Lake Drummond History

Most of us have never seen Lake Drummond because it lies deep in the Dismal Swamp, accessible only by narrow canals and treacherous footpaths. Measuring almost 3 miles in diameter, the lake is only about 6′ deep…it’s surface a dark brown mirror on windless days, home to a billion mosquitoes, motel to migrating geese, ducks and other fowl.

Shortly after the earliest settlements in North Carolina, then called the Province of Albemarle, William Drummond, a prominent Scotsman who had settled a tract of land in James City County, was named Governor of the new province by Governor Berkley of Virginia.

A hunting/exploring party led by Governor Drummond lost their way in the swamp in 1665. Drummond was separated from the group and while floundering through the swamp discovered the lake that bears his name today. He was able to find his way out, but the rest of his party was lost forever in the swamp.

Later, feeling he’d been ill-used by Governor Berkley, he joined Nathaniel Bacon in the ill-fated Bacon’s Rebellion in 1666-1667. When warned by a friend of the risk he ran supporting the rebellion, he replied, “I’m in for a shoe, I may as well be in for a boot”. After initial successes, the rebellion collapsed and Drummond was captured and turned over to Governor Berkley who promised to see him hung within the half hour. It took a bit longer, but not much.

As they were walking to Middle Plantation (Williamsburg) where he was to be hung, a captain of the guard offered to lend Drummond a horse, which Drummond declined, saying that he would arrive at the gallows fast enough on foot.


  1. Zelda says:

    That’s a really interesting story on Lake Drummond. I have a friend who is a pilot who used to practice over Lake Drummond.

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