PERTH, EARLS AND DUKES OF. The Scottish title of earl of Perth was bestowed upon James, 4th Lord Drummond (d. 1611) in 1605 His ancestor Sir John Drummond (d. 1519) had been created Lord Drummond in 1488 The 1st earl's great nephew, James, 4th earl and 1st duke of Perth (1648-1716), was a son of James, the 3rd earl (c. 1615-1675). When John Maitland, duke of Lauderdale, was virtually the dictator of Scotland, Perth was among his opponents, and after Lauderdale's retirement in 1680 he was one of the committee of seven which managed Scottish affairs. He was made justice-general and extraordinary lord of session in 1682, and was lord chancellor of Scotland from 1684 to 1688. As a convert to Roman Catholicism after the death of Charles II, he stood high in the favour of James II. Perth, who is credited with the introduction of the thumbscrew, was very unpopular with the Scottish people, and during the Revolution of 1688 he was imprisoned at Stirling. Released from captivity in 1693 he joined James II. at St Germains, and was made duke of Perth, a titular dignity only after the exiled king's death in 1701. His son James (c. 1675-1720) was with James II in Ireland, and led the cavalry at the battle of Sheriffmuir. He was at tainted in 1715, but claimed the dukedom of Perth after his father's death. His son James (1713-1746), regarded by friends and dependants as the 3rd duke of Perth, fought for the Young Pretender at Prestonpans and Culloden. His brother and heir, John, the 4th duke (c. 1716-1747), also joined Charles Edward, and fought at Falkirk and Culloden. The titular dukedom became extinct when the sixth holder, Edward, another son of the 1st duke, died in 1760.
The earldom was then claimed by Edward's cousin, James Lundin (1707-1781), a grandson of the 1st titular duke of Melfort, who was a brother of the 1st duke of Perth and took the name of Drummond. His son James (1744-1800) secured the Drummond estates in 1783, and was created a British peer as Lord Perth and Baron Drummond in 1797. On his death without sons in July 1800 his barony became extinct, but the claim to the earldom of Perth was inherited by his kinsman, the 4th titular duke of Melfort, and his descendants (see below). The Drummond estates, however, passed to the baron's daughter Clementina (d. 1865), afterwards the wife of Peter Robert, 20th Lord Willoughby de Eresby, and thence to her descendant the earl of Ancaster.
The 1st duke's brother, John (c. 1650-1715), earl of Melfort, rose to favour under Charles II. about the same time as his brother; like him, too, he became a Roman Catholic in 1686. In 1684 he was made secretary of state for Scotland, in 1686 he was created earl of Melfort by James II., and during his reign he took a leading part in Scottish affairs. After the Revolution of 1688 his great influence with James II and with Mary of Modena drew upon him the hatred both of the French and of the Irish. He was with James II. at St Germains, but lost his former ascendancy, and died in Paris on the 25th of January 1715. In 1694 he was made duke of Melfort, and all his titles were held under the singular condition that they should descend to the children of his second wife, Euphemia (d. 1743), daughter of Sir Thomas Wallace, in preference to his children by his first wife, Sophia Lundin, who were Protestants. In 1701 Melfort was recognized as a French peer, the duc de Melfort, by Louis XIV. In 1695 he had been at tainted, but his titles were claimed by John (1682-1754), his eldest son by his second Wife, who shared in the rising of 1715. In 1800 John's grandson, James Louis, 4th titular duke of Melfort, claimed the earldom of Perth. This claim was unsuccessful, but in 1853 George (1807-1902), nominally 6th duke of Melfort, obtained a reversal of the various attainder's, and his own recognition as earl of Perth and Melfort. The succeeding earl was his kinsman, William Huntly Drummond, Viscount Strathallan (1871-).