We have several men by the name of Hugh Montgomery in my father’s tree. Some of them are many time great grandparents from whom we descend. Others are the brothers of our great grandparents. Thus, they are many times great uncles to those who descend from Matilda Montgomery Smith. Hugh III, the First Earl of Mount Alexander (1623- 1663), known also as The Viscount Montgomery was an Irish peer, appointed to command his father’s regiment in 1642. The father, Hugh Montgomery II (1597-1642) is a 8x Great Grandfather to my father. Hugh II married Jean Alexander (1606-1670).

Hugh II and Jean Alexander had four children: Elizabeth, Henry, our 8x ggf James, and Hugh III, the great uncle who stars in this story.

Hugh III was a bit of a medical miracle. His online bio reveals that he suffered a horrible fall as a child and he was severely injured.  His chest was pierced open, an extensive abscess formed, which on healing left a large cavity through which one could see his heart beating [1]. Apparently he wore a metal plate over the opening.[2] I don’t know how you keep that clean, but apparently he managed.

He was strong enough to travel through France and Italy at age twenty. He was well known by now as a medical phenom, a walking talking window on the heart, a Ripley Believe It or Not character before there ever was a Ripley. On his return home he was brought to Charles I at Oxford, who was curious to see this Montgomery kid and his chest. It is reported that Hugh III spent several days in the king’s court, probably entertaining the royals with his ‘deformity.’ [3]

It was about at this time (the Hugh III European Tour) that Hugh II died in the battle of the Irish Rebellion in Donegal, in 1642. It was at his death that his son, Hugh III, was appointed to command our 9x great grandfather’s regiment in the King’s Royal army.

So, let’s pause a moment and think about the implications of this in terms of Hugh’s bloodline, his place of birth and his place in Irish history. Hugh III was born in Donegal in 1623 to a Scot Irish family. His parents, Hugh II and Jean Alexander are of Broadstone, Beith, Aryshire Scotland found to the west of Edinburgh, even west of Glasgow, near the Irish Sea. The father, Hugh II, died in battle, a Celtic man giving his life for King Charles I of England. Hugh III, born in Ireland, then took over in service to the king.

Chronology is important in this story as it does tie into my compendium entitled 1638. In Chapter I, Scotland, I describe how the Scots rebell against the King’s control of the Scottish church and the reformation of the church in Scotland. Many of our Whittington ancestors, especially those found in Grandmother Sullivan’s tree were persecuted by Kings James I and his son Charles I. The rebellions among the clans of Scotland and Ireland were fierce and the Montgomeries were sent to suppress the uprisings in the north of Ireland. Hugh II died trying. Hugh III took command as the Third Viscount at his father’s death. Hugh III served under Scottish Major-General Robert Monro, who married Hugh’s mother, Jean Alexander Montgomery. Within several decades the Monro family name shows up in the heart of Westmoreland County, Virginia, in the neighborhood of Peter Smith.

Hugh Montgomery III fought at the Battle of Benburb in June 1646. The king’s troops were defeated, and our Viscount Hugh, was captured while leading his cavalry into battle. Rebel forces dispatched Hugh off to Clochwater Castle, where he remained until October 1647. He was exchanged for Richard, 2nd Earl of Westmeath.[4]

Hugh III was so successful at suppressing the Irish that he quickly rose to the title Commander in Chief of the Royalist army in Ulster in 1649. He quickly made good on his release from  Clochwater and seized Belfast, Antrim, and one of my favorite villages, Carrickfergus.

As Oliver Cromwell and Parliament seized control and decapitated King Charles I, Hugh Montgomery III boldly proclaimed his loyalty to King Charles II. The powerless king appointed Montgomery as commander-in-chief of the royal army in Ulster (14 May 1649), with instructions to co-operate with James, Marquis of Ormonde. [5] Montgomery seized Belfast, Antrim, and Carrickfergus, and, passing through Coleraine, laid siege to Londonderry. Within four months his fortune turned, Cromwell and his army forced Montgomery to retreat. He joined Ormonde in a final and failed effort against the English Commonwealth.[6]

The royal forces failed in their efforts and  surrendered to Cromwell. Cavaliers loyal to the King scattered across the globe, many found their way to the New World. Hugh III was banished to Holland, and forbidden to consult Charles II. In 1652 he solicited and received permission to return to London, and after much delay was allowed subsistence for himself and his family out of his confiscated estates.[7] He was then permitted to return to Ireland, and lived there under strict surveillance, and for a time was imprisoned in Kilkenny Castle.[8]

At the Restoration when Cromwell was dead and buried and King Charles II returned to the throne in 1660, Hugh III was appointed life master of ordnance in Ireland and one year later was granted the title his father once held, Earl of Mount Alexander.

He died suddenly and suspiciously at Dromore on September 15, 1663, while investigating Major Blood’s plot. He was buried in the chancel of the church at Newtownards.[9]


This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Paton, Henry (1894). “Montgomery, Hugh”. In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography 38. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 315–316.


  1. Paton 1894, p. 315 cites Harvey Works, Sydenham Society, pp. 382-4.
  2. Paton 1894, p. 315.
  3. Paton 1894, pp. 315,316.
  4. Paton 1894, p. 316.
  5. Paton 1894, p. 316 cites State Papers, Dom. Ser. 1649-50, p. 140.
  6. Paton 1894, p. 316.
  7. Paton 1894, p. 316 cites State Papers, Dom. Ser. 1649-50, p. 140.
  8. Paton 1894, p. 316.
  9. Paton 1894, p. 316.