The Drummonds of Strathearn - their Castle , Rob Roy and a King's mistress !

The Keep

Picture posted on Facebook by David Cowan  of Crieff

From my collection - pic from about 1890

Who were the Drummonds ?

Clan traditions credit the founder of the clan as Maurice of Hungary, a Hungarian prince descended from Árpád, who is said to have accompanied Edgar Ætheling, heir to the English throne, and his sister Saint Margaret of Scotland, when they sailed there in 1066 to escape the Norman conquest of England.

This disregards accepted history that Edgar and Margaret were brought to England in 1057 by their father, Edward the Exile: Edward died immediately (some say he may have been murdered), and his children lived at the Court of England's King Edward 'the Confessor' with their mother Agatha. Edgar, about thirteen in 1066, was elected king of England after the battle of Hastings and the death of his cousin King Harold II, but together with the rest of the English government submitted to Guillaume (William) of Normandy, afterwards King of England, at Berkhamsted two months later (16 December 1066). He later sailed to Scotland, accompanied by his mother Agatha and sisters Margaret and Christian, several years after 1066. In turn Maurice was the son of György, who went to Scotland in 1055 and became ancestor of the Drummond family. It has long been asserted that the Drummond family was founded by a Hungarian who returned to Britain with Edward Ætheling, so this may be true.

According to some sources György was the son of a Non-Christian marriage of Endre I (András I or Andrew I), afterwards, Apostolic King of Hungary, to a Hungarian woman, before Endre 's conversion to the Roman Catholic faith. Endres subsequent Christian marriage to a Russian Orthodox Princess, rendered the non-Christian children of his first marriage illegitimate under Catholic Canon law, and therefore with no rights to the now Christian Hungarian Throne. Consequently, György was obliged to leave Hungary, settling in Scotland, and founding the Drummond family, possibly named from the lands of Druiman ( Drymen ) which were granted to him either by MacBethad, or Malcolm III of Scotland. His choice of Scotland was very likely linked to the exiled English Royal House, since they had previously resided at the Court of István (Stephen I), King of Hungary, and after the submission of Harold II of England to William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy in December 1066, arrived in Scotland where they were warmly received by Scotland's King Mael-Coluim III who married Edgar's sister Margaret in 1070.

If the account given by Europaeische Stammtafeln is based on fact, then the present Earl of Perth, Chief of Clan Drummond, is a living representative of the original male line of the Royal House of Árpád, the founding dynasty of Hungarian kings

Margaret Drummond - mistress of King James IV


Margaret Drummond (c. 1475 – 1501) was a daughter of John Drummond, 1st Lord Drummond. She was possibly "privately" married to, but most certainly a mistress of King James IV of Scotland. She was a great-great-great-great-niece of the Margaret Drummond who was King David II's second queen.
Her death has been the subject of a very persistent romantic legend.
She was definitely the mistress of James IV during 1496-97, and possibly as early as 1495. Records show her living in his castle at Stirling from 3 June 1496, and from 30 October to March 1497 at Linlithgow Palace. Her presence, and a previous similar arrangement for another mistress in the royal houses, was also noted by the Spanish ambassador Pedro de Ayala.. Ayala later wrote of James IV;

"When I arrived, he was keeping a lady with great state in a castle. He visited her from time to time. Afterwards he sent her to the house of her father, who is a knight, and married her [to a third party]. He did the same with another lady, by whom he had had a son."
However, the king had a number of mistresses in his time, and this relationship seems to have been shorter than those he had with either Marion Boyd or Janet Kennedy.
Margaret and James IV had a daughter, Margaret Stewart. She married firstly John Gordon, Lord Gordon and secondly Sir John Drummond of Innerpeffray.
It is definitely known that in 1501 she died of food poisoning, along with her sisters Eupheme and Sibylla, while staying at their parents' residence. As a general rule, claims of poisoning made in relation to a historical figure who died after a sudden illness should be treated with caution, but in this case, with three people who presumably died shortly after eating the same meal, the contemporary judgement should be accepted. The three sisters are buried together in Dunblane Cathedral, their graves can still be seen in front of the altar. This did not cause a great deal of suspicion at the time; standards of food hygiene are unlikely to have been very good then, and cases of accidental food poisoning have happened in any period.
After her death the king paid for masses to be said for her soul, and continued to support their daughter.
It has been widely suggested in more recent years that Margaret Drummond was murdered, either by English agents or by pro-English elements in the Scottish nobility. Many believe that James IV was planning to or had already secretly married Drummond, and her death was necessary in order to allow or force the King to marry the English princess Margaret Tudor, daughter of Henry VII of England and Elizabeth of York. The (comparatively recent) plaque on her grave in Dunblane Cathedral claims that she was commonly believed to be "privately married" to the king, and that she was murdered by Scottish nobles who supported the English marriage.
Furthermore, the "Marriage of the Rose and Thistle", as the poet William Dunbar described it, brought about the Union of the Crowns exactly 100 years later, as it enabled their great-grandson James VI of Scotland to claim the English throne upon the death of Elizabeth I through his descent from Henry VII.
Had James IV married Margaret Drummond instead of Margaret Tudor, the Union of the Crowns might never have taken place and Scotland might have remained an independent country. This idea has been the theme of numerous historical novels and popular histories.
Serious historians are sceptical of the theory. It is not supported by the contemporary evidence, and originates in a history of the Drummond family written by Viscount Strathallan in 1681. Her death was probably a case of accidental food poisoning, a common cause of death at that time. The idea that James had to be pressured to marry Margaret Tudor is dubious. As Scotland was the less important and poorer country, it is more likely that James IV pressured Henry VII to give him his daughter. It is also clear that negotiations for the marriage had been taking place before Margaret Drummond died
The Castle and its history

Robert the Bruce granted lands in Strathearn to Sir Malcolm Drummond who had
distinguished himself  fighting  alongside Bruce at Bannockburn in 1314 .

In 1474 , James III of Scotland granted the heritable office of Steward, Coroner and Forester of the Earldom of Strathearn to John Drummond of Cargill . These titles  had  originally been under the remit of the Earls of Strathearn but had been subsequently forfeited  to the Crown . Drummond  was some fourteen years later created  Lord Drummond and in 1493   received  a charter conveying  extensive lands in Strathearn to him and his  descendants . Some two years prior  to this he had  received  a Royal Warrant  permitting him to build a castle at his house of Drummond  . Story has it that  the castle  was habitable  but unfurnished  by  May 1496 when the King , James IV spent a night and paid  two shillings “to the masounis of  Drummyne “ . In 1509 Drummond received  another  Royal charter conveying yet  more land  within Strathearn including “ Drummond , with the castle , fortalice , manor , gardens and orchards of the same “ .

James , Fourth Lord of Drummond   was created  Earl of Perth in 1605 . In 1629-1630 his brother John , the Second Earl employed  John Mylne Senior  to carry out work at Drummond  including the erection of a new gate house  adjoining the Keep . At about the same time  , the steep slope  on the south side of the Castle seems  to have been terraces and laid out as a  garden .

In 1653 Oliver Cromwell’s army sacked the castle during what has  been described as the Wars of the Three Kingdoms
James , Fourth Earl of Perth was Lord Chancellor of Scotland   from 1684  until the
“ Glorious Revolution “  of 1688 ( when King James II of the United Kingdom /James VII of Scotland was  overthrown by William of Orange ) . As a consequence of this Drummond was imprisoned in Stirling Castle whilst Government troops  were sent to occupy his castle and at the same time  strengthen its  defences . Shortly after this , his eldest son , James, Lord Drummond( Second Duke of  Perth )  returned from exile and soon after demolished  the defences  and most of the buildings apart from the Keep and Gatehouse . After this he  built detached   , large mansion  house in the centre of the castle’s plateau location .
The Drummonds were strong supporter of the Jacobite cause  and with the failure of the ’45 Uprising found  themselves  somewhat unpopular  with “ German Geordie “ and the  Hanoverian succession . Their lands and properties  were forfeited  to the Crown and it was not until 1785 that these were returned to a  Drummond  who was  considered a “ non Jacobite “ – namely Captain James Drummond of Lundin who later became Lord Perth of Stobhall . He employed John Steven to remodel the mansion house and in due course Drummond  fortunes began to  flourish . His  daughter Clementina married  the Hon Peter Burrell ( who became Lord Gwydir  and twenty second Lord Willoughby d’Erseby ) who was heir  to substantial estates in Lincolnshire , Kent and Wales .
The young  Queen Victoria with husband Albert  paid a visit to the Strath and where else  would they stay but Drummond Castle . Whilst Victoria  visited her titled  minions Albert blasted away at the deer in Glen Artney ! In 1878  local architect GT Ewing ( architect and factor ) remodelled the  mansion house to resemble a 17th century laird’s house . Follow in a fire in 1899 further remodelling took place .

In the 1990s Drummond  Castle featured in the Hollywood  production of Rob Roy . Rob of  course was  a regular  visitor to the Castle as both he and the Drummonds like  many others in the Strath did not disguise their support of the Jacobite cause .

I recall in the 1980s  being shown around Pitkellony House in Muthill by the then Derummond Estate factor , the late Peter Farquhar .Pitkellony is the  which is the Estate Office and  indeed a building of some historical and architectural merit in its right dating back to 1670 . Peter  showed  me an incredible  collection of maps of the Estate done  by a firm of  Edinburgh cartographers  in 1840  some  30 years  prior  to the  publication of  the first Ordnance Survey maps . The immensity of the Estate in the Victorian era was incredible  extending from Muthill to Callander and  south to nearly Stirling. Its  350 000 acres  was measured and mapped into a a huge collection of bound portfolios  which  I inspected  with awe  at the  skill and detail of the map makers . Sadly a fire in the Victorian  extension of Pitkellony in 18991  destroyed  these and  other priceless archives – a loss for which I grieve .

The Gardens

The  picture recently  posted on Facebook  by my old  friend David Cowan showed one of the  many sun dials  that area feature of the garden layout . These gardens  are  quite unique  and date back to the early or mid 17th century when the slope  was terraced  . Later in the  third decade of  19th century the terracing was  restored  and it  was then that  the ornate features were added including balustrades , parapets and ornamental features .Below the terracing  lies the “ parterre “ or formal garden for which Drummond  is  renowned . Stretching between the Castle gate house and the mansion  house is a fancy balustrade with a number of features  whilst a  pair of pedestals  support  flat brass sundials each bearing the initials of James , Fourth Earl of Perth and with an inscription stating that they were made by John Marke of London in 1679 . An interesting feature occurs at the end of the terrace where the round arched gateways have keystones in the form of human heads  dating  back to probably the late 17th century and reputed to have been brought from a demolished church in London .

The great “ parterre “ below the terracing is still in the form  laid out circa 1828 by Charles Barry and  Lewis Kennedy  .Its dominant feature is the box hedge  saltire crossed  by various  paths and dominated  by numerous  17th or  18th century Italian urns and statues . The main feature is the  sundial  made by John Mylne Senior  in 1630 complete with coats of arms  identified as  those of John , Earl of Perth and Jean , Countess of Perth . The east end of the garden has a rubble built  bridge  dating back to about  1790 .



  1. What are your views on the deaths of the three sisters? -nick

    1. Impossible to be catagoric but I think a conspiracy theory is probable !


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