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Significant Scots
Robert Hay Drummond


DRUMMOND, ROBERT HAY, archbishop of York, was the second son of George Henry, seventh earl of Kinnoul, and of lady Abigail, second daughter of Robert, earl of Oxford, lord high treasurer of Great Britain. He was born in London, 10th November, 1711. After receiving the preliminary branches of his education at Westminster school, he was removed to Oxford, and entered at Christ Church college, where he prosecuted his studies with great diligence. Having taken his degree, he accompanied his cousin-german, the duke of Leeds, on a tour to the continent. He returned to college in the year 1735, to pursue the study of divinity, and being admitted M.A. soon after, took holy orders, when he was presented, by the Oxford family, to the Rectory of Bothall in Northumberland. In the year 1737, on the recommendation of queen Caroline, he was appointed chaplain in ordinary to his majesty George II. In 1739, he assumed the name and arms of Drummond, as heir of entail of his great-grandfather, William, viscount of Strathallan; by whom the estates of Cromlin and Innerpeffry in Perthshire were settled, as a perpetual provision for the second branch of the Kinnoul family. In 1743, he attended George II. in the German campaign, and on the 7th of July preached before the king at Hanover a sermon of thanksgiving for the victory at Dettingen. On his return home, he was installed prebendary of Westminster. In 1745, he was admitted B.D. and D.D. In 1748, he was consecrated bishop of St Asaph. In this diocese he presided for thirteen years, and was accustomed to look back on the years spent there as the most delightful of his life. In the year 1753, a severe attack having been made on the political conduct of his two most intimate friends, Mr Stone and Mr Murray (afterwards the great lord Mansfield), he stood forward as their vindicator; and in an examination before the privy council made so eloquent a defence of their conduct, that the king, on reading the examination, is said to have exclaimed,—"That is indeed a man to make a friend of." In May, 1761, he was translated to the see of Salisbury, and in November following was promoted to the archiepiscopal see of York. He was soon after sworn a privy councillor, and appointed high almoner. He had the honour of preaching the coronation sermon before George III., and queen Charlotte. He died at his palace of Bishopthrope on the 10th of December, 1776, in the 66th year of his age. His conduct in the metropolitan see was most exemplary; and Mr Rostal in his history of Southwell speaks of him as being "peculiarly virtuous as a statesmen, attentive to his duties as a churchman, magnificent as an archbishop, and amiable as a man," while Robert, the late archbishop of York, says, "His worth is written in legible characters in the annals of the church, over which he presided with dignified ability and apostolic affection: in those of the state, whose honest counsellor and disinterested supporter he approved himself; and in the hearts of his surviving family and friends, who were witnesses to the extent of his information, the acuteness of his talents, the soundness of his learning, the candid generosity of his heart, and the sweet urbanity of his daily conversation." When he was promoted to the see of York, he found the palace small and unworthy of the dignity of the primate, and the parish church in a state of absolute ruin. To the palace he made many splendid additions, particularly in the private chapel; while, assisted by a few small contributions from the clergy and neighbouring gentry, he entirely rebuilt the church.

His grace married on the 31st January, 1748, the daughter and heiress of Peter Auriol, merchant, London, by whom he had seven children. Abigail, who died young and is commemorated by Mason in a well known epitaph; Robert Auriol 9th earl of Kinnoul, Thomas Peter, lieutenant-colonel of the West York militia, John commander, R.N. the reverend Edward, and the reverend George William, who was prebendary in York cathedral, and held many other livings, and who was unfortunately drowned in 1807, while on a voyage from Devonshire to the Clyde. Mr George William Drummond was the author of a volume of poems entitled, Verses Social and Domestic, Edinburgh, 1802; editor of his father’s sermons, and author of that prelate’s life prefixed to them.


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