Oil portrait of Jannetje Drummond

Oil Portrait of Jannetje Vrelandt Drummond, 1776
Courtesy, New Jersey Historical Society, Newark, NJ.


Jannetje Vrelandt Drummond, a daughter of prosperous Dutch farmers in Bergen County, was a Loyalist during the Revolutionary War. Her life and family were torn apart by her political views and those of her husband.  In 1759, Jannetje (also known as Jane) married Robert Drummond, a general merchant and shipper in Acquackanonk Landing (now Passaic), an important inland port on the Passaic River. By the time of the Revolution, Robert and Jannetje were prosperous and prominent community members. They were the parents of three living children and, appropriate to their station in life, had their portraits painted. Robert was an officer in the local militia. He served in the New Jersey Assembly and then in the patriot Provincial Congress. While Robert was interested in correcting injustices brought by the Crown, he was not an advocate of independence.

When the British army invaded New Jersey in November 1776, it appeared that the patriot cause would soon be lost. To protect his family and his considerable business interests, Robert formally affiliated with the Loyalists and was made a major in the New Jersey Volunteers by the British General, William Howe. Through his local influence he recruited some 200 local volunteers to his company. At this time, the fortunes of Jannetje and her family changed forever.

Loyalists and their families in New Jersey, as in other states, were subject to personal harassment and physical harm, as well as to punishing, anti-Tory laws. Early in 1777, local mobs plundered the Drummond Store and carried off some 1000 Pounds worth of goods. Presumably, for reasons of safety, Jannetje and her children, ages 14, 11, and 2, accompanied Robert when he was stationed in Long Island, and then in Virginia, Georgia and the Carolinas. During their absence Robert’s land and property was confiscated and sold, Jannetje was indicted for treason, and property she had inherited from her father was confiscated and sold.

After the peace of 1783, Robert fled to England, presumably with Jannetje and the children. He lived in London and died there in 1789, leaving no will. At this time Jannetje must have returned to New Jersey. She died in 1790 in Essex County, also leaving no will. Her daughter Mary soon married, her youngest son Elias, age 16, became the ward of a family friend, but it isn’t clear what became of her other son, Robert.