Five Volumes of the diaries of Thomas Henry Montgomery of Stobo in the Scottish Borders, including a Middle Eastern tour.
The future Captain Thomas Henry Montgomery of Stobo’s used 5 bound volumes of Punch’s Pocket Book to keep his diary over 15 years: 1848-49-50; 1851-52-53; 1854-55-56; 1857-58-59; 1860-61-62. All volumes are fat little octavos; 1848-49-50 rebound in full calf, the others with original half roan over marbled boards and indistinct labels to spines. The Volume for 1860-61-62 is mis-labelled as 1848-49-50, possibly switched when the first volume was rebound; 1857-58-59 lower board detached, others with cracked hinges, otherwise sound bindings; when rebound 1848-49-50 pages were trimmed with slight loss of diary entries to foot and fore edge of pages. The page openings offer 2 weeks to a view; around half of all the days here offer brief but legible, hand-written entries in ink. Stobo’s Middle Eastern trip elicits his most effusive entries
The full calf 1848-49-50 volume charts young Montgomery’s energetic extended tour in the company of friends: three months in the luxury of a Nile cruise (though suffering the vicissitudes of a pre-steam power sailing trip); then two months of rough travel rough on camel-back across country through rain and snow from Cairo to the Holy Land as far as Jerusalem, Baalbek and Damascus - “Went over the bazzar (sic) the same as at Cairo, full of Manchester goods. Rode round the town among the gardens” (31.3.1849) - camping in the wilds and tracking down ruins and sites of historical and Biblical importance, including Djounie, the former home of the already legendary Lady Hester Stanhope. Later volumes are a comprehensive memorandum of an intense, rather extraordinary round of dining engagements and other aristocratic social activities in London, at Stobo (near Peebles) - where the Montgomerys were neighbours of the Earls of Selkirk - and at Edinburgh and on repeated visits to France and Italy. These entries include shoots, deer-stalking, fox-hunting, cattle shows, many nights at the opera and theatre, and frequent society balls - a veritable Who’s Who of Borders and London society - illustrating the busy but somewhat vaporous life of a young man (born in 1828), a younger son of private means and impressive social connexions who was yet to find his direction in life.
Stobo became the family seat of the Graham-Montgomery Baronets from 1767 when it was bought by James Montgomery, a judge who served as Lord Advocate and Lord Chief Baron of the Scottish Exchequer from 1775. He was created a Baronet in 1801. On his death in 1803, his son James inherited the estate, and commissioned a new house from the architect James Elliot (brother and partner of Archibald Elliot). Stobo Castle was constructed between 1805 and 1811 in a castellated style. Our Montgomery was the second son of James Montgomery - in 1849, the porte-cochère was added by his brother Sir Graham Graham-Montgomery, 3rd Baronet, to a design by John Lessels.