John Drummond, 15th Baron Strange
6 May 1900|
Megginch Castle, Errol, Scotland
|Died||13 April 1982
Isle of Man
|Occupation||author, farmer, hereditary peer|
|Genres||Fiction, Agriculture, Trave l, Drama|
John Drummond, 10th of Megginch, 15th Baron Strange (b. 1900, Scotland – d.1982, Isle of Man), Chief of the Baronial House and Branch of Drummond of Concraig and Lennoch within the clan Drummond and Baron of Megginch.
Educated at Eton College, he became Lieutenant, Grenadier Guards and Hon. Attaché H.M. Legation Warsaw in 1920. Later he was elected county councillor for West Perth in Scotland aged 21. Joined the Black Watch in World War II but finding himself deskbound, he returned to farm his estate at Megginch. In addition to being an organic soil and fish farmer, he was an author (as John Drummond) of ten books of fact and fiction, inventor, record producer, restaurateur and politician.
John Drummond was the only son of Capt. Malcolm Drummond, JP, DL and Geraldine Margaret Tyssen-Amherst, daughter of Lord Amherst of Hackney and one of seven sisters. He was born, brought up and lived much of his life at Megginch Castle in the Carse of Gowrie, Perthshire, Scotland. He had three sisters, Jean, Victoria Alexandrina and Frances Ada. His middle sister, Victoria Drummond MBE, (who was a goddaughter of Queen Victoria) distinguished herself as the first woman marine engineer in Britain and won the Lloyd's War Medal for bravery.
At the age of 24 on the death of his father, he inherited his ancestral home and estate, Megginch. On 8 February 1928, he married Violet Margaret Florence Jardine, daughter of Sir Robert William Buchanan-Jardine of Castlemilk, 2nd Bt. Managing Director of Jardine Matheson and Ethel Mary Piercy. They had three daughters:
- Jean Cherry, 16th Baroness Strange (b. 1928 d. 2005) m. Captain Humphrey Evans (later Drummond of Megginch), MC
- Heather Mary, (b. 1931) m. Lt.Cmdr. Andrew Christian Currey, RN
- Margaret April Irene, (b. 1939) m. Sir Quentin Agnew-Somerville, 2nd Bt, whose daughter is the actress Geraldine Somerville
Barony of Strange
On the death of 9th Duke of Atholl, who was also 14th Baron Strange in 1957, the Barony of Strange fell into abeyance between the representatives of the three daughters of the fourth Duke of Atholl, Lady Charlotte, Lady Amelia Sophia and Lady Elizabeth. Following his petition to HM the Queen, the abeyance was terminated 18 December 1964 in favour of John Drummond of Megginch. He was the great-grandson of Lady Charlotte and her second husband, Vice-Admiral Sir Adam Drummond, K.C.B. of Megginch.
In the House of Lords, he was known as a highly entertaining and controversial speaker–usually attracting a large audience. Sometimes, Hansard would have trouble recording his speeches, which would include movements such as imitating a salmon swimming upstream! His reputation as an eccentric peer lead to media appearances including as a guest on Derek Nimmo’s BBC Saturday night chat show, If it’s Saturday, it must be Nimmo in 1970.
Enterprises ahead of his time
John Drummond, known to family and friends as JD, was a colourful, highly entertaining and eccentric character. In addition to writing novels, he used his great creative imagination, inventiveness and artistic gifts as an entrepreneur. Though his ventures were way ahead of his time, he lacked the managerial skills to capitalise on his vision.
In the 1920s, he created the Shilling Lightening Feeder chain of inexpensive restaurants in London. This was the forerunner of today’s fast-food restaurants. Afterwards, he admitted that his first restaurant was a huge success, his second a success, his third broke even but by his seventh, the venture was a disaster!
In the 1930s, he set up another innovative business, Great Scott Records to produce recordings on vinyl discs and enlisted various local singers and musicians. Again this enterprise never made the big time, perhaps because it peaked two decades before pop music took off.
In keeping with his larger than life character, he loved drama. In the 1950s, he made amateur movies and would put on plays at Megginch. Guests would include his many friends in show business, such as the stage and film producer, director and writer, Basil Dean and celebrated actors such as Stewart Granger, Laurence Harvey, Hermione Baddeley and Sir John Mills who made him godfather to his daughter, the actress, Hayley Mills.
John Drummond, was no less innovative when it came to his theories on agriculture and his farming practices on his Scottish estate. After his death, his daughter, Cherry as Baroness Strange, spoke in the House of Lords: "I also helped my noble father on his wartime book on agriculture, Charter for the Soil, in which he outlined the future importance of combine harvesting, supermarkets and direct farm marketing. He also advocated farming groups with their own farm slaughterhouse and resident scientist. He was also organic, and farmed with compost. Many of his ideas have been put into practice since 1944 when the book was published."
Move to the Isle of Man
In 1965, he handed over the estate of Megginch to his oldest daughter, Cherry and went to live in the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea. The Strange title was connected to the Island and the coat of arms included the Manx emblem of three legs. The Barony had passed through his ancestors, the Earls of Derby and later the Dukes of Atholl, who up until 1765 had ruled the Isle of Man, originally as Kings of Man and later Lords of Man. He saw himself as a representative of this independent Island, which had no voice at Westminster and as a courtesy to Manx politics, sat as a cross-bencher in the House of Lords.
In the Isle of Man, he bought property, farms and river banks with a view to running a fishing lodge based at Tholt-y-Will in Sulby Glen, a remote but enchanting location. He created the first fish hatchery on the Island. However, local fishing regulations made his piscatorial plans impossible and Tholt-y-Will became a country inn. On many evenings, he could be found entertaining his visitors at the bar!
- Charter for the Soil (1943)
- Inheritance of Dreams (1944)
- A Candle in England (1947)
- The Bride wore Black (1942)
- Playing to the Gods (1945)
- Behind Dark Shutters (1949)
- Gold over the Hill (1950)
- The Naughty Mrs Thornton (1952)
- Proof Positive (1956)
- The Pocket Show Book (1942)
- Pine, L.G.: "Burke's Landed Gentry 17th Edition", page 694. Burke's Peerage Ltd. in conjunction with City Ltd. London, England, 1952
- Cherry Drummond: "The Remarkable Life Of Victoria Drummond – Marine Engineer". Information Today Inc. Oct., 1994
- Charles Mosley, "Burke's Peerage & Knightage, 107th edition.", Volume 1, page 575, Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd., Wilmington, DE, USA, 2003
- House of Lords Hansard, 21 January 1998, Column 1551
|Peerage of England|
|Baron Strange||Succeeded by