DRUMMOND, Henry II (1786-1860), of The Grange, Hants and Albury Park, nr. Guildford, Surr.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Constituency

Dates

3 Mar. 1810 - 1812
1847 - 20 Feb. 1860

Family and Education

b. 5 Dec. 1786, 1st s. of Henry Drummond I*. educ. Harrow 1794-1803; Christ Church, Oxf. 1803. m. 23 June 1807, his cos. Lady Henrietta Hay Drummond, da. of Robert Auriol, 10th Earl of Kinnoull [S], 3s. d.v.p., 2da. suc. fa. 1794; gdfa. Hon. Henry Drummond 1795.

Offices Held

Sheriff, Surrey 1826-7.

Lt.-col. Prince of Wales’s Mdx. vols. 1808; capt. N.E. Hants yeoman cav. 1809; lt.-col. Surr. yeoman cav. 1831.

Biography

Drummond was seven when his father’s death made him heir to his paternal grandfather’s private property and share in the Charing Cross bank. On the death of Drummond senior the following year, when the executors sold his London house for £5,500 and leased The Grange to the Prince of Wales for £900 a year, young Henry’s financial prospects on coming of age were deemed ‘very good’. In 1798 his mother married James Charles Stuart Strange*, with whom she went to India in 1803, leaving Drummond, a wilful youth who had been at school with Byron and Peel, under the care of her father, Lord Melville. Early in 1807 Drummond, who was said to have become a favourite of Pitt’s during meetings at his grandfather’s house, travelled in Russia, before returning home to make a marriage of convenience with his cousin.

At the time of the general election of 1807 it was reported that Huskisson, secretary to the Treasury, had secured him a seat, though he was still under age,1 but it was not until March 1810 that he entered the House, as Member for Plympton on the Mount Edgcumbe interest. Classed as ‘against the Opposition’ by the Whigs shortly afterwards and regarded as a connexion of Perceval who fell in with Peel, Goulburn, Croker, Fitzgerald and other government supporters of similar age to himself, he voted with government in the crucial division on the Scheldt expedition, 30 Mar. 1810.2 As one of the ‘many staunch supporters of government’ who preferred ‘the middle course’ on the question of the action to be taken against Burdett for breach of privilege, he voted against his committal, 5 Apr.;3 but he voted against the release of John Gale Jones, 16 Apr., the reduction of sinecures, 17 May, and parliamentary reform, 21 May. Later in the year he told Melville that he was ‘much interested’ in the currency question,4 but he is not known to have spoken on it in the House and seems not to have been the most assiduous of attenders. He voted with government on the Regency bill, 1 Jan. 1811, and against the abolition of the sinecure paymastership, 24 Feb. 1812. He was admitted to a partnership in the bank early in 1812, and on 25 Feb. obtained leave to introduce a bill to provide more effectual safeguards against the embezzlement of securities, which enjoyed ministerial backing and passed into law on 9 June 1812. He fulfilled a prediction that, with other supporters of the late prime minister, he would vote for Stuart Wortley’s motion calling for the formation of a stronger administration, 21 May 1812.5 He voted against consideration of Roman Catholic claims, 22 June, and gave up his seat at the ensuing dissolution, ostensibly because of poor health.

His inherited wealth enabled Drummond, a restless and disturbed idealist, to indulge whims and eccentricities which earned him a considerable share of public attention and a degree of notoriety during the 35-year interlude in his parliamentary career. He visited Paris in 1814 and Naples in 1816, but in 1817, tired of the fashionable life, he sold The Grange and embarked with his apparently docile wife on an intended tour of the Holy Land. He got no further than Geneva where, under circumstances which he evidently regarded as providential, he met the departing Robert Haldane, whose movement against the Socinianism of the canton’s civil and clerical authorities he took over. He returned to England in 1819, bought a Surrey estate and lived conventionally enough until 1825, when he fell under the influence of Edward Irving, whose emotional preaching, based on the study of unfulfilled prophecy, had attracted a large fashionable following. In 1826 he, Irving and others founded the ‘Holy Catholic Apostolic Church’, in which Drummond held the rank of ‘apostle, evangelist and prophet’. After Irving’s death in 1834 he continued to promote and subsidize the sect, which spread to Europe and America, and in 1842 he built a church for its use on his estate, at a cost of £16,000. Drummond was nominal senior partner in the bank from 1833, but his cousins resented his neglect of its business and, after the death of his last surviving son in 1843, they bought out his share for £50,000 plus an annual income for life of £10,000 from the profits of the bank. He founded the professorship of political economy at Oxford and published a History of Noble British Families (1846).

Lord Teignmouth, who met Drummond in Italy during the winter of 1816-17, when ‘his health was precarious, and as he informed me, he was fairly kept alive by a casing of wash-leather extending from his neck to his heels’, recalled that ‘the energy which flashed from every glance of his speaking eyes was, as it continued to be to the end of his protracted life, indomitable’.6 Carlyle, who met him through Irving, but ‘was never tempted to become more intimate with him’, described him as ‘a singular mixture of all things—of the saint, the wit, the philosopher—swimming if I mistake not, in an element of dandyism’ and as

a man of elastic, pungent, decisive nature; full of fine qualities and capabilities—but well nigh cracked by an enormous conceit of himself, which ... seemed to pervade every fibre of him, and render his life a restless inconsistency.7

While Drummond drew little attention to himself during his membership of the House in this period, he was to make his presence felt when he reappeared there as a voluble and idiosyncratic county Member in 1847. He died 20 Feb. 1860.

 

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: David R. Fisher

Notes

  • 1. NLS, Melville mss (Acc. 6409), Wood to Melville, 3 May 1807.
  • 2. Phipps, Plumer Ward Mems. i. 459; Surr. RO, Goulburn mss 4/6, ms memoir.
  • 3. Malmesbury mss, FitzHarris to Malmesbury, 6 Apr. 1810.