Balmoral Cemetery by Tom Hartley

Balmoral Cemetery by Tom Hartley

Author:Tom Hartley
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Blackstaff Press Ltd

Dunmurry Non-subscribing meeting house

On 2 January 1826, Henry was elected a member of the Belfast Literary Society, and would go on to become its president in 1827. Between 2 October 1826 and 4 February 1839 he delivered six papers to the society. His first paper was on the topic of education, a theme he continued in his second paper: ‘On the propriety of educating females in the higher branches of learning’.

In 1822, events would conspire to move Henry to the very centre of a deep conflict that would split the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. The split was ignited at the synod held in Newry in June 1822, when Revd Henry Cooke – a giant of Irish Presbyterianism – opposed the appointment the previous October of Revd William Bruce as professor of classics and Hebrew to the Belfast Academical Institution because of his supposed Arian sympathies. The dispute would run from 1822 until 1830, engulfing the whole Presbyterian Church. In these years, Henry Montgomery became the voice of the Arians. Intense opposition to Arianism eventually led to a schism in 1830, when seventeen congregations – from the Presbyteries of Templepatrick, Armagh, Strabane and Bangor – met in Belfast on 25 May 1830 and constituted themselves the Remonstrant Synod.

In the midst of the Arian controversy, other issues of great political interest were emerging. At a dinner organised by the Friends of Civil and Religious Liberty and held in the Royal Hotel, Belfast, on the evening of 10 January 1828, Henry spoke in favour of Catholic emancipation. On 27 January 1829, he spoke on the same topic from the altar of St Patrick’s, Donegall Street, Belfast. In December 1829 and January 1830, a series of articles appeared that drew attention to the conditions of the peasantry on the estate of the Marquess of Hertford of Hertford, County Antrim. While unsigned, the articles were known to have been penned by Henry. On 2 December 1830, he spoke on the reform of parliament at a great reform meeting held in the Court House, Belfast. During the course of his life Henry Montgomery would support many liberal causes. He died on 18 December 1865 and is interred in the small burial ground attached to his church in Dunmurry. His wife, Elizabeth, died on 16 January 1872.


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