Peter Robert Drummond ~ Bookseller and Agriculturist

Peter Robert Drummond (1802–1879), bookseller and agriculturist, was born at Madderty, Perthshire, the son of John Drummond, a small farmer, and his wife, Jean Gow. He was educated in Madderty, and in early life worked as a carpenter. He attained skill as a maker of picture frames, which brought him into the society of picture dealers and allowed him to gain some knowledge of art.

While working in Glasgow as assistant to his uncle, a provision merchant, Drummond developed a love of literature. Towards the end of
1832 he opened a circulating library at 15 High Street, Perth. During the same year he made the acquaintance of the poet Robert Nicoll who was then apprenticed to a nearby grocer. On Drummond’s advice Nicoll gave up grocery and started a bookselling business in Dundee.

A few years later Drummond was able to move to larger premises at 32 High Street, where he largely relinquished his circulating library and entered fully into the bookselling trade. From here he introduced Perth audiences to Jenny Lind, Grisi, and other famous singers. Drummond then moved to 46 George Street from his High Street premises, and built what was to become the Exchange Hotel. He intended to use the premises as a printing office, and perhaps to start a newspaper. He resolved, however, to turn to farming, and, having completed the building as a hotel, made over his bookselling business to his cousin John. He took the holding of Balmblair, in the parish of Redgorton, Perthshire, from Lord Mansfield. Drummond wrote several pamphlets on political and agricultural subjects,
including The Tenants and the Landlords versus the Free Traders (1850), in support of the agricultural interest. He was also something of an inventor, and was awarded a medal for a churn at the Great Exhibition of 1851, and received an honourable mention for an agricultural rake at the exhibition of 1862. He became an enthusiastic collector of paintings and engravings, and about 1859 he exhibited his collection in the Exchange Hall, Perth.

By 1873 Drummond had retired from farming, and devoted himself to writing. He died suddenly at his home, Ellengowan, Almond Bank, near Perth, on 4 September 1879, and was buried at Wellshill cemetery, Perth. Drummond had been married twice, first to Helen Bryce, and then to Ellen Gow, both of whom predeceased him. He had at least two sons. His Perthshire in Bygone Daysone Hundred Biographical Essays was published posthumously in 1879, and The Life of Robert Nicoll, which he had intended to issue with a complete edition of the poet’s works, was edited by his son James, and appeared in 1884.