Lodge Canongate Kilwinning No 2

Archibald Montgomerie
11th Earl of Eglinton

Archibald Montgomerie

Archibald Montgomerie, 11th Earl of Eglinton (18 May 1726 – 30 October 1796) was a Scottish soldier and Member of Parliament at Westminster. He was the second son of Alexander Montgomerie, 9th Earl of Eglinton and one of 20 children!

He was educated at Eton College and Winchester College after which he joined the Army in 1743

In 1757 he raised the 2nd Highland regiment (also known as the 77th Foot Regiment), and was appointed Lt-Colonel. The regiment was sent to the Americas where during the French and Indian War it participated, along with George Washington’s troops, in the Forbes Expedition against Fort Duquesne in 1758. His regiment was sent against the Cherokees who were defeated at several battles during the Anglo-Cherokee War. In 1764 his regiment was disbanded. In 1769 he was appointed Colonel of the 51st foot, in 1772 he became Major-General and in 1777 Lieutenant-General. In 1782 he became governor of Edinburgh Castle and at his death in 1796, the same year that Robert Burns died, he was a fully-fledged General and Lord-Lieutenant of Ayrshire.

On his return to Scotland from the Americas, he was pressed by his mother to recount "the dangers he had passed" and sufferings he had endured but he replied that "the chief endurance was from the sting of the vegetable nettle and animal muskito (mosquito) on my kilted houches!"

He was elected to two parliamentary seats in the 1761 General Election but chose to give up Wigtown Burghs to sit for Ayrshire. He served in the House of Commons from 1761 until 1768.

He inherited the Earldom on 25 October 1769 when his brother Alexander Montgomerie, 10th Earl of Eglinton was murdered (it may have been man-slaughter in today’s terminology) while remonstrating with a poacher whom he had apprehended on the family estate near Kilwinning. The 11th Earl served as a Scottish representative peer from 1776 until 1796 and was Lord Lieutenant of Ayrshire from 1794 until 1796.

On his death the Earldom passed to a third cousin, Hugh Montgomerie of Coilsfield who became the 12th Earl of Eglinton.

One of the lesser known episodes of Robert Burns's life concerns the Eglington family. Margaret Campbell (Highland Mary) was employed as a dairy maid by a third cousin of the 11th Earl of Eglington, Hugh Montgomerie of Coilsfield, who succeeded to the Earldom on Archibald's death in 1796. Burns fell madly in love with her during the latter half of 1785 at the same time that he was involved with Jean Armour.

Ye banks and braes and streams around
The castle o’ Montgomery,
Green be your woods and fair your flowers,
Your waters never drumlie!
There summer first unfald her robes
And there the langest tarry!
For there I took the last fareweel
O’ my sweet Highland Mary!

Some believe that Burns ended the relationship with Highland Mary when Jean became pregnant and only when Jean's father rejected Burns as unsuitable for his daughter did Burns take up again with Highland Mary. Burns appeared to try to keep the identity of Highland Mary a secret which baffled biographers for centuries.

The Seat of The Earls of Montgomerie was Eglinton Castle, just south of Kilwinning in Ayrshire. The original castle, built around 1507, and its later replacement, built between 1796 and 1812 have both been demolished. Coincidentally, the original castle was altered in 1729 by the famous Scottish architect, William Adam and the replacement castle was designed by John Paterson, an employee of William Adam’s son Robert Adam who with his brother James were members of Lodge Canongate Kilwinning. Interestingly, the original Eglinton Castle was destroyed in 1527 during a feud between the Montgomeries and the Glencairns, two families who have featured prominently in Robert Burns’s life.

In 1860 during a search in Eglinton Castle the now famous Schaw statutes of 1598 and 1599 were found. William Schaw the "Maister o' Work and Warden o'er a' the masons" wrote that Kilwinning was the "Heid ( Head ) Ludge o' Scotland”. Had these statutes been available in 1743 there would have been no doubt about Kilwinning's position in Freemasonry.

Archibald Montgomerie was initiated into Freemasonry in Lodge Mother Kilwinning in 1742 and served as Depute Master of that Lodge for a number of years. He was elected as Master of The Mother Lodge of Kilwinning for life in 1778.