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Issue 35 - Colin Montgomerie

History & Heritage

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Scotland Magazine Issue 35
November 2007

 

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Colin Montgomerie

Colin Montgomerie is one of the world's most famous golf players. We look into his ancestry

Scotland prides itself on the fact that while golf is an elitist sport in many parts of the world, in Scotland it as an inclusive all-embracing pursuit at which anyone can participate and if talented, have the opportunity to excel.

The country has, of course, produced scores of great players but up there with the very best of them is Colin Montgomerie. He has been a colossus of the sport not just in the United Kingdom but in Europe and across the world. In the 20 years since he became a professional golfer he has excelled, played a pivotal role in successful European Ryder Cup teams, and has time and again finished as the top European player on the golfing circuit. He is the living embodiment that golf is very much the people’s game in Scotland.

For there is nothing in his ancestry to suggest that his rise to the very top of his sport was the result of privilege or enhanced opportunity. On the contrary, Monty, as he is affectionately known, comes from a long line of Montgomeries that started from impoverished mining roots and have gradually moved up the social ladder over the generations.

Born in Glasgow, Monty’s background is modest, though he comes from a proud and long line of Scots folk.

He was born in June 1963, the son of James Douglas Montgomerie, who was the production manager of a biscuit factory, and Elizabeth Dunbar Montgomerie, born Rogers, a secretary. We do not know if they met through work, but they married in Glasgow and settled there.

In fact a close look at the family line shows that in each generation the offspring had bettered themselves. Colin’s grandfather James is described as both a cashier and a commercial clerk. His grandmother had been a telephonist. One of his great grandfathers had been a foreman in a jam factory, the other had been a carting contractor. Go further back still and records show that great grandfather George and great grandmother Susan were living in Govan, Glasgow by 1891, but George had been born at Fergushill, Kilwinning, the son of a miner in 1863.

In the region were several other Montgomeries, many of them almost certainly directly related. They were all of coal miners and all of them married young as was the fashion of the time. One point of interest is the fact that Monty’s great grandparents George Montgomerie and wife Susan were married on January 1, 1886 – Hogmanay. One can only imagine the sort of party they had after that, or what state the guests when they arrived after the preceding evening’s shenanigans.

By the time of the wedding George’s father John was already dead, before the age of 45, and records show that his father William, also a coal miner, died from emphysema at the age of 51. The hard life that Colin’s ancestors lived can be witnessed elsewhere, too.

The furthest records back, for instance, record the death of his great, great, great, great grandmother, Elizabeth who was also of Kilwinning, part of a mining family. Her death certificate shows she died a pauper and her death was witnessed by her son James with an X – because she was illiterate.

It is amazing to think that one of the world’s greatest sporting superstars comes from such humble origins. Perhaps that’s why Monty has kept his feet on the ground and stayed so true to his Scottish roots. And perhaps what drove him to succeed in the first place.