DRUMMOND, Hon. Henry (1730-5), of Charing Cross, London, and The Grange, Hants.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



24 Dec. 1774 - 1780
1780 - 1790

Family and Education

b. 1730, 4th surv. s. of William, 4th Visct. Strathallan [S], by Margaret, da. of William Murray, 2nd Lord Nairne [S]. m. 21 Mar. 1761, Elizabeth, da. of Hon. Charles Compton, 1s. 1da.

Offices Held


In 1744 Lord Strathallan sent his younger sons Robert and Henry as apprentices to his brother Andrew Drummond the London banker.1 In 1746 Strathallan was killed at Culloden on the rebel side, and was declared attainted. On suspicion of Jacobitism the Government temporarily closed the bank, but Andrew Drummond vindicated his loyalty. At the bank Henry handled a considerable amount of American business, acting in 1763 as financial agent for New Jersey.2 In 1759 he became army agent for the 42nd and 46th Foot (commanded by his Murray relatives), and by 1761 for the 87th Regiment (Robert Murray Keith) and the 89th (Staats Long Morris). In 1765 he entered into partnership with Richard Cox, and, the firm having acquired a number of Calcraft’s agencies, by 1771 had 18 regiments on their books.

In 1770 he succeeded his cousin John Drummond as partner of Thomas Harley in the contract for army remittances to North America;3 and in 1772, when John’s health failed, Robert persuaded his brother Henry to give up his army agency business and return to the bank as third partner.4During the financial crisis of 1772-3, although the Drummonds had set on foot a subscription of £100,000 to support the credit of Sir George Colebrooke, they were not affected by his bankruptcy but, ‘able to stand the call of half the world’, emerged with enhanced prestige.5

Henry Drummond was a member of an intimate social group, known as ‘The Gang’, which included Anthony Chamier, Lord Frederick Campbell, Thomas Bradshaw, Rigby, Thomas Harley, Sir John Sebright, William Amherst, and R. M. Keith. Drummond, who looked after Keith’s financial affairs, wrote to him, 18 Oct. 1774:6

We had a busy time lately by the dissolving of Parliament ... I ... tried to keep up a family interest at Northampton where I offered to have paid Lord Northampton’s debts amounting to about £3,000 and would have given the town as far as £1000 more towards paving their town and some public work, but would not give a guinea to individuals ... I ... told them I never should think a family interest worth preserving that was to be bought by money ... found it would not do without money, therefore gave it up immediately ... Things at present bear but a gloomy aspect with regard to North America ... I daresay it will all come right but it is disagreeable in the operation.

In December 1774 Drummond purchased a seat at Wendover from Lord Verney. An intimate friend of Lord Suffolk, he consistently supported North’s Administration, and on 3 Mar. 1775 wrote to Keith:7 ‘I think things look very favourable for our settling matters with America ... Lord North and his coadjutors have infinite merit if they bring it about.’ But by 1777 he had become disillusioned. His business relations with North were strained. In June 1777 the Treasury gave Drummond and Harley 12 months’ notice of the termination of their contract.8 Moreover Keith, during his visit home 1775-6, had lent to North, on Drummond’s advice, a considerable part of his small fortune, repayment of which North repeatedly deferred. Drummond wrote to Keith, 20 Feb. 1778:9

Yesterday I spoke to his Lordship, when he assured me he considered your business as an obligation that he was bound to pay ... Although it is not the most agreeable thing to be constantly boring a great man ... I shall continue to do it till I procure payment of the principal and interest ... I have no heart to write to you about politics, we are not only shamefully beat by the surrender of Burgoyne, but the panic has I think seized us here and we are now undoing ... by giving up taxation, the very object of the war and ... inviting a French war rather than avoiding it by the pusillanimity of our parliamentary conduct.

And again, 3 Apr. 1778:10

The despair of the country with all ranks of men has been such ... that exceed all belief ... Stocks have sunk to a price unknown in this country ... want of confidence and opinion has produced the whole; ... there is nothing so dangerous for a Government as to be wavering ... How all this is to end God knows ... some change of consequence must take place.

In June 1778 Harley and Drummond secured a renewal of their contract for North America, and in August an extension to the West Indies, if required.11 To Keith, Drummond wrote, 2 Apr. 1779:12

I had a full and explicit conversation with the Great Man upon the old subject of the debt which he is indebted to us, for I will still keep him to that ground that it is an affair between us and him, and I must own, provoked and angry as I have been with him ... he did show an honest and I think sincere feeling for the great loss you have sustained and once more assured me some steps would be immediately taken for the payment of the money.

Still, he did not trust even specific promises by North concerning repayment till assured by ‘the confidential secretary’ that he could depend on its being done.

At the general election of 1780 Drummond purchased a seat at Midhurst ‘at Lord North’s recommendation’.13 To cover the expenses of that general election North, on 7 Dec. 1780, by the King’s orders, borrowed from Drummonds’ £30,000, at 5 per cent, and gave them a promissory note which the King had seen and approved.14 But after the fall of the North Administration the King at first repudiated responsibility for all but £13,000 of this sum; in the end the King repaid the debt.15

Rigby wrote to Keith, 21 Jan. 1781:16

I live much and in great cordiality with the Drummonds who are the best people in the world. I tell Bob he is of the party I describe, an opposition to the Opposition, which is his case. Harry is a better courtier, for he has one of the best contracts that ever man had and I rejoice that it is so.

Profitable it may have been, but at times the two partners felt uneasy when they had to advance money to the Government; still, they retained the contract till the end of the war.

The Drummonds were also very big subscribers to Government loans, but how much they subscribed for themselves and how much for clients cannot be established. When on 26 Mar. 1781 Savile made a motion concerning the recent loan, its terms and distribution, George Byng stated that while ‘Mr. Drummond’s house is put down for £84,000’ (unexpectedly little seeing their credit character), subscriptions in the names of their clerks—the list was read out by him—‘stood to the amount of £438,000’.17

Drummond supported North till his fall, voting in every division for which a list is extant; voted with North against Shelburne’s peace preliminaries, 18 Feb. 1783; but was absent from the divisions on Fox’s East India bill. Friendly with Henry Dundas,18 (whose daughter Anne married his son in 1786), Drummond may well have followed his lead in politics, and by March 1784 was listed among Pitt’s supporters. Re-elected for Midhurst, he henceforth followed Pitt. No speech by Drummond is recorded.

He died 24 June 1795.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Edith Lady Haden-Guest


  • 1. Strathallan to Robert, 12 Jan. 1745, Drummond’s Bank mss.
  • 2. N.J. Archives 1757-67, p. 445; Jnl. N. J. Gov. and Council 1769-75, p. 57.
  • 3. T54/41/390-3.
  • 4. Ex. inf. Drummond’s Bank.
  • 5. Mems. and Corresp. R. M. Keith, i. 364, 402; Add. 35505, f. 127.
  • 6. Add. 35508, f. 69.
  • 7. Add. 35509, f. 1.
  • 8. T29/46/193.
  • 9. Add. 35513, f. 108.
  • 10. Ibid. f. 225.
  • 11. T29/47/216, 296.
  • 12. Add. 35516, f. 79.
  • 13. Fortescue, v. 480.
  • 14. Laprade, 55-56; Fortescue, v. 472, 481; vi. 6-7.
  • 15. Fortescue, vi. 27; North to Robinson, 3 Sept. 1782, the King to Robinson, 19 Aug., 24 Oct. 1784, Abergavenny mss.
  • 16. Keith Mems. 120-1.
  • 17. Debrett, ii. 329.
  • 18. Richard Atkinson to John Robinson, 14 Mar. 1783, 4 Sept. 1783, Abergavenny mss.