Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Drummond, James (1713-1747)

DRUMMOND, JAMES, sixth Earl and third titular Duke of Perth (1713–1747), born 11 May 1713, was eldest son of James Drummond, fifth earl of Perth [q. v.] He was brought up by his mother at Drummond Castle till his father's death, when his mother took him and his younger brother John to France. This step gave great offence to the boy's kinsmen and to the Scotch Jacobites, who feared that it might entail a confiscation of the estates, and would be held up to odium by the whigs. They accordingly urged the Pretender to interfere, but he replied that as she pleaded her husband's repeated injunctions, and her anxiety for a catholic education for her children, he could do nothing. The boy was accordingly educated at Douay, then sent to Paris to learn accomplishments, and is said to have excelled in mathematics. On reaching manhood he returned to Scotland, interested himself in agriculture and manufactures, and, though his father's attainder had deprived him of a legal title, styled himself and was recognised by his neighbours as Duke of Perth. In July 1745 the authorities resolved on arresting him as a precautionary measure, and Sir Patrick Murray and Campbell of Inveraray undertook to effect this under the guise of a friendly visit. This treacherous scheme miscarried, for when after dinner they disclosed their errand he asked leave to retire to a dressing-room, escaped by a back staircase, crept through briars and brambles past the sentinels to a ditch, lay concealed till the party had left, borrowed of a peasant woman a horse without saddle or bridle, and in September joined the Young Pretender at Perth. When Murray was afterwards a prisoner at Prestonpans, Perth's only revenge was the ironical remark, ‘Sir Patie, I am to dine with you to-day.’ He conducted the siege of Carlisle, where he ignored his superior officer, Lord George Murray, in a way which made the latter proffer his resignation, but the quarrel was appeased. During the retreat from Derby he was sent with a hundred horse to hurry up the French reinforcements, but passing through Kendal with his escort a little in advance he narrowly escaped capture in his carriage. Anxious to avoid useless bloodshed, he told his men to fire over the heads of the mob. His servant was knocked off his horse by a countryman, who rode off with it and with the portmanteau containing a large sum of money, and Perth had to renounce his mission. He was not at the battle of Falkirk, having been left with two thousand men to continue the siege of Stirling. His chief exploit was the surprising of Lord Loudon's camp, 29 March 1746. He had secretly collected thirty-four fishing boats, crossed Dornoch Firth from Portmahamock, and jumping into four feet of water was the first to land, but the success would have been much greater had not a long parley with an outpost enabled the main body to escape. Four vessels laden with arms, victuals, uniforms, plate, and furniture, were, however, captured. At Culloden he commanded the left wing. On his standard-bearer bringing him next day the regimental colours he exclaimed, ‘Poor as I am, I would rather than a thousand pounds that my colours are safe.’ The French ship Bellone ultimately rescued Perth, with his brother, Sheridan, and Hay, but, exhausted by fatigues and privations, he died on board, 13 May 1746, and the ship being detained by contrary winds his body had to be committed to the deep. His name was inserted in the act of attainder passed the same month. Douglas's description of him, ‘bold as a lion in the field of battle, but ever merciful in the hour of victory,’ seems fully justified. The Perths, indeed, are a striking instance of the moral superiority of the later over the earlier Jacobites.

Perth's brother John (d. 1747), fourth duke, was also educated at Douay, showed decided military tastes, passed through several grades in the French army, then raised the Royal Scotch regiment, and was sent in December 1745 with this and other reinforcements to Scotland. He called upon six thousand Dutch soldiers to withdraw, as having capitulated in Flanders and promised not to serve against France. Hessians had to be sent for to take their place. His tardiness in joining Charles Edward is not easy to explain, for he was repeatedly urged to hasten his movements, but his march was perhaps through a hostile country, and the firths were watched by English cruisers. He came up just before the battle of Falkirk, and mainly contributed to its success, taking several prisoners with his own hand, having a horse killed under him, and receiving a musket-shot in the right arm. On the siege of Stirling being raised he covered the rear. At Culloden he was posted in the center, and prevented the retreat from becoming a rout. He died, without issue, at the siege of Bergen-op-Zoom in 1747, and was succeeded by his uncle John, son of James, first duke, by his second wife, who died, also without issue, in 1757. John's half-brother Edward, sixth duke, son of the first duke by his third wife, was a zealous Jansenist, and was confined in the Bastille for his opinions, his wife (a daughter of Middleton) being twice refused the last sacraments and obliged to apply for judicial compulsion. He died at Paris in 1760, being the last male descendant of the first duke.

[Letters of Eguilles, Revue Rétrospective, 1885–6; Lockhart Papers; Douglas and Wood's Peerage.]

J. G. A.