DRUMMOND, John (1676-1742), of Quarrell, Stirling.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1727 - 20 Dec. 1742

Family and Education

b. 1676, 3rd s. of George Drummond of Blair Drummond, Perth by Elizabeth, da. of Sir Gilbert Ramsay, 1st Bt., of Bamff, Perth.1 m. by 1709, Agatha Vanderbent of Holland, sis. of the Elector of Brandenburgh’s agent at Amsterdam, s.p.2

Offices Held

Commr. for regulating English trade to the Spanish Netherlands, 1713-14;3 director, E.I. Co. 1722-34; assistant, E. African Co. 1722, and R. Exchange Assurance Co. 1726-32; commr. for settling commerce at Antwerp, June 1732-Feb. 1742.4


John Drummond, who went to Amsterdam in 1691 at the age of 15, became a substantial merchant and banker there, holding the Government agency for the sale of Cornish tin from 1704 to 1707. In 1705 he began an association with James Brydges, the future Duke of Chandos, whose agent and friend he remained for life. On the formation of the Tory Administration in 1710, Drummond, having already refused an offer by the Duke of Argyll to bring him into Parliament, was introduced to Harley by a common friend, who ‘took his capacity to be equal to his integrity’. Harley put Drummond in touch with St. John and for the next four years he was a voluminous correspondent of both ministers, acting as their unofficial agent, adviser and intelligencer for the Netherlands. In November 1711, when on a visit to England, he was

very much caressed by Mrs. Masham, and her friends cry him up for one that has been a great support of our credit abroad and very instrumental in laying the ground work of this good peace we are likely to have.

Although his firm were compelled to suspend payment on 30 Apr. (o.s.) 1712, Drummond eventually paid off all his debts, acting as special commissioner for trade with the Spanish Netherlands after the treaty of Utrecht in 1713. Returning to England about May 1714, it was said that

Honest John’s coming over was very providential, he has done greater service at home than abroad. It will be hard if he should not reap some little advantage from those services from which they, for whose sake they are done, reap so great.

Harley, however, appears to have made little or no provision for him.5

After the Hanoverian succession Drummond settled in London. With Chandos he became involved in John Law’s Mississippi scheme, c.1718-20. Acquiring a property in Scotland in 1725, he was returned unopposed for Perth Burghs in 1727, voting with the Administration in all recorded divisions between 1730 and 1740. He frequently addressed the House, usually on matters of trade. His first reported speech was made in March 1728 on a clause in the seamen’s bill for giving 2s. a month additional pay to volunteers:

When he was sent in the Queen’s time to see what number of her subjects were in the States’ service and there were 3,000 English and 2,000 Scotch, and when he asked if there was no way to get them again was answered; easily, if you do but pay them regularly and not turn them over from ship to ship without their pay, they will never leave you; and he proposed [instead] for encouragement two months’ advance, one month in their absence ... and the rest ... [on] credit from the purser in slops, etc.6

In March 1730, as a director, Drummond gave the East India Company’s consent to parting with the duty on salt, provided they had another as good in the room of it. He spoke on three occasions, 1731, 1735, and 1739, in favour of taking off the duty on Irish yarn; supported the Charitable Corporation bill in April 1731; and approved of Sir Thomas Lombe’s petition for a patent or financial help for his silk engine, January 1732. On the bill for the relief of the sugar colonies in February 1733, he suggested that the proposed duty of 6d. a gallon on French molasses imported into the northern colonies, where he had interests, should be reduced to 3d.; ‘if French molasses could not be brought into our colonies ... they would not convert it into rum but send it into England’. In January 1734, Drummond turned down the 1st Lord Egmont’s request that his cousin Perceval, then at Fort St. George, might enter the East India Company’s service on the ground that ‘there were so many noblemen’s relations already in the service that it could not be’. He also told Egmont that it was impossible for him to send out a hogshead of claret to Perceval because though captains were allowed to carry wine there for sale, there was ‘an order against their carrying goods for others’. He regaled him with gossip about the Duke of Hamilton’s relations with the Jacobites at Rome and his alleged offer to leave them for the price of an English peerage. Re-elected without opposition in 1734, he spoke in favour of increasing the land forces in February 1735. From 1737 he was frequently at Antwerp as commissioner for those trade negotiations with the Emperor and the States General which came to an inconclusive end in February 1742. The secretary to the commission wrote on 6 Aug. 1740:

Mr. Drummond was yesterday let blood for a dizziness in his head which is since gone off, and I find him much better, but a round of dinners at which he eats too heartily and engages in too easily, must at the end be very prejudicial to his health.7

Again unopposed in 1741, Drummond was absent from the division on the chairman of the elections committee in December 1741, supporting the new Administration formed after Walpole’s fall. He died 20 Dec. 1742, leaving as sole executor the banker, Andrew Drummond, who was said to be under obligations to him for having ‘got Sir Robert Walpole to keep money at his shop’.8

Ref Volumes: 1715-1754

Author: R. S. Lea


  • 1. Malcom, Gen. Mem. House of Drummond, 47-48.
  • 2. HMC Portland, v. 279; Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1708-14, p. 606.
  • 3. PCC 351 Trenley.
  • 4. See under TUFNELL, Samuel.
  • 5. HMC Portland, iv. pp. xiii-xiv, 559, 596, 651; v. 169, 282; vii. 161, 186, 189; Cal. Treas. Bks. xix-xxii passim; Drummond to John Ellis, 30 Dec. 1704, 20 Jan. 1705, 18 Jan. 1707, Add. 28916, ff. 181, 190; 28893, f. 228; Wentworth Pprs. 212.
  • 6. J. C. Gibson, Lands of Larbert and Dunipace, 51; Baker, Jas. Brydges, 1st Duke of Chandos, 208-9; Knatchbull Diary, 14 Mar. 1728.
  • 7. Knatchbull Diary, 9 and 11 Mar. 1730; HMC Egmont Diary, i. 184, 185, 336; ii. 6-7, 162; iii. 36; CSP Col. 1731, p. 70; 1733, p. 43; F. W. Steer, Samuel Tufnell of Langleys, 72.
  • 8. Drummond to James, Earl of Morton, 30 Nov. 1742, Morton mss, SRO; Ramsay of Ochtertyre, Scotland and Scotsmen in 18th Cent. ii. 300. For information on several points the writer is obliged to Prof. R. M. Hatton.