Robert Drummond of Carnock

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Sir Robert Drummond of Carnock (died 1592) was Master of Work to the Crown of Scotland from 1579 to 1583. This was the responsibility for building and repair of palaces and castles. His appointment was made to be "as Sir James Hamilton of Finnart had it."[1]


Robert Drummond was the eldest son of Alexander Drummond, of Carnock and Arnmore (Ermore), and Marjory Bruce of Auchinbowie. Arnmore is a location at Kippen, Stirlingshire, neighbouring Broich, the home of William Schaw. Carnock is to the east of Stirling. Alexander Drummond had been a supporter of the Earl of Angus and went with him to exile to England in 1529.

Robert's first wife, Agnes (or Margaret), was a sister of Sir William Kirkcaldy of Grange. With Robert's permission, Agnes Kirkcaldy sold a tenement in Dysart called the "Slate House" in 1540.[2] Agnes's sister Elizabeth married John Mowbray grandson of Robert Barton of Over Barnton.[3] Some time after 1542, Robert married Marjorie Elphinstone, the sister of his neighbour Lord Elphinstone.[4] In 1553 the affairs of Lord Elphinstone were put in the hands Lord Erskine, John Drummond of Innerpeffray, and Robert Drummond of Carnock.[5] He was knighted as a supporter of Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, in 1565, and had fought for Darnley's father, Matthew Stewart, 4th Earl of Lennox, against Regent Arran at Glasgow Muir in 1544.[6]

"Dominus Drummond", as he is referred to in the annals of Dunfermline, is said to have been responsible for the repairs to Dunfermline Abbey in 1570.[7] Robert was appointed master of work on 6 May 1579.[8] As an architect his significance lies in the inventory of repairs for royal palaces of 7 May 1583 with its appreciation of the landscape around Stirling Castle. Drummond hoped to build a gallery and roof terrace on the west quarter of the palace to appreciate the views. He also intended to re-site the royal chapel. In the words of his estimate:

"The westquarter ... off the said paleys is the best and maist plesand situatioune off ony of his hienes palayes by ressone it will have the maist plesand sycht of all the foure airthis (directions), in speciall park and gairdin, deer thairin, up the riverais of Forthe, Teyth, Allone, and Guddy to Lochlomwnd, ane sycht rownd about in all pairtis and downe to the revear of Forthe quhair thar standis many greit stane howssis"[9]

Drummond did not have an opportunity to carry out these works. His successor William Schaw rebuilt the chapel in 1594. Drummonds only certain works are repairs and alterations to roof and parapet at Doune Castle and some repairs at Stirling.[10]

Drummond's own house at Carnock was demolished in 1941. It had an interesting plan with two staircases. The armorial panel of 1548 with his coat of arms and that of Marjorie Elphinstone can be seen at Sissinghurst Castle Garden, painted ceiling boards and the front door of the house are displayed at Stirling Smith Museum and Art Gallery.[11] Midhope Castle belonged to his brother Alexander. Another brother Charles was Povost of Linlithgow.

In 1582 Robert's son Patrick Drummond of Monzie feuar of Carnock, was involved in the Ruthven Raid and went into exile in England.[12] Robert's son-in-law Adam Erskine, Commendator of Cambuskenneth, was a leader of the Gowrie regime. These connections may have led to Robert's replacement as royal master of work by William Schaw before November 1583, after the fall of the Gowrie Regime.[13] His inventory of repairs of May 1583 makes provision for Mary, Queen of Scots or the potential bride of James VI at Stirling Castle: "oure Queeyne withe hir tryne of ladyis may pas forthe off this new devissit work into the said chappell loft".[14] The estimate demonstrates Drummond's involvement with the Ruthven regime and, perhaps, its cynical negotiation with Queen Elizabeth I for the conjoint 'associated rule' of Mary and James VI in the Spring of 1583. The fictional double portrait of Mary and James of 1583 was made for this negotiation.[15]

Robert was witness at the christening in Stirling on 19 October 1589 of Mr William Drummond and Christine Brodie's daughter Janet.[16]


The poet Alexander Montgomerie who flourished at the court of James VI in the same years as Drummond wrote an epitaph to the architect. The poem specaks of Robert Drummond as a leader in building and planting in Scotland.

All buildings brave bids DROMMOND nou adeu;
Quhais lyf furthsheu he lude thame by the laiv.
Quhair sall we craiv sik policie to haiv?
Quha with him straiv to polish, build or plante?
These giftis I grant god lent him by the Laiv[17]
All buildings brave bid Drummond now adieu,
Whose life demonstrated he loved them more than any other.
Where now shall we seek building and estate improvement?
Who with him strive to adorn, build or plant?
These gifts, I grant, God lent him more than any other.

In Scottish folklore, Drummond's second wife Marjorie Elphinstone has been identified as the subject of the story of the "Lady with the Ring". After the death of his grandson in 1636, Carnock was sold to the Nicolson family who became Barons of Carnock.


Robert's children included:

  • Margaret Drummond, daughter of Agnes Kirkcaldy, married Alexander Erskine, Commendator of Cambuskenneth, her daughter Annabella married Sir John Buchanan of that Ilk.
  • Patrick Drummond of Monzie, feuar of Carnock, royal master stabler, married Margaret Scott heiress of Monzie, his son Alexander inherited Carnock and married Elizabeth Hepburn, his son Alexander (d.1645) married Margaret Rollo, and was killed at the battle of Alford.[18]
  • John Drummond of Slipperfield and Hawthornden, royal usher, who married Susanna Fowler, and was father of the poet William Drummond of Hawthornden.
  • William Drummond, a student at St Andrews with disputed appointment as Canon of Alloway in 1571.[19]
  • Edward Drummond, son of Marjorie Elphinstone.
  • Agnes Drummond, married James Lockhart, younger of Lee.


  • Drummond of Carnock, accessed 9 June 2007.
  1. ^ Register of the Privy Seal: HM Paton ed., Accounts of the Masters of Work, HMSO (1957), introduction.
  2. ^ Muir, William,. ed., Notices of the Local Records of Dysart, Maitland Club (1853), 6.
  3. ^ J. Grant, Memoirs and adventures of Sir William Kirkcaldy of Grange, p.366.
  4. ^ The Scottish Antiquary, or, Northern Notes and Queries, vol. 10, no. 39, (Edinburgh, 1896), 99-100, gives abbreviated family tree.
  5. ^ Register of Privy Council of Scotland, vol.1 (Edinburgh, 1877), 140.
  6. ^ Calendar State Papers Scotland: Register Privy Seal
  7. ^ Annals of Dunfermline 1501 - 1601 accessed 9 June 2007
  8. ^ R. S. Mylne, Master Masons to the Crown of Scotland, (1893), 54.
  9. ^ Accounts of the Masters of Work, vol.1, (Edinburgh, 1957), 310-314, slightly modernised here.
  10. ^ W. Fraser, The Red Book of Menteith, vol. 2, (1880), 419-421: Mylne, Rev. RS., Master Masons, (Edimburgh, 1893), 60
  11. ^ Carnock House is described; MacGibbon & Ross,(1887), ii, 490-496; RCAHMS Stirlingshire vol. 2 (1963), 380-1
  12. ^ Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, vol.3 (Edinburgh, 1880), 648.
  13. ^ For Drummond's last payment as master of work and Schaw's first payment 1583 see NAS E22/6 f97r, f133v
  14. ^ Accounts of the Masters of Work, vol.1, (Edinburgh, 1957), 311.
  15. ^ James Kirk in Scotland Revisited, ed. Jenny Wormald, (1985).
  16. ^ The Scottish Antiquary: or Northern Notes & Queries, vol.8, no.29 (1893), 36
  17. ^ D. J. Parkinson, Alexander Montgomeie, Poems, vol. 1 (2000), 99: Aonghus MacKechnie, 'Sir David Cunningham of Robertland: Murderer and 'Magna Britannia's' First Architect', Architectural History, vol. 52 (2009), pp. 79-115, 82.
  18. ^ D. Malcolm, Genealogical Memoir of the Most Noble and Ancient House of Drummond (Edinburgh, 1808), 32-3.
  19. ^ C. Rogers, History of the Chapel Royal, (Edinburgh, 1882), lxxviii.

Preceded by
(1) William MacDowall (2) John Scrimgeour of Myres
Master of Work to the Crown of Scotland
Succeeded by
William Schaw

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