1771 – James Montgomery was born at Irvine in Ayrshire on November 4th.
1787 – Montgomery ran away with three and sixpence in his pocket and a bundle of verses, which proved more valuable than might have been expected, for a poem, written out fairly and presented to Earl Fitzwilliam, brought him a guinea.
1788-1792 – He quit this and made his way with his manuscripts to London, but, finding no encouragement from the publishers, returned to Wath, and remained there, when, by answering an advertisement in the ‘Sheffield Register,’ he obtained a situation as clerk and bookkeeper in the office of that newspaper.
1795 – Naylor retired from the paper on account of his marriage, and it became the property of Montgomery, who also entered into business as a general printer.
1807 – The success of ‘The Wanderer’ brought him a commission from the printer Bowyer to write a poem on the abolition of the slave trade, to be published along with other poems on the subject in a handsome illustrated volume.
1819 – The descriptive passages frequently possess great merit, which is even exceeded in Montgomery’s next considerable effort, ‘Greenland’, a poem founded on the Moravian missions to Greenland.
1826 – Montgomery’s last important poem, ‘The Pelican Island’, also contains very fine descriptive passages, but with more preaching has less human interest than ‘Greenland,’ and is muted by being written in blank verse, of which the author was by no means a master.
1854 – The remainder of his life was devoted to religious and philanthropic undertakings. He died rather suddenly on the 30th of April. He was honoured by a public funeral, and a monument designed by John Bell was erected over his grave in the Sheffield cemetery. He was unmarried.