William Drummond (d. 1677)

William Drummond was the governor of Albemarle County in the Province of Carolina (1664–1667) and a participant in Bacon's Rebellion (1676–1677). Sheriff of James City County, bailiff of the Quarter Court, and the sergeant-at-arms of the General Assembly, Drummond also was a large landholder, leasing acres from Virginia governor Sir William Berkeley, with whom he had a contentious relationship. As governor of Albemarle County, he unsuccessfully negotiated with Virginia and Maryland to reduce the production of tobacco, and during the Third Anglo-Dutch War (1672–1674) was arrested at least twice for doing poor work on a contract to build a fort at Jamestown. In the summer of 1676, he supported Nathaniel Bacon in his rebellion against Governor Berkeley and refused to give up even after Bacon's sudden death. He and a fellow rebel were captured in the Chickahominy Swamp and, on January 20, 1677, tried, convicted, and hanged. MORE...

 

Drummond was born in Scotland. Although the names of his parents are not known, he probably came from a mercantile family. He received an education that allowed him to engage in the tobacco trade with Virginia. Drummond arrived in the colony probably late in the 1630s and perhaps in the employment of Theodore Moyses, a James City County tobacco planter, or Stephen Webb. It is possible that more than one person named William Drummond or Drummer was in Virginia at that time, and it is not at all certain that he was the William Drummer who in October 1640 was sentenced to be whipped and to serve his employer or master an extra year for taking part in a conspiracy. Some of Drummond's contemporaries in Virginia described him as being a sober man of good reputation. Early in the 1650s he married a woman named Sarah whose maiden name is not known. They had two sons, two daughters, and at least one other child.

Drummond leased twenty-five acres of land in James City County, called the governor's land, from Sir William Berkeley in the autumn of 1648. He sued the governor in June 1666 in a dispute about the terms, but five years later the General Court granted his petition for ninety-nine-year leases on the land, and he leased an additional 200 acres there soon after that. Drummond also acquired more than 1,200 acres of land elsewhere in the county, a plantation and mills in Charles City County, and 4,750 acres in Westmoreland County, which he later abandoned. He had business dealings as far away as Boston. Drummond was probably a member of the James City County Court by 1658 when he was county sheriff, a position that also made him the bailiff of the Quarter Court and the sergeant-at-arms of the General Assembly. The 1677 inventory of his estate indicated that he then owned three slaves.

Late in 1664 Berkeley appointed Drummond the first governor of the colony on Albemarle Sound (later North Carolina). Drummond worked with the assembly to establish the new government and to settle the boundary between the county and Virginia. He acquired land there for himself, but he spent much of his time in Virginia. In July 1666 he was in Jamestown to negotiate with the governments of Virginia and Maryland for a suspension in tobacco cultivation. The plan to reduce production and thereby raise the prices planters received failed after Maryland refused to cooperate. Drummond's biggest problem as governor was the proprietors' policy of requiring people who patented land to live on it in order to retain ownership, and he complained that Berkeley and the other proprietors obstructed his work. In October 1667 Drummond yielded the office to Samuel Stephens, probably after completing a three-year appointment. (Stephens was then married to Frances Culpeper, the future wife of Governor Berkeley.)

In 1672 Drummond contracted to erect a fort at Jamestown during the Third Anglo-Dutch War, but he clashed with Berkeley over the work and was arrested at least twice for not completing the fort on schedule and for using inferior building materials. Drummond's poor performance and the danger in which it placed the colony sealed Berkeley's dislike for him. It is not recorded whether personal animosity or differences about public policy led Drummond to support Nathaniel Bacon in opposition to Berkeley during the rebellion of 1676. At the meeting of the General Assembly in June of that year, Berkeley warned the members against the influence of Drummond and of Richard Lawrence, and in August at Middle Plantation, Drummond urged Bacon's followers to depose the governor and replace him with Lieutenant Governor Sir Henry Chicheley. When Bacon's men burned Jamestown in the autumn, Drummond demonstrated his commitment by setting fire to his own house. His whereabouts during much of the rest of the rebellion are unrecorded, but men in Westmoreland County later stated that he had preserved the county's records, which were in danger of being destroyed. Deeply engaged in the rebellion, Drummond continued to resist the governor's forces for two and a half months after Bacon's death in October. Berkeley may have hated Drummond more than any other rebel and said as much as least once.

Officers and men from the warship Young Prince captured Drummond and Lawrence, hungry and cold, in the Chickahomony Swamp on January 14, 1677. Five days later when Drummond was presented to Berkeley, the angry governor reportedly greeted him with a bow and the sarcastic words, "Mr. Drumond! you are very welcome, I am more Glad to See you, than any man in Virginia, Mr. Drumond you shall be hang'd in half an hour." The next day Drummond refused a horse and walked in irons from King's Creek on the York River to Middle Plantation. There, on January 20, 1677, the governor and Council tried and convicted him of treason. William Drummond was hanged a few hours later. The place of his burial, if any, was not recorded.

Berkeley confiscated Drummond's estate, but Sarah Drummond later entered into protracted litigation and eventually recovered the property. Lake Drummond in the Dismal Swamp was probably named for William Drummond, although references to the lake by that name do not predate the middle of the eighteenth century.

Time Line

  • Autumn 1648 - William Drummond leases twenty-five acres of land in James City County, called the governor's land, from Sir William Berkeley.
  • 1658 - William Drummond is county sheriff of James City County and bailiff of the Quarter Court and the sergeant-at-arms of the General Assembly. He is probably a member of the James City County Court.
  • 1664 - Late in the year Virginia governor Sir William Berkeley appoints William Drummond the first governor of the colony on Albemarle Sound (later North Carolina). Drummond works with the assembly to establish the new government and to settle the boundary between the county and Virginia.
  • June 1666 - William Drummond sues Virginia governor Sir William Berkeley in a dispute about the terms of twenty-five acres of land in James City County that Drummond leased from the governor in 1648.
  • July 1666 - William Drummond, governor of the colony on Albemarle Sound, is in Jamestown to negotiate with the governments of Virginia and Maryland for a suspension in tobacco cultivation.
  • October 1667 - William Drummond, governor of the colony on Albemarle Sound, yields the office to Samuel Stephens, probably after completing a three-year appointment.
  • 1671 - The General Court grants William Drummond's petition for ninety-nine-year leases on twenty-five acres of land in James City County owned by Virginia governor Sir William Berkeley. Drummond leases an additional 200 acres of land there soon after.
  • 1672 - William Drummond contracts to erect a fort at Jamestown during the Third Anglo-Dutch War, but he clashes with Virginia governor Sir William Berkeley over the work and is arrested at least twice for not completing the fort on schedule and for using inferior building materials.
  • June 1676 - Virginia governor Sir William Berkeley warns members of the General Assembly against the influence of William Drummond and of Richard Lawrence, both of whom support Nathaniel Bacon against the governor during Bacon's Rebellion.
  • August 1676 - William Drummond urges the followers of Nathaniel Bacon to depose Virginia governor Sir William Berkeley and replace him with Lieutenant Governor Sir Henry Chicheley.
  • September 18–19, 1676 - When Nathaniel Bacon's forces occupy and burn Jamestown, William Drummond sets fire to his own house as a sign of support.
  • November–December 1676 - After the death of Nathaniel Bacon, William Drummond refuses to surrender and continues to resist the governor's forces.
  • January 14, 1677 - Officers and men from the warship Young Prince capture William Drummond and Richard Lawrence, holdouts from Bacon's Rebellion, hungry and cold, in the Chickahomony Swamp.
  • January 20, 1677 - Virginia governor Sir William Berkeley and the governor's Council try and convict William Drummond of treason for his participation in Bacon's Rebellion. Drummond is hanged a few hours later.
  • 1677 - An inventory of William Drummond's estate includes thousands of acres of land and three slaves.
Cite This Entry
  • APA Citation:

    Kimberly, M., & the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. William Drummond (d. 1677). (2014, November 4). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Drummond_William_d_1677.

  • MLA Citation:

    Kimberly, Maria and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. "William Drummond (d. 1677)." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 4 Nov. 2014. Web. READ_DATE.

First published: May 26, 2010 | Last modified: November 4, 2014


Contributed by Maria Kimberly and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography