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A long and unusually personal autograph letter, signed "VRI", to her close friend Frances Jemima Drummond.

Availability: In stock

Published: Balmoral 29 August 1881

Stock Code: 124862

OR On display in 100 Fulham Road


An intimate autograph letter signed from Queen Victoria to her close friend Frances Jemima Drummond, one of the Queen's women of the bedchamber and to whom she wrote particularly indiscreet correspondence, this letter with several lines redacted regarding Gladstone's involvement in appointing the new Dean of Westminster.
In the letter the Queen first sympathises with Drummond on having to leave the Deanery at Westminster where for several years she had been virtually in charge of the domestic affairs of the Dean, Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, who had died the previous month and appointed Drummond executrix of his will. The Queen continues, describing at length the recent Review of the Scottish Volunteer Regiments at Edinburgh which had taken place "in such a complete deluge of rain! Like a long thunder shower with wind. Never was there anything so unfortunate & so dreadful Even the Ladies in spite of weatherproofs & umbrellas got partially wet thro! But the men showed gt. endurance & spirit & it was a glorious sight". A visit to the newly renovated Edinburgh Infirmary followed (she had knighted Thomas Jamieson Boyd, Lord Provost of Edinburgh and chief instigator of the new hospital, just one day after the Review), during which she somewhat incredulously records the approach of an elderly lord "who is 92 & kissed my hand!" Finally, the Queen reverts to the subject of the Deanery, expressing pleasure at the appointment of George Granville Bradley as Stanley's successor and firmly pointing out that the decision was hers and not Gladstone's. Two lines on Gladstone's part in the affair have been heavily deleted, as has a whole paragraph on the previous page.
Known as the Rose of Fife in her youth, Frances Jemima Drummond (1818-1891, née Oswald) was the cousin of Dean Stanley's wife, Lady Augusta Stanley, who was herself a lady in waiting to Queen Victoria. Mrs Drummond and her daughter's devoted care of his wife during her final illness made a deep impression on Stanley, who trusted Drummond implicitly with the management of his household. It is presumably this unwavering loyalty which recommended itself to Queen Victoria while she was in her service and, as a marker of their intimacy, Victoria wrote Drummond "the most indiscreet letters which unfortunately her daughter Mary, or Aunt Ida as she was known as, tore out all the interesting bits" ("Frances Oswald", Geni.com). Two photographs of Drummond survive in the Royal Collection. One, showing her taking afternoon tea at Dunkeld with the Duchess of Athole (the Queen's Lady of the Bedchamber, 1854-97) and Miss McGregor, was taken from an album compiled by the Queen and Prince Albert; the other, a portrait of Drummond and her husband on their Golden Wedding Day, 1885, was acquired by Victoria. The Queen was also godmother to Drummond's granddaughter, the marine engineer Victoria Alexandrina Drummond.
Whether the deletions made in this letter are by Mary Drummond is unknown; regardless, it is a pleasing example of Queen Victoria's notably fond correspondence with her friend, substantially censored as a result of its carefree, relaxed writing style.

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1 autograph letter signed, 8 pages written in black ink over two sheets (178 x 225 mm), folded, with embossed Balmoral Castle letterhead and deep-edged mourning border. With integral stamped envelope, addressed in Queen Victoria's hand, "Mrs Drummond, Megginch Castle, Errol, Perthshire". Both tipped onto a single sheet of card.


Some very faint fading and a few edges carefully strengthened with paper, remnants of previous mount visible on envelope verso, else in very good condition.


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