William C. F. Drewry
25th Oct 1881 - 1936
25th Oct 1881
Born in 11, Glenarvon Road, Hackney
6th May 1883
Baptised in St John's, Walworth
married Mary in South Africa
married Anna E Engelhardt in Cathcart, South Africa
Birth of daughter Shirley Theresa Stewart Drewry in South Africa
10th Oct 1933
Birth of son Roy William Charles Drewry in South Africa
13th Jun 1935
Birth of son Clive Terrence Drewry in South Africa
16th Feb 1936
died in Transkei, South Africa
Initially we knew little about William, other than family history that he "disappeared in Africa" probably working on South African Railways and that he possibly "married twice".
Christine Drewry, his niece, daughter of James, left a note: "Billy Drewry married in South Africa. Children 2? (deceased)".
In the early 1950's William's brother, Alfie, tried to find him or his family in South Africa, but had no luck.
We pieced together his early history for this site. And then a young man in RSA (the Republic of South Africa), who had been trying to find his ancestors, found the page and contacted us, wondering whether he might be the great grandson of William.
February, 2015: "Hi I am .. Drewry and my father is .. Drewry. His father's name was Clive Drewry who was orphaned at the Childrens Haven in the Village Ugie in South Africa and he had an older brother name Roy and a younger (later corrected to older) blind sister name Shirley, ... We believe that [William C. F. Drewry] is my grandfather's father ..."
In the South African ID and Death Records we found:
Shirley Theresa Stewart Drewry b. 1932
Roy William Charles Drewry b. 1933, and
Clive Terrence Drewry b. 1935
The dates fitted with WCF's departure from England in 1928.
The names of the two eldest include significant Drewry names from previous generations.
Photos of his grandfather, and of himself and his sister showed family resemblances. We hired a researcher Anne Lehmkuhl who eventually confirmed the connection.
The birth certificate for William has 'Camilla' as his middle name.
Perhaps this was meant to be 'Camillo' - the name which appears in his baptism record. As an Italian name it is probably a name chosen by his mother.
In January, 1889, he was enrolled in the Jessop Road (Lambeth) School with two of his brothers. He is recorded as 'just' William. He had already attended Mrs Elliot's Private School.
In the 1891 census, he is shown as: William C., aged 9 yrs .
In January, 1894, in the Jessop Road School (Lambeth) record he is shown as: William Camillo.
William does not appear in the 1901 census.
In 1902 a 'Drewry, W' travels back from South Africa on the Braemar Castle. Could this be our William? In the passenger list, however, 'Drewry, W's occupation is shown as 'Baker'.
Civil & Etherington (p.24), in their description of the early years of the Drewry Car Co, record that:
"On 23rd December 1908, .. Mr W Drewry (a family member of the former owners) was awarded a bonus of £20 in consideration of the 'good results obtained from the cars running on the Leopoldine Railway' which he had commissioned in Brazil."
In 1908, William's father, Charles Stewart Drewry was Chairman of the Drewry Car Co and the co-founder, James S Drewry, had moved to Baguley motors as a designer, so Civil & Etherington are correct in referring to them as
'the former owners'.
Charles Stewart was now a major shareholder and remained chairman of the company until his death in 1929.
It seems very likely that William and other members of the family worked on behalf of the company from time to time.
(For more on the Drewry Car Co see: Charles Stewart Drewry.)
In 1925 William is in Charles and Julia's Golden Wedding photo.
Had he come back from Africa to attend the anniversary? He certainly looks tanned in the photo. But we have no arrival record to fit with the date.
Later registration papers for his children show that William was working as a 'railway engineer' in South Africa. He would have been working on his own account rather than as part of the family business, which by then had new owners.
Had he married in Africa already?
The Daily Representative, Friday, December 2, 1927 has the following Death Announcement:
" DREWRY.- Passed peacefully away on November 29th, 1927, Mary, beloved wife of William DREWRY, and mother of Rhoda (Mrs. A. LITTLEFORD) and Fred Morley."
The South-Africa-Eastern-Cape Digest, Vol 8, Issue 138, has the following brief reference:
"DREWRY formerly MORLEY born DIXON; Mary; 669"
It would appear that William married a widow Mary Morley some time before 1927. According to the Death Announcement there were two foster children and the daughter was already married by 1927.
[In 1927, William would have been 46.]
In 1928, London Port Records show:
William Drewry, aged 50, Engineer,
UK Address: 120 Castlenau, Barnes, SW13,
coming from South Africa,
arrived in London, 5th February on the S.S. Beltana.
Eighteen days later, on the 23rd February, he boarded the S.S.Beltana for the return journey.
His 'Last Address in the UK' is "c/o C.G. Drewry, 120 Castlenau, Barnes."
His 'Country of Intended Future Permanent Residence' is recorded as South Africa.
[The London Port records are probably transcribed from handwritten forms and the address in the Departure should probably be "c/o C.S. Drewry". - 120, Castlenau, is the family address in the late 1920s.]
in 1931 William married Anna Elizabeth Engelhardt in Cathcart, South Africa.
Anna was previously married to a Mr Fouracres, in 1925. No children were born of that marriage.
[Source Anne Lehmkuhl]
In a letter asking for an educational grant, Anna Elizabeth says that Bill was working as a mechanic in the garage at Tsomo, getting £20 per month.
In William's Information of Death Form, he is also described as a motor mechanic residing in Tsomo. The 'Intended Place of Burial' is Tsomo Cemetery.
In 1936, the Queenstown newspaper, The Daily Representative, 16th February, carried an 'In Memoriam Notice' as follows:
DREWRY.- In loving memory of William (Bill) Drewry, who passed away on 16th February 1936.
Bill left his young family (his wife, a three year old, a two year old and a babe in arms) in straitened circumstances at a time when the world was in turmoil. The decade had begun with a global financial crash and would end in a global war.
Birth: Dec 1881, Drewry William Camilla F, Hackney, 1b 558
(Certificate: 'William Camilla Fava')