DREWE, Robert (1575-1645), of Southbroom House, Devizes, Wilts. and the Middle Temple, London.
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Family and Education
bap. 17 Jan. 1575,1 1st s. of John Drewe of Southbroom and Eleanor, da. of William Cooke of Lacock, Wilts. educ. Christ Church, Oxf. 1592; M. Temple 1592. m. 25 May 1602, Jane (bur. 23 Jan. 1643), da. of John Jackman, Grocer, of St. Michael Bassishaw, London, 6s. (1 d.v.p.) inc. John*, 5da. suc. fa. 1614. bur. 24 Jan. 1645.2 sig. Robert Drewe.
Burgess, Devizes 1597, member of the Twelve 1600-40, j.p. 1606-40, common councilman by 1621-40;3 j.p. Wilts. 1618-at least 1633,4 commr. subsidy 1621, 1624, 1626, 1629,5 to survey the lands belonging to Wotton-under-Edge sch., Glos. 1629,6 repair of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Wilts. 1633,7 saltpetre manufacture 1634,8 array 1643.9
Drewe’s family may have originated in Devon but had settled in north Wiltshire by 1433.12 Drewe’s great-grandfather, a clothier, purchased in 1501/2 the Southbroom estate which, together with other neighbouring properties, was inherited by Drewe on his father’s death in 1614.13 Drewe himself received a conventional education, and trained as a lawyer at the Middle Temple. However, in 1599 he was denied promotion to the bar on the grounds of his insufficient ‘exercises of learning.’14 He nevertheless remained in chambers until at least 1630, supervising the legal training of gentlemen’s sons from the villages neighbouring Southbroom.15 These students included two of his own sons, John and Robert, both of whom were later called to the bar, as well as his younger brother, Henry, who joined his chambers in 1613.16
Drewe first sat for Devizes while still a student at the Middle Temple. Chosen for a third time in 1604, he left no mark on the records of the first Jacobean Parliament. It is unclear whether the Robert Drewe elected in 1625 was this Member or his third son, then aged 21 and (like his father before him) a student at the Middle Temple.17 Either way, the only record of his presence at Westminster is in respect of an application for leave, which was granted for five or six days on 2 August.18
Outside Parliament, Drewe was often employed on town business. In 1618, for instance, he and John Kent* were sent to Marlborough.19 An active town magistrate, Drewe was one of those who responded to the 1622 Privy Council order to suppress alehouses in an effort to reduce the consumption of corn.20 Drewe’s property interests in and around Devizes were considerable, and in 1629 he was wealthy enough to be assessed for the subsidy at £15 in lands and £3 in goods.21 By 1614 he was leasing from the Devizes corporation the inn known as the Red Lion.22 He was also involved in managing the estates of a number of prominent local individuals, including Charles Danvers* and Edward Nicholas*.23 On the death of the 4th earl of Pembroke’s estate steward, John Kent, in December 1632, it was suggested that Drewe, already one of the 2nd earl of Hertford’s estate officers, would take up the position and convey it to his eldest son, John, but whether this happened is unknown.24
Drewe declined to contribute towards the cost of the First Bishops’ War in 1639.25 In October 1640, now 75 years old, he resigned all his offices in Devizes ‘for divers good causes and considerations’.26 Little has been ascertained of his final years, but he evidently sided with the king during the Civil War, as he was appointed a commissioner of array for Wiltshire in 1643. Drewe’s royalism is surprising, as he was related to a number of prominent puritans. Among these was his wife’s brother-in-law Thomas Lambert*, with whom he shared certain property interests, and the puritan pamphleteer Sir Humphrey Lynde, a former colleague at the Middle Temple whose daughter had married his eldest son.27 Drewe was also the dedicatee of The Christian’s Theoretico-Practicon, a tract by Robert Dyer, a puritan divine and Devizes lecturer.28 In January 1645 Southbroom House was burned by the parliamentary governor of Gloucester.29 Drewe is believed to have died in the conflagration, and was buried on 24 Jan. in Southbroom church.30 No will or administration has been found. The Southbroom dovecote, which survived the fire, passed to Drewe’s son John. The main estate was sold to a London merchant in 1680.31
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Authors: Henry Lancaster / Andrew Thrush
- 1. Wilts. RO, 594/1, f. 5.
- 2. Vis. Wilts. (Harl. Soc. cv-cvi), 50; Al. Ox.; MTR, 329; Wilts. RO, 594/2, unfol.; PROB 11/84, f. 239; 11/124, f. 374v.
- 3. Wilts. RO, G20/1/16, ff. 169, 177, 220; G20/1/17, ff. 1v, 139v.
- 4. C231/4, f. 58; SP16/246/73.
- 5. C212/22/21, 23; E115/237/126; E179/199/401; Add. 34566, f. 132.
- 6. LJ, iv. 18a.
- 7. GL, ms 25475/1, f. 11v.
- 8. SP16/258/68.
- 9. Harl. 6804, f. 106.
- 10. CSP Dom. 1631-3, p. 463.
- 11. Surveys of the Manors of Philip, 1st Earl of Pembroke ed. E. Kerridge (Wilts. Rec. Soc. ix), 1.
- 12. Wilts. Arch. Mag. iii. 177.
- 13. Wilts. RO, 212B/2295; PROB 11/124, f. 373; VCH Wilts. vii. 211.
- 14. MTR, 394.
- 15. Ibid. 398, 423, 497, 527, 763.
- 16. Ibid. 502, 569, 797.
- 17. Vis. Wilts. 50; MTR, 697.
- 18. Procs. 1625, p. 378.
- 19. Wilts. RO, G20/1/16, f. 309.
- 20. Wilts. RO, A1/150/2, 3; G20/1/17, f. 12v; B.H. Cunnington, Some Annals of the Bor. of Devizes, i. pt. 2, p. 71.
- 21. VCH Wilts. vii. 211; Wilts. Arch. Mag. vi. 127; Wilts. RO, 212B/5442, 2341, 2349; G20/150/49; E179/199/401.
- 22. Wilts. RO, G20/1/16, f. 278; Cunnington, pt. 1, p. 82.
- 23. SP16/423/19; Abstract of Wilts. IPMs ed. G.S. and A.E. Fry (Brit. Rec. Soc. xxiii), 51.
- 24. SP16/226/58.
- 25. Historical Collections ed. J. Rushworth, iii. 914.
- 26. Cunnington, i. pt. 2, p. 97.
- 27. Wilts. N and Q, iii. 36; Abstract of Wilts. IPMs, 51.
- 28. Ath. Ox. iii. 395.
- 29. CSP Dom. 1644-5, p. 525.
- 30. Wilts. Arch. Mag. Lib., Devizes, Anon. Hist. of Southbroom House; Wilts. RO, 594/2, unfol.
- 31. VCH Wilts. x. 150.