James Drummond 1648-1716

From Book Owners Online

James DRUMMOND 1648-1716, 4th Earl of Perth & 1st duke of Perth

Armorial stamp of James Drummond (British Armorial Bindings)

Biographical Note

He was born in Perthshire to of Sir James Drummond, 3rd Earl Perth (d.1675) and Lady Anne Gordon (1613–1656), the eldest daughter of George, 2nd marquis of Huntly and Lady Anne Campbell. He was educated at the university of St Andrews, and at an academy in Angers. In 1670, he married Lady Jane Douglas (d. 1678), daughter of William Douglas, 1st marquis of Douglas (1589–1660). Together they had a son, James Drummond (1674–1720), and two daughters, Mary Drummond (1675–1729) and Anne. He was married twice more to: Lilias Drummond (d.1685), & afterwards the Catholic Lady Mary Gordon (1653/4–1726). His Grandson was James Drummond, 1713-1746.

Drummond was an ambitious and politically active Scot, who found favour with the Duke of York. In May 1682 he was made justice general and a extraordinary lord of session, & in 1864 lord chancellor of Scotland. His conversion to Catholicism in 1685 increased his influence with the newly crowned King James VII & II, who appointed him a knight of the Order of the Thistle in 1687. Following the revolution, Drummond remained loyal during to James VII and was arrested. He was a prisoner at Stirling Castle until 1692, when he was released on the condition he move abroad permanently.

He initially lived in Antwerp, before moving to Italy in 1695, where he acted as ambassador for James II and the Jacobite cause. In 1696 he moved to Paris where he assumed the post governing the education of the young James III. After the death of James II, Drummond gradually fell out of favour at St Germain, though he did accompany James III on an unsuccessful attempt to invade Scotland in 1708. His last post was as lord chamberlain to Mary Modena, a post which he held from 1714 until his death in May 1716.


Drummond’s library is primarily known through the Catalogue of Drummond Castle printed in 1912. He purchased or was gifted many Catholic works while living in Europe. The inscriptions he left in his volumes distinguish his books from the rest of the extensive Drummond family library, and number around 20 titles.

Examples of the books listed in the Catalogue are:

Robert Barclay’s Theologiae vera Christianae Apologia (Amsterdam, 1676), inscribed “Perth” on title page.

Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher’s Fifty Tragedies and Comedies (1679), inscribed “Perth London 1 Oct[obe]r 1682”

Calendarium Annale Benedictinum per menses et Dies (1677) presented in 1687 to the Earl of Perth by Placidus Fleming (1642-1720), Abbot of Ratisbon Abbey.

Edward Herbert’s The Life and Reign of King Henry the Eighth (1672) inscribed, “London 13 Sept 1679. This book I bought upon the King saying to me (speaking of the imperfections of History) that it was a very fine book: but that it had much more of the authors witt in it then of the truth.”

It is unclear whether the books remain in Drummond Castle.

It also appears likely that some of Drummond's library was left in Paris, with at least one title potentially making its way into the Scots College at Paris. The book, Alexander Blair's Motifs de la conversion... (Paris, 1686) is part of the Blair's College Library collection, at the University of Aberdeen (BCL S54) (Physical book has not been examined).

Characteristic Markings

Books owned by him are often inscribed “Perth.” He used an Armorial Stamp.


  • British Armorial Bindings.
  • Catalogue of the rare and most interesting books and manuscripts in the library at Drummond Castle, compiled by G.P. Johnston, Edinburgh, 1910
  • Catalogue of curious, scarce and valuable 16th, 17th and 18th century books, manuscripts etc. : being the collections of James Drummond, Bishop of Brechin bequeathed by him at his death in 1695 to John, 12th Earl of Erroll with memorials of the coronation of King William IV, 1831
  • Corp, Edward. "Drummond, James, fourth earl of Perth and Jacobite first duke of Perth (1648–1716), politician." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  • Drummond, William. The Genealogy of the Most Noble and Ancient House of Drummond, Glasgow, 1889