between the British government and the Jacobite army. The battle
was an attempt by Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince
Charlie) to reclaim the English throne for his father James (The Old
Pretender). James would have become James 3rd of England &
James 8th of Scotland. As the Jacobites lined up for battle, Lord
George Murray commanded on the right, Lord John Drummond in the
centre, and the duke of Perth on the left, on the first line. The
Drummonds played a prominent part in the battle. There is plenty of
background reading available in public libraries and online to fully
read the politics leading up to this battle.
It is important to mention the results of this battle and the actions
of time taken for James Drummond and his descendants to re-claim
their lands and titles. The clan chiefs who had fought for Prince
Charles Stuart were attainted for treason and their lands were
declared forfeit to the crown. Some of them were executed by
beheading. Any remaining rebel chiefs would be in fear of their lives
and needed to flee the country as soon as possible including Prince
Charles Stuart and James and John Drummond.
After the battle, James was reported to have died onboard ship on
the theory that James was badly injured in the battle, looked after by
a local doctor then hidden for a while until he was well enough to
travel. This is the point where accounts begin to differ. The historical
version states that James died onboard ship on his way to France
with his brother John. It has been suggested that the ship docked at
South Shields and James went ashore and made his way to South
Biddick. James was impelled to let the rumours about his death at
sea remain as he was attainted under penalty of Treason which
carried the death sentence.
The annexation was lifted in 1784, two
Thomas Drummonds ' legal action to reclaim the lands and titles
During the court case which James' grandson Thomas brought, to
reached South Biddick in Washington. Thomas' legal team produced
a deposition giving the evidence to prove that his grandfather James
Drummond who had escaped Scotland after the Battle in 1746 and
In the deposition it was stated that James fled to England by ship and
landed at South Shields, County Durham. He travelled to Sunderland
and then on to Biddick near the river Wear. It seems that Biddick was
chosen as James would be afforded shelter and security due to the
nature of the village. Biddick was described in the deposition as
'being inhabited by banditti who set all form of authority at defiance.'
James was given refuge at Biddick by a coal miner John Armstrong.
John had a reputable character and could have hidden James down
a deep mine if it was needed until danger from the authorities had
Eventually, James married John Armstrong's daughter
moved into a boathouse. The boathouse, provided by Nicholas
Lambton, was supplied with a ferryboat which could be used to make
an income. Nicholas Lambton was a local gentleman "of large fortune
and possessions" according to the evidence in the deposition.
According to two of James' daughters - Mrs. Ann Atkinson and Mrs.
Elizabeth Peters, Nicholas Lambton was aware of James' true
identity. James and Elizabeth went on to have seven children. The
eldest son, James, followed in his maternal grandfathers footsteps
and became a coalminer: this James was content with his life and
had no desire to claim his fathers' lands and titles. James
Drummond's second son, William, was a seaman who eventually was
master of a ship which he partly owned. William was said to be
intelligent, active and worthy man and he decided to try and reclaim
his father's title and estates in 1784 after the annexation was lifted
and two years after James Drummond, 6th Earl had died.
Unfortunately, William's ship was attacked and sunk and everyone on
board was killed including William. Vital Drummond family papers
which William had gathered for making search and instituting an
inquiry as to how far the heirs of James Drummond were entitled to
the Perth Estates, were also lost. Further family papers were lost
from the boat house (also known as Girdle Cake cottage because of
the business Elizabeth had set up, selling girdle cakes from the
boathouse) in some great floods which occurred in 1771. The house
was flooded and ruined and they lost a box containing more of their
family papers and valuables. Among the papers was a document - a
"Ducal Patent of Nobility". James was said to have scoured the
riverbanks frequently after the floods subsided in search of the box
and papers. It is believed that the "Ducal Patent of Nobility" which he
told his family, was vital in reclaiming his estates, was the original
Royal Patent granted by King James 2nd, at St. Germains, in France,
to James Drummond Fourth Earl of Perth, and his heirs male,
creating him "DUKE OF PERTH".
who had died in 1823. In 1826, Thomas began his legal action to be
declared the heir to the Perth lands. James Drummonds' daughters
Elizabeth Peters and Ann Atkinson were instrumental in encouraging
The document mentions the existence of a letter to James
letter urged James to come to France where he would be in less
danger. The letter also mentions the rumours that James died
onboard ship. The existence of this letter means that Lord John knew
that his brother had not died on the ship, but that he was alive and
The document mentions the loss of papers in the flood and from
William Drummonds ship, the support of the Lambton family and the
evidence of Ann Atkinson and Eizabeth Peters who could relate the
story as their father, James had given it to them. The document
mentions James Drummonds' journeys back to Perth in disguise and
the fact that he was recognised by several people mainly the tenants.
Thomas Drummond's petition was presented to King George 4th on
was then referred to the House of Peers on
15th April 1830 then on to the Lords Committee of Privileges. There
seems to be no report back from this action.
The petition was presented again on 12th February 1831 by Lord
22nd February and the Committee for Privileges was ordered to
consider the claim on 5th May. On 25th May, the petition was sent to
the Canongate Courthouse in Edinburgh. On 20th June 1831,
Thomas Drummond was served Nearest and Lawful Heir to his
deceased Great Uncle, Lord Edward Drummond, 1st Duke of Perth.
Without funds, the claim was delayed, but the claim was brought
witness support, the claim was found proven before 15 Edinburgh
men and Thomas was proved to be Nearest and Lawful Heir once
On 5th of March, a summons was issued in the Edinburgh Court of
Session for restoration of the Perth estates. Further letters between
the lawyers of Thomas, the pursuer and the defenders went back and
forth. By mid November the revised answers were ready and Lord
The debate was over by 22nd January 1835 and Lord Cockburn gave
his verdict on 27th January. The decision to restore the titles and
estates had gone against Thomas Drummond.
The main reason that Thomas lost the case was that of 'Prescription'.
As the defenders had been in possession of the estates for 50 years,
they had a strong case to stay there. Lord Cockburn stated in his
findings that others with stronger cases than Thomas's had been
repelled because of Prescription. Thomas Drummond was the rightful
heir to the Earldom of Perth but the family had simply left it too late to
make a claim.
I have copies of documentary evidence in the form of birth certificates
James Drummond of Biddick. Thomas Drummond, William Waite's
great grandfather was, in 1832, declared heir male to his deceased
Great Uncle, Lord Edward Drummond, 1st Duke of Perth. The
documents which I have and the legal decree stating that Thomas
Drummond is descended from James Drummond, Earl of Perth
combine to prove the link between James Drummond, 3rd Earl of
Perth and my grandfather William Waite.