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MEMOIR OF THOMAS DRUMMOND.
BIRTH, PARENTAGE, AND EARLY CIRCUMSTANCES.
THOMAS DRUMMOND was born in Castle Street, Edinburgh, on 10th October 1797. His father, James Drummond, was a member of the Society of Writers to the Signet, and had a house in Edinburgh ; but, like many members of that honourable body, instead of practising in his profession, he lived chiefly on his estates in the country. These were in Perthshire, where he is still remembered as “The last Laird of Comrie.”
“ The last Laird of Comrie” was the representative at once of the families of Invermay, Drummondernoch, and Comrie. The common ancestor of these families was Thomas, the fourth son of Sir Malcolm Drummond of Cargill and Stobhall, Lord of that Ilk,” who, in 1445, succeeded as chief of the house of Drummond to the vast estates which then belonged to it in the counties of Perth, Dumbarton, and Stirling. This Sir Malcolm Drummond traced his ancestry through a series of noble names back to the time of Malcolm Canmore, and to Maurice, the first of the name of Drummond. Maurice again was a Hungarian, of the royal house of Hungary, and an attendant on Edgar Atheling, when,
in his flight from England, stress of weather obliged him to take refuge in the Firth of Forth. King Malcolm, who was then living at Dunfermline, kindly received the royal fugitives; to Maurice he showed especial favour, and ultimately induced him to settle in Scotland, bestowing on him various honours and offices and a gift of lands. This is the shape, at least, which the early history of the Drummond family assumed in the beginning of the sixteenth century. Whether it be true or not, certain it is that the family, from Sir Malcolm of Stobhall downwards, has been sufficiently distinguished to entitle its members to dispense with fictitious claims to consideration. The eldest son of Sir Malcolm was raised to the peerage as Lord Drummond in 1487; the fourth Lord Drummond was in 1605 created Earl of Perth; and the fourth Earl of Perth filled the offices of Lord Justice-General and Lord High Chancellor of Scotland. This is not the place, however, to write the history of the house of Drummond.
Of the Drummondernoch branch of the family, there is an account (which may appropriately be quoted here) by David Malcolm, A.M., in a “ Genealogical Memoir” of the house of Drummond, published in 1804.* After pointing out its founder, Thomas, fourth son of Sir Malcolm Drummond of Stobhall, the author
says“ From him was lineally descended James, the seventh of Drummondernoch, a gentleman of great respectability, who flourished before the Revolution. He was succeeded by a son of the same name, whose grandson
* The earlier portions of this Memoir are founded on “The Strathallan Manuscript,” a collection of information as to the house of Drummond, made in 1681 by the first Viscount Strathallan. The manuscript itself was printed for private circulation in 1831.
Patrick, the last of Drummondernoch, succeeded as next heir-male to the Laird of Comrie. This succession was eventually a loss, as it involved Patrick Drummond in debt, and obliged him to sell his ancient patrimony of Drummondernoch and Pittenteean. Patrick Drummond of Comrie, by Miss Buchanan of Lenie, left two sons and one daughter-James, his successor ; John, a major in the East India Service ; and Beatrice, who married James Drummond, Esq. of Strageath. James Drummond [' the last of Comrie'], on succeeding to the estate, became the representative of the families of Invermay, Drummondernoch, and Comrie. He was a gentleman of great ingenuity, highly improved the estate, and new-modelled entirely the village of Comrie. After his death, which happened 1st February 1800, the estate was sold to the son of Viscount Melville. James Drummond was enrolled a Writer to His Majesty's Signet in 1788, and married in 1792 Elizabeth, daughter of James Somers, writer [in Edinburgh), a lady of great merit and ability, by whom he left issue three sons and one daughter--1. James Patrick ; 2. Elizabeth ; 3. Thomas (the subject of this Memoir]; and 4. John.” The only correction to be made on this account is, that the grandfather of Thomas Drummond was twice married, and that his father was a son by the first wife, and not by Miss Buchanan.
Mr Somers was a Whig, and Mr James Drummond a Tory. At that time this was “a difference with a consequence ;” in their case, however, it did not prevent the establishment between them of a close friendship, and ultimately of a close affinity.
Elizabeth Somers, who became Mrs Drummond, possessed great personal attractions, besides being, as
stated by Mr Malcolm, a person of great worth and ability. In the Edinburgh society of her day she was known as • the beautiful Betsy Somers;" and a portrait of her, painted when she was over forty years of age, leaves no room for doubting her title to that designation. She, the beloved mother of Thomas Drummond, will be often referred to in this narrative. She retained her beauty to the last,-a beauty shining through great sadness, we may believe, as she for years survived her darling son. Some who knew her say that at seventy she was the most beautiful old lady they had ever seen.
Such parents had Thomas Drummond : his father a Scotch laird, a man of ingenuity, and the inheritor of the traditions of an old, most respectable, and, in some branches of it, noble family; and his mother a beautiful and attractive woman, whose charms of person were equalled by the excellence of her dispositions and understanding. To have such parents is to have a start in life of the majority of men. Gentle bearing and honourable manly dealing are sustained by regard for family credit, as the natural outcome of qualities accumulated and transmitted from generation to generation in families of long-continued respectability
Mr Drummond's circumstances became somewhat embarrassed soon after his marriage. As stated by Mr Malcolm, he had played the part of an improving proprietor. He had “new-modelled” the village of Comrie, besides expending large sums in land improvements, and in planting great portions of the estate with wood. He had farther encumbered himself by purchasing the plain of Dalginross, adjoining Comrie. And to effect this purchase and these improvements,
a part only of the rents of his estate had been available to him, a large provision to his sister Beatrice, wife of Mr Drummond of Strageath, falling to be paid out of them. The extent of his embarrassments, however, did not fully appear till his death, when there is some reason to think they were made to seem greater than they were in reality. He died suddenly in February 1800, in the thirty-fifth year of his age, survived by his wife and four children.
The children being all in infancy, and Mr Drummond having left no will, a tutor was appointed to them; and he, finding the debts and burdens to be very considerable, applied for and obtained the authority of the Court of Session to sell the heritable property. The estates were accordingly sold, and likewise the house in Castle Street, Edinburgh. By the time the tutor had paid the debts and expenses, Mrs Drummond found herself without a home, and left with her young family to face the world on about L.120 a year.
Mr Somers had been reputed to be rich, and his two daughters, his only children, to be heiresses.
But, while zealous- in his professional duties, he was careless of his accounts. On his death, his estate was found to consist chiefly of irrecoverable debts, and his widow and unmarried daughter became part of the household of Mrs Drummond.
She retired, on her husband's death, to Preston, in East Lothian, where for a time she occupied furnished apartments. The following winter she passed in the same village in the house of a friend of the family, a Mr Beveridge, who put it at her disposal free of rent. In the spring she removed to what is now known as Linkfield House, in Musselburgh, which she obtained for a small rent, as it had the reputation of being