DRURY, William (1527-79).

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. 2 Oct. 1527, 3rd but 2nd surv. s. of Sir Robert Drury II, and bro. of Dru and Robert I. educ. Gonville, Camb. m. 10 Oct. 1560, Margaret, da. of Thomas Wentworth, 1st Lord Wentworth, wid. of Sir John Williams, Lord Williams of Thame, Oxon., 3da. Kntd. 11 May 1570.1

Offices Held

J.p. Cumb. 1569, Yorks. 1569-71; marshal and dep. gov. Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumb. Feb. 1564-76; pres. Munster 1576-8; ld. justice, Ireland 26 Apr. 1578-d.2


As a younger son, William Drury had to make his own way in the world. Leaving Cambridge without a degree, he chose soldiering and at the age of 17 took part in the sieges of Boulogne and Montreuil. He was probably attached to Sir John Russell, Baron Russell, under whom he was to serve in the western rebellion of 1549. Russell was a neighbour of Drury’s father in Buckinghamshire and his niece Agnes Bowerman married Drury’s eldest brother Robert.3

Except for Drury’s own late marriage, nothing is known of his private life. He was probably the William Drury who served in the Scottish campaign of 1547 and perhaps the Mr. Drury who took a leading share in a tournament held before Edward VI in January 1552. His father supported Mary during the succession crisis of 1553 but what part, if any, Drury played has not come to light. Late in 1553 he was in Brussels reporting political news to Lord William Howard at Calais. At about the same time the Count of Egmont, the imperial envoy in England, needing the services of English gentlemen, asked that Drury should join him, mindful of his creditors, Drury was loth to do so unless he could have the Council’s protection as one ‘going as her majesty’s servant’. Early in 1554 he was sent to Spain and although he may have returned for the royal marriage in July he seems to have been abroad again within the next few months; Nicholas Wotton, the English ambassador to France, reporting to the Council on 24 Dec., hoped that Captain Drury would have brought them more detailed news before his letter arrived.4

Drury may have been nominated for Chipping Wycombe during his absence, perhaps as a protection against his creditors, although his family ties and official connexions were well suited to prevailing requirements. The family’s close friendship with Sir Edmund Peckham, who exercised patronage at Chipping Wycombe, had resulted in the return of Drury’s brother Robert with Henry Peckham in October 1553 and was to do so again in 1555, but both were missing in November 1554, Peckham at least perhaps because of his Protestantism.5

After a commission in 1556 to raise forces in Yorkshire, Drury was in France again in the following year. He commanded a band of 100 light horse at Guisnes and was recommended by the Queen for a military post at Calais. He also acted as a courier, bearing newsletters between Mary and Philip. Under Elizabeth, his career was to embrace posts of greater responsibility in Scotland and Ireland. Trusted by Sir Ralph Sadler as being ‘honest, wise and secret’, and also, subsequently, by Burghley, he played an active and at times hazardous part in the military and political affairs of both countries. His knighthood was bestowed by the 3rd Earl of Sussex at Berwick during the expedition of 1570. He was engaged in resisting the rebellion of the 14th Earl of Desmond in the summer of 1579 when he died of illness at Waterford in October. He was buried in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin: a monument bearing his effigy was erected some time later, but no longer exists. His widow married James Croft and died in 1588.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: M. K. Dale


  • 1. Date of birth given in DNB. Coll. Top. et Gen. vi. 92; A. Campling, Fam. Drury, 73-78; Machyn’s Diary (Cam. Soc. xlii), 244.
  • 2. CPR, 1569-72, pp. 223, 224, 283.
  • 3. Campling, 73.
  • 4. Cal. Scot. Pprs. 1547-63, pp. 46, 49 and passim; Lit. Rems. Edw. VI, 384, 388; CSP For. 1553-8, pp. 33, 36, 146; CSP Span. 1554, p. 149.
  • 5. CSP Span. 1554, p. 141; Burnet, Hist. Ref. vi. 313-14; HMC 13th Rep. IV, 319.
  • 6. Strype, Eccles. Memorials, iii(1), 490; CSP For. 1553-8, pp. 310, 321, 327, 344, 348, 352.