Family History

Drury Family History



    The precise ancestry of the Robert Drury who obtained a patent to the plantation in Maryland known as "Dry Docking" is vague, but it is generally conceded that he was the progenitor of most of the Drurys in St. Mary's County Maryland.

The earliest Drurys we find in Maryland colonial records are Robert  Drury, Richard Drury, and William Drury in Southern Maryland, and Charles and William Drury in Ann Arundle County further north. We do not know if the William reported transported in 1663 by Skordas and the William who was married and then died by 1679 in Ann Arundle County were the same person though it is unlikely. It would make more sense for the William of Ann Arundle County to be Charles’ brother and be present in that area from the beginning. Unfortunately there are no additional records that I know of to support either supposition over the other.

"The Early Settlers of Maryland, 1633-1680" by Skordas has the following references:

           Drury, Richard; Liber 17, Folio 491; Immigrated from Virginia 1663
           Drury, Robert; Liber 12, Folio 571; Immigrated 1670
           Drury, William; Liber 5, Folio 607; Transported 1663

These references, while not conclusive, seem to indicate that Robert went first to Virginia before coming to Maryland. William may have been the brother of Robert Drury. Little more is verifiable about William. From the book of depositions, "a William Drewry, aet. 26, in 1664 mentions a drowning of  Charles Hodges." Robert is listed as immigrating to Maryland.

There was a John Drury who owned an Estate called Dry Docking in England in 1649. John’s brother Robert Drury was named administrator of the estate on 4/15/1658 after his brother’s death. The two were said to be sons of Robert Drury and Mary Radcliff.  However investigation in England on this line of Drurys by Tom Stevenson, a Drury researcher, reveals that they are probably not the ancestors of our Maryland Drurys. In an E-mail sent to me on his return he states, 

“The Docking Drury pedigree chart published by Gerald Hagan in his book, "Dry Docking" and sent in his notes to Drury researchers in the U.S. (some of which are on file in the Ste. Genevieve library), has what appears to me to be a key omission. Specifically, all of Robert Drury, Gent. of  Docking's sons except one - William – are designated "s. p." meaning that they died without issue. John, Robert, and Thomas all have this designation. Hagan had copied his chart from the original Docking Parish Register, but did not record these designations. 

Assuming they are shown in the correct sequence on the chart, the youngest son is William, who was born in 1604. It raises additional doubt that any of the older brothers would have traveled to a new world to serve their indenture and receive a land grant as late as 1670. This would lead to the assumption that our Dry Docking Farm Robert is not the son of Robert, Gent. of Docking. 

My wife René [Stevenson] found Robert Drury, Gent. of Docking's will, from 1624. It mentions wife Mary, sons Thomas and William and several of his daughters, but has no mention of Robert or John. If they were alive, why were they not mentioned? Based on this will, and the "s. p." designations in the Parish Register alone, I would assume that both Robert and John were dead by the time their father made his will in 1624.

I have read that Robert Drury, Gent. of Docking's estate was passed to his eldest son John and upon his death in about 1658, to his (John's) brother Robert. I didn't see either mentioned in his will. I don't understand this discrepancy. Are they the sons of Rob't. Drury, gent? Or perhaps nephews?  

I also have read that Robert Drury of Dry Docking Farm had a farm of the same name in Norfolk. I did not find a record of it (which doesn't mean much) but the best current historians of the area don't believe that a farm of that name existed. The closest I found was Docking Hall which apparently wasn't owned by Drurys. They did rent land on Docking Manor however.”

Mary Louise Donnelly on page 95 of  "Colonial Period Tenants and Owners of Beaverdam Manor" places the birth of Robert Drury, owner of Dry Docking farm in Maryland, as about 1634 while Robert Drury, husband of Mary Radcliff, was dead by 1625 nine years before Donnelly’s estimate of Robert’s birth. In addition, the research in England by Tom Stevenson quoted above indicates that both John and his brother died childless. Tom did find a Robert Drury who had been receiving rents from the village of Docking who could have left when payments were suspended. This scenario is pure conjecture though the dates fit nicely. The problem I have with it is accounting for the children of Robert Drury of “Dry Docking “ farm in Maryland. If Robert (immigrant) was transported in 1663 as suggested, then how could he have been fathering children during the decade of the 1660’s. 

Robert Drury was a son of Robert (immigrant) inferred by Jan Creek, a Drury researcher, who tells us that in Maryland Archives, viii, 460-461, 487 book of depositions, page 55, we have Robert Drury, age 32, deposed in 1692 concerning Indians at the head of the [Chesapeake] Bay. If his age were 32, this Robert Drury would have been born about 1660. This leads us to believe that Robert Drury, immigrant, may have had a son Robert Drury Jr. This birth could have been in Virginia. We do have a report in Maryland Archives of a dispute in a tavern that was reported to the legislature in which a Drury (reported to be an old man) was present. It is most likely this Robert Drury who was mentioned. The report was dated in 1726. This would eliminate him as being Robert (immigrant) who, even if we assume he was born as late as 1634, would most likely be deceased before 1726.

John Drury (d. by 1724) was another assumed son of Robert (immigrant) and the only one for which we have any documentary proof. Donnelly cites the inventory of Thomas Payne (39C:187) where John Drury is referred to as the son of Robert Drury and is named next of kin. He could not be a son of the Robert cited above by Jan Creek. My reasoning on this follows: Robert Drury of the deposition was 32 years old in 1692. The John Drury who died by 1724 was most likely married and having children by 1700.

Mary Louise Donnelly in her book on Beaverdam Manor owners and families lists John’s first wife as Rachel Payne and assumes that Rachel was Charles Payne’s sister. Unfortunately there is confusion about this assertion. According to Norma Thompson, a knowledgable researcher, there are two Payne families around this time in St. Mary’s County, Maryland. John Drury was associated with the family of Henry Payne through his residence on part of “Howard’s Mount”. It is possible that Donnelly misread the name of Henry’s son Ezchiel as Rachel, or possibly accepted someone else’s misinterpretation of the name. The other Payne family was that of Thomas Payne and his wife Jane. Rachel was the only surviving daughter of Thomas Payne and, so far as Norma can determine, the two families were not linked. I believe that any children of John Drury would have been by his first wife whoever she may have been.

John’s second wife, Mary Ford, was a widow when they married probably between 1714 and 1717. Mary Drury was listed as administrator for his admin accounts dated 2 June 1724. The account mentions a Robert Drury who I assume was a son of John though there is nothing to support this assumption. He would have to have been of age at the time to be listed as next of kin. This would have placed his birth somewhere around 1703 or before. A second possibility for Robert would be John’s brother mentioned above.

James Drury is a third inferred son of Robert (immigrant). This inference is based on generational averages and the age data we have for his children and grandchildren. There is a record for his leasing land to his granddaughters Eleanor and Mary Chamberlain in 1714 when the girls were eight and one years old respectively.  For James to have an eight year old granddaughter by this date, and assuming his daughter Mary, the girl’s mother, married by at least seventeen, then James would have to be at least forty five to fifty years old by 1714. Calculating backward gives us a birth date for him in the late 1660’s right in the same range as Robert’s other children.

Mary Louise Donnelly tells us that Margaret Drury married John Tant (also spelled Taunt). At the time of their marriage John Tant received a tract of land from Robert Drury. John Tant also received two patents in his own name for a total of 200 additional acres of land on 12/14/1683 (patents 25:35 and 25:44). Whether the land he received from Robert Drury was "Dry Docking" or "Dry Docking Addition" is not clear from her text. She calls it "Dry Docking" which was the tract patented to Robert Drury on 8/12/1672 (patent 12:571), but the date and patent number she cites are those for "Dry Docking Addition" (10/20/1683 patent (25:36). In any case this would not have happened if Margaret were not Robert’s daughter. This land was probably her dowry with Robert filing a patent almost immediately for a second 100 acre tract. We can see this from the consecutive patent numbers for John Tant (25:35) and Robert Drury (25:36). 

Other researchers disagree citing the fact that land was usually devised to sons and Robert had three of them. They say it is more likely that Margaret Tant’s maiden name was Bloomfield. This is based on the facts that first, John Tant (and after his death his widow Margaret Tant) owned portions of “Revelle” which was formerly owned by Luke Barber and Elizabeth Young and which came into the Bloomfield family through Elizabeth’s second marriage to John Bloomfield; second, that John Tant’s will in 1702 left bequests to Jaffel and Maryann Bloomfield (children of John Bloomfield and Elizabeth Young) who would have been his nephew and niece by marriage; and third, that he named his son Mark possibly after the child’s uncle Mark Bloomfield. 

The key here may be the ownership of Revelle” verses the ownership of “Dry Docking”. This confusion leaves us with several possibilities. Perhaps John Tant married twice, first to Margaret Bloomfield and second to Margaret Drury. Perhaps, as we originally surmised, he married only to Margaret Drury, or third, and perhaps most disturbing, there never was a Margaret Drury at all. Donnelly’s reference to Margaret Drury is the only place I have ever seen her mentioned and my estimation of her birth is derived solely from her supposed marriage date with John Tant.

John and Margaret Tant had nine children (all mentioned in his Will) before he died in 1702. To produce this many children they would have to have been married eighteen to twenty years. It seems reasonable therefore that they married sometime around the time John obtained his patents for the 200 acres in 1683. Margaret was probably at least sixteen or seventeen years old when they married. That would put her birth date about 1665, a few years before her father can be definitely placed in Maryland. This all assumes that she was, in fact, Margaret Drury.

Another possibility for the identity of Robert (immigrant) arises with the following information: On 7/24/1635 Robert Drury age 16 (which would have made his birth year 1619) was transported to Virginia aboard the "Assurance" sailing from London as listed in “The Original Lists of Persons of Quality … and Others who went from Great Britain to the American Plantations - 1600 - 1700” (London 1874) edited by John Camden Hotten. This same Robert Drury was listed in “Cavaliers and Pioneers” as having been transported by Robert Freeman though the date (Sep 1638) is different. We know these entries refer to the same Robert Drury because names of several other transportees appear together with his on both documents. Four years of indentured servitude was normal payment for passage though this was sometimes negotiable. This would have enabled Robert to pursue his own interests by at least 1642 when he would have been 23 years old, and to have ample time to be married with children by the time he went to Maryland.

On 1/31/2003 a website was found on tracing the descendants of the Robert Drury transported in 1635. It is apparent from this data that he remained in Virginia and thus is eliminated from our list of candidates. That site traces his ancestry to Robert Drury and Mary Radcliffe in England as well and may have to be modified unless the confusion engendered by Tom Stevenson’s discoveries can be resolved.

Another Robert Drury was listed in "Catholic Records Society Miscellanies -V" as a convicted recusant (one who refused to give up his catholic faith) in the Village of Salthouse in England about 13 miles from Dry Docking. He would also be a candidate for immigration after his lands were confiscated.

No matter which Robert we select, or even if our Robert is none of those mentioned above, we are able to say with certainty that he was in Maryland by January 28, 1669 when he witnessed the Will of Robert Joyner. We see a continuing series of entries in the Provincial records until 1694. These entries partially document his life as a respected friend and neighbor who aided those around him in whatever ways he could. From all the information we can gather Robert was a well educated English Gentleman from a prominent family that could trace its roots in England back to the Norman conquest. The question then arises as to why such a man should abandon the comforts of civilized society for a pioneer life in America.

To answer this question we need a bit of background in English History.
We can cite a number of  factors that could possibly provide incentive to leave. There was a severe depression during most of the Sixteenth Century with consequent loss of jobs and poor health due to starvation. This was aggravated with two episodes of Bubonic plague in 1557-8 and again in the 1590’s and a severe Influenza epidemic at the end of the century. The job market was further glutted with recently discharged soldiers returning from the War with Spain.

Another cause of dissention was Religious persuasion. This caused much strife during the period but was mainly used in the struggle to attain political power and wealth. Religious prejudice and persecution was endemic throughout the old world in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth centuries. Every Christian sect believed that all others who did not subscribe to their beliefs were heathen or blasphemers who were in league with the devil. Since Religion and politics were intimately tied together in their view, this meant that anyone not agreeing with their faith was also a subversive spy intent on overthrow of the state by any means available. As Ernest Smith wrote in “Religion under the Barons of Baltimore” in 1896,

                 “In their day the duty of tolerating religious error was a part of no man’s creed. No preacher of true toleration had yet arisen among men. Nor was the world ready for such a prophet. Neither the Church of England, the Puritans, nor the Catholics believed in religious liberty at that time. All believed in a State church established by law, and each was intent on establishing it’s own faith to the exclusion of every other.”

For centuries the Kings of England had been at odds with the Pope regarding the authority of the Catholic Church over the Crown. This situation came to a climax shortly after Henry VIII became King.

As a prince, Henry did not expect to become King, for he had an elder brother, Arthur who was heir to the throne. A marriage was made between Arthur and a Spanish Princess, Catherine of Aragon, but Arthur presently died. The royal houses of Spain and England wished to repair the connection, and the obvious way to do it was to marry the young widow to Henry, now heir in Arthur’s place. But Spain and England were Christian Monarchies and Christian Law forbade a man to marry his brother’s widow.

To be a Christian was to be a Churchman and there was only one Church (though plagued with many heresies) and the Pope was its head. At the request of both Spain and England the Pope dispensed with the Christian Law forbidding a man to marry his brother’s widow, and when in due course Prince Henry ascended the English throne as Henry VIII, Catherine was his Queen.

For some years the marriage was successful; they respected and liked one another, and Henry took his pleasures elsewhere but lightly. However, at length he wished to divorce her.

The motives for such a wish are presumably as confused, inaccessible, and helpless in a King as any other man, but here are three which make sense: Catherine had grown increasingly plain and intensely religious, Henry had fallen in love with Ann Boelyn, and the Spanish alliance had become unpopular. None of these absolutely necessitated a divorce but there was a fourth that did. Catherine had not been able to provide Henry with a male child and was now presumed barren. There was a daughter, but competent statesman were unanimous that a Queen on the throne of England was unthinkable. Anne and Henry were confident that between them they could produce a son; but if that son was to be Henry’s heir, Ann would have to be Henry’s wife.

The Pope was once again approached, this time by England only, and asked to declare the marriage with Catherine null, on the grounds that it contravened the Christian Law which forbade marriage with a brother’s widow. But England’s insistence that the marriage should be nullified was balanced by Spain’s insistence that it shouldn’t. And at that moment Spain was well placed to influence the Pope’s deliberations. Rome, where the Pope lived, had been very thoroughly sacked and occupied by Spanish Troops. In addition, one imagines a natural disinclination on the part of the Pope to have his powers turned on and off like a tap. At all events, after much ceremonious prevarication, while Henry waited with a rising temper, it became clear that, so far as the Pope was concerned, the marriage with Catherine would stand.

To the ferment of a lover and the anxieties of a sovereign Henry now added a bad conscience; and a serious matter it was for him and those about him.

The Bible, he found, was perfectly clear on such marriages as he had made with Catherine; they were forbidden. And the threatened penalty was exactly what had befallen him, the failure of male heirs. He was in a state of sin. He had been thrust into this state of sin by his father with the active help of the Pope. And the Pope now proposed to keep him in a state of sin. The man who would do that, it began to seem to Henry, had small claim to being the Vicar of God.

And indeed, on looking into the thing really closely, Henry found -- what various voices had urged for centuries off and on -- that the supposed Pope was no more than an ordinary Bishop, the Bishop of Rome. This made everything clear and everything possible. If the Pope was not the Pope at all but merely a Bishop among Bishops Henry reasoned, then his special powers as Pope did not exist. In particular, of course, he had no power to dispense with God’s rulings as revealed in Leviticus 18, but equally important, he had no power to appoint other Bishops; and here an ancient quarrel stirred.

For if the Pope had not the power to appoint Bishops, then who did have, if not the King himself --- King by the Grace of God. Henry’s ancestors, all those other Henrys, had been absolutely right he decided. The Bishop of Rome, without a shadow of legality, had succeeded over the centuries in setting up a rival reign within the kingdom, a sort of long drawn usurpation of power. The very idea of it used to throw Henry into terrible rages. It should go on no longer!

He looked about for a good bishop to appoint to Canterbury, a Bishop with no ambitions to modify God’s ruling on deceased brother’s wives, yet sufficiently spirited to grant a divorce to his sovereign without consulting the Bishop of Rome. The man was found in Thomas Crammer. Catherine was divorced, Anne married, and the Established Church of England was off on its singular way.

Ever since that time English governments had regarded Catholics who remained steadfast in their faith as dangerous spies and saboteurs who were intent on restoring the power of the Pope in England. They believed that Catholics, especially Jesuits, under the orders of the Pope, were bent on the overthrow of the Crown. A number of incidents reinforced this belief over the years. The Jesuit inspired "Gunpowder Plot" of 1605 when Guy Fawkes, a Catholic, was arrested in the cellars of Parliament and convicted of trying to blow up the House of Lords during James I’s state opening of Parliament was one of the more prominent.

Other Protestant sects joined with the Anglicans in opposing Catholicism. This animosity reached a peak in 1642 when Civil War broke out between royalist forces supporting King Charles I of England and the forces of Parliament led by the Earl of Essex. Charles was Roman Catholic and by this time England was mainly Protestant. The war continued intermittently for the next three years until in 1645, Oliver Cromwell finally defeated the Royalists.

The Puritans in particular considered all things Catholic anathema. They wanted observance of "popish" festivals like Christmas and Easter to be stopped. They were pressing for abolition of bishoprics and suppression of the Catholic prayer book. Catholics were forced to tithe to the Church of England and they were told to accept the secular and moral authority of the Anglican clergy over that of the Pope. This anti-Catholic attitude remained in England after the end of the war and had been carried to America by the early colonists.

The Drury family had been Catholic for over six hundred years. Members of this family were advisors to the Kings of England and some were among the richest in the kingdom. Even under this persecution, and with all they had to lose, many refused to give up the practice of their faith. In this anti-Catholic climate the fortunes of the Drurys dramatically declined, and prospects for a young Catholic gentleman in England were no longer very good.

Thirty years earlier, before the beginning of the Civil War, Charles I had granted Charles Calvert (the first Lord Baltimore) a large tract of land in the New World between Philadelphia and the south bank of the Potomac River which he named Maryland. Charles Calvert died before the charter was processed and his son, Cecilius Calvert (the second Lord Baltimore), received it. Cecilius organized the expedition, arranged for the ships making the passage, and for the supplies and colonists. His younger brothers Leonard and George were to accompany the ships and govern the new Colony. The two ships, The Ark carrying some 300 passengers and the much smaller supply ship the Dove, left England on their maiden voyage in November of 1633. They arrived in March of 1634.

This colony was a godsend to English Catholics since one of the rules of the Colony was that no religious persecution be allowed. All colonists were free to worship as they chose. On the first passage of the Ark were three Jesuit priests who ministered to the parishioners and were said to have established the beginnings of English speaking Catholicism in North America. About a third of the first colonists were Catholic and all settled around the new settlement of St. Mary’s city which later became Maryland’s first Capital. Unfortunately this happy situation didn't last very long.

Prior to the Calvert charter, William Claiborne of Virginia had established trading posts on Kent Island and on the upper Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. He was furious when the Calverts received their charter and established the new Colony. He considered the Calvert charter an invasion of his rights. When the Puritans gained control in England and the King was beheaded, Claiborne took advantage of the situation to try to reclaim his outposts on Maryland soil. He enlisted the help of Captain Richard Ingle, the Master of an armed vessel which traded between England and Maryland. Ingle invaded Maryland and this effort became known as the Claiborne and Ingle rebellion.

They first captured Kent Island and then the whole of Maryland. Governor Calvert set up a temporary government in Virginia along with other mostly Catholic settlers whose lands had been seized. He then raised an army to assist him in regaining control over Maryland. Once he regained power he required all settlers in Maryland to take an oath of allegiance to him and his government. It must be remembered that Virginia was mainly Cavalier ( that is, Anglican and anti-Catholic) while southern Maryland was over fifty per cent Roman Catholic.

Except for this brief period in the middle of the century, Protestants and Catholics managed to live together fairly peaceably until 1694 when some of the people became dissatisfied with the way the colony was being administered. Wanting more of a voice in the government and with taxes rising, they rebelled against Lord Baltimore. By 1715 the dissident Anglicans and Puritans took over Maryland and set up their own government with the backing of Parliament who saw an opportunity to gain more control over the Colony. At this time they made the Church of England the official church of Maryland. This government lasted until the American Revolution.

The new Protestant government quickly instituted a number of repressive measures which mirrored many of those in England. Every male sixteen years and older, including slaves and servants, was obliged to pay a yearly tax of forty pounds of tobacco for the support of the Anglican Church. Only Clergy and the indigent were exempt. At the same time Catholic lawyers were disbarred. In 1697 the sheriffs of the colony were asked to return a list of Romish Priests, lay brothers, residences, churches, chapels, and places of worship in each district. In 1704 an "Act to prevent the growth of Popery" was passed closing all Catholic churches and schools in order to keep Catholics from practicing their religion or educating their children in the faith. Test oaths were required to hold public office which, for Catholics, amounted to a renunciation of their faith. The people were required by law to register births in the appropriate parish of the Episcopal church in the area where they lived. Their children could not inherit land unless this was done. In response many Catholics baptized their children twice, first in their own parish as required by the church and then in the Episcopal Church in their area. When Charles Calvert (the third Lord Baltimore) died in 1715, Catholics lost all power. By 1718 Catholics were not allowed to vote and in 1757 the lands of Catholics were being doubly taxed.

Robert Drury must have arrived in America sometime around the time of the Claiborne and Ingle Rebellion or perhaps shortly after. Compared to what he faced in England, the new world would have seemed like religious paradise. Most records indicate that he probably came to Virginia first and immigrated to Maryland after completing his indenture and accumulating enough money for a new start. No record has yet been found documenting his marriage though we have children for him in Maryland. It would be very interesting to see if any trace of the marriage or the births still exist.

John Drury, another of Robert’s sons, married Rachel Payne by whom he had at least 3 children: Robert, John, and Peter Drury. He married 2nd Mary Ford but apparently had no children by this marriage. John had at least one 55 acre tract of land but we have no name for this land at present. It was later resurveyed for his son Peter Drury at which time an additional 53 acres was added. The combined unit of 108 acres was then called "Drury’s Venture".

James also married, probably in the 1680’s, and had three children: Mary, James Jr., and Joseph. We have no record of a marriage for Robert Jr.

The one thing Robert (immigrant) was not able to provide for his children was an education. As Robert Dora mentions on page 56 of "The Family Drury",

       "All of the records of John Drury (husband of Rachel Payne
        and then Mary Ford), indicate that when a signature was
        required, he made his mark. A new generation of Drurys
       is no longer signing, but making a mark. This speaks volumes
       about their access to teachers, books, and the difficulty of their
       own lives in which they could no longer pass an education on
       to the next generation."

By 1726 all of Robert Drury’s children had died and his grandchildren were married and settled on the land. We know little at this point of what happened to Robert Drury Jr. (b. 1660). James was still living in 1714, probably on Lot #34 of Beaverdam Manor called Terra Collium as he transferred this tract to his daughter Mary Chamberlain, but we don’t know definitely when he died. Robert’s son John, who had sons John, Robert and Peter, was dead by 1724.


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