Information supplied by his descendant Christine Mc Cafferty (nee Allen)
Gabriel Montgomery was born in 1762 and died 1840. He had two brothers and one sister, Robert (b1771), Peggy (b1775) and Hugh (b1781).
He was married to Ann Knox at Lifford Church on 19 November 1788 by the Reverend Thomas Burgoyne D.D. Ann was the sister of George Knox of Coneyburrow town-land and daughter of William Knox of Lifford County Donegal. On documentation provided by J.M. Smyth, great grandson of Gabriel, it was stated that the surveyor Gabriel Montgomery was the descendant of General Gabriel Conyngham Montgomery, the possessor of the Fermanagh property mortgaged to the land steward, Archdale.
Having no heirs, Archdale decided to leave the property to a Montgomery on condition that he should take the name Archdale, whose family still retained the land and the castle named Archdale Castle, whilst ensuring the name of Montgomery remained in the surname i.e. Archdale –Montgomery or Montgomery –Archdale.
The great grandson of the surveyor recorded that in order for the property to be recovered into the Montgomery-Archdale line, a costly legal action was initiated by Gabriel Montgomery, which was unsuccessful. Legal costs amounted to £1600.
Not being able to regain the family property he continued a school of engineering and surveying. It was noted that he was quite a brilliant scholar at Trinity College Dublin noticeably winning a gold medal with a Latin inscription for the best essay on the proposed Union of England and Ireland. This medal became a treasured family heirloom.
Gabriel and Ann had eight children, four boys and four girls.
Their names were Anne, Margaret, William Conyngham, Matilda, Samuel, Jane, John and Robert. The family resided for a period of time in Butcher Street Lifford, County Donegal, having their surveying business attached there, with a second outlet in Strabane. The male members of the family, including Gabriel’s brothers were all surveyors related to the Mc Creas, through the marriage of Ann Knox. George Knox, her brother was himself a surveyor to the Grand Jury of Donegal as assistant to Montgomery.
The collection holds a small variety of the Mc Crea maps. Samuel Mc Crea had already established a school of surveying in Lifford with survey contributions of numerous Irish counties. However, map making soon became the responsibility of his two sons, William and Conyngham Mc Crea. It was William who completed a survey of County Monaghan in 1793, Donegal in 1801 and with the assistance of George Knox set out to survey Tyrone in 1815. Professor Andrews indicated that their map making was “ornately decorative” whereas the majority of the maps by Montgomery were less ornamental but more informative and factual. Colour was not a necessary requirement, just a means of filling in a space.
Montgomery initially, was a pupil of the Mc Crea’s school of surveying. Although he was commissioned to produce a map of Fermanagh he postponed the venture, waiting for a form of infrastructure to materialise from within the county. Unfortunately, the delay lasted too long. In fact this map was completed eventually but never published. There is a finished map of Lough Erne as an example of his work, in the Planning Office of Enniskillen. A similar survey or chart of Lough Erne is housed in his archive in the Mc Garrigle Collection.
Prior to the rebellion of 1798, he became an officer of engineers under Lord Murray (Duke of Atholl) who raised the Corps of Royal Manx Fencibles. The corps was quartered temporarily in Lifford around this time in history, under the orders of Lord Cornwallis.
During the Antrim Rebellion Montgomery was requested to conduct a survey of the River Bann which he completed methodically and mention is clearly made of this in his memorial of 1798, to his Excellency, Marquis Cornwallis. A copy of this memorial is in the collection. (Refer article “Found in the Attic”)
After the suppression of the rebellion Lord Murray finding out that the government did not attempt to recoup him for the outlay of some thousands of pounds spent on raising the Corps, and being short of funds, was compelled to distribute his furniture with some personal belongings to his loyal officers. A certain chest of drawers with escritoire was presented to Lieutenant Gabriel Montgomery under these circumstances. This item of furniture is presently retained with pride to this day, by a family descendant.
After the 1798 Rebellion the Montgomery restarted the surveyors’ school and on commencement of the Government Survey of Ireland obtained employment for several of his sons including William Conyngham. The Montgomery cartography business was very popular throughout the north west of Ireland.
Gabriel was also involved in surveys of the Donegal estates belonging to Alexander Murray, Conyngham, Galbraith, Earl of Arran (Gore) and many more. Killybegs stands out as an example of one of his main surveys showing that his family business was in full demand so much so that his son, W.C. Montgomery, became surveyor to the Duke of Abercorn, afterwards to Lord O` Neill of Shane`s Castle in Randalstown. William married in 1822, Miss Jane Loughlin of Gortin.
Many map-related items connected to this family firm of cartographers, are held by P.R.O.N.I. in Belfast and are listed below.
Another descendant, James Hill Montgomery, became a surveyor working for the government in Dublin, then under the Belfast Corporation. He moved later to England as surveyor and assessor to the Parish of Liverpool.
Historical Research Notes
In P.R.O.N.I. none of the references provided any useful background or biographical information but some research uncovered certain clues to his surveying and map making abilities.
A beautiful book of about 20 hand coloured maps of townlands listed in the estate of Connolly Gage and Connolly Mc Causland Gage Esquires in the Manor of Castlefin, County Donegal, surveyed A.D. 1816 by Irvine Aiken for G. Montgomery. (D673/152)
A letter dated 1813 written by Gabriel Montgomery to the Reverend Dean Allott of Raphoe. (A copy of this letter is in the collection and short notes about Dean Richard Allott from Yorkshire).
A book of 38 maps of part of the Estate of Alexander Murray in County Donegal as directed by Murray Babington and surveyed by W. Rutledge, D.Johnston, I. Aiken and Thomas Elliot for Gabriel Montgomery (1813-1814). Murray Babington was a land agent who resided at the Bonny Glen Estate near Mountcharles.
A book of 17 manuscripted maps of five quarter lands of Lochrus the property of Alexander Murray in the Barony of Banagh County Donegal from a survey by G. Montgomery, written by G. Montgomery 1831.
Under William Rutledge was found 38 manuscripted maps, part of the Estate of Alexander Murray County Donegal, as directed by Murray Babington and surveyed by W. Rutledge, D. Johnston, I. Aiken and T. Elliott for G. Montgomery 1813-1814. From
the limited documentation available it is evident that Montgomery was very much sought after for his surveying and hydrographic skills by the wealthy gentry landowners, the prosperous farming community, the military, the ordnance survey and harbour commissioners.
Indeed, this surveyor deserves adulation and recognition for his remarkable efforts in mapping a diversity of town-lands with hazardous regions in the Irish landscape, before the introduction of Colby and the Ordnance Survey.
The Strabane Morning Post 1823
The Strabane Morning Post (29 April 1823) stated that “Gabriel Montgomery, of Lifford is about to set out on a survey of the Coast of Ennishowen, to complete its improvement of the Charts of the Maritime Ports of the County of Donegal. As this is a work of much consequence to the improvement of our navigation trade, and fisheries, and as it is approved of, and patronized by, the North West Society, in furtherance of their patriotic views for the advancement of useful knowledge it is hoped that Mr. Montgomery will meet with that countenance and co-operation for the success of his useful undertaking.”
Inscription on map by Gabriel Montgomery located in Town Planning Office Enniskillen.
Map of Lough Erne Advertisement
This is a Map of Lough Erne and Donegal Bay
In the Counties of Cavan Fermanagh and Donegal
With a map of the adjacent country
Delineated from a Trigonometrical survey
A.D. mdcccxviii (1818)
By G. Montgomery & Sons
Residence Lifford Post Town Strabane
Neele & Son Sculp 352 Strand London
Published as the Act directs March 20th 1821
By Edward Duffy
The Montgomery Advertisement
G.Montgomery & Sons
Thankful for the extensive patronage they have heretofore experienced respectfully inform the noblemen and gentlemen of Ireland that they continue the above business extensively in all its varieties.
Montgomery`s long experience, constant practice, accurate surveys— the neatness of his maps and the minute correctness of his descriptions and valuations will, he trust, secure to him and Sons, a continuation of public favours.
Orders addressed to them at Lifford , Strabane will be executed with the least possible delay.