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Washington & Northern Virginia Company -- Biographies of Ancestors of Members
William Drummond

William Drummond, born in Scotland, with some education, immigrated to Virginia about 1637 as a servant indentured to a Theodore Moyes, who traded him to a very abusive master.  In time Drummond planned with a group of others in the same situation to escape, but was caught and with his fellows was tried in the Quarter court and sentenced to an additional term of service and a public lashing.

            Upon completion of his term of indentured service he became a planter and over time acquired land leasing some from, among others, Governor William Berkeley. During the ensuing decade he served as sheriff, bailiff, and sergeant-at-arms.  He acquired land in North Carolina and his daughter married a member of the Council in Virginia, Samuel Swan.

            In September 1663 Virginia’s Governor Berkeley, who was also one of the eight proprietors of the Carolina grant and the only one in the New World, received guidance from the others to set up a government in the Albemarle area.  In 1665 he published documents to manage the colony and appointed William Drummond as the first governor of the proprietary.  The nomination, which had gone to London, returned as a signed commission in January 1665.  Because he owned land in North Carolina and had excellent partners, commercial connections, and extensive credit, he was an impressive individual for the job.

            Before very much time had passed there was evidence of a clash between Drummond and Berkeley.  In 1666 Drummond filed a lawsuit against Berkeley which was heard in the Grand Assembly and finally dismissed when the body ruled that it did not have the jurisdiction over the case.  It was enough to cause Berkeley to drop Drummond as governor of the proprietary.  However, Drummond returned to Albemarle to his house on the Governor’s land and continued to rent from Berkeley.

            Early in the 1670’s Drummond took on a project to refurbish the fort at Jamestown to meet very specific goals and schedules.  Not completed when the Third Anglo-Dutch War took place, it was reported that the work to date was very poor in so far as it had been done.  At a meeting in April 1673 the council reprimanded Drummond and demanded that he complete the work as contracted.  A year later the council realized that he was still doing an inadequate job and ordered him to do over that which he had performed.  Drummond blamed Berkeley for all of this, and it was the final disappointment in the record to explain Drummond’s disaffection during Bacon’s Rebellion when he joined Bacon to become one of his principal lieutenants and eventually to fight against the Governor.

            Captured after Bacon’s death from fever and the subsequent disintegration of the rebel cause, Drummond was swiftly brought before Berkeley, remanded for trial at Middle Plantation eight miles away to which he was forced to march, tried at one thirty hours of the next day and hanged at four thirty o’clock that same afternoon.



“Sir William Berkeley and the Forging of Colonial Virginia, Warren M. Billings; Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, LA, 2004.


“The National Cyclopedia of American Biography” James T. White & Co., New York NY; 1909, Vol. X, p.395

April 2010