Background and early life
Robert Drummond was born on 13 November 1728, the 3rd surviving son of at least 13 children of William Drummond, 4th Viscount Strathallan and his wife Margaret, daughter of Lord William Murray. William Drummond was a prominent Jacobite. He had taken part in the 1715 Rising, and had been taken prisoner at Sherrifmuir. Three decades later, he was a leading participant in the '45 Rising, commanding the Jacobite forces in Scotland when Bonnie Prince Charlie advanced south into England. He was killed in the Jacobites' crushing defeat at Culloden in 1746.
Robert Drummond was brought up on the family estate at Machany in Perthshire, but in 1744 he and his younger brother Henry were sent to London to live with their uncle Andrew Drummond.
In 1749 both Robert Drummond and his brother Henry went to work in their uncle Andrew Drummond's banking business, located at Charing Cross in London. Andrew Drummond died 20 years later, in 1769, and Robert Drummond and his cousin John (Andrew's son) took over the partnership. John suffered from ill health, leaving Robert to take most responsibility for the business.
It soon became evident that the bank needed an additional partner, and in 1772 Robert asked his brother Henry, who had left the bank to pursue other business interests, to join the partnership. The three partners agreed that their shares in the business and its profits should be treated as a form of heritable property, which would in future descend to the eldest son of each partner. For generations thereafter, the bank's partnership continued to be built upon the three branches of the Drummond family – the descendants of Henry, Robert and John – with each branch represented by one or more partners.
After John Drummond died in 1774 Robert Drummond became senior partner in the bank. He held that position until his death in 1804, by which time the firm's business had developed into one of the largest of its kind in London.
Two of Robert's sons, Andrew Berkeley Drummond and Charles Drummond, joined their father as partners in the bank in 1787 and 1795 respectively.
In 1753 Robert Drummond married Winifred Mary Thomson, daughter of William and Mary Thomson of Ipsden, Oxfordshire.
They had 11 (possibly 12) children together:
- Andrew Berkeley Drummond, 1755-1833
- William Drummond, born 1756
- Robert Drummond, born 1758
- Charles Henry Drummond, 1759-1823
- Henry Roger Drummond, 1761-1806
- Margaret Lucy Drummond, baptised 1762
- Frances Drummond, baptised 1767
- Charlotte Teresa Drummond, baptised 1768
- Frederick Drummond, born 1770
- Richard Drummond, baptised 1772
- Edward Drummond, born 1775
Three of the children died of whooping cough in 1771.
In 1774, following the death of his cousin John Drummond, Robert Drummond became guardian to John's son George.
In around 1781 the artist John Zoffany, a client of the bank, painted a family portrait of Robert, Winifred and their children.
Winifred Drummond died in 1791.
Homes, property and social circle
When Robert Drummond first moved to London, he lived at the bank with his uncle.
He later moved to a property in Cleveland Row, St James's in London. His close social circle, including his brother Henry, Richard Cox, Thomas Harley and Sir Robert Murray Keith, were part of a small monthly London dining club known as 'the Gang'. He was known within the Gang as 'Governor Bob', and also 'Piscador' and 'Fisherman Bob', in reference to his love of angling.
In 1772 Robert Drummond bought the manor of Cadland near Fawley in Hampshire, where he had a house and garden designed for him by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown and Brown’s son-in-law Henry Holland. By the time of his death he had spent almost £75,000 on the estate, and his son Andrew Berkeley Drummond inherited not only the estate, but also debts amounting to £86,000. Looking back upon his late father's experiences, Andrew Berkeley Drummond observed that his father's lavish spending habits had brought him a life of 'outward splendour & internal feverish anxiety.'
Robert Drummond died on 19 Jan 1804. He was survived by five of his children.
- Drummonds: A History (Edinburgh: privately printed by the Royal Bank of Scotland, 2002)
- H Bolitho and D Peel, The Drummonds of Charing Cross (London: George, Allen & Unwin, 1967)
Summary of our archival holdings
- Customer account ledgers of the bank, including the personal account of Robert Drummond and his executors 1753-1805
- Articles of partnership of Messrs Drummond, signed by the partners including Robert Drummond, 1772-1803
- Letters to Robert Drummond from his ward George Drummond, 1776-9
- Papers relating to Robert Drummond's expenditure on his property in Hampshire, 1766-85
- Trusteeship papers relating to Robert Drummond's wife Winifred and mother-in-law Mary Lucy Stonor, nee Thomson, 1761-96
- Letters from Robert Drummond to his son Andrew Berkeley Drummond, commending him for his actions in relation to the firm, 1788-1802