Jacobite Duke
by Patricia Macinnes

Webmaster notes:

An abbreviated version of this story was first published in 2012, in three instalments, in the monthly community newspaper 'The Villagers', which serves the four West Perthshire villages of Balquhidder, Lochearnhead, Strathyre and St Fillans."

"The full version, accompanied by illustrations, was published in February 2014, in 'The Fifteen', the Journal of the Northumbrian Jacobite Society, edited by John Nicholls, MBE."

The opinions regarding the possible life of the Duke of Perth after Culloden are those of the author. Neither the 1745 Association nor the members of its Council endorse its conclusions. The story is reasonably well known and available from several on-line sources. You may read more if you wish from Arthur Appleton's book, "The Mystery of The Duke of Perth". The book comes to somewhat different conclusions.



Drummond Castle 1804James Drummond, 6th Earl and 3rd (Jacobite) Duke of Perth was born on 11 May 1713 at Drummond Castle, near Crieff.Drummond Castle today

When he was only three and a half months old his father, with commendable foresight, made over to him the entire estate. This consisted of a wide swathe of Perthshire, stretching from the north east through to the south west, together with the Earldom of Perth. This had the effect of shielding this vast estate from forfeiture when the failure of the 1715 Rising led to his father’s attainder and escape to France. Young James was sent to France for his education and, at some point in his childhood, was struck by a runaway barrel. He suffered from the consequences of these injuries for the rest of his life.

He returned to Scotland in 1732 and immediately set about improving his estates. He issued formal leases to his tenants and actively encouraged the enclosure of fields, the installation of drainage, the liming of the ground to make it more fertile and the use of new crops to increase yields. All this improved the value of his land but resulted in higher rents, never popular with the folk paying them, although their situation also improved, over time.

On 29 July 1739, he had drawn up a plan for the new town of Callander. It had a more continental appearance than the random settlements of old, having a wide main street, central square and two streets intersecting the main street at either end of the town. Considering the design was planned in 1739 when horse-drawn transport was the norm, the Duke’s wide main street, now part of the A84 trunk road, is coping remarkably well with traffic he could never have envisaged. Had he not been so heavily involved in the 1745 Rising, it would have been interesting to see what other far-sighted plans he might have implemented across Perthshire.

He was a member of The Honourable Society of Improvers in the Knowledge of Agriculture in Scotland and was very active in supporting its aims. In 1739 he travelled to Kilsyth to see for himself the novelty of a field of potatoes. They had been grown since 1733, but only in gardens. He enquired into the method of cultivation when done on such a large scale.

Although he was both a modernizer and an improver, he also liked to maintain some of the old traditions. At the annual Michaelmas Fair in Crieff he led a procession of his men along the two mile route from Drummond Castle. He rode, resplendent in red tartan, surrounded by his personal bodyguard who were armed with Lochaber axes. It must have been a stirring sight.

Politically he was also very active, being a founder member of the Association (later Concert) of Gentlemen, whose sole aim was the restoration of the Stuart monarchy. He maintained contact with Jacobite sympathizers in the north east of England and was a frequent visitor to York races. This both indulged his passion for horse racing and provided cover for his meetings with those who were less than enthusiastic about the Hanoverian dynasty.

He also found the time, in 1743, to court a young lady in Yarm, near Stockton-on-Tees. Her father, a wealthy Catholic lawyer, did not approve of the Duke and she turned him down. If a personable young Catholic nobleman who owned most of Perthshire was not deemed a suitable match for a lawyer’s daughter, one wonders who was? Around this time a fine portrait miniature of the Duke was painted by Jean André Rouquet. It is set in gold with an oval border of dark blue guilloché enamel, surmounted by a capital P worked in diamonds. The whole is suspended from a gold chain. Perhaps it was intended as a betrothal gift.

Personable he was, being described as six feet tall, of slender build and a fair complexion. He was also possessed of a particularly nice nature and easy-going personality. Even people who did not agree with his Jacobite sympathies, e.g. Duncan Forbes of Culloden, Lord President of the Court of Session, spoke highly of him. Forbes expressed concern that any rising led by Prince Charles Edward Stuart would soon fizzle out, leaving people like the Duke of Perth and Cameron of Lochiel to suffer the consequences, when both men deserved better. He was said to be brave, almost to a fault, generous, kind, enthusiastic, intelligent, sympathetic and sociable. Analysis of his handwriting confirmed the reports of his character, no skeletons lurking in his cupboard!

If he had a weakness it was his unquestioning loyalty to the Jacobite cause. He must have known, as did Lochiel, that the Rising could not succeed without French troops, French armaments and French gold. None of these came with the Prince and yet both men committed their estates, their tenantry and their very lives to the cause. In the absence of French gold a number of the Jacobite nobility and gentry pledged funds to enable the Rising to get under way. The Duke pledged £1,500, (£193,000.00 today) and it is possible that without his financial support there might have been no Rising.

Some years earlier the Duke, having been brought up in France himself, realised that the two Royal princes might be losing touch with their Scottish heritage. To re-acquaint them with it, he sent complete outfits of Highland dress to both Prince Charles and Prince Henry together with a book of Country Dances. He received thank-you letters from them, although both letters are in the same hand, suggesting they were dictated to a secretary, rather than being written by the princes personally.

In 1740 he followed these gifts with magnificent silver-mounted Highland targes and silver-hilted backswords for both princes. The targes, of wooden boards covered in pigskin, may have been made in the Highlands before being taken to London. There, the intricate silver high-relief mounts, with a gorgon’s head in the centre were added, probably by a famous London goldsmith of German origins, Charles (Frederick) Kandler. He had converted to Roman Catholicism and was much favoured by wealthy Catholic families. This may have been why the Duke of Perth chose him to do the work. Whatever the reason, the silverwork is of outstanding quality and was truly a gift fit for a prince, or two.

The targe belonging to Prince Charles was rescued from the battlefield of Culloden by Colonel Ewan MacPherson of Cluny and remained in his family until the 20th century. The Prince’s sword was not so lucky. It was captured at Culloden and given to Butcher Cumberland. It has now been reunited with the targe and both items are on display in the National Museum of Scotland. They may have been in the baggage train which had to be abandoned on the battlefield. The targe presented to Prince Henry is now in the collection at Warwick Castle. The fate of his sword is not yet known to me.

The year 1740 seems to have been a time for this extremely wealthy young man to start spending some of his inheritance. Between 7 April 1740 and 10 May 1745 he ran up the most enormous bill with his tailor. It came to £568.19.2d the equivalent of £64,300.00 today. He must have dressed his staff most regally, there were expensive fabrics, hats, silver buttons, gold buttons, silver lace, etc, etc. Two footmen were kitted out with hats costing 10 shillings each, (£56.50 today) and a ‘fine hat’ for his valet was priced at 9 shillings, the equivalent of £50.80 today. His tailor, Thomas Dundas, must have trusted him implicitly because the first payment to account, £400, was not made until 8 February 1744 and the bill was paid in full on 21 May 1745.

Perhaps he was putting his affairs in order because, on 22 July, Prince Charles Edward Stuart landed on the island of Eriskay in the Western Isles. When news of the arrival of the Prince in Scotland reached the Hanoverian authorities, they decided to apprehend suspected Jacobite sympathizers before they could be of assistance to him. A warrant for the arrest of the Duke of Perth was issued and two officers, Sir Patrick
Murray of Ochtertyre and a Captain Campbell were ordered to seize the Duke. Both were known to him, so when they asked themselves to dinner he welcomed them to Drummond Castle. Soldiers meanwhile had been stationed around the building, out of sight. Only after this devious pair had partaken of the Duke’s food and drunk his wine, did they announce the reason for their visit. Thinking fast, the Duke politely requested that he be allowed to use the closet before going with them. They assumed there was only one door and agreed. The Duke quietly locked that door behind him and escaped down the servant’s stair and out into the woods surrounding the castle. He had to crawl on his hands and knees to avoid being seen and captured by the soldiers. He met one of his tenants leading a horse and borrowed the animal. It only had a halter on but he rode it bareback to the house of Moray of Abercairny, a distance of more than five miles. He probably changed horses there because he then rode to the house of Thomas Drummond of Logiealmond, a further eight miles as the crow flies. He was asleep there when his host had a premonition, the famed second sight, that all was not well. He wakened the Duke and quickly got him out of the house. Shortly afterwards troops arrived to search the place.

The Duke not only provided substantial funding for the Rising but also raised a regiment . He joined the Prince at Perth early in September 1745 and was appointed Lieutenant General of the Prince’s army. Lord George Murray arrived shortly afterwards and was also appointed a Lieutenant General. The Prince then decreed that they would command on alternate days!

This ludicrous arrangement continued until the siege of Carlisle where the Duke accepted the surrender of the castle. Lord George Murray believed, strongly, that having a Catholic take such a prominent role was giving out the wrong signal and resigned his commission. The other regimental leaders, whilst preferring the personality of the Duke accepted that Murray was, by far, the better military commander and urged the Prince to reinstate him. To avoid potential friction the Duke quietly resigned his commission, leaving Murray in sole
overall command of the army.

The Duke continued to command his own regiment. The officers were mainly volunteers buthe other ranks were, for the most part, pressed into service. Even amongst his own staff there was mixed support for the Rising. The butler, the head gardener, the apprentice gardener and the smith all opted to stay at home but four under gardeners joined the Duke. His valet de chambre, John Drummond, accompanied him, as did the servant Duncan MacNaughton and the two grooms, Joseph Forrester and John Lamond. When Forrester, Lamond and John Crichton, one of the under gardeners, came to trial at Perth some time later, evidence was given against Forrester and Lamond by the butler and the smith. The apprentice gardener gave evidence against John Crichton. This suggests that those who joined the Rising did so of their own free will, rather than being ‘volunteered’ by the Duke.

As the Jacobite army marched south through England it was clear that it was not attracting the support they had been led to expect, not least from Prince Charles himself, who had confidently predicted a mass uprising. In England men apparently had plenty to say, when in their cups, about the shortcomings of the Hanoverians but failed to follow it up with direct action when the opportunity presented itself. One man who did rally to the cause was Captain John Daniel. He met the Duke of Perth and was sufficiently impressed by him not only to join up but also to recruit a number of others to swell the ranks. They proceeded unopposed, to Derby, where a Council of War was held. The Prince wanted to press on towards London, most of the others, led by Lord George Murray, thought retreat was the wise option. The Duke of Perth agreed with the Prince. Had they but known it there was panic in the Government in London and a run on the banks. It is said the crafty bankers hit upon the ruse of paying everyone out in sixpences, thus slowing down the rate of withdrawals.

It is one of the great ‘what ifs’ of history, what would have happened if the will of the Prince and the Duke of Perth had prevailed? Instead they turned back and, whether it was the right decision or not, Lord George Murray brilliantly conducted that most difficult of military manoeuvres, an orderly retreat from hostile territory, with minimal casualties. However the Prince’s decision to leave a garrison at Carlisle, when the rest of the army returned to Scotland, was to prove disastrous for the men involved, greatly increasing the death toll in England.

The conflict between the militarily inexperienced Prince and his commander, Lord George Murray, had simmered throughout the campaign. It is important to remember that the Jacobite army won every battle and skirmish of the ’45, except for the last one. The main reason for the disaster that was Culloden, was the choice of ground on which it was fought. It suited artillery and musket fire from ranks of redcoats, it was completely and utterly unsuited to the Highland charge. Lord George Murray had identified more favourable high ground to the south of the River Nairn but the Prince, fatally, chose this occasion to overrule his commander. He insisted on the battle being fought on level, boggy ground while half his army had still to arrive and those who were there, were exhausted after an abortive 20 mile night march just hours before. They were tired, cold, wet and hungry. Their very efficient quartermaster had been taken ill and his substitute proved himself to be completely incompetent, almost no food had been procured for them in the preceding 48 hours. That they managed to fight at all was testament to their bravery and commitment to the cause.

However, in less than an hour it was all over and the second line, including the Duke of Perth’s regiment and that of his brother, Lord John Drummond, covered as best they could the retreat of the survivors of the front line. The Duke himself was in charge of the left of the front line, which consisted of the three Macdonald regiments, who believed that their rightful place was on the right of the line. He was on horseback out in front of them, urging them to charge across that bleak moor. It soon became obvious that all was lost and they too joined the retreat. Both brothers made it off the field of battle, alive. What happened thereafter is the subject of much conjecture.

The plaque in South Ancaster Square in Callander, erected by The 1745 Association, tells of the Duke’s death, at sea, in 1746. All the history books tell of the Duke’s death, at sea, in May 1746. It was therefore a revelation when I read that this story was false and that the Duke had died, on dry land, in June 1782!

The first thing to establish was whether there were any facts to substantiate this claim. The death/burial of a James Drummond on the relevant date was a matter of public record, as was his marriage on 6 November 1749 and even the birth of his bride, Elizabeth Armstrong. They had seven children and one of his sons, William, had been killed in a horrific incident at sea. The eldest son, James, had married and had a large family. Sometime after the 1746 Act of Attainder was repealed in 1784 his eldest son, Thomas, i.e. James Drummond’s grandson, had pursued a claim to the Earldom of Perth. Twice the case came to court in Edinburgh, before juries of fifteen ‘good men and true’ and twice they found in his favour, “that the Claimant, Thomas Drummond, was grandson and heir male of the body of James the sixth Earl of Perth who took upon himself the title of Duke of Perth”.

Unfortunately when the claim came to be heard in the House of Lords Thomas turned up drunk. It was not the only time he had been under the influence. It was reported in a local paper that he had been drunk and disorderly in a shop and had alarmed the customers. He also, for good measure, attempted to assault the arresting officer! For this unseemly behaviour he was fined two shillings and sixpence, plus costs.

I was able to trace the family of the original James Drummond as far as 1911 using a variety of sources, e.g. parish records, census returns and birth, marriage and death records since Victorian times. From information received from Douglas W Smith I discovered that there are still direct descendants living, although not a direct male heir. Would it be possible, from a distance of more than two and a half centuries, to find out what did happen in 1746, were these two James Drummonds one and the same person?

The last time there was unanimity about the whereabouts of the Duke of Perth after Culloden, was that he was definitely at Ruthven. There, the survivors of the battle and those members of the Jacobite army who had, for various reasons, missed the actual battle, assembled and awaited the arrival of their Prince. After a few days a letter arrived instead, reportedly telling every man to seek his own safety as best he could. This is possibly Hanoverian propaganda as contemporary reports of its contents differ from that terse message.

It seems that he professed devotion to them and their interests and said that, as he could do nothing for them on this side of the water, he intended instantly to proceed to France to obtain assistance or to procure better terms for them. He asked them to keep his departure a secret for as long as possible and to take advice from the Duke of Perth and Lord George Murray as to what they should do to defend themselves. He finally called on the Almighty to bless and direct them.

Whichever version you believe, the sense of betrayal must have been almost palpable. They had risked everything for this man and a few thousand men were still willing to fight on, yet their Prince had thrown in the towel. Their leaders, knowing they faced charges of treason, made their plans for escape. I think it is possible that these plans were discussed between them, at Ruthven. Lord George Murray planned to fake his own death and escape abroad, others simply proposed to get on board any ship they could find, bound for Europe or Scandinavia. Suppose the Duke of Perth thought along the same lines as Lord George Murray. He would need others to provide the ‘evidence’ of his death to make it sound convincing to the authorities. A death at sea could not be disproved, no body to be dug up at a later date and it would only require a few of them to spread the story. The Duke’s very popularity would ensure there would be volunteers to go along with this ruse. The Duke’s own father had escaped abroad after the ’15 and the Duke himself had shown courage and a cool head in escaping from his would-be captors the year before.

Also my research has failed to find any corroboration of the story that he was badly wounded on the battlefield. Only his servant’s testimony tells of him being unable to ride unaided. If he had a musket ball in his shoulder would he have been able to participate in the gathering at Ruthven with its plans to continue the fight? Fragments of his clothing would have been forced deep into the wound, causing an infection. The other accounts of his death speak of exhaustion, fatigue, being worn out, but not of any serious wound.

So, what did happen to James Drummond, 3rd Duke of Perth at and after Culloden. According to testimony given by his valet, the Duke receives a musket ball wound in his shoulder. He is unable to ride unaided and has to be helped from the battlefield, by his servants. He is then seen at Ruthven, where the letter from the Prince is received. They then proceed westwards, the Duke’s health deteriorating all the time, until eventually they have to carry him in a blanket. He appears to have had four servants with him so this would have been feasible. They reach Loch nan Uamh, the Duke by now a dying man. Wrapped in a blanket he is hoisted aboard a French warship, Le Mars. That ship and La Bellone are involved in a naval battle with ships of the British navy whilst still in the loch. Both ships are damaged but are quickly repaired sufficiently to be seaworthy. They set sail at 2am on 4 May and a few days later the Duke dies. His valet, John Drummond, is with him throughout.

A second eye-witness account is that of a French officer on board Le Mars. He tells of the Duke’s death on 8 May and of his burial at sea, with full military honours, the following day.The guns of Le Mars fire a salute as his body is consigned to the deep. Both ships arrive at Nantes, after a particularly prolonged voyage due to bad weather, on 27 May (according to the Julian calendar used by Britain until 1752) or on 6 June according to the Gregorian calendar which had been in use across Europe since 1582. A report of the arrival of Le Mars and of the Duke’s death is written by the Officer of Marine at Nantes on 7 June. He says “Ils sont perdu dans la traversée M. le Duc de Perth.” “They have lost during the voyage the Duke of Perth.” David, Lord Elcho, also on board Le Mars writes briefly in his diary of the death of the Duke and what a fine man he had been.

The third eye-witness account is that of Captain John Daniel, who was with the Duke at Ruthven. He confuses the picture by saying that he saw the body of the Duke thrown overboard from La Bellone and suggests a slightly later date. This could be an understandable error on his part as he was very seasick throughout his voyage and may have lost track of time.

The weight of evidence that the Duke died at sea is overwhelming, until it is examined more closely. He was hoisted on board Le Mars wrapped in a blanket and apparently dying. Even if any of the officers on Le Mars had known him, he would have been difficult to recognise under these conditions and was probably taken below decks immediately and would have remained there until his death. The French officer’s report of the burial at sea with full military honours is a true account of what happened, except for one vital detail. The body consigned to the deep was, I believe, not that of the Duke. Eighty five men died during that voyage from wounds received during the naval battle and I think one of them got a send-off which would have astonished him. The officers had been told that the Duke of Perth was amongst the passengers they had taken on board, perhaps it was even his brother, Lord John Drummond (who was at Ruthven) who told them. Given the Duke’s rank and position it is perfectly understandable that his death at sea was the subject of a letter from the Officer of Marine to his superiors in Paris. No one was lying, they all believed that the Duke had been on board Le Mars and that they had witnessed his burial at sea.

Captain John Daniel wrote a report of his involvement in the ’45 and of his subsequent escape on La Bellone. His description of the Duke’s burial on that ship has injected an element of doubt as to which ship the Duke was actually on, until you read carefully what he wrote. He said “The boat the Duke was in, [a small boat taking him out to the bigger ship] put off immediately; and another coming took me in, with many more, and carried us to the Bellona [La Bellone], where we remained at anchor till two o’Clock the next morning, when we sailed for France. The chief of those in our ship were Sir Thomas Sheridan; Mr Sheridan, his nephew; and Mr Hay.” [Note, no mention of the Duke being on board]. He then continued “In the ship I was in, there raged a contagious distemper, which carried off sixty-seven in twenty-five days: and about the tenth day of our voyage, I saw the body of my friend and patron the Duke of Perth, thrown overboard; which afflicting sight, joined with my violent sickness, I expected would have put an end to my life.”

Both Le Mars and La Bellone sailed together on 4 May and arrived at Nantes, together, on 27 May (or 6 June). It is entirely possible that the two ships drew close enough on the day for Captain Daniel and the other Jacobites to have witnessed, from the decks of La Bellone, the burial ceremony of one of their leaders taking place on Le Mars. His report has been interpreted by several eminent historians as saying that the Duke’s body had been thrown overboard from La Bellone, thus confusing the issue.

What of the four servants who accompanied the wounded Duke and carried him to Loch nan Uamh, where Le Mars and La Bellone had dropped anchor on 29 April. One of these servants, Duncan MacNaughton, was captured on 23 April, at North Queensferry, and Joseph Forrester and John Lamond were captured on 1 May, in Perth. The valet, John Drummond, apparently later testified that he had been with the Duke until the time of his death. He must, therefore, still have been on board Le Mars when it reached Nantes on 27 May (or 6 June) as no landfall was made between Loch nan Uamh and France. How very interesting then to find that an official document, dated 3 June 1746, lists the name of the valet de chambre to the Duke of Perth amongst those incarcerated on a prison ship bound for Tilbury.

Although these facts cast considerable doubt on the veracity of the death-at- sea story, they do not prove that the man in Biddick was the 3rd Duke of Perth. But given his circumstances, why would anyone want to impersonate him? He was not attainted under the 1746 Act of Attainder only because he was believed to have died before the date of surrender, 12 July 1746. Had he still been alive then he would have been attainted. The penalty, if found guilty of high treason, was death, by beheading for the nobility and by the medieval horror of being partially hanged, cut down whilst still alive, disembowelled, castrated and chopped into quarters, for everyone else. His entire estate had been forfeited to the Crown because his brother, Lord John Drummond, who would otherwise have inherited, was himself attainted.

There was nothing to be gained by claiming to be the Duke of Perth and potentially everything to be lost.

That a James Drummond married, had an heir and two spares and died in 1782 is incontrovertible, but was he the third Duke? If he was, why did he choose to escape to Biddick in County Durham, rather than to France, where he had lived for so many years? If a letter he is said to have written is genuine, he blamed the French for failing to provide substantive assistance at the time when the Jacobite army was within two or three days march of London. French troops landing on the south coast of England at that crucial moment could have altered the outcome entirely.

And why Biddick? Remember, the Duke was a frequent traveller on the Great North Road. He would have stopped at various inns for refreshments on his journeys. He may well have heard the locals speak of Biddick, which was then notorious for its lawlessness and was effectively a no-go area for the authorities. Perhaps he had filed this useful information at the back of his mind for this very eventuality. It would also be easier to make clandestine visits to Scotland from the north-east of England than it would be from France.

The date of the arrival of a James Drummond in Biddick is not certain but is believed to have been later in 1746. A lady witness, a relative of a Perthshire laird, gave evidence some years later that the Duke “was seen skulking at Drummond Castle after the battle of Culloden, and remained there in the neighbourhood in concealment a considerable time”. Before he escaped abroad, Lord George Murray is said to have hidden in Glenartney Forest, within the Duke’s estates, for several months after Culloden. Could the Duke have been with him? James Drummond’s family said he had come by sea. Somehow he arrived in Biddick and obtained lodgings with a fellow Scotsman, John Armstrong, a man of good character who worked at the local pit. Life as a lodger in a pitman’s cottage in Biddick was a far cry from life in Drummond Castle, with its feather beds, butler, valet and footmen.

Could a Duke have adapted to a life so radically different from the one to which he was accustomed? He was prepared to live on an annual income of only £200, modest by his standards, (£26,000 today) according to a Disposition drawn up by him, but not enacted. He also made provision for any future wife of his to receive an annual payment of 10,000 merks Scots money, throughout her life and for herself alone. This was the equivalent of £800 sterling then and a very generous £104,000 today. Enlightened thinking in an age when women were chattels! He was deeply upset by the ending of his relationship with the lawyer’s daughter in Yarm and had declared that he was resolved never to marry. This settlement was in the event of his changing his mind and entering into a married state, at some time in the future. Unfortunately when he did lose his heart, to the beautiful daughter of his landlord, his fortune had been forfeited and his good intentions came to nothing.

The James Drummond who arrived in Biddick must have had a fair amount of money with him. He had no visible means of support yet was presumably paying for his board and lodging. It is unlikely that a pit worker was allowing him to live there rent-free. A mysterious letter was said to have been written by his brother, Lord John Drummond, in answer to one from James Drummond. It was written on 16 April 1747, a conveniently memorable date, being the first anniversary of the disastrous battle, and enclosed a sum of money. It was delivered by a trusted courier who was on his way to Scotland from the continent. The death of Lord John Drummond on 28 September 1747 precluded any further injections of capital from this source.

In addition to bringing some money with him this James Drummond seems to have arrived with documents relating to his title, including his Patent of Nobility, a painted family coat of arms in a glazed black frame, a favourite diamond ring, a gold ring set with garnets and a satin christening mantle with ducal coronets embroidered on the corners. Were these items carried by the Duke throughout the campaign, possibly in his baggage train, which was abandoned? If so, they could have fallen into the hands of someone else. Or were they left at Drummond Castle for safekeeping, possibly in the Charter Room, and retrieved by the Duke himself before he left his home for the final time, sometime after Culloden?

What is known is that a disastrous flood, in 1771, destroyed much of the contents of his house, which was built on low lying ground only 50 yards from the banks of the River Wear. Amongst the many items washed away in the floodwater was the box containing these important documents and artefacts. It was never found, despite its owner searching for it over a long period. A Flood Relief Fund was set up for those affected and James Drummond received a payment from it.

The reason his house was so close to the river bank was because he had been given the cottage, at a nominal yearly rent of 4 old pence (£2 today) and the job of ferryman to support himself, his young wife and subsequent family. Despite having maintained a low profile, his arrival in Biddick had come to the attention of the local squire, Nicholas Lambton, who gave James Drummond quite a fright by telling him he knew who he was. Lambton’s ancestors had fought and died for Stuart kings. Perhaps because of this or simply because he liked him, instead of handing him over to the authorities and almost certain death, he offered him the job of ferryman and with it, the cottage. This seems to be a fairly physical job for a man whose health was not robust although poor health had not stopped him from fighting, bravely, throughout the ’45 campaign. There are however accounts of ferrywomen working in other places, so perhaps it was not as strenuous as you might think.

This brings us to the question of the injuries this James Drummond was known to have sustained. Not the life-threatening wound reported by the valet but two, more minor, injuries. He had received a flesh wound on his right cheek which resulted in a scar and a deep wound on the back of his right hand. He always wore a fingerless glove on that hand but no glove on his left hand. There is evidence, given by two different men on two separate occasions, about these injuries. One said that the Duke of Perth was slightly wounded in a skirmish with Hanoverian dragoons somewhere south of Culloden, after the battle. The other said he had seen the Duke, bleeding from his face and hand, riding south some hours later. Their evidence, if true, would account for these injuries.

The differences between the social classes in those days were very marked and it seems likely that the local squire would have spotted a commoner fairly quickly. James Drummond was a frequent dinner guest at the squire’s country mansion, his manners, bearing and conversation must have been consistent with his supposed status. A relative of the squire was overheard saying to him that he would never be able to recover his lands because he dare not show his face in Scotland again. He was correct in one respect, as the forfeiture was not lifted until two years after the death of James Drummond.

Had he been able to return to his beloved Castle it would have been to find an empty shell. In July and August 1755 a roup or auction had been held at Drummond Castle and the entire contents, fixtures and fittings sold off. From this we learn the names of some of the rooms in the Duke’s home. The Charter Room, where everything of importance would have been kept, the Yellow Room, the Grey Room, the Drawing Room, the Dining Room, the kitchen, pantry and Porter’s Lodge. The grates were removed from the fireplaces and sold, all the feather beds, feather pillows, mattresses, blankets, cushions and bedsteads were snapped up by local people. A merchant from Crieff paid £36 for the lead of the Bullen Chest, a local laird spent over £160 on the meal granary and the clock, bell and lead weights. The kitchen grate realised £42.13/10d and a big Copper made £64. Another local laird paid £24 for the Duke’s mahogany tea table and also acquired a looking glass, a hamper and a cheese press. A man from nearby Muthill paid £18 for the Wort Coolers, used in the brewing process, and also acquired a plough and a churn. Two cradles, which once may have held the Duke and his siblings, were sold. Even the birdcage and some flower pots found new homes. The grand total of £1,571.3/3d was realised as everything the Duke would have known was scattered to the four winds.

But it appears that he did return to Scotland, disguised as a beggar, on more than one occasion. According to sworn testimony he returned to his estates around 1774 or 1775 to try to obtain some money from his tenants. He got a bit, but not as much as he would have in the past. These tenants were already paying rent to the Commissioners for Forfeited Estates. Any additional payments to the Duke could have put quite a strain on their resources, but some did manage to pay him something, out of loyalty. Would they have paid out any money at all, unless they were absolutely sure of his identity? A number of men gave evidence, under oath, relating to stories told to them by their fathers, concerning these visits. Some of the statements are doubtful, perhaps because of exaggeration by the fathers, but others have the ring of truth to them. A tenant farmer, who knew the Duke well, told his son that he had seen the Duke standing quietly on an area of high ground within the farm, looking across towards Drummond Castle. He appeared to be distressed and the tenant did not intrude, but he was certain beyond any doubt, that it was the Duke. His hair had turned grey but his features were still recognizable. Another man, who had been an apprentice shoemaker and lived near Drummond Castle, met the Duke, quite by accident, in a street in Newcastle around 1780. They had shaken hands and then remained holding hands for some time, while in conversation. This scene was witnessed by the shoemaker’s young companion, an Englishman who later testified that the shoemaker was in tears when he rejoined him. He told him that he had just met the Duke of Perth and that he was “a braw fellow”. He also said he was very sorry for the Duke’s misfortunes.

Also around 1780 two Scottish drovers were returning north, having sold their cattle near York. They were invited into a house near Biddick, to take some refreshments, and the lady of the house asked where in Scotland they came from. When they said Crieff, an elderly gentleman with grey hair came through from another room. He asked questions about the Crieff area in general and then asked specifically about Drummond Castle. On being told that it was in a decayed state he became visibly upset and left the room. The older drover told his younger companion that he was certain the elderly gentleman was the old Duke of Perth. He repeated this belief several times on their journey north and throughout the rest of his life. His younger companion testified under oath that the story was true.

The James Drummond in Biddick died, suddenly, in June 1782 and was buried in the churchyard of All SaintsDuke of Perth Church. His grave is not marked but the nearby grave of his grandson Thomas is. The inscription on Thomas’s gravestone says “The rightful heir to the Earldom of Perth”. On balance, I am inclined to believe that he was.

© Patricia Macinnes 2013

1745 Association Council members Michael Nevin & Steve Lord comment:

One difficulty with the article is that no reliable sources are cited for the narrative after May 1746.  The single fact on which the story is based is that an individual named James Drummond died in June 1782.  There would have been hundreds of men called James Drummond in Scotland then as now.  If this James Drummond was the Duke of Perth, on the run from redcoats and under sentence of death, it is most unlikely that he would still be using his own name.  More likely, he would have changed his name to "James Black" or something similar.  And he would not have been living in England at all but would have escaped to the continent.  Why put his life at constant risk by remaining in England?

The article is incorrect in stating that "the Prince had thrown in the towel" after Culloden.  On the contrary, as the Prince's letter and memorandum to King Louis XV of France makes clear (i.e. the one that was owned by 1745 Association Council member Mike Nevin between 2001 and 2014), after the Prince returned to France he tried to raise support for another invasion to complete what he saw as the unfinished business of the ‘45.
The narrative regarding the plot supposedly cooked up between Lord George Murray and the Duke of Perth to fake their own deaths is pure speculation not supported by any evidence. This supposed event is not mentioned in Lord George’s memoirs, 1745 Association Chairman, Dr Christopher Duffy's "The '45" or K. Tomasson's "The Jacobite General." The assertion that "the Duke's very popularity would ensure there would be volunteers to go along with this ruse is also speculative.

If James Drummond, third Duke of Perth, did not sail for France on the Bellone after the Battle of Culloden, why did no-one leak the information that, not only did the Duke not die at sea, but he wasn’t even on the voyage? 
Why did James decide to settle in the North East of England, rather than escape to the continent like the other Jacobite leaders?  Granted, he had a reputation for being a gambler – but this was one gamble he could not win.  It was clear from the ruthless treatment of the Jacobite Lords who were captured that, were his true identity to be revealed, he could expect no clemency from the Hanoverian regime.  Rather than living under the constant threat of execution, would it not have made more sense to join the Prince in France where, as we know, he was actively planning another campaign after 1746?
Then there's the story of how the documentary evidence proving his true identity was destroyed in a storm, with other documents lost at sea.  To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, to lose one set of documents may be put down to misfortune, but to lose two looks a little like carelessness!
It is reported that the Duke frequently returned to Perth to be welcomed by local people. Again, how was it that none of those he allegedly met leaked this fact?
Most worryingly, why is there no mention in this narrative of the Duke's widowed mother, the redoubtable Dowager Duchess, Jean Drummond, who fought long and hard through the Edinburgh law courts to save Drummond Castle from the grasping clutches of the House of Hanover? Surely James would have let her know that he was still alive?  And surely, before her death at the age of 90 at Stobhall in 1773, having struggled so long and so hard to hold on to Drummond family estate, the Duchess would have made it known to her lawyer or some other trusted adviser in Edinburgh that she had surviving heirs to whom the estate should pass after her death. Yet there is no record of any of this in the narrative.
Until someone can satisfactorily answer the above questions, we will remain highly sceptical of the story. Like many other stories emanating from the ‘45, it would seem more likely to be a romantic fiction, initiated by a young man who perhaps felt that life had not dealt him a fair hand, and who embellished his family history by claiming to be the descendant of the legendary Duke of Perth, possibly with a view to personal gain. 

Patricia Macinnes replies:

Much of the information about the life of the James Drummond in Biddick came from the witness statements, given under oath, when the case of Thomas Drummond, the grandson, was heard in an Edinburgh Court in 1831 and 1834. The Canongate Register of Service of Heirs hears contentious cases before an appointed Chancellor and Bailie plus 15 male jurors, under Scots Law. The persons appointed to hear the evidence in 1831 were not the same as those appointed in 1834, but in both cases the juries found the Claimant, Thomas Drummond, grandson and heir male of the body of James, the sixth Earl of Perth, who took upon himself the title of Duke of Perth. (The Court did not recognise the Jacobite title.)

I was informed by the archivist that the bundles of witness statements still had the original bindings on them. They had not been opened or consulted by anyone, since they were filed in the 1830s.

To the men gathered at Ruthven shortly after Culloden all that was clear was that they were there, ready and willing to continue the fight,but their Prince was absent. Yes, it later transpired that he hoped to return to fight again, but for now the Rising was over and they had been left to their fate.

I said it is possible that Lord George Murray and the Duke of Perth discussed plans to fake their own deaths. It is a suggestion, not a statement of fact.

The deception about the Duke having sailed for France was to stop the Hanoverian authorities from continuing their search for him. Anyone leaking the information that he had not embarked on a ship would have defeated the whole point of the exercise.The Duke was supposed to have escaped on Le Mars, not La Bellone. This information was given in Captain John Daniel’s original narrative, which is quoted, verbatim, in my article.

The valet de chambre to the Duke of Perth was believed to have been with the Duke when he died. He could not have been on board either Le Mars or La Bellone because he was on a prison ship, bound for Tilbury, at the very time he should have been arriving at Nantes.

In a letter said to have been written by the Duke, he referred to “The perfidy of the French, who I now believe, never had any intention in promising succour…..

"These fifty years past they have made a dupe of His Majesty and his subjects of Scotland, without one serious intention to restore him to his dominions, which they have frequently had in their power, but never so much as at present, had they follow’d the blow, and assisted us
effectually while we were within two or three days march of the capital, where I have no hopes of ever being again.”

Such animosity towards the French could have influenced his decision to stay in England.

The flood of 1771 is an historical fact, as is the payment James Drummond received from the Fund which was set up to help those affected. His son William later died at sea, returning from a visit to Scotland which is why he had family papers with him.

The stories about the Duke’s visits to Scotland were ‘leaked’, from father to son, but not to the outside world, because of loyalty. The Duke of Perth had been a popular landowner and no one betrayed him, just as no one betrayed the Prince, despite the reward being offered.

The entire estate had been forfeited because the Duke had not been able to pass it on to a son, before the Rising, as his own father had done. In July and August 1755 Drummond Castle had been stripped bare, everything sold off and the building left to decay. Why the Duke made no attempt to contact his mother is known only to him, and does not leave a paper trail which can be followed centuries later.

I have tried throughout my article to put both sides of the argument, for and against, and my conclusion was that, on balance, I thought the story could be true. On balance means that there was also doubt, and until someone does a DNA test on the bones in All Saints Churchyard, some doubt will remain.


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Mrs Thomson: Memoirs of the Jacobites Vol 3 Scroll down to page 268

Image: Drummond Castle today

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Image: Drummond Castle 1804

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