Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Drummond, Henry

1171100Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 16 — Drummond, Henry1888John Andrew Hamilton

DRUMMOND, HENRY (1786–1860), politician, eldest son of Henry Drummond, banker, of the Grange, Hampshire, by his wife Anne, daughter of Henry Dundas, first Viscount Melville [q. v.], was born in 1786. His father died in 1794, and his mother marrying again and going to India about 1802, the boy was left in charge of his grandfather, Lord Melville, and at his house often saw and became a favourite of Pitt. From his seventh to his sixteenth year he was at Harrow, and afterwards passed two years at Christ Church, Oxford, but took no degree. He became a partner in the bank at Charing Cross, and continued for many years to attend to the business. In 1807 he made a tour in Russia, and on his return to England married Lady Henrietta Hay, eldest daughter of the ninth earl of Kinnoull. He had two daughters by her, one of whom married Lord Lovaine, and the other Sir Thomas Rokewood Gage, bart. In 1810 he entered parliament as M.P. for Plympton Earls, and succeeded in getting passed the act (52 Geo. III, c. 63) against embezzlement by bankers of securities entrusted to them for safe custody; but after three years his health failed, and he retired. In June 1817, ‘satiated with the empty frivolities of the fashionable world,’ he broke up his hunting establishment and sold the Grange, and was on his way with his wife to the Holy Land, when, under circumstances which he seems to have thought providential, he came to Geneva as Robert Haldane was on the point of leaving it, and continued Haldane's movement against the Socinian tendencies of the venerable company and the consistory, the governing bodies at Geneva. His wealth and zeal made him so formidable that he was summoned before the council of state, and thought it safer to withdraw from his house at Sêcheron, within the Genevese jurisdiction, to a villa, the Campagne Pictet, on French soil, whence for some time he carried on the movement of reform. He addressed and published a letter to the consistory, circulated Martin's version of the scriptures, encouraged the ministers rejected by the company to form a separate body, which was done 21 Sept. 1817, despatched at his own cost a mission into Alsace, and in 1819 helped to found the Continental Society, and continued for many years largely to maintain it (A. Haldane, Lives of the Haldanes). Though accustomed to attack the political economists, he in 1825 founded the professorship of political economy at Oxford. He was an enthusiastic supporter and one of the founders of the Irvingite church, in which he held the rank of apostle, evangelist, and prophet. It was at Drummond's house at Albury, Surrey, that at Advent 1826 the ‘little prophetic parliament’ of Irving, Wolff, and others met for six days' discussion of the scriptures, when the catholic apostolic church was practically originated. Edward Irving introduced Drummond to Carlyle, who caustically described ‘his fine qualities and capacities’ and ‘enormous conceit of himself’ in his ‘Reminiscences’ (ed. Norton, ii. 199). When Carlyle dined with Drummond at Belgrave Square in August 1831, he wrote that he was ‘a singular mixture of all things—of the saint, the wit, the philosopher—swimming, if I mistake not, in an element of dandyism’ (Froude, Life of Carlyle, 1795–1835, ii, 177). Drummond built a church for the Irvingites at Albury at a cost of 16,000l., and Irvingism long prevailed in the locality. He also supported its quarterly magazine, the ‘Morning Watch,’ visited Scotland as an apostle in 1834, was ordained an angel for Scotland in Edinburgh, and was preaching on miracles in the chief church of the body as late as 1856. He believed that he heard supernatural voices at Nice; and in 1836 Drummond posted down to the Archbishop of York at Nuneham to tell him of the approaching end of the world (Greville Memoirs, 1st ser. iii. 333; McCullagh, Life of Lord Melbourne, ii. 176). He was returned to parliament in 1847 as member for West Surrey, and held that seat till his death. He was a tory of the old school, but upon his election did not pledge himself to any party. He always voted for the budget on principle, no matter what the government of the day might be. In 1855 he supported the ministry under the attacks upon them for their conduct of the war, declaring that the house was ‘cringing’ to the press, was a member of Roebuck's committee of inquiry, and prepared a draft report, which was rejected. He was particularly active during the debates upon the Divorce Bill in 1857. He was a frequent speaker and a remarkable figure in the house, perfectly independent, scarcely pretending to consistency, attacking all parties in turn in speeches delivered in an immovable manner, and with an almost inaudible voice, full of sarcasm and learning, but also of not a little absurdity. He spoke especially on ecclesiastical questions, in support of the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill and of the inspection of convents, and against the admission of Jews to parliament. (For descriptions of his character see Kinglake, Crimean War, 6th ed. vii. 317; Holland, Recollections, 2nd ed. p. 156; Quarterly Review, cxxxii. 184; Oliphant, Life of Edward Irving, 4th ed. pp. 176, 203.). He wrote many pamphlets, most of which were republished with his speeches after his death by Lord Lovaine, and several religious and devotional works, and brought out at great cost one volume of a ‘History of Noble British Families’ (1846). He was a generous landlord, allowing allotments to his labourers at Albury as early as 1818. He died at Albury Feb. 1860.

[Memoir in Lord Lovaine's edition of his work; Croker Papers; Oliphant's Life of E. Irving; Gent. Mag. December 1860.]

J. A. H.