Thomas Drummond


Life
1797-1840; b. Edinburgh; commissioned in the Royal Engineers and served with the Ordnance Survey in Ireland; and invented Drommond limelight [or Drummond light], sited atop the Paps of Jura; also improved the heliostat; appt. Under-Secretary for Ireland, 1835-40; saw the Irish Constabulary Act through Parliament, 1836; acted as the mainspring of Irish Railway Commission, 1836; coined the phrase, ‘Property has its duties as well as its rights’ in response to Tipperary magistrates and Irish landlords more generally, with whom he had little sympathy;
 
he appointed stipendiary magistrates and converted the tithes of the Established Church into a fixed rent by the Tithe Commutation Act, 1838; died in office and deemed by admirers to have given his life to Ireland; bur. according to his own wished in ‘the country of his adoption’, on the main walk of Mount St. Jerome [Rathfarnham], under a monument by John Hogan, on which is enscribed his famous dictum. DIH

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Works
J. F. McLennan, Memoir of the Thomas Drummond (Edinburgh 1867); R. Barry O’Brien, Thomas Drummond, Under Secretary in Ireland 1835-1840, Life & Letters (London 1889).

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Criticism
Thomas H. Jordan, Two Thomases: Dublin Castle and the Quality of Life in Victorian Ireland [Social Indicators Research, Vol. 64, Issue 2] (Dordrecht 2003), pp..257 [Drummond and Larcom].

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Commentary
John F. M’Lennon, Thomas Drummond (Edinburgh MDCCCLXVII), includes extensive quotation from Drummond’s memorials on Ireland in preparation for his period of secretaryship, including a note on religion, viz., ‘The primitive Irish Church was Christian but not Roman Catholic.’

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Quotations
The famous epigram: ‘Property has its duties as well as its rights; to the neglect of thes duties in times past is mainly to be attributed that diseased state of society in which such crimes can take their rise.’ (Dictionary of Irish History, 1979)

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Notes
Echoes: Drummond's famous epigram, “Property has its Duties as well as its Rights”, inscribed on his monument in the City Hall, at Cork Hill, Dublin, is echoed in Liam O’Flaherty, Famine (1937; rep. edn. 1979): ‘A landowner has his duties as well as his rights’ (p.234.)

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Drummond light: Harriet Martineau gives an account of the Drummond light in her Letters from Ireland (1852): ‘Lieutenant Drummond, engaged in the trigonometrical survey of IReland, and desireing to obtain for the base of his trianlge the vast space from this plain [i.e., Magilligan]to the Scotch islands, and knowing that the Paps of Jura are visible in clear weather from the crest of the [Coleraine] rocks [i.e. Downhill], was stimulated to devise the most brilliant light that could be had, to shine from the Scotch to the Irish heights. Hence the invention of the Drummond light, - a benefit which, whether practically great or not, is almost forgotten in comparison with the more heart-moving services which that gallant man afterwards rendered to Ireland at the cost of his life.’ (p.21.)

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