DRURY, Dru (aft.1527-1617), of Riddlesworth, Norf.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. aft. 1527,1 5th but 3rd surv. s. of Sir Robert Drury of Hedgerley and Chalfont St. Peter, Bucks. by Elizabeth, da. of Edmund Brudenell of Chalfont St. Peter; bro. of Robert and William. educ. St. Edmund’s Hostel, Camb. 1544; ?inn of court or chancery. m. (1) c.1565, Elizabeth, da. and h. of Sir Philip Calthorpe of Cockthorpe, Norf., wid. of Sir Henry Parker and of Sir William Woodhouse, s.p.; (2) 1582, Katherine (d.1601), da. and h. of William Finch of Lynsted, Kent, 1s. 3da. Kntd. 1579.2

Offices Held

Gent. usher of privy chamber 1558; j.p. Norf. from c.1566, Mdx. from c.1596; sheriff, Norf. 1576-7, commr. musters by 1583, custos rot. 1583; jt. guardian of Mary Queen of Scots Nov. 1586-Feb. 1587; receiver of the revenue in the Exchequer for Norf. and Hunts. by 1587-1604; lt. of Tower Nov. 1595-Sept. 1596.3


Drury, a courtier and younger son of a Buckinghamshire family, had to look outside his county for a parliamentary seat. He may have owed his return for Mitchell to the Earl of Arundell, who was related by marriage to Drury’s friend the Duke of Norfolk, and also to Sir John Arundell of Lanherne, lord of the borough of Mitchell. At Camelford in 1563 the patron is not known; perhaps it was the 2nd Earl of Bedford. Drury appears to have taken no part in the proceedings of the House in either the 1559 or 1563 Parliament. By 1584 he was of sufficient standing to be returned as a knight of the shire for Norfolk. He was named to committees concerned with the better observing of the Sabbath day (27 Nov.), the Norfolk sea-coast (9 Feb. 1585), plurality of benefices (13 Feb.), fraudulent conveyances (15 Feb.), the subsidy (24 Feb.), Jesuits (9 Mar.), Sherborne hospital (17 Mar.) and pirates (24 Mar.).4

In December 1559 the Duke of Feria reported from Antwerp that ‘Mr. Drury was in the Tower for conspiring against Lord Robert, and for being too great with’ an unspecified ambassador. The occasion seems to have been the quarrel between Norfolk and Dudley over the Queen’s marriage; the Spanish ambassador’s account of the affair described Drury as ‘of the Queen’s chamber’. He was still out of favour in January 1561, when he wrote to Cecil ‘from the miserable Fleet’. During the examinations of the Duke of Norfolk’s friends taken in October 1569, Sir Thomas Cornwallis deposed that ‘at the Duke’s last coming to Kenninghall he spoke generally of the [Mary Stuart marriage to Dru Drury’ and others. There is no indication that Drury himself was involved in the Norfolk conspiracy.5

His first marriage, to a Norfolk heiress, fitted him to be a justice of the peace in that county, and by 1566 he was an active official in Norfolk, where he had not only his wife’s estate of Riddlesworth, but also the manor of Catton, which he rented from the dean and chapter of Norwich. His second marriage brought him property in Kent, at Preston and Lynsted, where he built a large house opposite the church. The queen granted him the royal manor of Nunnington, Yorkshire, which he alienated to Thomas Norclift.6

Drury visited Ireland in July-August 1579, during his brother’s period of office as lord justice, bringing back reports to the Privy Council. In September 1586 he was one of the officials present at the execution of the Babington conspirators, and in November the same year he was sent to help Sir Amias Paulet as Mary Stuart’s guardian. In a letter to Burghley, Paulet showed his pleasure at the appointment:

Because your lordship cannot be ignorant of the old acquaintance and good friendship between this gentleman and me, I take it for an especial favour that among so many others meet for this place, it hath pleased your lordship to make choice of one such as was so likely to be welcome unto me.

Drury arrived on 15 Nov. and remained at Fotheringay until shortly after the execution. Mary described him as ‘ce Droury, plus modeste et gratieux de beaucoup’, and his descendants still possess a portrait she gave him. His last important office under Elizabeth was that of lieutenant of the Tower, from which he retired on health grounds in September 1596. He continued in office as a gentleman usher after the death of Elizabeth, and was, in 1606, an original subscriber to the Virginia Company.7

Though a protestant, Drury was no fanatic. He took pity on Oliver Pig and Anthony Morse, preachers who suffered under Whitgift’s disciplinary measures, and gave them ‘a private place’ in his household. Writing to Lord Willoughby de Eresby about a sermon preached by the puritan Walter Balconquhal before James VI, he prayed, ‘The Lord grant him His wisdom to weigh the place, person and time, so all may be done to edify’. He had a reputation for compassion. When one of his relatives wished to marry, at the age of 40, a 26 year-old minister with no living, Recorder Fleetwood advised the young man to go to Hampstead to see Drury, who, he thought, would ‘be good to him’. Writing to Burghley about provision for his children, Drury added that he was in no doubt about his heavenly inheritance: ‘I know and am assured that the purchase is already made for me by Jesus Christ, who hath also taken possession’. He signed the Countess of Warwick’s petition (1586) on behalf of the puritan minister Udall, who had been suspended from preaching.8

He died 29 Apr. 1617, and was buried at Riddlesworth. His will, drawn up in July 1613, spoke of ‘the love of my life and the life of my soul, mine only Saviour and Redeemer’, and expressed confidence that as an ‘adopted fellow heir’ with Christ he would be one of the ‘elect of that heavenly inheritance’. Among the bequests to his only son was a jewel of gold with a picture of Queen Elizabeth. There were legacies, totalling over £60, to the poor of St. Giles, Cripplegate, in London; Lynsted, Kent; Norwich and Catton. He asked Lord Zouche and Lord Wotton (Edward) to act as supervisors, and instructed his son to ‘live by their counsel’. The will was proved a month after his death.9

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. His older bro. William† was b.1527.
  • 2. A. Campling, Hist. Drury Fam. 81-9; Muskett, Suff. Manorial Fams. i. 357.
  • 3. Campling, 81; Lansd. 3, ff. 191-31; 29, f. 161; 34, f. 76; 55, ff. 19-20; 56, f. 168 seq.; 59, f. 43; 106, f. 1; A. H. Smith thesis; APC, xxx. 146; CSP Dom. 1581-90, pp. 123, 367; 1595-7, p. 281; 1598-1601, p. 152; 1603-10, p. 152; HMC Hatfield, iii. 231; v. 475-6.
  • 4. D’Ewes, 333, 346, 349, 356, 365, 370, 372.
  • 5. SP12/16, f. 4; HMC Hatfield, i. 159, 438; CSP Span. 1558-67, p. 118.
  • 6. APC, vii. 362; viii. 99; xiv. 114-15; Lansd. 48, f. 136 seq.; 50, f. 148; 146, ff. 9, 18; CSP Dom. 1581-90, pp. 32-3; 1598-1601, p. 528; Hasted, Kent, vi. 305, 543 et passim; A. H. Smith thesis, 180; HMC Hatfield, xiv. 64.
  • 7. CSP Ire. 1574-85, pp. 175, 179, 181-2; APC, xiv, 226; Copy-book of Sir Amias Paulet’s Letters, ed. Morris (Roxburghe Club lxxxvi), pp. 308, 309, 384; Campling, 84; HMC Hatfield, v. 475-6; vi. 284; CSP Dom. 1595-7, p. 281; 1598-1601, p. 152; Le Neve, Monumenta Anglicana, i. 59; A. Brown, Genesis of the United States, 882.
  • 8. Collinson thesis, 366 n. 2, 847 n. 3; Lansd. 20, f. 20; 107, f. 142; CSP Scot. 1586-9, p. 37; A. Peel, Seconde Parte of a Register, ii. 40.
  • 9. Le Neve, i. 59; PCC 39 Weldon; Campling, 87.