Wolverhampton BTW

Louisa Margaret Drummond-Hay

Drummond-Hay, Louisa Margaret née Thomson, 1792—1869

by Benjamin Colbert

Louisa Margaret Thomson was born on 10 October 1792, one of three children and the only daughter of John Thomson (d. 1824) of Colchester, Commissary-General to the army and personal secretary to the Earl of Moira. On 11 December 1812 she married Edward William Auriol Drummond-Hay (1785-1845), then aid-de-camp to Major-General Robertson. In January 1813, Edward D-H was appointed Brigade Major at Colchester, and at Colchester Louisa Drummond-Hay gave birth to their first child, a daughter, Louisa Hay.

By 1815 the family had followed Edward D-H’s posting to Brussels, and on 4 March, Louisa D-H delivered a son, Edward Hay. Hardly two months later, as the French armies approached, she and her children left for England; she and her daughter rejoined her husband four months later, after the Battle of Waterloo, while their son remained with his paternal grandparents in Hadleigh, near Ipswich. During the ensuing period of British occupation in France, the family took up residence at Valenciennes, where a second son, Sir John Drummond-Hay (1816-93; ODNB), was born, as well as a daughter in 1818. Their eldest son was reunited with them in 1817 when Louisa D-H’s brother, Ellman Thomson, and her sister-in-law, Henrietta D-H, travelled to France for an extended stay.

In January 1819, the family returned to England, and took up residency first at Hadleigh, and then at Gorleston near Great Yarmouth, perhaps also spending time in Colchester where her father lived in the last years of his life. It was from Gorleston that her husband began corresponding with John Murray over a translation from the 1816 French edition of Frederika Freygang and Wilhelm von Freygang’s Letters from the Caucuses, a project possibly instigated by Louisa D-H who was the principal translator. As the Murray correspondence demonstrates, Edward D-H took upon himself the business of superintending negotiations on the production of the volume and he made subsequent editorial decisions.

Louisa D-H herself appears to have taken no part in this correspondence and is referred to only once by her husband as the author of the preface to the volume. The preface itself remained anonymous, gesturing to the sex of the translator only through the pronoun ‘her’. Despite Edward D-H’s keen interest in the sales of the volume (suggesting straightened circumstances in their household) he limited knowledge of his (and perhaps his wife’s) own involvement to a tight circle of friends, and the identities of the translator and editor consequently have remained unknown until now.

Specific details of Louisa D-H’s education and her movements before her marriage are circumstantial, and thereafter her contributions are overshadowed by her husband’s public roles. In August 1823, while Letters was in the press, she and family removed to Edinburgh where her husband had been appointed Keeper of Records in the Court of the Lord Lyon (the heraldry office of Scotland). In 1829, he was appointed Consul-General to Tangiers, Morocco, where he served until 1845. After her husband’s death, her son Sir John D-H assumed the position of Consul-General and for a time Louisa D-H remained in Morocco.

She died on 5 February 1869 at Ledbury and was buried at Eastnor, an arrangement itself shrouded in mystery. As Berrow's Worcester Journal reported, 'Our correspondent says the funeral is to be at Eastnor ... to avoid any unpleasant feeling with the rector of Ledbury, who has forbidden the bell of the parish church to be tolled during the passing of the procession through the town’.


Ben-Srhir, Khalid. Britain and Morocco during the Embassy of John Drummond Hay, 1845-1886. Trans. Malcolm Williams and Gavin Waterson. London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2005. 18-20. Print.

‘Deaths’.The Edinburgh Annual Register 17.2 (1825): 441. Print.

Drummond-Hay, Edward William Auriol. Letters to John Murray, 1822-1828. MS.40535. John Murray Archive. Nat. Lib. Scotland.

‘The Late Mrs. Drummond-Hay’. Berrow’s Worcester Journal, no. 8676 (Sat. 13 Feb. 1869): 5. Gale Databases: British Library Newspapers, Part II: 1800-1900. Web. 28 Sept. 2017.

Lundy, Daryl, comp. The Peerage: A Genealogical Survey of Britain as Well as the Royal Families of Europe. 2013. Web. 28 Sept. 2017.

‘Marriages’. Jackson’s Oxford Journal, no. 3113 (Sat., 26 Dec. 1812). Gale Databases: British Library Newspapers, Part I: 1800-1900. Web. 28 Sept. 2017.

Notebook relating to history of the Drummond-Hay Family 1776-1830 [1830]. MS. Eng. hist. d. 506. Bodleian Lib., Oxford.

Rigg, J. M., and Lynn Milne. 'Hay, Sir John Hay Drummond- (1816–1893), diplomatist'. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 24 May 2007. Oxford University Press. Web. 28 Sept. 2017. https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/8091

Will of John Thomson of Colchester, Essex. 22 March 1824. PROB 11/1683/251. Natl. Archives, Kew.


Title Published
Letters from the Caucasus and Georgia 1823 Translator

[see updates]