William C. F. DREWRY Shirley T S DREWRY Roy W C DREWRY Clive Terrence DREWRY Mini tree diagram

Anna Elizabeth Engelhardt

Life History

1906

Born in Jaggersfontein, Free State, South Africa.

1931

Married William C. F. Drewry in Cathcart, South Africa.

7th Sep 1932

Birth of daughter Shirley T S Drewry in Tsomo, Cape Province, South Africa

10th Oct 1933

Birth of son Roy W C Drewry in Tsomo, Cape Province, South Africa

13th Jun 1935

Birth of son Clive Terrence Drewry in Tsomo, Cape Province, South Africa

16th Feb 1936

Death of William C. F. Drewry in Tsomo, Cape Province, South Africa

Notes

Anna was a divorcee when she married Bill in 1931.
Anna had previously married to a Mr Fouracres in 1925. No children were born of that marriage.
Anna Elizabeth Engelhardt divorced Herman Frederick Fouracres in 1929. [Source: Anne Lehmkuhl]

Anna_Letter1.jpg

When Bill died Anna was left with three very young children with little or no money.

Anne Lehmkuhl found a number of documents at the National Archives of South Africa (Cape Town) regarding placing the Drewry children in an orphanage.
[File reference: 1/QTN Volume No. 23 Reference 33/2/4/18 dated 1937-1951]

The letters and files tell a sad story of a disturbed woman with few resources trying to keep her children but eventually realising that it was in the best interests of the children that they should be cared for in an orphanage.

The first document, handwritten just after Bill's death, in February 1931, is a request for an educational grant.
Anna is living at 56, Robinson Road, Queenstown to be near her mother who is not well (an epileptic and unable to help her with the children).

Anna_Letter2.jpg

The second document, 18th May 1936,is a copy of a letter from Victor Hartley (the man who signed Bill's death report).
It is on 'Queenstown Child Welfare Society' paper.

Mr Hartley is reponding to a letter (not included in the dossier?) from Nurse Moore, Queenstown Health Visitor.

He says that Mrs Drewry was left almost penniless after her husband's death; that she is now living in rented accomodation but unable to pay her bills. After Bill's death the community had set up a fund to help her, but now the money was running out and that the community was unlikely (unwilling?)to be able to help her. Mrs Drewry has some harebrained (my interpretation) of surving by sewing in the 'Native Territories'.

"Mrs Drewry should try and reason with herself ... she must realise her limitations and take the step which ensures home, food, training for her children .. "

Anna_Letter3.jpg

The third document, date-stamped 14th September 1936,is from Anna requesting that the 'Mother's Pension' be extended. (this seems to be a pension that she receives as a mother).

Anna rather touchingly says: "I am still a widow ..".

Her address is now 26a, Komani Street, Queenstown where she pays £1-15-0 per month for a bedroom, dining room and kitchen.

The assistance that she had been receiving from the Child Welfare Society - a free milk grant and 10 shillings a month has now stopped

Her son Roy has started having fits.

Anna_Letter4.jpg

The fourth document, 26th July 1937,is from the 'Lady Health Visitor, Mrs E R Cross, to the Resident Magistrate reporting on the case of Mrs Drewry.

Mrs Cross records 3 relative:
Mother - Mrs Crook of 3, Wainwright Street
Stepfather - S A R Carpenter
Sister - Miss Engelhardt who lives in Greydeane
and works at Stephenson-Mitchell's

Anna is getting £6 per month of which £1-15-0 goes on rent and 7 shillings goes to a servant. Anna is being sued for the balance of the money owed on her furniture, which had been bought on hire purchase when her husband was still alive. She has agreed to put the furniture in an auction when her children go away, so it would appear that she has come round to the idea of her children going into care.

"Dr Chase-Brown has seen Mrs Drewry and family agrees she is pychopathic, definitely mentally unstable. The children [not Clive] throw themselves on the floor, kicking and screaming in most violent fits of temper which the mother encourages. Roy has pulled out all the hair from one side of his head, also from his eyebrows.".

Mrs Cross believes that if the children are taken into care they "may outgrow these abnormal tendencies." and recommends their removal.

17 August 1937
Children's protection Act Enquiry into the Circumstances of Mrs Drewry's Children

The following 5 pages document the enquiry that would result in the children being taken into care.

Page 1    Page 2    Page 3    Page 4    Page 5

First Dr Thomas Eric Chase Brown gives his report.

Next Eileen Ruby Cross the 'Lady Health Visitor' and Secretary of the Child Welfare society describes some of her visits to the family. She gives a picture of Anna which suggests she had a tendency to make up stories (for example that she was going to get married). She says that she never saw Clive throw a tantrum.

Anna gave a statement to the enquiry in which she asks for the children to be taken into care. She requests that she be allowed to visit them and if she can, contribute to their upkeep. She describes Shirley and Roy as uncontrollable though Clive is not so difficult. At one point in her statement:

"The three children make such a row and cannot be controlled. They are taken out by the mother and handed to a native servant. The child Roy screams at the top of his voice as if he is being murdered."

The last person to make a statement is Evelyn Alice Ena Venter, Secretary of the Benevolent Society who says:

"I have known Mrs Drewry for years. ... she is inclined to prevaricate and suffers from imagination. I think she exercises a bad influence over her children. She is also inclined to be violent. I have seen her in a violent temper already and beating the children. In my opinion the chastisement meted out by Mrs Drewry to her children was not proper."

Anna_Enquiry6.jpg

Note

It is sad to note the that the problems of the Drewry family in Africa happened despite the relative wealth of William's family in England. Apparently the family in England were not informed of William's death.

Perhaps the troubled times, the coming second world war, and indeed Anna Elizabeth's state of mind all worked against the young family in Africa. I do know that in the early 1950's, my grandfather, William's brother Alfie, visited Durban and spent some time trying to find, or uncover information about, his brother. I guess that getting access to archives then, was even more difficult than it is nowadays.