HOME DRUMMOND, Henry (1783-1867), of Blair Drummond, Perth and 22 Fludyer Street, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



24 May 1821 - 1831
9 Mar. 1840 - 1852

Family and Education

b. 28 July 1783, 1st s. of George Home Drummond of Blair Drummond and Janet, da. of Rev. John Jardine, DD. educ. Edinburgh h.s.;1 Corpus, Oxf. 1802; adv. 1808. m. 14 Apr. 1812, Christian, da. of Charles Moray of Abercairny, Perth, 2s. 1da. d.v.p. suc. fa. 1819. d. 12 Sept. 1867.

Offices Held

Adv. depute 1812.


Home Drummond, whose grandfather Henry Home had been a ‘well known judge in the court of session’ in the eighteenth century, sitting as Lord Kames, became an advocate depute in 1812 and ‘gained ... rather an unenviable notoriety’ for his part in the treason trials of Scottish radicals between 1817 and 1820.2 In 1820 he agreed to contest the Haddington Burghs as a supporter of Lord Liverpool’s ministry, after overcoming doubts that ‘his going into Parliament would be considered as quitting the bar’, but was defeated.3 He was returned for Stirlingshire at a by-election in May 1821, ahead of another ministerialist candidate backed by the 3rd duke of Montrose, thanks to support from a coalition of Tories dissatisfied with the duke’s leadership and Whigs keen to strike a blow at his authority.4

He was a regular attender who gave general but independent support to ministers. He served on committees, usually dealing with Scottish matters, in most sessions. He divided against omitting the arrears from the duke of Clarence’s grant, 18 June 1821. Later that year it was reported that he would ‘probably be lord advocate’ and have to seek re-election, in which case the Stirlingshire Whigs would ‘not vote for him’; nothing came of this.5 He voted against abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 13 Mar., and repeal of the salt duty, 28 June 1822. He said it was a ‘great honour’ to present the Edinburgh dean and faculty of advocates’ petition against the proposed permanent residence requirement for sheriffs, 29 Mar. He argued that the method envisaged was ‘improper’, as the financial inducements held out to sheriffs would destroy their independence, and ‘inexpedient’, as the residence requirement would conflict with their ability to continue in legal practice. The recent disturbances in Glasgow offered no justification, as it was impossible to ‘legislate for such emergencies’. He secured the omission of a clause in the Scottish burghs accounts bill relating to exchequer proceedings against corrupt magistrates, so that this might be enacted separately, 17 June. He supported Kennedy’s Scottish juries bill, 20 June, and declared that ‘giving the right of challenge to persons placed upon trial ... would be a substantial benefit’, 28 June. However, he ‘did not like’ the proposed alternative to the present unsatisfactory system of appointing juries and suggested that ‘special juries, like those in England, might advantageously be introduced’.6 He divided against inquiry into the lord advocate’s conduct towards the Scottish press, 25 June. He presented Perthshire petitions for relief from agricultural distress, 22, 29 Apr., and one from the Stirlingshire county meeting for removal of restrictions on the export of Scotch whisky, 21 May.7 He presented, without comment, petitions from the synod of Perth and Stirling and the inhabitants of Denny against the Catholic peers bill, 30 Apr.8 He voted against inquiry into Irish tithes, 19 June 1822. He was granted one month’s leave on account of illness, 24 Feb. 1823. He divided against repeal of the Foreign Enlistment Act, 16 Apr. He denied that the Edinburgh petition for reform of its parliamentary representation ‘expressed the sense of the population’, 5 May, and voted against Hamilton’s motion, 2 June. He was ‘favourable to the principle’ of Kennedy’s Scottish transference of securities bill, to avoid heavy stamp duties, 4 June, but was ‘afraid it could not be carried through in its present shape’.9 He had ‘never heard a more singular attack’ than Abercromby’s against the lord advocate for his conduct in the Borthwick case, 8 June, and defended his chief from the ‘grave accusation’ of having ‘not performed all the numerous duties of his office in person’. He maintained that Borthwick had shown ‘bad faith ... throughout’ and that the ‘whole transaction’ had been a ‘disgrace to all the parties concerned’. He divided against the Scottish juries bill, 20 June 1823. He hoped that petitions against the Scottish salmon fisheries bill, to prevent the rapid depletion of stocks in the Tay, would not impede its progress, 11 Mar. 1824.10 He expressed his ‘most determined hostility’ to the Scottish poor law amendment bill, 7 May, and condemned its ‘sweeping’ provisions, 26 May.11 He was a minority teller against recommitting the Scottish juries bill, 24 May, and explained that he agreed with its principle but had detailed objections, 28 May. The nomination of juries by judges was ‘objectionable in theory’, but he feared that the bill would ‘lead to inextricable difficulties and great embarrassment in practice’, aggravating the obstruction of court proceedings by ‘technical niceties’. He ‘joined in the entreaty for postponement’ of the sale of beer bill and presented a hostile petition from Stirling, 17 May.12 He pointed out ‘one small defect’ in Martin’s horses slaughtering bill, which specified no penalty for ignoring the proposed regulations, 4 June 1824.13 In letters at this time to the home secretary, Peel, he was anxious to ensure that Scottish church patronage was distributed in such a way as to be acceptable to all religious parties.14

He voted with the minority for the usury laws repeal bill, 17 Feb. 1825. He divided for the Irish unlawful societies bill, 25 Feb., and Catholic relief, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May. He introduced the Scottish debt recovery bill, to simplify proceedings in sheriffs’ courts, 9 Mar.;15 it gained royal assent, 20 May (6 Geo. IV, c. 24). He presented a petition from proprietors on the Rivers Dee and Don against the salmon fisheries bill and questioned whether its provisions could be ‘equally applicable to all localities’, 19 May.16 He was a minority teller for the Edinburgh and Leith water bill at the report stage, 3 June. He gave ‘cordial support’ to the government’s plan for a ‘reasonable addition’ to judges’ salaries, 16 May. He voted for the financial provision for the duke of Cumberland, 30 May, 6 June 1825. He doubted whether the promissory notes bill would force one pound notes out of circulation, 27 Feb. 1826, and pointed to the experience in Scotland, where the ‘facility with which debts could be recovered ... contributed to maintain the credit of bankers’ notes’. He was convinced that Scottish public opinion had ‘never been ... so unanimous’ as it was against any alteration to the country’s banking system, 14 Mar. When recommending an inquiry, 16 Mar., he disclaimed ‘all feelings of jealousy of English influence or ... interference’, recalling ‘what Scotland was before the Union, distracted and impoverished by civil broils and dissensions, and borne down by oppression of every form and degree’, and he acknowledged the ‘long catalogue of benefits and blessings’ arising from the connection with England and expressed ‘unmingled gratitude and respect for the wisdom and ... bounty of the British Parliament’. He thought it was ‘uncandid’ to criticize the Bank of England for the forgery of its notes, 21 Mar., observing that this resulted from the extent of their circulation, not from inferior production. He warned that under the Bank charter amendment bill it would be impossible for Scottish banks to draw bills on London and have them discounted as often as was necessary, 14 Apr. He introduced the Scottish assault and battery bill, to repeal statutes from the Scottish Parliament that had been ‘found of great prejudice to the ends of justice’, 8 Mar.;17 it gained royal assent, 11 Apr. (7 Geo. IV, c. 19). He divided against reform of Edinburgh’s representation, 13 Apr. He voted against the motion condemning the Jamaican slave trials, 2 Mar., and reduction of the salary of the president of the board of trade, 10 Apr. He divided with the minority to grant counsel to persons charged with felony, 25 Apr. According to Charles Tennyson’s* list he voted against the spring guns bill, 27 Apr. 1826, despite having ‘professed himself friendly’ to it and secured the exemption of Scotland, where he maintained ‘the law already stood right’.18 At the general election that summer he was returned unopposed for Stirlingshire. He acknowledged the ‘peculiar situation’ in which he was placed, receiving support from ‘both ... political parties’, and promised to pursue an ‘honest and independent course’. He predicted that the corn laws would ‘not long remain on their present footing’, as they ‘broke down’ whenever ‘a great rise of prices took place ... though not without much angry and factious discussion’. In order to ‘avoid ruinous fluctuations ... give people bread and the agriculturists their profit at a more ... certain rate’, he favoured substituting a ‘steady and efficient system of protection for the present wavering and impracticable attempt at prohibition’, but would always ‘err on ... the safe side’ in fixing the level of duty. Alluding to the Catholic question, he considered it ‘sound policy ... not ... to live in times that had gone by’ and, while he ‘spoke from no love of change’, his awareness of ‘the progress of the human mind’ and desire to ‘transmit unimpaired to posterity the blessings of the British constitution’ made him ‘anxious to prepare ... for the changes that time and circumstances imperiously require’.19

He presented a Stirling cotton spinners’ petition for assistance to emigrate, 16 Feb. 1827.20 He divided for Catholic relief, 6 Mar., and the Clarence annuity bill, 16 Mar. He argued that in fixing the corn averages data should be included from ‘the maritime ports’ and ‘England generally’, 19 Mar., and complained that ‘the average price of corn in Scotland ... was also omitted’.21 He warned that many interested parties would regard the Scottish salmon fisheries bill as a ‘mere attempt’ to transfer money from ‘the pockets of one set of proprietors ... to ... another set’, 22 Mar., and presented hostile petitions, 10 May.22 He voted for the spring guns bill, 23 Mar., but secured an amendment stating that its provisions should be ‘taken ... in addition and without prejudice to the common law of Scotland, which shall remain’, 26 Mar.23 He introduced the Scottish fraudulent bankrupts bill, to regulate their prosecution, 3 Apr.; it gained royal assent, 28 May (7 & 8 Geo. IV, c. 20). He also introduced the Scottish parochial settlements bill, to extend the period of residence required, 3 Apr.; it did not get through committee. He was a majority teller for an amendment to the Ayrshire roads bill, 21 May 1827. In January 1828 it was suggested to Huskisson, colonial secretary in Lord Goderich’s coalition ministry, that Home Drummond’s ‘early and immediate attendance at the commencement of the session ... would have a good effect’ among his countrymen, if he took a ‘decided line’, as he was ‘possessed of ample estates and above the suspicion of having selfish views’.24 Next month Herries, master of the mint in the duke of Wellington’s government, recommended him for the finance committee ‘as the representative of Scotland’, adding that ‘he is a discreet man and can I think be depended upon’; he was duly appointed, 15 Feb.25 He divided against repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb.,26 but for Catholic relief, 12 May. He endorsed Graham’s Scottish vagrants bill, which would ‘more equally distribute the burden ... attached to particular places’, 19 Feb., and maintained that Scotland ‘had a right to complain of her greater liabilities to the support ... of the paupers of all three kingdoms’. He reintroduced the Scottish parochial settlements bill, 28 Feb., which passed the Commons but did not reach the Lords. He ‘approved entirely’ of the Scottish justiciary court bill, to establish an additional circuit court at Glasgow, 11 Mar., as he ‘feared immorality was increasing’, partly because of the influx of Irish immigrants. He welcomed the removal of a clause giving sheriffs the power to transport convicts, which was best left to judges, but added that ‘as some little doubt seemed still to lurk in the mind of the lord advocate’ on this point, he must warn that he would ‘decidedly ... oppose such a measure at any time it might be brought forward’. On 15 May he unsuccessfully suggested that the bill be postponed to allow time for consideration at county meetings, since it gave powers of taxation to justices. He introduced the Scottish alehouses licensing bill, to regulate the granting of certificates by justices, 18 Mar., stating that it was ‘similar’ to the measure proposed for England. He explained that his object was to prevent abuses by ‘giving publicity and regularity to the proceedings of the justices’, 4 June; the bill gained royal assent, 15 July (9 Geo. IV, c. 58). He introduced the Scottish salmon fisheries bill, to preserve stocks by applying a uniform close season except in the Rivers Tweed and Solway, 28 Mar. He successfully resisted the exclusion of the River Thurso, ‘an attempt to secure a private end at the expense of a public good’, 23 June, but consideration of the Lords’ amendments was postponed, 10 July. He thought that Dawson’s revenue barristers bill would be ‘of no advantage to Scotland’, 2 Apr., as it gave English barristers ‘a privilege in the Scotch courts which Scotch barristers will not possess in those of England’. He promised to give ‘every assistance’ to Littleton’s turnpike trusts bill, 15 Apr., observing that ‘no part of the country suffers more from the existing system than Scotland does’. He approved of the lord advocate’s course on the Scottish gaols bill, 20 June. He voted against condemning delays in chancery, 24 Apr., and for the usury laws amendment bill, 19 June 1828. A recent historian has identified Home Drummond as one of those Members who apparently acted as an ‘unofficial minister’, in promoting legislation.27

In January 1829 Planta, the patronage secretary, mentioned Home Drummond as a possible mover or seconder of the address.28 Next month he listed him as being ‘with government’ for Catholic emancipation, and he duly voted for the measure, 6, 30 Mar. He looked ‘with pride and satisfaction as a Scotchman’ at the favourable Edinburgh petition, 26 Mar., which represented the view of ‘persons of education ... capable of forming a judgement’, although he regretted that ‘a vast number of the lower orders have been instigated by the clergy and by their landlords to sign anti-Catholic petitions’. He introduced the Scottish small debts recovery bill, to make legal proceedings cheaper, 3 Mar.; it gained royal assent, 19 June (10 Geo. IV, c. 55). He introduced the Scottish seisins bill, to amend the procedure for registering landed propriety, which was ‘highly important to the mass of proprietors in burghs’, 31 Mar.; it gained royal assent, 14 May (10 Geo. IV, c. 19). He ‘despaired’ of seeing the Scottish gaols bill come out of committee ‘in a satisfactory shape’, given the opposition to it, 5 May. He wanted the House to express an opinion on the Church of Scotland petition for the recovery of its records from Sion College, 20 May, as he believed ‘public opinion will compel the fellows ... to perform the act of justice required of them’. He feared that an immediate increase in judges’ salaries might ‘throw a dangerous impediment in the way of the proposed improvements in the administration of justice in Scotland’, 21 May, pointing out that it remained unclear what their future duties would be. He personally favoured abolishing the admiralty and commissary courts. He opposed an amendment to the anatomy regulation bill for a uniform penalty, 15 May 1829, maintaining that body-stealing was ‘of all offences ... [the one] most liable to be varied by circumstances’, depending on whether the accused was a scientist or a resurrectionist. He divided against the enfranchisement of Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb., and the Galway franchise bill, 25 May 1830. He thought it was ‘due to the dignity of ... our proceedings’ that the evidence given before the committee on Lord Ellenborough’s divorce bill should be printed, 1 Apr. That day he promised to ‘give ... all the support in my power’ to the Scottish judicature bill, although he disagreed with some of its details, wishing to separate the financial and judicial functions of the exchequer court and favouring the payment of fees rather than of salaries to court officials, to ensure ‘prompt and proper discharge of duty’. He hoped ‘the time is not far distant when an attempt will be made to remove those defects in the Scotch law which are not only an incumbrance to it, but also a serious source of unnecessary expense to ... suitors’, 30 Apr. He said he would not press his own reform scheme, which raised ‘complicated questions of compensation’ and was best dealt with by government. He made several detailed suggestions for improving the court of session bill, 18 June. He expressed ‘satisfaction’, 8 Apr., that the sale of beer bill would not apply to Scotland, where the ‘monopoly which forms the most objectionable feature in the manufacture ... in England’ did not exist. He presented and ‘entirely concurred’ in the Stirlingshire and Clackmannanshire petitions against the proposed increase in the corn spirit duty, 11 May. He was a minority teller for the Perth navigation bill, 28 May. That day he defended the conduct of the committee on the Clyde navigation bill from complaints made by the provost of Dumbarton, who he suggested had personal financial motives, and said that it was the committee’s unanimous wish that ‘the responsibility of a decision in this case might rest anywhere but with them’. He moved that the bill be recommitted so that further evidence could be gathered, following the report of the committee of appeal, but was persuaded to withdraw, 10 June. He voted against abolition of the death penalty for forgery, 7 June 1830. He was again returned unopposed for Stirlingshire at the general election that summer, after observing that his earlier advice to ‘prepare for those innovations and improvements’ which ‘necessarily flow from the general diffusion of wealth, the rapid progress of knowledge, the increase of population and the consequent changes of manners and opinions’, had been vindicated. He was convinced that ‘the British constitution is [no] less firmly rooted in the hearts of the people’ since the concession of Catholic emancipation. He urged those opposed to all reform to ‘mark well the great moral and political lesson which the striking events ... now passing before our eyes’ in France, a ‘nation ... whose liberties have been trampled upon’, taught ‘all nations and their governments’. There was ‘no fear of revolution’ in Britain, thanks to Wellington’s willingness to ‘cautiously and gradually ... admit such changes as would any longer be more dangerous to reject than to adopt’, and he expressed general confidence in the duke’s government, although he had opposed some of its measures ‘without scruple’ if ‘not without great reluctance’. He complained of being ‘misrepresented’ with regard to his Alehouses Licensing Act, which had been ‘described as arming the justices with new and oppressive powers’, when in fact the aim had been ‘decidedly to impose restraints upon them and ... prevent the abuse of authority previously unlimited’; he blamed the increase of crime on cheap whisky.29

The ministry regarded him as one of their ‘friends’, and he voted with them in the crucial civil list division, 15 Nov. 1830; he was named to the resulting select committee. He said he had voted on an earlier occasion to postpone the election ballots, but could not agree to further delay, 23 Nov. He presented a Stirling anti-slavery petition, 6 Dec. 1830, and concurred with it that ‘abolition should be cautious and gradual’ and carried out with ‘due regard’ to the rights of the slave owners. He joined a deputation of Scottish Members to the chancellor of the exchequer, Lord Althorp, 5 Mar. 1831, to oppose the planned tax on steam vessels.30 He divided against the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 22 Mar., and demanded that the House be given ‘more accurate data’ before reaching a final decision on the measure, 25 Mar. He asserted, 28 Mar., that a hostile petition from the Anstruther Burghs emanated not from ‘close corporations’ but from ‘the inhabitants at large’, who were being ‘most unjustly treated’ by the threat of disfranchisement. He argued that the electors were ‘chosen out of a large population so that, in fact, the inhabitants themselves are electors’. Despite his opposition to reform, he told the chairman of a meeting at Grangemouth that he was willing to support an amendment to the Scottish bill to add Grangemouth and other towns to the Linlithgow Burghs.31 He voted for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. At the ensuing dissolution he retired rather than face a contest against his former ally, Charles Elphinstone Fleeming, a reformer to whom he felt ‘so much indebted for being placed during the last three Parliaments’. He maintained in his address that ‘under any other circumstances’ he would have stood again, to resist the government’s ‘dangerous and ill-digested innovations’.32

Home Drummond wrote from Perthshire to a friend, 6 Oct. 1831:

It is not easy ... at a distance ... to speculate on the best form of resistance to revolution. But ever since I heard Lord John’s [Russell’s] expose, I have thought effectual resistance impossible, though I am very far from seeing in that any argument for concessions, such as the ministerial plan involves, which seem to me only calculated to hasten the catastrophe.33

He was returned for Perthshire in 1840 and sat as a ‘Conservative of the Peel school’, who supported repeal of the corn laws and was ‘an ardent friend to agricultural improvement’, until his retirement in 1852.34 He died in September 1867 and was succeeded in turn by his elder son, George Stirling Home Drummond (1813-76), and his other son, Charles Stirling Home Drummond Moray (1816-91).

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Terry Jenkins


  • 1. Gent. Mag. (1867), ii. 548
  • 2. Ibid; P. Ellis and S. Mac a’ Ghobhainn, Scottish Insurrection of 1820, pp. 111, 223, 233, 238, 246.
  • 3. NLS mss 11, f. 24; NAS GD51/1/198/9/31.
  • 4. Glasgow Herald, 25 May 1821.
  • 5. Macleod of Macleod mss 1056/4, Macleod to wife, 28 Dec. 1821.
  • 6. The Times, 21, 29 June 1822.
  • 7. Ibid. 23, 30 Apr., 22 May 1822.
  • 8. Ibid. 1 May 1822.
  • 9. Ibid. 5 June 1823.
  • 10. Ibid. 12 Mar. 1824.
  • 11. Ibid. 8, 27 May 1824.
  • 12. Ibid. 18 May 1824.
  • 13. Ibid. 5 June 1824.
  • 14. Add. 40364, f. 147; 40366, f. 17; Parker, Graham, i. 386.
  • 15. The Times, 10 Mar. 1825.
  • 16. Ibid. 20 May 1825.
  • 17. Ibid. 9 Mar. 1826.
  • 18. Norf. RO, Gunton mss 1/21, Tennyson’s list.
  • 19. Greenock Advertiser, 4 July 1826.
  • 20. The Times, 17 Feb. 1827.
  • 21. Ibid. 20 Mar. 1827.
  • 22. Ibid. 11 May 1827.
  • 23. Ibid. 27 Mar. 1827.
  • 24. Add. 38754, f. 20.
  • 25. Add. 40395, ff. 219-21.
  • 26. The Times, 29 Feb. 1828.
  • 27. P. Jupp, British Politics on Eve of Reform, 177.
  • 28. Add. 40398, ff. 86-87.
  • 29. Stirling Jnl. 20 Aug. 1830.
  • 30. Glasgow Herald, 11 Mar. 1831.
  • 31. Stirling Jnl. 15 Apr. 1831.
  • 32. Ibid. 29 Apr., 13 May 1831.
  • 33. Glasgow City Archives, Campbell of Succoth mss TD 219/11/62.
  • 34. Gent. Mag. (1867), ii. 548.