John Drummond, 1st Earl of Melfort

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John Drummond

John Drummond.jpg
Earl of Melfort and Jacobite Duke of Melfort, ca 1688
Jacobite Secretary of State
In office
6 December 1688 – 2 June 1694
MonarchJames II
Succeeded byEarl of Middleton
Secretary of State in Scotland
In office
15 September, 1684 – 04 December,1688
Preceded byEarl of Moray
Succeeded byEarl of Melville
In office
Preceded byEarl of Lauderdale
Succeeded byEarl of Kintore
Master of the Ordnance
In office
Personal details
John Drummond

August 1649
Stobhall, Perthshire, Scotland
Died25 January 1714(1714-01-25) (aged 64)
Resting placeSaint-Sulpice, Paris
Political partyJacobite
Spouse(s)Sophia Maitland (died ca 1680)
Euphemia Wallace
ChildrenRobert Lundin (d 1713)
John Drummond, Earl of Melfort (1682-1754)
plus 16 others
ParentsThe Earl of Perth (ca 1615-1675)
Lady Anne Gordon (ca 1621-1656);
ResidenceLundin House, Lundin, Fife
Alma materSt Andrews
AwardsOrder of the Thistle
Order of the Garter (Jacobite)

John Drummond, 1st Earl of Melfort, styled Duke of Melfort in the Jacobite peerage (1649-1714), was a Scottish politician and supporter of James II, whom he joined in exile after the 1688 Glorious Revolution. He served as the first Jacobite Secretary of State but his personal unpopularity with other Jacobites led to his resignation in 1694. He failed to regain his former influence and died in Paris in 1714.


Drummond Castle and gardens

John Drummond was born in 1649, probably at Stobhall, Perthshire, since the family home of Drummond Castle was occupied by the New Model Army during the latter stages of the 1638-1651 Wars of the Three Kingdoms. The second son of James Drummond, 3rd Earl of Perth (ca 1615-1675) and Lady Anne Gordon (ca 1621-1656), his elder brother James Drummond, 4th Earl of Perth, was a close political ally.

In September 1670, Drummond married Sophia Maitland, heiress to the estate of Lundin in Fife and niece of the Duke of Lauderdale, then Lord High Commissioner of Scotland. His second wife was Euphemia Wallace (ca. 1654-1743), whom he married in 1680 after Sophia's death.[1] To prevent Sophia's estates being seized by the Crown, Drummond transferred them to the surviving children of his first marriage in December 1688 and they then used the name 'Lundin.'[2]


Scottish Politician; 1670-1688[edit]

John Maitland, Duke of Lauderdale; Drummond's marriage to his niece helped his political career

Marriage to Lauderdale's niece brought Drummond positions, as well as lands; in September 1673, he received a commission as Captain in the Foot Guards.[3] He was appointed Deputy Governor of Edinburgh Castle in 1679, then Lieutenant-General and Master of the Ordnance in 1680.[4]

Many in England opposed the Catholic James succeeding Charles II as monarch, partly because Catholicism was associated with absolutism, a concern reinforced by Charles' refusal to hold Parliamentary elections between 1661 and 1679. Popular anti-Catholicism was manipulated for political gain; the 1678 Popish Plot resulted in over 100 people being falsely accused of conspiracy to murder Charles, with 22 executed. The 1678-1681 Exclusion Crisis created two broad political factions in England; Tories, who advocated the supremacy of the Crown, and Whigs, who supported the primacy of Parliament.[5]

In Scotland, there was a higher level of support for a Stuart monarch, regardless of religion. By 1680, Lauderdale was suffering from ill health and he resigned after losing favour with Charles and James by voting for the execution of Viscount Stafford, one of those convicted by the Popish Plot.[6] James arrived in Edinburgh in 1681 as Lord High Commissioner to the Parliament of Scotland and over the next two years, he created a Scottish support base including John and James Drummond, William Douglas, later Duke of Queensberry and William Hamilton, later Duke of Hamilton.[7]

The persecution of French Huguenots led many Scots to resist calls for Catholic tolerance.

However, even in Scotland, tolerance for James' personal beliefs did not extend to Catholicism in general, and the failure to appreciate that distinction gradually eroded his political base. While less than 2% of Scots were Catholic, the October 1685 Edict of Fontainebleau revoking tolerance for French Huguenots reinforced fears Protestant Europe was threatened by a French-led Catholic counter-reformation.[8] The 1681 Scottish Test Act required government officers to swear unconditional loyalty to the King but with the crucial qualifier they also 'promise to uphold the true Protestant religion.'[9]

James c. 1685 in his role as commander of the Royal Army

That was a clear dividing line; Queensberry warned James he would oppose measures reducing 'the primacy of the established Church of Scotland.' He was forced from office in 1686 after refusing to support 'tolerance' for Catholics and Presbyterian dissidents. The bitter religious divides of the 17th century meant many Scots viewed such concessions as potentially destabilising.[10]

John Drummond was appointed Treasurer-Depute of Scotland in 1682, then joint Secretary of State, Scotland in 1684, with his brother as Lord Chancellor. After James became king in February 1685, both Drummonds converted to Catholicism; the motive is debated but contemporaries viewed it as opportunism. The brothers now effectively ruled Scotland, although after 1684, John spent most of his time in London; in 1686, he was also appointed to the Privy Council of England and created Earl of Melfort. He was also the driving force behind the Order of the Thistle, a body intended to reward James' Scottish supporters, whose members included Catholics like Melfort, his elder brother the Earl of Perth, the Earl of Dumbarton, plus Protestant like the Earl of Arran.[11]

Two events in June 1688 turned opposition into open revolt; the birth of James Francis Edward on 10th created a Catholic heir, excluding James' Protestant daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange. By prosecuting the Seven Bishops for seditious libel, James appeared to be going beyond tolerance for Catholicism and into an assault on the Church of England; their acquittal on 30 June destroyed his political authority, in Scotland as well as England.[12]

Many supported James in 1685 from fear of civil war if he had been bypassed. By 1688, anti-Catholic riots made that it seem only his removal could prevent one.[13] Representatives from across the political class invited William to assume the English throne, and he landed in Brixham on 5 November. Melfort urged a mass arrest of influential Whigs in response but James' army deserted him and he went into exile on 23 December.[14]

Jacobite Exile; 1688-1714[edit]

James Drummond, Earl of Perth, his elder brother and political ally, was arrested in 1688 and then sent into exile in 1694

Melfort left London on 3 December 1688 with his wife Euphemia and the children of his second marriage; a few days later, he arrived at Saint-Germain-en-Laye outside Paris, location of the exiled court for the next 25 years. The English Parliament offered William and Mary the throne of England in February, with elections in Scotland for a Convention to decide the fate of the Scottish throne.[15] Those who remained loyal to James became known as 'Jacobites,' after the Latin Jacobus, and the political ideology behind it as Jacobitism.

Louis XIV of France was engaged in the 1688-1697 Nine Years' War against an alliance including Austria and the Dutch Republic, joined by England after the Glorious Revolution. As part of th e conflict, Louis provided James with French military support; in March, 1689, he landed in Ireland to attempt the reconquest of his kingdom, with Melfort accompanying him as Secretary of State.

Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, location of the exiled Jacobite court

Tensions in Edinburgh were high, with the Catholic Duke of Gordon holding Edinburgh Castle and Viscount Dundee recruiting Highland levies. When the Convention opened on 16 March, a letter from James drafted by Melfort was read out, demanding obedience and threatening punishment for noncompliance.[16]

While committed Jacobites were a tiny minority, many Scots were unenthusiastic about the alternatives, but the tone of the letter led to public anger and undercut what limited support James retained. It reflected an internal Jacobite dispute between the Protestant 'Compounders', who viewed concessions as essential for James to regain his throne, and the mostly-Catholic 'Non-Compounders' like Melfort, who urged him to refuse any. Based on an overly optimistic reading of the military situation in 1689, the dominance of Melfort and Non-Compounders over Jacobite policy persisted until 1694.[17]

Defeat at La Hogue in June 1692, ended plans for an invasion of England

Melfort consistently prioritised England and Scotland over Ireland, leading to clashes with the Irish Jacobite leader, the Earl of Tyrconnell, and the French ambassador, the Comte d'Avaux. He was recalled in October 1689 and sent to Rome as James's ambassador but was unsuccessful in persuading either Pope Alexander VIII or Pope Innocent XII to support James and returned to St Germain in 1691. Jacobite defeats in Scotland in 1690 and Ireland in 1691 were followed by the collapse of plans to invade England after the Anglo-Dutch naval victory at La Hogue in June 1692.[18]

In April 1692, James issued a statement drafted by Melfort making it clear that once restored, he would not pardon those who failed to show their loyalty. Melfort's encouragement of James' intransigence lost him support with the French and English Jacobites. The Protestant Earl of Middleton was more moderate and joined the Court at St Germain in 1693 as joint Secretary but Melfort was forced to resign in June 1694.[19]

Melfort retired to Orléans and then Rouen. He was allowed to return to St Germain in 1697, but his political career was effectively over, as was confirmed in 1701 when a letter written to his brother was misdirected to London, leading to accusations of treachery. After the death of James in 1701, Melfort lived in Paris. He died in January 1714 and was buried in the Church of Saint-Sulpice, Paris.


Melfort was buried at Saint-Sulpice, Paris

In general, history has not been kind to Melfort, his influence being seen as largely negative and described by one historian as 'based on flattery, officiousness and subservience' to James' 'exalted conception of prerogative'.[20]

Setting aside his political judgement, Melfort was interested in music and art, creating two important collections. The first included works by Van Dyck, Rubens, Bassano, and Holbein but was left behind in 1688 and he built another in Paris, which he opened to the public.[21] This second collection was later sold by his wife Euphemia, who lived to be 90.

An Act of Parliament deprived Melfort of his British titles and property in 1695, but the transfer of his estates in 1688 prevented that from affecting the children of his first marriage, who used the name 'Lundin' and had little contact with their father. The children of his second marriage grew up in France; John Drummond, 2nd Earl of Melfort, took part in the Jacobite rising of 1715. Two of his grandsons, John and Louis Drummond, fought at Culloden in 1745 with the Royal Écossais Regiment and ended their careers as senior officers in the French army.[22]


  1. ^ "Children of Euphemia Wallace". Clan MacFarlane. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  2. ^ Morison, William Maxwell (1811). The decisions of the Court of Session; Volumes 23-24 (2018 ed.). Edinburgh: Gale ECCO. pp. 975–978. ISBN 978-1385890370.
  3. ^ Dalton, Charles (1909). The Scots Army 1661-1688, Volume II. London & Edinburgh: Eyre & Spottiswoode. p. 21.
  4. ^ Corp, John (2004). "Drummond, John, styled first earl of Melfort and Jacobite first duke of Melfort". 1. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/8077.
  5. ^ Harris, Tim (1993). Politics under the Later Stuarts: Party Conflict in a Divided Society, 1660-1715. Routledge. pp. 80–81. ISBN 978-0582040823.
  6. ^ Hutton, Ronald (2004). "Maitland, John, duke of Lauderdale". 1. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/17827.
  7. ^ Glozier, Mathew (2004). Scottish Soldiers in France in the Reign of the Sun King: Nursery for Men of Honour. Brill. p. 195. ISBN 978-9004138650.
  8. ^ Bosher, JF (February 1994). "The Franco-Catholic Danger, 1660–1715". History. 79 (255): 6–8 passim. JSTOR 24421929.
  9. ^ Harris, Tim; Taylor, Stephen, eds. (2015). The Final Crisis of the Stuart Monarchy. Boydell & Brewer. p. 122. ISBN 978-1783270446.
  10. ^ Ford, JD (2004). "Douglas, William, first duke of Queensberry". doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/7936.
  11. ^ Glozier, Mathew (2000). "The Earl of Melfort, the Court Catholic Party and the Foundation of the Order of the Thistle, 1687". The Scottish Historical Review. 79 (208): 233–234. doi:10.3366/shr.2000.79.2.233. JSTOR 25530975.
  12. ^ Harris, Tim (2007). Revolution; the Great Crisis of the British Monarchy 1685-1720. Penguin. pp. 235–236. ISBN 978-0141016528.
  13. ^ Wormsley, David (2015). James II: The Last Catholic King. Allen Lane. p. 189. ISBN 978-0141977065.
  14. ^ Harris, Tim (2007). Revolution; the Great Crisis of the British Monarchy 1685-1720. Penguin. pp. 3–5. ISBN 978-0141016528.
  15. ^ Harris, Tim (2007). Revolution; the Great Crisis of the British Monarchy 1685-1720. Penguin. pp. 271–272. ISBN 978-0141016528.
  16. ^ McFerran, Noel. "Letter of King James VII to the Scottish Convention, March 1, 1689". The Jacobite Heritage. Retrieved 15 October 2018.
  17. ^ Szechi, Daniel (1994). The Jacobites: Britain and Europe, 1688-1788. Manchester University Press. pp. 30–31. ISBN 978-0719037740.
  18. ^ Corp, John (2004). "Drummond, John, styled first earl of Melfort and Jacobite first duke of Melfort". 1. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/8077.
  19. ^ Corp, John (2004). "Middleton, Charles, styled second earl of Middleton and Jacobite first earl of Monmouth". doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/18665.
  20. ^ Lord, Evelyn (2004). The Stuarts' Secret Army: English Jacobites 1689-1752: The Hidden History of the English Jacobites. Pearson. p. 53. ISBN 978-0582772564.
  21. ^ Corp, John (2004). "Drummond, John, styled first earl of Melfort and Jacobite first duke of Melfort". 1. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/8077.
  22. ^ "Person Page; 66242". The Peerage. Retrieved 16 October 2018.


  • Dalton, Charles; The Scots Army 1661-1688; (Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1909);
  • Glozier, Matthew; Scottish Soldiers in France in the Reign of the Sun King: Nursery for Men of Honour; (Brill, 2004);
  • Harris, Tim; Politics under the Later Stuarts: Party Conflict in a Divided Society, 1660-1715; (Routledge, 1993);
  • Harris, Tim; Revolution; the Great Crisis of the British Monarchy 1685-1720; (Penguin, 2007);
  • Harris, Tim, Taylor, Stephen, eds; The Final Crisis of the Stuart Monarchy; (Boydell & Brewer, 2015);
  • Lord, Evelyn; The Stuarts' Secret Army: English Jacobites 1689-1752: The Hidden History of the English Jacobites; (Pearson, 2004);
  • Miggelbrink, Joachim (author) McKilliop, Andrew and Murdoch, Steve, eds; Fighting for Identity: Scottish Military Experiences c.1550-1900; (Brill, 2002);
  • Szechi, Daniel; The Jacobites: Britain and Europe, 1688-1788; (Manchester University Press, 1994);
  • Wormsley, David; James II: The Last Catholic King; (Allen Lane, 2015);

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Moray
The Earl of Middleton
Secretary of State, Scotland
with The Earl of Moray
Succeeded by
The Earl of Melville
Preceded by
New creation
Secretary of State to James II and VII in exile
with The Earl of Middleton (1693–1694)
Succeeded by
The Earl of Middleton
Peerage of Scotland
New creation Earl of Melfort
Viscount of Melfort
Duke of Melfort
Jacobite peerage
Succeeded by
John Drummond
Loss of title — TITULAR —
Earl of Melfort
Jacobite peerage
Peerage of England
New creation — TITULAR —
Baron Cleworth
Jacobite Peerage
Succeeded by
John Drummond