William Drummond

First Governor of Albemarle 1664 to 1667

William Drummond (1617-1677) was a native of Scotland, who came to Virginia in 1637 as an indentured servant. Records indicate that as a young man he was involved in planning an insurrection, or at least the escape of, indentured servants off the plantations around Jamestown. He was given a public flogging and an additional year of servitude for his part.

In later years he became an important and influential member of the community. He served as Justice of the Peace and High Sheriff of James City County. Sir William Berkeley sent Drummond to North Carolina in October of 1664 to serve two years as the first governor of the new colony, but he served almost three years. Drummond returned to Jamestown in 1667. In 1676, he was a Burgess for James City County.

During Bacon's Rebellion, William Drummond was Nathaniel Bacon's ardent and enthusiastic suporter.

"These men were not seeking social change or anything resembling democracy; they were conspiring to bring together by the action of the new assembly a variety of causes under the aegis of political reform...an insurrection against the dictatorial, incompetent, corrupt, and unprinicpled administration...of Governor Berkeley and his small clique of councilors and officials...."

He held Jamestown for Bacon and, as a last resort, set fire to the town, with his own hand setting fire to his residence, one of the most prominent in the villiage, then carried off the public records as the town burned.

But Sir William Berkeley got quick revenge. William Drummond was captured and brought before him. The vindictive old governor could not hide his satisfaction, "I am more glad to see you, Mr. Drummond, than any man in this colony! You shall be hanged in half and hour."

According to legend, Berkeley even took a ring, Drummond's wife's, off Drummond's finger before he hung him.

The British government did not approve of Sir William Berkeley's high-handed massacres. Drummond's property was restored to Sarah, his widow. He left five children, one of them a son, also William, and one daughter, who married Samuel Swann of North Carolina.

In 1653, when people began to move from Virginia to the Chowan River in North Carolina, William Drummond was one of the first to visit the new land. He went there with others interested, and when the king granted the land to the Lords Proprietors, he reported to them that the land was fertile and well watered.
Scottish Lowlanders

There were Scottish Lowlanders in the Albemarle area before 1700. Tracing Lowlanders is more difficult than tracing Highlanders because the Lowlanders were much more willing to disperse themselves within the various communities than were the clansmen. However, there are clear records of Lowlanders in North Carolina before 1700. Lowlander names appear in pre-1700 Carolina records and the first governor of the colony, William Drummond, was a Lowlander (Myer, 1957).

Lake Gaston is an impounded portion of the Roanoke River, which downstream meanders through one of the most significant hardwood bottomlands left in America, and flows into the Albemarle Sound, a sound so large it was once known as the Sea of Roanoke. In 1665, it was called the Carolina River.

Back when my great great great great great great great great granddaddy William Drummond, the first governor of North Carolina, convened our first governmental assembly on the banks of Hall's Creek in Pasquotank County. No one remembers what came out of that meeting, except for one noteworthy bylaw, which read:


As the first real governor of Albemarle County, Virginia Governor William Berkeley selected, in October of 1664, William Drummond, “a sober Scotch gentleman of good repute,” who had lived in Virginia since before 1654. Drummond served for three years.

During his term of office he participated, in 1666, in a conference at St. Mary’s, the capital of Maryland, with representatives of Virginia and Maryland to consider the possible control of tobacco prices. Drummond and Surveyor General Thomas Woodward, “being ye Legislative power of ye said County for ye time being,” agreed to a suspension of tobacco planting in Virginia, Maryland, and Albemarle from February 1667 to February 1668.

The creation of an artificial shortage, they hoped, would increase the demand and, in turn, the price of the next year’s crop. Although delayed by an Indian uprising, Drummond managed to persuade his legislative body to pass a law agreeing to such an interruption in the harvest. The plan fell through, however, when Lord Baltimore, the Proprietor of Maryland, refused to sanction the agreement.

When William Drummond was appointed governor in 1664, his commission gave him authority over 1,600 square miles, which did not include all of the territory settled. A simple form of government was organized and an Executive Council of six was appointed by the Lords Proprietors. The governor and this Executive Council formed the "upper House" of the General Assembly, and had authority to appoint all officers, civil and military, except the Secretary and Surveyor General. The Governor and Executive Council, along with the "lower House" (soon became the House of Burgesses), which was elected by the Freeholders, made the laws for the colony.

Drummond returned to Jamestown, Virginia in 1667, resumed his law practice, and accumulated a sizeable property. He became active in Bacon's Rebellion in 1676, which, under the leadership of Nathaniel Bacon, Jr., with William Drummond and Richard Lawrence as his lieutenants, and, ostensibly on an expedition against hostile Indians, sought to overthrow the government of Sir William Berkeley. Bacon died unexpectedly on October 1, 1676 and his followers were defeated by Robert Beverly. Drummond was captured on January 19, 1676/7 and hanged by Governor Berkeley the next day at Middle Plantation. His property was seized by Governor Berkeley but was restored to Drummond's widow by Royal order on October 22, 1677.

Click Here for what little is known about the Executive Council under Governor William Drummond.

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