Records of John and Henry Drummond, contractors to the Treasury as paymaster to His Majesty's forces in North America

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

  • copies of Treasury minutes re contract 1765-87
  • contractors’ letterbooks 1767-90
  • correspondence to contractors from agents in North America 1767-93
  • lists of bills sent to contractors from agents in North America 1767-83
  • contractors’ account books 1767-93
  • accounts current: agents 1767-83, Treasury 1782-3
  • accounts relating to specie transportation 1763-84
  • audit statements c.1784
  • bill books 1767-85
  • bills of exchange 1768-9
  • drafts 1771-84
  • receipts: 1771-83, deputy paymasters 1767-84
  • bills of lading 1779-83
  • postage book 1769-80
  • contractors’ bank passbooks 1770- 91
  • list of warrants paid by Treasury 1771-84
  • commander in chiefs’ requisitions 1773-82
  • copies of Treasury correspondence 1775-83
  • papers regarding court proceedings, General Hallimand v. Harley & Drummond and John Cochrane, Quebec agent 1776-91
  • copies of Parliamentary orders 1778-81
  • list of contractor’s effects 1776
  • papers regarding contractors’ involvement in cloth, wool and fur trades 1767-72
  • notebook regarding British army food allowance tables c.1765

Administrative / Biographical History

After the fall of Quebec in 1759 and with increasing unrest amongst American colonists, the British maintained a considerable force in North America amounting to about 10,000 men. The supply and payment of men was at first effected by the commander-in-chief drawing bills of exchange directly upon the paymaster general in England. This proved both cumbersome and unviable as it resulted in the depression of the exchange rate. To obviate such losses a contract was entered into in 1767 by the commissioners of the Treasury with John Drummond (1723-74), banker, and Sir Samuel Fludyer (1705-68), deputy governor of the Bank of England, acting jointly as Messrs Fludyer & Drummond.

Under the contract the partners would deliver all monies issued from the Treasury for remittance to America. These monies were converted into Spanish and Portuguese coin and paid over, as called for, to the deputy paymasters in the colonies. The Crown received all interest and profits and it paid all charges. Messrs Fludyer & Drummond received a commission of one per cent of all monies delivered to them. It was hoped by this arrangement that the exchange would be stabilised and the necessity for remittance of specie avoided by the contractors’ agents raising funds from the sale of bills of exchange drawn on the contractors. In 1768 when Samuel Fludyer died his share of the contract was taken by Thomas Harley (1730-1804), merchant, banker and Lord Mayor of London, and in 1772 Henry Drummond (c.1730-95), banker, became involved to assist his cousin, John Drummond, due to the latter’s poor health.

The contractors posted agents in the key base commands in North America: Quebec, Halifax, Boston, New York and the West Indies. An agent also had to follow the army on major expeditions and during short-term occupations such as of Charlestown and Philadelphia. It was the agents’ duty to maintain constant communication with the contractors, to whom they were entirely accountable, and to keep account books and letterbooks. The contractors themselves held their joint account with Messrs Drummond, bankers, London, from 1767 to 1783.

Conditions Governing Access

Historical researchers are welcome to use the archives at our Edinburgh store. Access is by appointment and researchers are required to complete an access form before they visit. Some records are subject to closure periods. For further information please email archives@rbs.co.uk or telephone 0131 334 1428.

Bibliography

  • ‘Letters from America’, Three Banks Review, March 1976, vol.109, pp.47-56, and June, 1976, vol.110, pp.40-6
  • ‘John Cochrane’s troubles’, Three Banks Review, September 1976, vol.111, pp.56-60
  • ‘Bills of credit scandal, Quebec’, Three Banks Review, December 1976, vol.112, pp.50-65