DRUMMOND BURRELL, Hon. Peter Robert (1782-1865), of Drummond Castle, Perth.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



13 Apr. 1812 - 1820

Family and Education

b. 19 Mar. 1782, 1st s. of Sir Peter Burrell, 2nd Bt.*, by Lady Priscilla Barbara Elizabeth Bertie, da. of Peregrine, 3rd Duke of Ancaster. educ. St. John’s, Camb. 1800; continental tour 1801-2. m. 19 Oct. 1807, Hon. Clementina Sarah Drummond, da. and h. of James, 1st Baron Drummond, 1s. surv. Took name of Drummond before Burrell by royal lic. 5 Nov. 1807; suc. fa. as 2nd Baron Gwydir 29 June 1820; mother as 22nd Baron Willoughby of Eresby and jt. hered. ld. chamberlain 29 Dec. 1828; took name of Willoughby in lieu of Burrell by royal lic. 26 June 1829.

Offices Held

PC 30 June 1821.


Burrell was admitted to Brooks’s Club, 12 Mar. 1803. He secured his father’s support for the Grenville administration in 1806 and hoped that it would lead to employment in the diplomatic line. Later that year he was at Vienna as an observer and prepared to act as private secretary to Robert Adair* without emolument.1 In 1807 he contested Boston in an unsuccessful attempt to revive the Ancaster interest (his mother’s family’s). Soon afterwards ‘the luck of the Burrells’ brought him an heiress who insisted on marrying him. He was prepared to offer for the Whigs in the Cambridgeshire by-election in 1810, but being ‘little known’ there made way for Lord Francis Osborne.2 On a vacancy in April 1812 he succeeded at Boston on a platform of ‘freedom and independence’ against the ministerial candidate. This put an end to speculation that he might be drawn into Perthshire elections, on his wife’s interest. He headed the poll at the general election and nothing came of a project of his to carve out a seat at Haslemere, where his father made over property to him in 1813, at the expense of Lord Lonsdale.3

In the House he acted with opposition, seldom speaking. He voted for Catholic relief, 24 Apr. 1812, and throughout in 1813. He supported sinecure reform, 4, 7 May 1812 and 29 Mar. 1813. He voted with the majority for a stronger administration, 21 May 1812. He opposed the leather tax, 1 July 1812. On 14 Dec. 1812 he voted against the bank-note bill and on 11 Feb. 1813 against the vice-chancellor bill. His attendance was not steady. In 1815, taking no part in the Corn Law debates, he voted against the continuation of the militia, 28 Feb.; against fresh taxation, 13 Mar.; against resumption of war, 7 Apr.; against the civil list, 14 Apr.; against the property tax, 5 May, and against the Regent’s extravagance, 31 May. He opposed the Duke of Cumberland’s marriage grant throughout, 28 June-3 July 1815. In the session of 1816 he attended regularly, voting with other young Whigs against the address, 1 Feb., against interference in French affairs, 20 Feb., for retrenchment and against the renewal of the property tax, 18 Mar. He defended the Lincolnshire petition against it, claiming that all but one of his tenants who signed it had become bankrupts. He also attacked the tax on agricultural horses and unsuccessfully attempted to secure its repeal, 13 May. He resisted the temptation to offer for Lincolnshire on the Whig interest in August 1816: he was ‘not inclined to spend money’ on it, particularly as his brother hoped to replace him for Boston: which would no doubt involve two contests. In 1817 he continued to vote for retrenchment and (unlike his father) opposed the suspension of habeas corpus in February. Brougham then listed him as subscriber of £300 to a Whig evening paper.4 His only other known votes that session were against the salt duties, 25 Apr., and for the opposition’s choice of Speaker, 2 June. On 9 June he took two weeks’ leave of absence. In February and March 1818 he voted his disapproval of government’s conduct under the suspension of habeas corpus and he opposed the ducal marriage grants, 13 Apr., 15 Apr. (by pair) and 15 May.

In anticipation of a contest for his seat he assured the Boston electors, 11 Feb. 1818, that ‘peace, economy and liberty’ were his objects and, on heading the poll, called himself ‘the firm friend of civil liberty, and the free exercise of conscience; of judicious reform, and strict economy’ (19 June). He seems in the House to have avoided the issue of parliamentary reform. He was one of those Whigs who preferred not to sign the requisition to Tierney to be their leader and avoided party meetings. Having become unwell during a visit to Paris, he did not attend the first session of the ensuing Parliament until June 1819, when he voted steadily against the foreign enlistment bill.5 The Prince Regent reported to the Home secretary from Brighton, 24 Oct., that Burrell had ‘refused’ to sign one or two ‘reform requisitions’ and had no sympathy for Earl Fitzwilliam, the dismissed lord lieutenant.6 Nevertheless he voted with opposition against the address, 24 Nov., for Althorp’s motion on the state of the country, 30 Nov., and against the seditious meetings bill, 2 Dec. He was also in the minorities against the newspaper duties and blasphemous libel bills, 20 and 21 Dec. 1819.

Burrell retired in 1820, faced with another contest. His father died in debt and he sold many of the family art treasures, but his residence in Paris was not a matter of necessity: he liked ‘no place so well’.7 He died 22 Feb. 1865.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Fortescue mss, Burrell to Auckland, Mon. [17 Mar.]; Grey mss, Adair to Howick, 11 Nov. 1806.
  • 2. Leveson Gower, ii. 287; HMC Fortescue, x. 16, 17; Add. 51661, Bedford to Holland, 6 Mar. 1810.
  • 3. NLS, Lynedoch mss box 37 (3), Graham to Murray, 4 May 1812; Lonsdale mss, Lowther to Lonsdale, 29 Mar. 1813.
  • 4. Grey mss, Drummond Burrell to Grey, 1 Sept. 1816; NLW, Coedymaen mss 12, f. 925; Brougham mss, Brougham to Grey, Fri. [?21 Mar. 1817].
  • 5. Hants RO, Tierney mss 23a; Chatsworth mss, Lady Morpeth to Devonshire, 5 May 1819.
  • 6. Prince of Wales Corresp. viii. 3410.
  • 7. Corresp. of Lady Williams Wynn, 250.