Edward Walford.

Tales of our great families. 2d series (Volume 1) online

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Scottish houses, his three wives having been


respectively the daughter of the Marquis of Dou-
glas, the widow of the Earl of Tullibardine, and
the daughter of the Marquis of Huntly, head of
the Ducal House of Gordon. His fidelity to the
Stuarts was not unrewarded, as he was raised
by James in 1695, to the Dukedom of Perth, a
title which was confirmed in France by Louis
XIV. on the death of James, along with the
other Dukedoms of Berwick, Fitzjames, Albe-
marle and Melfort. He died just before the
Scottish rising of 1715.

But I must pass on to another part of the
story of the Drummonds, that of the second
Duke of Perth and of his gallant Duchess. His-
tory tells us how James, fifth Earl and second
Duke of Perth, fought by the side of King James
at the Battle of the Boyne, at Limerick, and at
Londonderry, and remaining with him till all
his hopes were defeated, returned to Scotland in
1692. While his father lay a prisoner in Stir-
ling Castle, he crossed over to France, and was
made Master of the Horse to Mary of Modena,
James's Queen. Next, returning to Scotland,
we find him opposing the Union with all his
might; and, in 1715, he joined the standard of
rebellion raised by the Earl of Mar and his High-
land chieftains, and commanded the cavalry at
the Battle of Sheriffmuir. His wife was Lady


Jean Gordon, a daughter of the Duke of Gordon,
whose story I here relate.

" Both by family descent her father and her
mother being strict Roman Catholics and also
in virtue of her marriage, her Grace had imbibed
a spirit of entire devotion to the Stuart cause.
She is described, in a contemporary pamphlet,
now very scarce, as having a ' tolerable share of
beauty, and a majestic person' qualities which
certainly are more than borne out by the original
portrait of her Grace, painted by Van Vost in
1711, and still to be seen at Drummond Castle.
She has a magnificent high forehead, and pro-
minent nose and chin : a mouth expressive of
the most firm resolution ; and bro\vn eyes, a
shade or two darker than her hair. As we look
on that face, we can easily believe that her tem-
per was ' rather imperious than soft,' and that
she was as ' passionate' as ' obstinate.' We are
told that even as a child she showed some traces
of ferocity and cruelty; but, adds the writer
(who, however, is prejudiced against her, as a
' female rebel'), ' since she commenced to play
the warrior, she has given a full swing to the
natural fierceness of her disposition, and in many
cases has laid aside not only the woman, but
even humanity.'

" It appears that when the Chevalier first landed


in the Highlands, the Duke of Perth, though
wishing well to his cause, was scarcely willing to
risk a rising in his favour; but his duchess, like a
true woman, was no such half-hearted partisan.
His Grace's disposition caused her great un-
easiness ; ' she sweetened, cajoled, threatened, and
caressed him by turns. ; sometimes she was all
mildness, and would attempt to reason him into
her measures ; at other times she was all fire and
flint, and would needs form him into her terms.
And when the Duke would reply, as he did some-
times, that he would gladly make an effort if he
saw a chance of success, she called him a ' poor
pusillanimous wretch,' and taunted him in bitter
terms with the meanness of waiting to see what
other chiefs would join the Chevalier's standard.
' You wait,' she cried, ' till some great man joins
him ; another, till a third joins ; and he till you
both join. The consequence will be that you will
be so long in debating as to whether it is safe to
join or not, that you will lose the opportunity for

ever For God's sake ! if you deserve to be

Duke of Perth, exert yourself suitably to your
rank, and show by your actions that you deserve
the title you bear by daring to fight for it.' "

In this way her Grace continued to urge the
Duke till Charles Edward was within a few miles
of Castle Drummond ; and when her husband


would have gladly absented himself and washed
his hands of the affair, she vowed that she would
shut the gates against him and give him up as a
prisoner to the Prince, if he would not stir him-
self. Accordingly, he thought it best to obey his
spouse, and to wait on Charles Edward. So " he
and she went in their coach and six, and met him
about seven miles from Castle Drummond, where
he lay that night." We can easily imagine with
what zeal and politeness she exerted herself to
entertain her royal guest, while the Duke sat by
in a melancholy " brown study." Indeed so suc-
cessfully did she ply her woman's weapons of
banter, jest, and taunt, that before the Prince
left the house the Duke had plucked up a spirit,
and entered heart and soul into that brave but
mad enterprise, which was to strip him of his
princely possessions, and send him forth an exile
and a wanderer, like the prince whose failing
cause he espoused.

Next day the Duke contented himself with
escorting the Prince as far as Perth, and with
issuing a proclamation calling on his retainers to
appear under the banner of the house of Castle
Drummond within six days. But her Grace was
a much more active partisan, She was out on
horseback for three days and three nights, during
which she never slept, and theii returned to the


castle at the head of seven hundred and fifty men.
As the Duke had not come back, she set up the
family standard with her own hand, proclaimed
the Prince by the sound of bagpipes and hunting-
horns, which she was obliged to use for want of
trumpets, laid open her cellars to the multitude,
and mounting on horseback, rode at the head of
her troops to meet the Duke. The latter, who had
no idea of seeing so many men under arms, was
at first afraid, and thought that he was about to
be seized and arrested ; but the Duchess assured
him there was no ground for alarm, and that the
men at her back were her own levy. " The
change of fancied enemies into real friends," says
the pamphlet, " was very agreeable to the Duke
and his party, who, it is said, showed very little
stomach to fight, and if the joke had been carried
any further, would in all probability have showed
her Grace a pair of heels. This advantage afforded
table talk to the young Pretender's court for a
considerable time ; and the banter was carried so
far against the Duke that he was much annoyed at
it, and the Pretender was obliged to put a stop to
it by his authority.

Accompanying her husband and the Prince to
Edinburgh, the Duchess added much to the
brilliancy of his court at Holyrood. All sorts of
anecdotes are told of her wit, her presence of


mind, and readiness of resource. For instance,
just before the Battle of Prestonpans, when her
husband came to take leave of her in a desponding
mood, she quietly said, " Well, you are going to
the battle, and I to cards ; both are in the hands
of chance, and I shall be quite happy if you come
back victorious, though with the loss of a leg or
an arm ; but I really care little whether you die
on the field of honour or in my arms on a bed ;
but I would rather be the widow of a man who
had died nobly in a righteous cause, than the wife
of the greatest duke or prince on earth."

After the battle, she urged the Duke to follow
up the success which he had thus far gained, and
to push on while the enemy was panic-struck,
before the King's troops could be brought together.
But she seems to have been as cruel as she was
audacious ; for she urged her husband to put the
prisoners that were taken to the sword, and to
carry a Border castle by assault, or starve its
holders into submission. And when she could
not gain her point, it is recorded that she took a
barbarous pleasure in insulting the prisoners
whom she had in hand, and even blamed the
Prince for treating them with common humanity.

When the Highland army crossed into Eng-
land, the Duchess would not be left behind, but
attended by only a lady friend, Mrs. Murray, and


a single maid, she resolved to join in the cam-
paign, though it was winter. In the March of
that year she was up and on horseback with the
daybreak; and when Carlisle surrendered, she
strongly urged the policy of hanging all the
townsmen, because they did not open their gates
at her first summons, holding that it was a good
thing to strike terror at once. Here, as is well
known, both the Prince and her husband, not
seeing much prospect of being able to carry the
war by a coup de main, were inclined to turn
back into Scotland ; but her Grace set aside the
idea by vowing that if her husband would not
head the Drummonds, she would head them her-
self, and fight till not one remained ; adding,
with true female spite, that if he wished so much
to save his pitiful carcass, she would try to do
his part in the field, and he would not be much
missed in the cabinet I

On the return of the army northwards, we are
told that the citizens of Glasgow were made by
her to feel the full weight of her resentment, and
that it was through her that the levies and sup-
plies enforced upon that city were so exorbitant.
From this place, however, she found it necessary
to return with the Duke and a detachment to
Drummond Castle, and there she remained till
the rest of the defeated Highlanders rejoined


them. Here it would seem that, fairly brought
to bay, and irritated to madness at the failure of
her enterprise, she gave loose reins to her innate
cruelty, not only taking a barbarous pleasure in
seeing the common prisoners tortured, and in-
sulting the officers, but showing herself a terror
and scourge even to her own people. She was,
we are told, so strict a disciplinarian that she
would forgive no fault, however trifling, or neg-
lect of her wishes even in trifles.

At Cullodeu her Grace was in the rear of the
army, and it was with difficulty that she was
prevented from appearing in the front. When
the troops began to show some signs of rout, she
saw a certain lord making away at full speed.
As he passed her Grace, she cried out : " My
Lord, you mistake your way : the enemies are
behind, and you will not meet them in that
direction!" In the retreat she helped to cover
the hindmost of the fugitives, and wheeled round
several times against the light horse that were in
close pursuit. She kept with the fugitives as far
as Inverness, where, worn out with vexation and
disappointment far more than by actual fatigue,
she was forced to rest for an hour, and there
was arrested the same day, partly by force and
partly by treachery, together with some other
ladies of less note.


Long after her husband's death the Duchess
continued, though passively, to maintain the
Stuart cause in the North ; and it is recorded of
her that she had the greater part of the walls of
Drummond Castle demolished and levelled to
their foundations, in order to prevent it from
being seized and garrisoned by the Royal troops.
She remained there so says the family tradition
until she saw the work of destruction com-
pleted, when she retired to Stobhall, in Perth-
shire, and there she ended her troubled days in
peace at the age of about ninety years,

A fatality seems to have constantly followed
the holders of the Ducal title. The Duke died at
Paris in 1720, leaving two sons, James and
John, both of whom, exiles in a foreign land, in
turn assumed the coronet of barren strawberry
leaves, though under attainder, while their noble
estates were confiscated by the Crown, and
given to the Drummonds of Lundin, a younger

After John, the fourth duke, came two other
dukes, his uncles ; but they speedily followed
each other to the tomb at St. Germain, issueless,
and apparently unmarried. And in the year 1760
perished the last male descendant of the loyal
Scottish Chancellor, the earldom being dormant,
or presumed to have become extinct through the


operation of the attainder thirty-five years pre-

A distant cousin, James Drummond, of Lun-
din, bent upon reviving, if possible, the lost
but untarnished shield of the family, got himself
served at Ediburgh in 1765 heir male of the
exiled lords, and in consequence was recognised
as head and representative of the house of
Drummond. He was styled by his friends tenth
Earl of Perth, and such no doubt, he was dejure,
though the earldom was under the eclipse of the
attainder. His son and successor, James,
eleventh Earl, de jure, obtained in 1785 the
restoration of the Drummond estates by the
Court of Session and Act of Parliament, as being
" the nearest collateral heir male of Lord John
Drummond, in whom the lands had become for-
feited in 1746." His Scottish earldom, however,
was never recognised by the Crown or Parliament,
nor did he ever attempt to record his vote at
elections for Scottish representative peers. But
in 1797, he was created a peer of Great Britain
as Baron of Perth; he died, however, in 1800
without leaving a son ; and the magnificent
estates of the ancient Earls of Perth, including
Drummond Castle, passed by inheritance to his
only daughter and heir, who carried them in mar-
riage to the Lord Willoughby de Eresby.


The representation, however, of the dormant
earldom of Perth, apart from the possession of
its estates, reverted to the nearest heir male,
James Lewis, fourth Duke of Melfort in France
(great grandson of John Drummond, Earl and
Duke of Melfort.) He died, however, a few
months subsequently, when his brother, Charles
Edward Drummond, became fifth Duke of Mel-
fort in France, and de jure thirteenth Earl of
Perth in Scotland. Being a Catholic prelate,
however, he was never able to effect the restora-
tion of his dormant Scottish honours, or even to
bring his case before the House of Lords. On
his death at Rome, in 1840, the headship of the
family devolved on his nephew, George Drum-
mond, who was born in London in 1807, and for
some years held a commission in the British
Army. In 1853 his petition to that effect having
been duly presented and considered, he was re-
stored by the special command and recommenda-
tion of Her Majesty and by an Act of Parliament
passed without a dissentient voice ; and accord-
ingly he is now fourteenth Earl of Perth in the
peerage of Scotland, and sixth Duke of Melfort
in France.

This dukedom is not a sham one, like that
of the apocryphal and soi-disanl "Due de
Roussillon," but a real and substantial title,


regularly bestowed and regularly transmitted
from its first grantee, John Druinmond a grand-
son of the third Earl of Perth. Like his kinsman,
Lord Perth followed King James to St. Germain,
where on 17th April, 1692, he was raised to the
dukedom by his sovereign, and the title was
confirmed to him in France by Le Grand
Monarque. He was, however, attainted in Scot-
land by the Parliament of that kingdom in 1695,
expressly for having been seen at St. Germain.

Thus, for some six or seven generations have
the ancient and loyal Drummonds been obliged
to live as exiles from their native land, admitted
to the courts of the Tuileries and Versailles, but
banished from that of St. James's. Thus, under
the stupid and senseless penal laws of the last
century has Scottish energy, capacity, and in-
tegrity been added to the capital of France, and
deducted from that of Great Britain, the loss of
this country being precisely the gain of our
neighbours. When the Drummonds fled into
exile in 1688, Le Grand Monarque was graciously
pleased to reward them not only with titles, but
with a residence in the Royal Chateau at St.
Germain, where they lived without intermission
for a century or more ; and I believe that I am
not exceeding the liberty which has been allowed
me when I add that Lady Clementina Davies,



to whom I owe some of the intelligence contained
in these pages, was the very last person born
within the Chateau of St. Germain in October
1795, just before the necessities of the first
French Revolution drove back the Drummonds to
the shores which they had left for exile and
comparative poverty in the cause of loyalty.
Aymez loyaulte, is the motto of the Paulets,
Marquisses of Winchester; but there is no need
to write those words on the banners of the
Drummonds, for they are already engraven
upon their hearts. If not, they never will be



MY READERS no doubt will all remember
the Miss Gunnings, the Court beauties
about whom the whole fashionable world indeed,
I may say all the island from the Land's End to
John o' Groat's House ran mad some century
and a quarter ago, and one of whom a con-
temporary writer styles the " Double Duchessed,"
in allusion to her having married two dukes in
succession. Their story is somewhat strange in
its way ; but it is equalled, if not surpassed, in
romance by the tale of the births, marriages, and
ultimate fortunes of three beautiful Miss Wai-
poles, the daughters of Horace Walpole's brother
Edward by a certain "left-handed" union, the
details of which are to be seen in the " Memoirs
of Horace Walpole and his Contemporaries,"
edited in 1845 by Eliot Warburton.

L 2


Sir Robert Walpole, who was for so many
years Prime Minister under Kings George I. and
II., and who was created Earl of Orford on
retiring from public, or at all events ministerial,
life, left three sons. The eldest was Robert,
who succeeded as second earl ; the youngest was
Horace, the wit and antiquary of Strawberry
Hill ; and between them in the family tree stood
the great stateman's second son Edward, (some
time a Member of Parliament and Chief Secretary
for Ireland), who, though he never himself wore
a peer's coronet, became eventually the grand-
father of one Royal Duke and of one Royal
Princess, and the great-grandfather of at least
one Duke and one Marquis in the Peerage of
Great Britain.

Good looks were a heritage in the Walpole
family. We are told that when the great Sir
Robert Walpole was a young man about town he
was one of the handsomest of a very handsome
set ; and a full share of his good looks appear to
have passed to his son P]Jward, who was born in
or about 1710. When he was only eighteen his
appearance was so much in his favour that the
ladies in Italy and Paris with one consent gave
him the name of " the handsome Englishman.' 5
Having completed his education by going what
was known as the " Grand Tour," without which


no man of " quality" could be regarded as fit for
society, he resolved to settle down in London,
leading an easy, self-indulgent life as a bachelor,
lodging at the West-end, and belonging to half a
dozen clubs, where high play and Whig politics
prevailed. In the year 1730 he occupied first-
floor apartments over the shop of a certain tailor,
in Pall Mall, named Rennie, who, we are told,
made children's coats. As he passed daily by
the shop, in order to get to his apartments, his
notice was frequently attracted by one of the
youthful apprentices a fair girl with blue eyes
and bright Saxon complexion who worked in the
shop, cutting out patterns and sewing small
clothes. Her name was Mary Clement. Her
family, though respectable, were too reduced in
circumstances to give her any better education
than such as she could pick up in Mr. Rennie's
establishment ; but though poor, they were anxious
that she should maintain a good reputation. Mr.
Edward Walpole somehow or other contrived to
have frequent interviews with her when Rennie's
back was turned, and to give her many little
presents ; but not so secretly as to escape the
more penetrating eye of Mine. Rennie, who
rated her soundly, and even sent for her father,
in order to take her into the country out of the
way of temptation. No doubt she lectured her


pretty sharply on the great impropriety of her
receiving presents and other attentions from so
" fine" a gentleman as their lodger on the first
floor, and tried hard to convince her how much
more it would be to the advantage of " such a
girl as plain Mary Clement to become the wife of
a respectable tradesman in her own rank of life,
rather than carry on a flirtation with one so
much above her as Mr. Edward Walpole."
Somehow or other, however, Mary Clement
failed to see the matter from her mistress's point
of view, though she appeared to be ready to
listen to her disinterested advice, and even began
to make ready for her departure. Indeed, it is
said by one fussy chronicler of minute details
that she " went upstairs and began to pack up
her boxes," as apprentices and servant-girls usually
do in snch cases.

Be this, however, as it may, one thing is
certain, namely, that the next morning, when
Mr. Rennie opened his shop, there was no Mary
Clement to be seen or found ; and that as the day
wore on she never returned to her needle. It
appears that immediately on leaving Mrs. Rennie's
presence she had rushed upstairs to the apartments
of the "handsome Englishman; when" to use
the words of the biographer of the Walpoles
" he received her with open arms ; she vowed


that she would never leave him ; and she kept
her word." It is to be hoped, however, that Mr.
Walpole, when he thus " received her with open
arms," really meant only to wait for her father's
death in order to give the poor girl who had thus
thrown herself wholly on his honour, that
position of a wife to which her beauty, her
affection for him, and her then unsullied good
name, conspired to entitle her.

By Mary Clement he had five children, two
sons and three daughters ; and it is due to his
memory to add that he took every care which
the fondest of fathers could take of their education.
As children they were all remarkably handsome,
like their parents. Her first boy appears to have
died in childhood, having been probably carried
off by the measles or the small-pox, which at
that time claimed its annual tribute of victims
from every house of " the upper ten thousand ;"
but of the three girls, as they grew up to woman-
hood, a contemporary writer of gossip avows his
firm belief that, if the three Graces of the
heathen poets returned to earth, it was doubtful
whether they would be more afraid of the fair
Walpoles or of the fair Gunnings (whom I have
already mentioned) as rivals. After the birth of
her fifth child, the poor devoted Mary Clement
herself died, at the age of only four-and-twenty,


her little son soon following her to the grave.
Deep was the grief of the father of her children 5
and, although no plain gold ring had symbolised
and blessed their union, he mourned her early
death as any fond husband would have mourned
the loss of the best and most affectionate of wives.
But I must hasten on.

Mr. Edward Walpole was now not only a Mem-
ber of Parliament, but the holder of more than one
lucrative appointment under the Crown, arid his
father was in the zenith of his power as Prime
Minister. Free from all the ties which the life
of Mary Clement might have imposed upon him,
still young and handsome, and with as brilliant
prospects before him as any young man of his
day, his position would have entitled him to
think of marrying into any of the best families
in the kingdom, with whom doubtless his three
handsome daughters would not have been serious
impediments : but he never would think or talk
of marriage : his love was buried in the grave of
Mary Clement, and his only thought was for his
children. At all events, if at any time he enter-
tained any ambitious desire of elevating himself,
it was only with a view to their elevation that he
coveted the distinction. He was installed a
Knight of the Bath in 1753; and when the Duke
of Devonshire became Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland,


Sir Edward Walpole was appointed Chief
Secretary, and sworn a member of the Privy
Council. He subsequently returned to England,
and became Joint- Secretary of the Treasury a
post which no doubt he preferred to his splendid
exile in Dublin, as it brought him back to that
London life which he loved as well as did his
brother Horace.*

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Online LibraryEdward WalfordTales of our great families. 2d series (Volume 1) → online text (page 8 of 16)