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History of Drum Castle:

Clan Irwin and Jacobites



Alexander, 15th laird’s successor was Alexander Irvine of Crimond, the 16th laird. Alexander, his son, was the 17th laird, a Jacobite who fought for Bonnie Prince Charlie. He escaped after the Battle of Culloden, sheltered in a secret room at Drum and was saved from capture by the Redcoats only by the presence of mind of his sister, Miss Mary Irvine, who misdirected them. The soldiers did, however, make off with more Irvine family wealth, having spotted where it was buried by the newly dug earth. After some years of exile in Paris, Alexander was allowed to return home and ‘died after a tedious illness, universally loved’. The head gardener of Drum had fought with him at Culloden and is reputed to have made a fortune out of selling ‘horse nails’ and other booty after the battle.

Of Alexander, the next and 18th laird, little is remembered except that he lived for a very long time and was Master of Drum for eighty-three years. His son was Hugh Irvine, the painter, whose Archangel Gabriel (allegedly a self-portrait) hangs in the library. The family name became Forbes Irvine in deference to his wife Jane Forbes, heiress of Forbes of Schivas, who died when Alexander was only 32. He never married again and lived a retired life at Drum, dying in his ninety-first year.

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Most of the 19th century lairds were distinguished lawyers, serving at the Bar or as sheriffs in various parts of Scotland. At least one younger son was a Major-General and many others held senior posts in the army or Indian Civil Service.

The 19th laird, Alexander, inherited Schivas in right of his mother and assumed the name of Forbes before Irvine. On succeeding to Drum he effected an excambion (exchange) of land whereby Schivas passed to Lord Aberdeen, and Kennerty, a former Drum property, was restored to the estate. He was responsible for the creation of the elegant library in what had been the lower hall of the tower. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Alexander, the 20th laird.

Alexander trained as a lawyer, and played a prominent part in the administration of the County of Aberdeenshire. He married Anna Forbes Leslie, an amateur artist of some distinction. He was succeeded by his third son, Francis Hugh, the 21st laird, who married Mary, only child of John Ramsay of Barra and Straloch. These two estates were to pass to a junior line of the Irvines of Drum.

He was succeeded by his eldest son, Alexander, the 22nd laird, who fought with the Grenadier Guards in the First World War and died in 1922. The 23rd laird, a bachelor, died in 1940 whilst serving with the Gordon Highlanders and his brother, Henry Quentin Irvine, fought with the King’s African Rifles. Some ten years before Quentin’s death this popular 24th laird entered into an agreement with The National Trust for Scotland so that Drum and its 411 acres could be bequeathed to the trust and held for the benefit of the nation.  See The Caput of the Barony of Drum.

He was succeeded in 1975 as Baron of Drum and chief of the name Irvine of Drum by his younger brother, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Francis Irvine, 25th baron, who lived in Cheshire. In 1992, the latter’s son David Charles Irvine succeeded as 26th Baron. After a business life in the north-west of England, David returned to Deeside to live near Drum.

This history is adapted from the current edition of Drum Castle, the guide book of The National Trust for Scotland.