Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Drummond, Annabella
DRUMMOND, ANNABELLA (1350?–1402), queen of Scotland, daughter of Sir John Drummond of Stobhall, was the wife of Robert III of Scotland and mother of James I. The family of Drummond derive their name from Drymen in Stirlingshire, but trace their descent from Maurice, a Hungarian, who is said to have accompanied Edgar Etheling and his sisters to Scotland from Hungary in 1068, and to have been made, by Malcolm Canmore, after his marriage with Margaret, steward of Lennox. His descendant, Sir John de Drummond of Drymen, taken prisoner by Edward I, but released in 1297, had, by the daughter of the Earl of Menteith, Sir Malcolm de Drummond, who fought with Bruce at Bannockburn. His eldest son, a second Sir Malcolm, died in 1348, leaving three sons, John, Maurice, and Walter. His daughter Margaret married, first, Sir John Logie; secondly, David II in 1363, very shortly after the death of his first wife, Joanna, daughter of Edward II. From David she was divorced by the Scottish bishops in 1370. She appealed to the pope, but the terms of his sentence, if pronounced, are not known. This marriage, deemed discreditable probably from her having been the king's mistress before the death of her first husband, brought the Drummonds into royal favour, and among other gifts was the grant through the queen of the lands of Stobhall, Cargill, and Kynloch to Malcolm de Drummond, her nephew, in 1368 (Exchequer Rolls, ii. 298). Sir John, by his marriage to Mary, heiress of Sir William de Montefex, acquired other estates, Kincardine and Auchterarder in Perthshire, and had by her four sons (Sir Malcolm, who married Isobell, countess of Mar, but left no issue; Sir John, who succeeded to the family estates; William, who married the heiress of Airth and Cumnock, the ancestor of the Drummonds of Cumnock and Hawthornden; Dougal, bishop of Dunblane) and three daughters, of whom the eldest was Annabella.
Her family, which had thus grown in importance by alliance with royal and other noble houses, was at the height of prosperity in the second half of the fourteenth century. In 1367 Annabella married John Stewart of Kyle (afterwards Robert III), the eldest son of Robert the high steward, who was created in 1367 Earl of Atholl, and next year Earl of Carrick. Four years before her aunt Margaret Logie married David II. The double connection of the aunt with the king and her niece with the son of the presumptive heir produced jealousy, and, according to Bower, the high steward and his three sons were cast into separate prisons at the suggestion of the queen. Her divorce led to their release and restoration to their former favour (Fordun, Bower's Continuation, xiv. 34).
In 1370 Robert the steward, grandson of Bruce, by his daughter Marjory, succeeded to the crown as Robert II on the death of David II. John, earl of Carrick, the husband of Annabella, eldest son of the steward by his first wife, Elizabeth Mure of Rowallan, was born about 1337. Tall and handsome in person, but inactive by disposition, and lamed by a horse's kick, the Earl of Carrick was even less fitted to be a king than his father. He allowed the reins of government during his father's life as well as his own to fall into the hands of his ambitious brother, Robert, earl of Fife; while his younger brother, Alexander, earl of Buchan, the Wolf of Badenoch, earned that name by his lawless rapacity in the district of Moray. During the reign of his father the Earl of Carrick was keeper of Edinburgh Castle, for which he had five hundred merks a year as salary (Exchequer Rolls, 1372, ii. 393, iii. 66–87). In this capacity he continued the buildings of David's tower, begun in the former reign, and received payments for munitions and provisions, which point to his personal residence with Annabella in the Castle. Annabella received during her father-in-law's reign payment of several sums for ward of land, probably assigned to her as her marriage portion. In 1384 her husband was invested by parliament with authority to enforce the law, owing to the incapacity of his father, and in April of the following year he was directed to inflict punishment on the Katherans of the north; but at a council in Edinburgh on 1 Dec. 1388 he was superseded by his brother, the Earl of Fife, already chamberlain and keeper of Stirling Castle, who was elected guardian of the kingdom, with the power of the king, until Robert's eldest son, the Earl of Carrick, should recover health, or his (the earl's) son and heir become of an age fit for governing. This son was David, afterwards Duke of Rothesay, a boy of ten, to whom Annabella, after a long period of marriage without issue, gave birth in 1378 (Act Parl. i. 555–6). Robert II dying twelve years after, the Earl of Carrick succeeded, exchanging his name of John, of ill omen through the recollection of Baliol and John of England, for that of Robert III. Robert II was buried at Scone on 13 Aug. 1390; on the 14th Robert III was crowned; on the 15th, the feast of the Assumption, Annabella was crowned queen; and on the 16th the oaths of homage and fealty were taken by the barons, a sermon being each day preached by one of the bishops, that on the queen's coronation by John of Peebles, bishop of Dunkeld. In the parliament of the following March 1391 an annuity of 2,500 merks was granted to the queen from the counties of Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Perth, Linlithgow, Dundee, and Montrose, and another of 640l. was then or soon after settled on her son David, earl of Carrick (Exchequer Records, iii. 252, 288). During the first eight years of Robert III, Scotland, having been included in the truce of Lenlingham, was at peace with England, and the chief power was retained by the Earl of Fife, but as his salary for the office of guardian of the kingdom does not appear in the records after 1392, it is possible that he may have ceased to hold it and the king attempted to govern. In 1394 Queen Annabella appears on the scene in a tantalising correspondence, of which two letters only have been preserved from her to Richard II. They relate to a proposed marriage between a relation of Richard and one of the royal children of Scotland, whether a son or daughter is uncertain. In the first, dated 28 May, while expressing her desire for the alliance, she says the time for the conference proposed by Richard is too soon, as the king is in a distant part of Scotland, and requests Richard, if the king has appointed a more convenient time, to send some of his councillors to make a good conclusion of the matter. In the second, of 1 Aug., she mentions that she has just borne an infant son, James by name, and that the king, then in the Isles, had named 1 Oct. for the conference. The infant James cannot have been the member of the royal family intended, so it must have been either his elder brother David or one of his sisters, or perhaps another brother Robert, called the steward, who died young, and is only known from entries in the Exchequer Records (1392, iii. 390, 400). Nothing, however, came of the proposed marriage. In a council at Scone in January 1398 David, the heir-apparent, was created Duke of Rothesay, and his uncle, the Earl of Fife, Duke of Albany. The king's ill-health still continuing, Rothesay, now in his twentieth year, was appointed governor of the realm for three years, but with the advice of a council of which the Duke of Albany was principal member. At the same council Queen Annabella complained of the failure to pay her annuity, and letters were directed to the customars of the burghs, and also to the chamberlain, ordering its payment without delay in future. Albany had since 1382 held that office, which gave him the control of the royal revenues.
In the same year as the council of Scone the queen held a great tournament in Edinburgh, in which twelve knights, of whom the chief was her son David, duke of Rothesay, took part. The marriage of Rothesay two years later to Elizabeth Douglas, daughter of Archibald the Grim, earl of Douglas, although he had been before promised to Elizabeth, daughter of the Earl of March, led to the revolt of that nobleman and an invasion of Scotland by Henry IV, who in 1399 had dethroned Richard II. Henry advanced as far as Edinburgh, where he besieged the castle, but declining a personal combat offered by Rothesay, and unable to take the castle, he returned home. Albany, it is probable, had supported the Earl of March, while the queen and council favoured the alliance of the heir to the kingdom with the Earl of Douglas. The deaths within one year (1401–2) of the queen, the Earl of Douglas, and Irail, the good bishop of St. Andrews, were a fatal blow to the endeavour to restrain the ascendency of Albany. It became a proverb, says Bower, that then the glory of Scotland fled, its honour retreated, and its honesty departed. Not many months after the queen's death Rothesay was deposed from his office of regent and found first a prison at Falkland, and then an early and obscure tomb at Lindores.
Though doubts have been raised, the suspicion that Albany was his murderer is confirmed by the course of events. At a council in Edinburgh on 16 May 1402 a declaration of the innocence of Albany and the Earl of Douglas in the arrest and death of Rothesay suggests, like a similar remission to Bothwell, the probability of their guilt. In 1403 Sir Malcolm Drummond, brother of the queen, was murdered by Alexander, a natural son of the Wolf of Badenoch.
James, now heir-apparent, was despatched by his father to the court of France, but captured by a vessel of Henry IV in February, and the aged and infirm monarch himself died on 4 April 1406. The whole power of the kingdom was henceforth absorbed by Albany as regent. While other points are doubtful in this period of Scottish history, the character of Annabella Drummond has been praised by all historians. Wyntoun pronounces on her this panegyric:
Dame Annabill. qwene off Scotland
Faire, honorabil, and plesand,
Cunnand, curtays in hir efferis,
Luvand, and large to strangeris.
She died at Scone in 1402, and was buried at Dunfermline. A small house at Inverkeithing of two stories, both vaulted, is still pointed out by tradition as her residence. When the present writer visited it, it was a lodging-house for navvies, and as Dunfermline was so near it can only have been occasionally, if ever, occupied by the queen, perhaps for bathing.
Besides James, afterwards king, the Duke of Rothesay, and Robert, who died young, the offspring of her marriage were four daughters—Margaret, who married Archibald Tyneman, fourth earl of Douglas, and duke of Touraine in France; Mary, who had four husbands: first in 1397, George Douglas, earl of Angus, second, 1409, Sir James Kennedy of Dunmore, third, William, lord of Graham, and in 1425 Sir William Edmonston of Duntreath; Elizabeth, who married Sir James Douglas of Dalkeith; Egidia, who was not married.
A portrait of Queen Annabella by Jamesin at Taymouth, engraved in Pinkerton's ‘Scottish Gallery,’ vol. ii., who thinks it may have been taken from her tomb at Dunfermline, well represents the graciousness and beauty for which she was celebrated. Some of its features may be traced in her son James I, and his daughters Margaret, the wife of the dauphin, afterwards Louis XI, and Isobel, wife of Francis, Duke of Bretagne.[Acts Parl. Scot. vol. i.; Fordun, Wyntoun, and the Book of Pluscarden; Exchequer Rolls, vols. ii. and iii., and Burnet's Preface to vol. iv., where many important dates are fixed; Pinkerton's Hist. of Scotland; History of the House of Drummond.]