Henry Montgomery, an imperial bishop

This blog post is more personal than previous efforts where I have chosen one of the library’s treasures or a historical event. Henry Montgomery (1847-1932) was vicar of my church, St Mark’s, Kennington, before becoming Bishop of Tasmania and later Secretary of the SPG. Before writing this I knew very little of Montgomery’s life and views, and it seems an appropriate time to reflect on this history. Many libraries, archives and museums are re-evaluating the origin, content and descriptions of their material following the rise to prominence of the Black Lives Matter movement this year. 

The Library holds correspondence from Montgomery in the papers of Archbishops Benson, Frederick Temple and Davidson. Montgomery’s own papers are MSS 4537-4543 and contain personal letters from Henry’s father Robert, and his father-in-law Frederic Farrar and correspondence relating to his leadership of the SPG and several volumes of his memoirs. I was also surprised to find out that the British Museum holds objects and photographs taken by Montgomery during his travels through the Pacific.    

Montgomery was born in Cawnpore (now Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh) in Northern India to Robert and Ellen Jane (née Lambert) Montgomery in 1847. His father was part of the Anglo-Irish gentry from County Donegal and had entered the Indian Civil Service. During the Indian Rebellion of 1857 Robert removed the weapons from the Indian garrison in Lahore and was knighted for his actions. Henry spent most of his youth in England attending Harrow and then studying at Trinity College, Cambridge. He was ordained as a priest in 1872 and was a curate at Hurstpierpoint, Sussex, then Christ Church, Southwark, and St Margaret’s, Westminster (on Parliament square). Montgomery’s mentor during this time was Frederic William Farrar, who later became Dean of Canterbury. Just like Montgomery, Farrar was born in India and studied at Trinity, and he was Montgomery’s housemaster at Harrow and vicar at St Margaret’s.

The closeness of their relationship goes some way to explaining how Montgomery married Farrar’s daughter Maud (who was only 16) in 1881, two years after he became vicar of St Mark’s, Kennington. Maud and Henry had nine children, most notably Bernard Montgomery, the World War II General at El Alamein who became Field Marshal. In 1887 Henry’s father died, which led to a brief time of financial difficulty for the family as Henry now had to pay off the debt on their estate in Ulster. His time in Kennington involved balancing numerous visits to parishioners and a growing family, Maud later recalled that “He could work in his study with the children playing about the room, and many of his sermons were written in the nursery overlooking the Oval cricket ground.”[1]

Henry and Maud Montgomery outside the Fig Tree entrance to Lambeth Palace (MS 4541, f. 72)

The turning point in Montgomery’s life came in 1889 when he was appointed Bishop of Tasmania. At this time Australia was still seen as a region for missionary activity but Montgomery was also keen to grow the Anglican Church across the Pacific. He continued the construction of St David’s Cathedral in Hobart while spending many months in rural areas and mining towns. Overall the number of church buildings in the diocese increased from 75 to 125.[2] He was passionate about upholding morals in a frontier society and founded a home for former prostitutes and vulnerable women. Gambling was another concern, highlighted by his opposition to George Adams’ Tattersall’s lotteries which were legalized in 1895. Montgomery also visited the Bass Strait islands every year, particularly Cape Barren Island where there was a school for Indigenous Australians, however the teacher Edward Stephens was deeply unpopular.[3]

Over time it became clear that Montgomery wanted a larger role across a wider geographical area. Beyond Tasmania he argued for the creation of the diocese of New Guinea after the south-eastern part of the island was annexed by Queensland in 1884. He visited the diocese of Melanesia in 1892 including the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, writing of his experiences in The Light of Melanesia (1896). Reflecting on his time as bishop, Montgomery wrote to Archbishop Temple 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”.[4]

Montgomery’s vision and dedication had not gone unnoticed and in January 1902 he became Secretary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG) and retained his episcopal title. According to Steven Maughan, this was his opportunity to pursue his goal to “reinvigorate the Church itself by directly linking the fortunes of Anglicanism with the British Empire.”[5] Montgomery wanted the church to be led by a united leadership of Anglo-Saxons that would uphold imperial values around the world. However, there were signs that the church was beginning to become uneasy about its relationship with empire. For example, the celebration of Empire Day in 1904 was not officially encouraged by Archbishop Davidson. Montgomery’s paternalistic racist views – common in the 19th century – were beginning to be challenged by a younger generation of churchmen such as C.F. Andrews in India.

The SPG had its own problems, for example the bicentenary appeal in 1901 had only raised 20 per cent of its target. To encourage the discussion of issues faced in the colonial mission field a new journal The East and the West, a Quarterly Review for the Study of Missions was started in 1903. Montgomery wanted the SPG to be seen as the home of moderate broad churchmen compared to the more Anglo-Catholic Universities’ Mission to Central Africa or the more evangelical Church Missionary Society. From the beginning of his Secretaryship Montgomery envisaged a conference that would bring the Church of England together in facing the challenges of modern mission through a united commitment to the empire. In the event though, the Pan-Anglican Congress of 1908 “came to focus primarily on the internal order of the communion and the home problems of the church”.[6] The empire could not be used to unite church parties as Montgomery intended and he began to realise that such an ‘imperial church’ was untenable.

Despite this, Montgomery maintained his enthusiasm for Anglican involvement in ecumenical missions and represented the SPG at the 1910 World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh. Along with Bishop Gore and Bishop Talbot he helped to sway Archbishop Davidson’s decision to deliver the opening address.[7] Of the only 19 non-Westerners at the conference Vedanayagam Samuel Azariah (later bishop of Dornakal in the Church of South India) spoke out against the attitudes of many missionaries, “Too often you promise us thrones in heaven, but will not offer us chairs in your dining room”.[8] Unfortunately it would take at least another generation for many missionaries to change their behaviour and attitudes.

Bishop Montgomery visiting the Great Wall of China, 1910 or 1911 (MS 4542, f. 79)

While he was Secretary of the SPG, Montgomery’s love of travel did not diminish and following the Edinburgh Conference he embarked on a seven month tour of East Asia. In 1916 he preached the triennial missionary sermon before the General Convention of the US Episcopal Church in St Louis, Missouri. Retiring in 1918, he continued to write, producing several biographies of other missionary bishops. While Montgomery’s dedication as a parish priest, bishop and missionary leader can be appreciated, his racist views were firmly rooted in the nineteenth century. As bishop of Tasmania he worked tirelessly, travelling across his diocese and the wider Pacific, and as Secretary of the SPG he modernised its structures and collaborative efforts. The course of Montgomery’s life was very much when ‘imperial Christianity’ was at its peak and this is a major – and painful – part of his legacy.

By David Thomas, Library Assistant


[1] Quoted in Withycombe, Robert, Montgomery of Tasmania: Henry and Maud Montgomery in Australasia (Brunswick East: Acorn Press, 2009), p. 15.

[2] http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/montgomery-henry-hutchinson-7629 Accessed 27/11/2020.

[3] Stephens, Geoffrey, ‘H.H. Montgomery – the Mutton Bird Bishop’, p. [10]. http://anglicanhistory.org/aus/hhmontgomery/mutton1985.pdf Accessed 07/12/2020.

[4] http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/montgomery-henry-hutchinson-7629 Accessed 27/11/2020.

[5] Maughan, Steven, ‘An archbishop for Greater Britain: Bishop Montgomery, missionary imperialism and the SPG, 1897-1915’ in Three centuries of mission: the united Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, 1701-2000 (London : Continuum, 2000), p. 360.

[6] Maughan, Steven, ‘An archbishop for Greater Britain: Bishop Montgomery, missionary imperialism and the SPG, 1897-1915’ in Three centuries of mission: the united Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, 1701-2000 (London : Continuum, 2000), p. 367.

[7] Dore, Michael, ‘The Evangelisation of the World in this Generation’, p 1. Accessed through https://d3hgrlq6yacptf.cloudfront.net/uspg/content/pages/documents/1596801269.pdf 4/11/2020.

[8] Dore, Michael, ‘The Evangelisation of the World in this Generation’, p 3. Accessed through https://d3hgrlq6yacptf.cloudfront.net/uspg/content/pages/documents/1596801269.pdf 4/11/2020.

The Lambeth Palace Garden in the Archives

Whilst it would be misguided in 2020 to talk of the joys of spring, given the sad impact of the coronavirus, the time of year is nevertheless traditionally an exciting one for the Lambeth Palace garden. The garden is a unique green space in the heart of London with a long and interesting history documented within the Library’s collections.

The garden at Lambeth Palace
The Lambeth Palace garden, with Lambeth Palace in the background

The garden is one of the largest private gardens in London, and has a good claim to being the oldest continuously cultivated garden in the city. The earliest court roll for the archiepiscopal manor of Lambeth from 1236/7 (Reference: ED 1193) refers to the “…garden and orchards, with pears and other fruit sold at the garden gate, a ‘New herbarium’ with turfs coming from archbishop’s lands at Norwood, flax and hemp sown in gardens and a ‘great ditch’ surrounding the whole site”. An account roll from the time of Archbishop Reynolds in 1322 (Ref: ED 545) refers to the wall around the ‘great garden’ being newly built and thatched with reeds and a rabbit garden nearby. The roll lists various seeds which were bought and their cost, and provides an introduction to the garden’s staffing. Gardener Roger had a labourer for eight days to dig the garden, a boy to help dig out flowering plants for three days at 1d per day, and a spade which was worth 6d.

Early map of London
Printed map of London coloured by hand, taken from a copy of Georgius Braun and Franz Hogenberg, ‘Civitates orbis terrarum’, (LPL, MS 3392)

The Library’s earliest pictorial representation of the garden is a hand coloured print of London from 1560 by Georgius Braun and Franz Hogenberg (MS 3392) which probably shows the garden as it was laid out in the time of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. The household ordinances of Archbishop Matthew Parker (MS 1072), give a detailed description of the gardener’s duties in the 16th century, including keeping the grass ‘lowe with the sythe’, and that he ‘delve and manure the grounds to the best comodity of the owner’.

Plan of garden
An exact Plann and Description of Lambeth Pallace with the Courtyards, Gardens, Orchard, Woodyard, Parke, and Walkes Lying and being within the County of Surry Parcell of the Possessions of Thomas Scott Esq. and Mr. Matthew Hardy (LPL, TD 216)

The first detailed plan of the garden dates from the Civil War period (TD 216), when in 1648 commissioners were appointed by Chancery to carry out a survey with a view to the sale of much of the site. The plan is accompanied by a survey giving the size, value and character of the land, which includes the garden (COMM XIIa/23, f.62). The household accounts of Archbishop William Sancroft tell us how much the gardener was paid in 1679 (TG 1, f.63) and a bill in Archbishop John Potter’s accounts for 1736 illustrates the variety of seeds which were bought (TG 5, f.10). By the mid-18th century the number of plans of the garden grows. For example the landscaping work which took place under Archbishop John Moore between 1783-4 is reflected in plans from before (TD 217) and after (TD 218). The granting of a large part of the garden on a lease to London County Council in 1900 by Archbishop Frederick Temple is recorded in the collections in reasonable detail.

Plan of the palace gardens and adjoining land
Lambeth Palace, plan of the gardens and lands adjoining the palace. (LPL TD217)

Plan of the Palace and gardens
Lambeth Palace, plan of the palace and gardens as intended (LPL TD 218)

The 19th and 20th centuries have seen the involvement of several Archbishops’ wives in garden renovations. A print of 1883 (Print 034/075) conveys a sense of the landscaping and planting work carried out by Mary Howley, wife of Archbishop William, in the 1830s. Archbishop Randall Davidson’s wife Edith was responsible for the planting of yellow antirrhinum, scarlet salvias, heliotrope and verbenas.

Print depicting the gardens at the end of the 19th century
The Gardens of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth Palace (LPL, Prints 034/075)

Rosamund Fisher wrote a diary which she donated to the Library (MS 1726, ff. 64-78), and which provides valuable insights into the garden soon after the end of World War Two: “when we arrived the garden was still occupied by an RAF balloon and its crew… Wright, the gardener, had inadequate help, but did wonders in restocking the herbaceous borders and the kitchen garden. Seeds cost little and we made successful experiments with many plants hitherto supposed not to grow in Lambeth soil”. The tradition of wives working on garden renovations has continued into the recent past, with Rosalind Runcie leading a project to restore the garden in preparation for the 1988 Lambeth Conference, and further work taking place under Eileen Carey.

Further reading

For further detail on the history of the Lambeth Palace garden see:
Watton, M (2017). ‘Seven Hundred Years since a Spade Cost Sixpence, Records of the Lambeth Palace Garden’, Archives, LII (135), 3-15.

Of Plimoth Plantation- Part 2

Last week we saw how it was discovered that William Bradford’s manuscript, Of Plim̃oth Plantation,  giving an account of the Mayflower voyage was discovered to be at Fulham Palace. This week, we see how the manuscript returned to Massachusetts. 

The final approach

On the 19th September 1896 Senator George Frisbie Hoar wrote to Mandell Creighton, Bishop of London, requesting access to see the manuscript, with an enclosed letter of recommendation from Creighton’s nephew W.H. Grenfell.[1] Following this Hoar wrote to both Creighton and Archbishop Temple on the 18th November 1896 referencing a previous discussion with Temple when he was Bishop of London, and notes that Temple said that if he had known ‘how highly this manuscript is esteemed by Americans’ it would have been returned long ago.[2] Hoar suggests to Creighton that an Act of Parliament might not be necessary to secure the return of the manuscript if it were judged that it was not the rightful property of the Bishop of London: ‘If a book belonging to the British Museum were found at Fulham, even if it had been there a hundred years, I presume you would direct its restoration without asking anybody’s leave, with as much promptness, if the case were clear, as if any visitor had left his cane or umbrella in the Library by accident. But of all this you are much the most competent judge.’.[3]

Following this, dated just three days later, Creighton received a letter from various American historical societies formally requesting the return of the manuscript, signed personally by Hoar, William Evarts and J. Pierpont Morgan, amongst various others.[4] The letter provides a brief history of the manuscript, a description of the inside leaf attributing ownership to Thomas Prince, a history of the Prince Library, and speculation on how the manuscript came to rest at Fulham. The letter argues that no civilised nation, ‘least of all so enlightened and liberal a nation as Great Britain’, would view the property of libraries or universities as spoils of war.[5]

In January 1897 the American Ambassador to Great Britain, Thomas Francis Bayard, followed up this request with a letter stating that the Secretary of State of the United States had asked him to informally bring the matter to the attention of Creighton.[6] The following month was spent attempting to establish the legal status of the manuscript, with correspondence exchanged between Creighton, Temple, and the Prime Minister (Lord Salisbury) concerning how it came to be deposited at Fulham and the relevance of Bishop Porteus’ will.[7] It is clear however that no clear answer emerged, and despite initial suggestions that parliamentary authority may be required to transfer the manuscript, ultimately the Prime Minister left the matter in the hands of Creighton. Bayard subsequently wrote to Creighton acknowledging that the return of the manuscript did not rest on a technicality of ownership, but rather on a ‘spirit of kindness between nations and peoples’.[8]

As a result, Creighton ordered Thomas Hutchinson Tristram, Chancellor of the Diocese of London, to summon a Consistory Court to rule on the matter. Meeting on 25 March 1897 at St Paul’s Cathedral, the Court issued a decree, copied on to the first two leaves of the manuscript, mandating that the manuscript be delivered to Bayard to be speedily sent to the United States and deposited in either Massachusetts Archives or the Library of the Historical Society, as well as placing responsibility for its custody and access arrangements in the hands of the Governor of Massachusetts.[9] Soon after this the election of a new US President (William McKinley) brought a change of ambassador, and the new first secretary at the embassy, Henry White, wrote to Creighton questioning the personal right of Bayard to act as courier of the manuscript (as the Consistory Court had decreed), but did not challenge the authority of the Court or Creighton to make this decision.[10]

The return of the manuscript

Honouring the Consistory Court’s decree, the manuscript was returned to Massachusetts by Bayard on 26 May 1897. Bayard wrote to Creighton giving an account of the event, stating that he handed the manuscript to Governor Roger Wolcott at the State House in Boston, with the two Houses of Legislature present in joint session – proceedings were described as ‘formal and marked with general public interest’, and while Bayard expressed regret that Creighton was not personally present to receive the ‘gratulations of the community at large’, he stated that events such as the return of the manuscript ‘obliterate the memories of ancient feuds, and ignorant prejudices, and bring the hearts of two kindred nations into sympathetic and normal relations’.[11] Notification was also given that both Creighton and Temple had been elected for membership of the American Antiquarian Society.

Illuminated address
Illuminated address sent to Archbishop Temple and Mandell Creighton by The Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of New York . [LPL MS2022f1v-2r]
In July 1897 Creighton received a letter from Dominic E. Colnaghi, Consul General in Boston, requesting a photograph of Creighton for a forthcoming published volume of manuscript, featuring the decree of Consistorial Court, the addresses of Hoar, Bayard and the Governor to the homecoming ceremony, and photographs of those involved in the saga, including Temple and Creighton.[12] The Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of New York sent an illuminated address to Temple and Creighton – held now at Lambeth Palace Library – expressing appreciation for the role of both in the return of manuscript, dated 7th April 1897, suggesting it ‘will tend to increase the friendship of the people of the two nations’.[13]

A letter from Temple to Hoar, sent on receipt of the account of the manuscript’s reception in Massachusetts, captures the spirit of the final part of this protracted affair: ‘the words used at that reception by yourself and by the other speakers will long burn in many English hearts as expressing the warm feeling which so many Americans cherish toward the Mother Country. Be assured that the strong respect and affection which is felt in England towards the Great Republic of the West, our pride in your greatness, and desire for your good will, although they may wax and wane as human beings inevitably do, yet will never perish.’.[14]


[1] FP Creighton 8, ff.253-256.

[2] F. Temple 5, ff.68-69.

[3] FP Creighton 8, ff.257-258.

[4] FP Creighton 8, ff.259-262.

[5] FP Creighton 8, ff.259-262.

[6] FP Creighton 8, ff.263-266.

[7] FP Creighton 8, ff.269-278; F. Temple, ff.70-71.

[8] FP Creighton 8, ff.279-280.

[9] Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647, pp.xxxvi-xxxvii.

[10] FP Creighton 8, ff.281-282.

[11] FP Creighton 8, ff.283-284.

[12] Bradford’s History ‘Of Plimoth Plantation’, Boston: Wright & Potter, 1898.

[13] MS 2022.

[14] E.G. Sandford (ed), Memoirs of Archbishop Temple by Seven Friends, Vol. II, London: Macmillan & Co. Ltd., 1906, p.175.