John and Deborah Collins Drewry
It is not known exactly when or how John Drewry arrived in Charles Parish, York County, Virginia. No records exists identifying this John as the immigrant from England, and it is my (unsubstantiated) belief that he was born in Charles Parish sometime before 1650. Existing records document John and provide a fleeting picture of his life and family. The earliest records appear in 1662 and indicate that he was an adult capable of representing himself in matters involving the court. It is not known if these records reference the John Drewry that married Deborah Collins and bore nine children in Charles Parish, and who is believed to be the progenitor of the Drewrys in America, or, perhaps, reference his father. There is some evidence that this John Drewry was a junior, however, this is still speculative.
There is one strong piece of evidence suggesting this John Drewry might have been the immigrant from England: "George Harris merchant hath proved right by testimony produced to 900 acres of land for the charge of importacion of 18 persons: vidzt. John Drury, February 3, 1663." It was common practice in colonial times for the Crown to grant land to those who transported settlers to the new colony. George Harris was granted land for the "importacion" of one John Drury, date of immigration unknown. Such grants were made years following the actual immigration of the individual.
The next recorded events for John were in the Charles Parish Register announcing the birth of his first son, also John, born July 24, 1673. The register clearly documents this John Drewry as being the son of John and Deborah Drewry. While no records exist for John's marriage to Deborah it is believed they married around 1670. Deborah was the daughter of Matthew and Judith Collins, and John Drewry was mentioned as the "son-in-law" in Judith Collins' will.
John Drewry, a wheelright by trade, was prominent in York County, VA, being Commissioner of Records, 1702, and Vestryman in Charles Parish from 1694 until his death in 1714. It is believed that John was a farmer and may have also been a fisherman. Records exists showing that John hired boats and that his son, John, Jr., drowned in the Charles River (as recorded by the registers) in 1727. John was also deputy sheriff of the county.
Together, John and Deborah (Collins) Drewry, had nine children, seven sons and two daughters, beginning with the birth of John in 1673 and ending with the birth of James in 1693. It is believed their children, like themselves, lived their entire lives within Charles Parish and York County. However, it is known that four of their grandchildren moved south across the James River to Southampton County when it was formed in 1749/50.
Southampton County was formed from Isle of Wight County following the great land sale with the Nottoway chiefs which began in 1735. John's grandchildren who settled in Southampton County were: Samuel, Jr., (1730 - 1796), Thomas, Jr., (1725 - 1777), Humphrey, (1730 - 1798), and William, (1727 - 1781). Another grandson, Robert, Jr., (1723 - 1782), is known to have moved to Warwick County about 1745.
John Drewry died in Charles Parish on July 28, 1714. Deborah, his wife, continued to live there her death on September 17, 1735. It is from this John and Deborah Collins Drewry that the Drewrys in America, the subject of this book, are descended.
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