History of Montrose
Montrose has a very old history. The charter for the town was granted
by King David I, though it is now lost, while early place names show the existence of a
Norse settlement in the present harbour area. A mediaeval church, on the site of the
present Old Church, together with a hospital date from the 13th century. In 1329, the year
of his death, King Robert the Bruce donated money to a teacher, the earliest record of the
school, now Montrose Academy.
Montrose had a prominent role at the Reformation. John Erskine of Dun,
George Wishart and Andrew Melville were important reformers, while John Knox celebrated
the first protestant communion at Erskine's country house. In the troubled period of the
17th and 18th centuries, the town made important contributions. James Graham, the Marquis
of Montrose, signed the National Covenant, but switched to the King's side only to be
captured and executed in Edinburgh. The 1715 Jacobite rebellion ended when King James
escaped back to France from Montrose. A Jacobite army moved through the town in 1745 and
the following February the largest naval battle of the war was fought in Montrose Harbour.
Since then Montrose has been more sedate. Trade with the Baltic, whaling, flax spinning
have all been major industries. Now oil and pharmaceuticals provide work. But Montrose
continues to flourish with a history stretching back a thousand vears.