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Joseph Drury

b. n/k   d. 1703

An entry in the Marriages section of the parish register of St.Nicholas Church, Kenilworth for 1653 gives us our first confirmed member of the Kenilworth Drury Family. 

Joseph Drury arrived in Kenilworth shortly after the Civil War had ended. There are no records of Kenilworth prior to this date in which the family name appears, however, there are very few records earlier than this register in any case. Where he came from and why he did not return there after the war will, I feel,always remain a mystery.

The parish records for 1653 record his marriage to Alice Cheslin with the ceremony being performed by Simon Archer (Ref:12). Whether there was a connection between the bride or groom and Sir Simon Archer is not known, he was, however, quite a famous antiquary who played a major part in the preparation of 'Dugdales Warwickshire' which is a major historical reference work for the county. Sir Simon was knighted in 1624, was Sheriff of Warwickshire in 1628 and was a Member of Parliament shortly before the Civil War in 1640. He died at the age of 81 years.

Once settled in Kenilworth, Joseph became a baker, and was obviously a shrewd businessman. Having set up his bakers shop, and ensured a supply of corn from the tithes that he rented, he prospered. Successive Hearth Taxes, levied by King Charles II between the years 1662 and 1674, show a steady increase in the number of hearths that Joseph owned (Ref:21). Since the number of hearths was usually proportional to the size of the property and Joseph increased his number from two to six during this period, it is safe to assume that his bakers business thrived.

Alice died on 11th June 1698 and Joseph died five years later on 5th July 1703 (Ref:20)

Joseph would have seen the years of Civil War and the Protectorate end, and seen Charles II restored as monarch of England. One of the most eventful times of English history had come to an end. Never again was Englishman to fight Englishman or the Country to be ruled by a commoner.

The vicar of Kenilworth, William Best 1690 - 1740, having had his income removed by the Lady of the Manor of Kenilworth, by confiscation of the tithes due to the vicaridge, attempts, in his writings, to establish his right to them. He recites several instances that he feels illustrate his case, and it is two of these examples which give us some valuable information regarding Joseph Drury.

The first mention by William Best of our ancestor occurs when he attempts to show that even those terrible Parliamentarian soldiers treated their vicars better than he was being treated:

"But what is very remarkable during the 20 years rebellion and usurpation, these rapacious vermin never once seized on the plate belonging to the communion table nor ever attempted to ingross themselves or alienate the tythes from the church. But from time to time set up ministers and allowed them to have and enjoy all the tythes the said John Best vicar dyed possessed of according to the endowment of the said Rob. Woodhill of Leicester. The names of these ministers were Daniel Bourn, Edward Baron, Will.Morice, Anthony Woodhill and John Maddocks. As proof of this, there is a lease extant under the hand of the said Anth Woodhill (who lived 12 years amongst them as their minister) bearing date the 3rd. of July 1650 wherein the said Anthony Woodhill grants Robert Best and Joseph Drury all the tythes whatsoever yearly coming, rendering and growing within the township parish and lands of Kenilworth for and under the yearly rent of four and thirty pounds."

Joseph was obviously not without means, as thirty four pounds in those days was a substantial amount, and he is seen here taking a gamble on the harvest by leasing the tithes. This meant that the vicar was guranteed his income, of thirty four pounds, and Joseph Drury and Robert Best would have to rely on the harvest being good and the value of the produce given as tithes exceeding the lease amount.He is mentioned again, at a later date, renting the tithes for £29 a year from 15th. March 1687 for three years.

It would appear, from another mention of this character,that he was not without influence at the manor:

" .... But they the said Ladys resolved it should be and accordingly ordered their steward Mr.Henry Gough to seize upon the said great tythes, to seperate them from the small tythes (which were never before divided) and to leave the vicar upon valued at about ten pounds a year and to sell the great tythes to Joseph Drury an old olivarian soldier for sixteen pounds a year and therewith pay the said sum .....
.... Then he petitioned yet he might rent the said tythes and offered to give £2O per annum for them rather than they should fall into the hands of such a dissentor from the church. But the Lady ......
..... As to the small priory tythes she was pleased to declare she did not pretend to any right to them and yet the vicar might take them as he saw good, but if he would let the same man hold them yet rented her great tythes, as she called them, she could allow the vicar ten pounds a year for his small tythes ...."

This passage is significant in several ways' particularly in that it enables us to identify Joseph Drury as a Parliamentarian soldier. The expression 'old olivarian soldier' refers to the fact that he was one of Oliver Cromwell's men, a Roundhead.

The events of the War are recorded only in general terms in the surviving documents of that time, and it has been impossible to determine the battles and campaigns that Joseph fought in. It is possible that he was garrisoned at Kenilworth during part of the conflict, perhaps not wishing to move on once it had ended. Whatever part he played, he was obviously not the vicar's favourite person, although he would have settled initially amongst friends with many Parliamentarian soldiers and officers also settling in the area.

Full Transcript of Vicar's Writings

Joseph married Alice Cheslin on 6th. November 1653 at St.Nicholas Church Kenilworth - ceremony performed by Sir Simon Archer (Ref: 12)

John (c.08/05/1656)   (m.03/10/1686)   (d.08/10/1730)
Joseph (c.24/01/1657)   (m.n/k)   (d.n/k)
Ann (c.31/10/1660)   (m.n/k)   (d.n/k)
Richard (c.21/12/1662)   (m.n/k)   (d.19/03/1729)
Patience (c.29/02/1664)  (m.n/k)   (d.28/01/1689)
James (c.03/07/1667)   (m.n/k)   (d.16/06/1668)
James (c.01/01/1672)   (m.n/k)   (d.n/k) 

Daniel * (c.25/03/1675)   (m.n/k)  (d.02/06/1676) 

Benjamin (c.21/09/1676)   (m.n/k)  (d.21/10/1745) 

* New Years Day was 25/03 at this time.  

Extract from Parish Register