to administer it in equity . . '. [90]



With such sentiments there was hardly a Radical leader - Cartwright, Burdett, Hunt, Cobbett - at whom Montgomery did not aim one sarcasm or another, [91] and the following years, despite his dabbling in free trade and schemes for the redistribution of seats, confirmed what he had hinted at even in 1816, [92] that he was willing to give cautious support to the Tory Government: `. . . The present ministry - whatever may be said against it is the best that the country can afford out of all its statesmen, for the plainest reason in the world, because it is the only one that can hold together . . .'. [93]



The Iris therefore specialized in propagating views which flowed from Montgomery's religious pre-occupations - he was pro-Greek, against barbarous sports, and favoured reforming the criminal law [94] - and his views led him to policies which were typical expressions of their period.



Famine in Ireland could be alleviated best `. . by the simplest and cheapest remedy in the world for both social and moral maladies - Scripture instruction . . .': [95] Brougham's scheme for national education was best opposed since it might destroy voluntary schools: [96] the Gospel should be freely preached to West Indian slaves but `. . . it would be the direst cruelty at once to break the negroes' fetters ... ' [97] Into such subjects did Montgomery pour the force of his invective and we may be sure that, as Sheffield society took a more and more evangelical tone, there was an assured audience for them but a combination of financial difficulty, ill-health, and John Ray's plan to take up a position in Barnsley led Montgomery to accept an offer to purchase the Iris by John Blackwell, a retired Methodist minister who had set up a book shop in Sheffield.



The bargain was made in September 1825, allowing Blackwell to employ a great-nephew of Thomas Clarkson to write the first leading article in what he hoped might be made profitable `. . . by being enlarged in size and conducted and printed as a newspaper . : .', [98] and allowing Montgomery to retire into the recesses of local philanthropy from whence he advised his friend and future biographer Everett, who was thinking of starting a newspaper in Manchester, that ". . . your proposed editorial labours will not be light if you have to furnish two columns of original matter every week ... soon your stock of old ideas on general political subjects will be seen out . . . when you have to search for subjects and to search for thoughts upon them, and to search for words to express those thoughts differently from former repeated expressions of the same things - you will find it a hard day's amusement .." [99]

Such sentiments were those of a man committed neither to a political position nor to an interest in politics and it is impossible fully to understand Montgomery's conduct of the Iris over a period from 1792 to 1825 without bearing them in mind.



In 1792 Sheffield had been unique in that it had certainly possessed both an unusually articulate working class, a Constitutional Society which was the largest in the kingdom with ideas in advance of radicals in London, and a newspaper whose editor was committed to the propagation of ideas which implied a complete re-structuring of the political system.



Within ten years that uniqueness had been destroyed. Several factors were involved.



First, Gales, son of a Derbyshire schoolmaster, Yorke, an adventurer from the West Indies, and Montgomery, a product of the confines of Fulneck, were all strangers to Sheffield so did not fully share in the conditions which did so much to mould its political life and, aided by the fact that their ideas were not related directly to those conditions, did not have a strong common bond with the men who formed the membership of the Sheffield Society.



Second, as soon as the Government detected the possibility of a threat to its own position, it suppressed even such public advocates of reform as did exist.



Third, the polarization of opinion brought about by the outbreak of war intimidated even those Whigs who had already condemned the Society and delayed the emergence of any solid middle class reforming politics until 1807 and beyond.



Each of these short-term factors had a long-term parallel. The working classes remained leaderless and without an advocate who could either give their distress political direction or put their energy at the disposal of the middle classes.



The Government, despite Fox's Libel Act of 1792 (which had not helped Montgomery), pursued a policy of increasing taxation which bore heavily on news­papers and passed a series of Acts which facilitated its campaign of prosecution and suppression. The clientele of such newspapers as did survive changed as the values of evangelicalism threatened to overwhelm the delicate reforming tradition without as yet producing a political movement of their own.



Montgomery was without doubt touched by each of these six factors and each re­bounded to his political disadvantage. His early radicalism was the product of accidental contact with Gales enlivened by youthful enthusiasm, and his ideas on the brotherhood of man and the duty of avoiding violence - themes which pervade all his writings - ­little more than applied Moravianism, so that when the Government acted he had insufficient political conviction either to sustain himself or to give himself resilience enough to face the vastly changed circumstances which war and peace brought.



He thus lost even such contacts as he had had with the working class reformers of Sheffield, allowed the Iris to decline in political and journalistic quality - he bought it from Naylor for £1,670 and sold it to Blackwell for £900 - and himself imbibed religious ideas which placed him to the right of the radical leaders of the post-war years and led to his being overtaken by men such as Shore and Ward who had previously viewed his kind with suspicion.



It may be maintained that he had merely conformed to the political reality of the time, or that he had never been more than an enthusiastic Whig and was never less than a cynical one; but his conduct in the 1807 Election, his post-war views on Parliamentary Reform, the nature of his relations with Sheffield reformers, and the Evangelical awareness of sin and human imperfection which pervades his later writings - all these indicate that he did desert an immature radicalism for a mature whiggery, that he (unlike Edward Baines of Leeds with whom he invites closer comparison) did not possess sufficient conviction or determination to make felt such views as he had, and that unlike his friend Pye Smith (and, indeed, Baines) his religious views did not lead directly to his seeing the necessity for co-operation with other reformers, nor in fact to anything beyond an attenuated career of civic virtue and philanthropy.



Given the extreme circumstances of that time, and Montgomery's peculiarly depressive and sensitive personality, such a regression was perhaps inevitable but its elucidation should remind us how weak were the forces of progress - how hardly they came together, how easily their internal disunion was revealed - and how many, varied and powerful were the forces of reaction: should any man who gratefully accepted a state pension from Sir Robert Peel be considered to be a radical? [100]



<br style="page-break-before: always;" clear="all"> Notes



[1] G. A. Cranfield, The Development o} the Provincial Newspaper, 1700-1760 (Oxford, 1962); R. L. Haig, The Gazettee, I735-1797: a Story in the Eighteenth Century English Newspaper (South Illinois University Press, 1960); D. Read, Press and People, 1790-I850 (London, 1961).



[2] Read, Press and People, pp. 209-210; W. H. G. Armytage, 'The Editorial experiences of Joseph Gales', 209-210; W. North Carolina Historical Review,(1951), pp. 332-361; P. J. Wallis, `The Diary of Joseph Gales', ibid., XXVI (1949), pp. 335-347.



[3] H. F. Beumer, With Fraternal Feeling Fired: the life and Work of James Montgomery (Evanston, South Illinois, 1967); S. Ellis, The Life, Times and Character of James Montgomery (London, 1864); J. Holland and J Everett Memoirs of James Montgomery(Sheffield 1854) ; J.W. King, James Montgomery (London 1858); H.C. Knight, The Life of James Montgomery (Boston, United States, 1857); Rev. J. Kirk, James Montgomery (Sheffield, 1861); E. D. Mackerness, Mary Anne Rawson and the Memorials of James Montgomery', Transactions of the Hunter Archaeological Society, VIII, Pt. IV(1962), pp. 218-228; Rev. W. Odom, Two Sheffield Poets: James Montgomery and Ebenezer Elliot (London, 1929).



[4] Read, Press and People, p. 15.



[5] A. Bell, ed., Peeps into the Past: Extracts from the Diary of T. A. Ward (Sheffield, 1909), p. 219.



[6] Sheffield Local Register (Sheffield, 1830), p. 17.



[7] J. Taylor, `The Sheffield Constitutional Society', Hunter Society, V, pt. III (1940), pp. 133-146.; A. W. L. Seaman, `Reform Politics at Sheffield', ibid., VII, pt. V (1956), pp. 215-228.



[8] Sheffield Central Library (hereafter referred to as Sheffield), Fitzwilliam Ms. F 44/3.



[9] Ibid., F 44/4-F 44/45.



[10] Ibid., F 44/39.

[11] Public Record Office, Treasury Solicitor's Papers, T.S. 24, 9/3, 9/6, 9/10, 10/5, 10/6, 10/11, 1/8.

[12] Ibid T.S. 11/1071, 5058; T.S. 24/4, 7, 9.



[13] Ibid., T.S. 11.982, 1071, 3035, 5060.

[14] E. Fearn, 'Henry Redhead Yorke - Radical Traitor', Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, XLII, pt. 166 (1968), pp. 187-192.



[15] J. Montgomery, The History o/ a Church and Warmingpan (Sheffield, 1793).



[16] Sheffield, Deeds, P.C. 310, 311, 318.

[17] J: Montgomery, The Poetical Works of James Montgomery, Collected by Himself (London, 1841), I, p. 248.



[18] Sheffield, Miscellaneous Documents. S.L.P.S. 37(1)2.



[19] The Sheffield Iris, 26 Dec. 1794, 2 Jan. 1795.



[20] J. Montgomery, Poetical Works, I, p. 254.



[21] Ibid., p. 255.



[22] P.R.O., T.S. 24, 2/3.

[23] Ibid., T.S.11/1071/5060.

[24] Iris, 20 March 1795.



[25] Ibid., 25 Apr. 1795.



[26] Ibid., 3 July 1795.



[27] Ibid., 25 Dec. 1795.



[28] Ibid., 10 July, 2 Oct. 1795.



[29] Ibid., T Aug. 1795.



[30] Holland and Everett, Montgomery, I, pp. 237-251 for full details.



[31] Sheffield, M.D., S.L.P.S., 37(i)4B:



[32] Ibid., M.D., 2104. 18, 1092. 31.



[33[ Ibid., Fitzwilliam Ms., 44/28.



[34] Ibid., M.D., S.L.P.S., 37(1)4.



[35] Sheffield, M.D., 1092.4.



[36] Ibid., M.D., 1092.7.



[37] Ibid., M.D., 1092.17.



[3]8 Ibid., M.D., 1092.20, 21.



[39] Ibid., M.D., 1092.25.



[40] Ibid., M.D., 1092.29.



[41] Iris, 18 Aug. 1796.

[42] Ibid., 9 Dec., 1796.



[43] Ibid., 20 Apr., 1798.



[44] Ibid., 18 Apr. 1800.



[45] Sheffield, M.D., S.L.P.S., 37(i)10.

[46] Ibid., M.D., S.L.P.S., 37(i)21; 37(7)1.

[47] Ibid., M.D., S.L.P.5.> 37(1)26; 37(1)28; 37(10)2.

[48] Thomas Cooper, The Life of Thomas Cooper, Written by Himself (London, 1$72), p. 292.

[49] Sheffield, M.D., S.L.P.S., 37(1)2.



[50] Ibid., M.D., S.L.P.S., 7(7)1.



[51] Kirk, Montgomery, p. 29.



[52] J. Montgomery, Poetical Works, I, p. XVI.



[53] Holland and Everett, Montgomery, IT, p. 64.



[54] Bell, T. A. Ward, p. 92.



[55] Iris; 20 Feb., 18 Sept. 1806.

[56] E. A. Smith, `The Yorkshire Elections of 1806 and 1807: a Study in Electoral Management', Journal of Northern History 1967, II, pp62-90

[57] Sheffield M.D. S.L.P.S. 37 (10)4



[58] Ibid., M.D., S.L.P.S., 37(1)48; 37(10)4, 5.



[59] Ibid., 37(17)6.



[60] Iris, 20 Oct. 1807; 8 Mch. 1808.



[61] Ibid., 3 Nov. 1812.

[62] J. Montgomery, Poems on the Abolition of the Slave Trade (London, 1804), p. 17.

[63] Ibid., Selected Prose Works (London, 1824), II, p. 252.

[64] John Salt, `Early Sheffield Sunday Schools', H.A.S. Trans. IX, pt. III (1967), p. 183.



[65] J. Montgomery and S. Roberts, The Chimney Sweeper's Friend and Climbing Boy's Album (London, 1824).



[66] J. Montgomery, Poetical Works, II, pp. 173-184; Iris, 25 Mch. 1817; Sheffield, M.D., S.L.P.S., 36,304.

[67] Iris, 25 July, 1 Aug., 24 Oct. 1815.



[68] R. E. Leader, Sheffield in the Eighteenth Century (Sheffield, 1905), p. 338.



[69] S. Pollard, A History of Labour in Sheffield (Liverpool, 1959), pp. 44-45.



[70] E. P. Thcmpson, The Making of the English Working Class (London, 1967), p. 546.



[71] Bell, T. A. Ward, p. 192.



[72] Sheffield, M.D., S.L.P.S., 2158.



[73] Iris, 24 Dec. 1816.



[74] Ibid., 29 Oct 1816.



[75] Ibid., S Nov. 1816.

[76] Ibid.



[77] Ibid., 10 Dec. 1816.



[78] Ibid.



79 Ibid.; In 1824 Montgomery favoured repealing the Combination Laws in order that the men might be weaned from violent secret societies by the knowledge that the price Of their labour would find its own level in the open market, Iris, 17 Feb. 1824.



[80] Ibid., 19 Feb. 1819.



[81] Ibid., 14 July 1818.



[82] Ibid., 22 Aug. 1822, 12 Nov. 1822.



[83] Ibid., 24 Aug. 1819.



[84] Sheffield, M.D., S.L.P.S., 36.337.



[85] Ibid.



[86] Ibid., MD., S.L:P:S., 36.338.



[87] Ibid., M.D., S.L.P.S., 96.337.



[88] Iris, 7 Dec. 1819.



[89] Ibid., 14 Dec. 1819.

[90] Ibid.., 21 Dec. 1819.

[91] Ibid., 28 Dec. 1819.

[ 92] Ibid., 9 July 1816.

[93] Ibid., 21 Dec. 1824.

[94] Ibid., 21 July 1818; 18 May, i June 1824.

[95] Ibid., 30 July 1822.



[96] Ibid., 21 May 1821.



[97] Ibid., 28 July 1824.

[98] Sheffield, M.D., S.L.P.S., 36.548.



[99] Ibid., M.D., S.L.P.S., 37(3)12



[100] British Museum, Additional Manuscripts, 40,419 ff 121, 231.

#2 vox

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 02:18 PM

ANGELS FROM THE REALMS OF GLORY
Words: James Mont­gom­e­ry, in his Shef­field news­pa­per, the Iris, Christ­mas Eve, 1816. It was re­pub­lished in the Christ­ian Psalm­ist, 1825. Stan­za 5 is from The Christ­mas Box, 1825.

Source

#3 lysander

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 09:40 AM

A famous man, indeed...but as he was born a native to Scotland and trained for the ministry in Leeds is he really  a  Sheffielder( what is the collective term for Hallamshire)? He didn't arrive here until he was an adult aged 21!



#4 Bayleaf

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 03:12 PM

A famous man, indeed...but as he was born a native to Scotland and trained for the ministry in Leeds is he really  a  Sheffielder( what is the collective term for Hallamshire)? He didn't arrive here until he was an adult aged 21!

But it was events and work after he arrived in Sheffield for which he is remembered, so I think we have a justifiable claim?



#5 lysander

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 08:46 AM

Does that open up the list to very many others who, whilst not being native to Hallamshire, achieved success whilst living here?



#6 Bayleaf

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 04:04 PM

It's already open. The forum is entitled 'Sheffield Celebrities', it doesn't say they have to be born here. If you look down the list I'm sure you'll find others who aren't Sheffield born.



#7 Edmund

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Posted 12 July 2013 - 11:30 AM

Here's a description of Montgomery's two residences in Sheffield (quite a contrast between them!).  It's from "Old Yorkshire" vol 3 (1881) - an article by Wm Howitt.

 

Strangers visiting Sheffield will have a natural curiosity to see where Montgomery so many years resided, and whence he sent forth his poems and his politics. That spot is in the Hartshead ; one of the most singular situations for such a man and purpose often to be met with.

 

Luckily, it was in the centre of the town, and not far to seek. Going up the High-street, various passages under the houses lead to one common centre,- the Hartshead,—a sort of cul de sac, having no carriage road through, but only one into it, and that not from the main street, The shop, which used to be the Iris office, is of an odd ogee shape, at the end of a row of buildings. It has huge, ogee· shaped windows, with great dark-green shutters. The door is at the corner, making it a three-cornered shop. It was, at the time of my visit, a pawnbroker’s shop, the door and all round hung with old garments. The shelves were piled with bundles of pawned clothes, ticketed. The houses round this strange hidden court, in which it stands, are nearly all public-houses, as the Dove and Rainbow, and the like, with low eating-houses, and dens of pettifogging lawyers ; and, strange to say, even the pawnbroker‘s shop was afterwards converted into another beer-house!

 

But, leaving the beer-house of the Harts-head, we shall find the poet of religion and refinement residing at the Mount, on the Glossop road, the West End of Sheffield. It is, I suppose, at least a mile and a half from the old Iris office, and is one regular ascent all the way. The situation is lovely, lying high; and there are many pleasant villas built on the sides of the hill in their ample pleasure grounds, the abodes of the wealthy manufacturers. The Mount, par excellence, is the house, or rather terrace, where Montgomery lived. It is a large building, with a noble portico of six fine Ionic columns, so that it seems a residence fit for a prince. It stands in ample pleasure grounds, and looks over a splendid scene of hills and valleys. The rooms enjoy this fine prospect over the valleys of the Sheaf and Porter, which. however, was obscured while I was there with the smoke blowing from the town.



#8 Edmund

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Posted 27 December 2013 - 05:44 PM

James Montgomery.png



#9 SteveHB

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 02:46 PM

James Montgomery's resting place, Sheffield General Cemetery.

 

j m_gen cem.jpg



#10 SteveHB

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 02:48 PM

Monument to James Montgomery - http://public-art.sh...ld/bell6im.html