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.
It took some time to find William in the 1901 census (his name was mis-spelt by the enumerator) at 51, West Street, Burgess Hill, West Sussex
|Henry Norman||Head||47||M||Baker & Grocer||b. Burgess Hill|
|Harriet Norman||Wife||43||M||b. Brighton|
|Florence Norman||Dau||19||S||b. Burgess Hill|
|Donald Norman||Son||12||S||b. Burgess Hill|
|William Drewery||Boarder||20||S||Cycle repairer||b. Middlesex, London|
In November, 1902 a 'Drewry, W' travels back from South Africa on the Braemar Castle. Could this be our William?
In the passenger list, 'Drewry, W's occupation is shown as 'Baker'. Perhaps he has taken up baking while boarding with Henry Norman, above. Just a coincidence perhaps and this is not our William.
If the passenger on the Braemar Castle is our William, then he and and his brother Jim are both in Africa at the same time. Jim arrives in May, William leaves sometime in October or early November.
In the 1901 census there is only one male Drewry with the occupation 'baker': Henry Drewry, 22, Journeyman baker. Given that the passenger on the Braemar Castle is returning from Africa in 1902, it may be that he was not in England for the 1901 Census (which would rule out William C F)
In 1905, 'The South London Press' records the meetings of the South London Operatic Society. William was a member as were his sisters Bella and Julia Theresa. Also in the society were Henry Knight and his son Frederick (who would later marry Bella)
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."
Does the above statement imply that William went to South America? We have no passenger list or port records to support this.
In 1908, William's father, Charles Stewart Drewry and his brother, the co-founder, James S Drewry were dirrectors of the Drewry Car Co. based in Teddington.
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.)
On 23rd May, 1912, Mr W Drewry, age 31, is listed as one of twelve passengers arriving in London from Lobito Bay, Angola, on the Berwick Castle, which had started its voyage in Mauritius.
He is the only person travelling 3rd class and the only person whose occupation (mechanic) is listed.
William's 'Country of Last Permanent Residence' is given as 'Africa'.
On 24th August, 1912, Mr Drewry, age 31, embarks in London for Lobito Bay on the Cowrie Castle, which is headed for South Africa.
His occupation is listed as missionary, so either William is having a laugh or his handwriting is so poor that the purser has misread 'mechanic'.
His 'Country of Intended Future Residence' is given as 'Angola' but the same is true for all the other passengers.
These journeys raise a number of questions:
When did William go out to Africa? Had he been in Angola for some time? We have been unable to find a 1911 census record for him so we can guess that he has been in Angola for at least a year. (There is a passenger record for a Drewry going out to Africa in 1909.)
Was he there on behalf of the Drewry Car Co.? We know (courtesy of Pete Roberts) that the Drewry Car Co. was involved with Pauling & Co. who were working on the proposed Cape-to-Cairo railway. Pauling had a base at the West African port, Lobito Bay, for work on the Benguela Railway. Pete, in his book 'To the Banks of Zambezi and Beyond', p.227, says:
"Work started on 1st March 1903, with Pauling and Company and Griffiths and Company contracted on the project. By 1914, when World War I suspended construction, some 400 miles (644 km) had been constructed, with the remaining 400 miles only completed in 1929. The final section of the line from Lobito on the Atlantic coast to the Luao River on the border with the Belgian Congo, traversing a total of 837 miles (1,347 km), was opened in June 1929." [Roberts, 2021, p.227]
Civil & Etherington list a 10-hp railcar (unknown works number) produced during the BSA period for the Benguela Railway, and dated between August 1909 to Dec 1911. (The BSA records are, unfortunately incomplete).
Later registration papers for his children show that William was working as a 'railway engineer' in South Africa. Perhaps, then, he is working on his own account rather than as part of the family business, which by then had new owners.
In 1927, The Daily Representative, Friday, December 2, 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. Littlefird) 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.]
On 5th February, 1928, William Drewry, aged 50, Engineer, UK Address: 120 Castlenau, Barnes, SW13, coming from South Africa, arrived in London, the S.S. Beltana. [ London Port Records]
On the 23rd February, 1928, eighteen days later, William is listed as a passenger on 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 1928, William is in Charles and Julia's Golden Wedding photo.
He has come back from Africa to attend the anniversary. He certainly looks tanned in the photo.
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
(Birth Certificate: 'William Camilla Fava' - not 'Camillo')