Joshua Drewry Joshua Drewry Hannah Drewry Thomas Drewry Hannah Burnett Mini tree diagram

John Drewry

1739 - 30th Sep 1794

Life History

6th February 1739

Born in Lincoln

22nd February 1739

Christened in St Mary Le Wigford, Lincoln


Married Elizabeth Haywood


Elizabeth Haywood died.

3rd June 1793

Married Ann Pilkington

30th Sep 1794

Died in Derby



Was John apprenticed as a peruke maker?

"In 1754, John Drewry was apprenticed to John Gee, Derby, peruke maker."

Wigs, though they were big business, were probably already going out of fashion, and it is easy to believe that John left the trade for the more interesting business of printing.

There is an intriguing reference to another Drewry peruke maker:

"In 1717, Samuel Drewry of Newark upon Trent, peruke maker gave apprenticeship to ..."

Newark is in Nottinghamshire, about 20 miles from Lincoln.

John's Wives

John Drewry married (i) Elizabeth Haywood 1771, Duffield. Elizabeth died in 1789 and her death is recorded in the 'European Magazine', 8 April, 1789.

JohnDrewry_marriage_bond_1793_sm.jpg I have been told (by Melanie g-g-g-grand-daughter of James Pilkington) that there is a Pilkington Family Tree which shows that the year before he died, John Drewry married Ann Pilkington of Horwich in Leigh, Lancs, in 1793. The marriage bond, on the right, shows that he was a widower.

In OPC for the County of Lancashire:

Marriage: 3 Jun 1793, St Mary the Virgin, Leigh, Lancs.
John Drewry - Gentleman of Derby Parish
Ann Pilkington - Spinster of Leigh Parish
Witnesses: Eleanor Pilkington; Margaret Rawlins; Betty Pilkington
Married by Licence by: Daniel Birkett Curate
Register: Marriages 1786 - 1803, Page 163, Entry 650

The 3 witnesses were Ann's sisters. (Margaret had married Reverend Thomas Rawlins, a Unitarian minister in Leigh.)

Ann had a brother James Pilkington who was Assistant Minister at Friar Street Chapel, Derby (also author of a book on Derbyshire, published by John Drewry).

"The book called 'The History of Derbyshire' which John Drewry I printed and published was written by the Rev. James Pilkington, minister of the Friar Gate Unitarian Chapel. Nothing like it had been seen before. It is difficult to get over just how important that Chapel was. All the most important industrialists and financiers who made Derby and the Derwent Valley what is now a World Heritage Site were members of that Chapel and at the end of the 18th century were living in large houses, some with extensive grounds, and owned many thriving factories." (Ronald Ellis)

Reverend James Pilkington of Derby was left £50 by John in his Will.
The Reverend was also declared an Executor of John's Will along with John's nephew, John Drewry.

Ann later remarried.

In IGI there is:

Ann Drewry
Marriage: 02 Jun 1800, St Werburgh, Derby
Spouse: John Taylor
(Almost certainly the Mr John Taylor of Duffield mentioned in John Drewry's Will - his wife Ruth Taylor must have died!)

Melanie says: "Ann (nee Pilkington) married in 1800 the widowed cotton spinner (or rather, I imagine, cotton factory owner) John Taylor of Duffield. This is mentioned .. in the will of John Drewry II, [below] and corroborated in the will of her brother Henry Pilkington."

From an archive

DerbyMercury.jpg "John Drewry (primus). He was a nephew of Saml. Drewry, and succeeded him in 1769, and in that year he altered the title of his newspaper to that of Drewry' s Derby Mercury.
He was evidently the most enterprising Derby printer of the 18th century, and printed several important volumes in good style for the period.
Among these are
Woty's 'Poems' (1780);
Bennett's 'New Experiments in Electricity' (1789);
Pilkington's 'New View of Derbyshire', two vols. (1789);
Watt's 'Divine Songs' (1792), and
Davenport's 'Quotations' (1793)."

JohnDrewry1794.jpg He died Sept. 30, 1794, in his 55th year.

The newspaper business passed to John's nephew: John Drewry (secundus)

Footer in the Derby Mercury, 1790


The above footer suggests that in 1790 John Drewry was a printer in Derby and worked with his brother Joshua in Lincoln.

From 'Essays in Staffordshire history' in

"One was another John Drewry, son of John's brother Thomas ; he was left the printing and bookselling business at Derby and became the new proprietor of the Derby Mercury. The other was Joshua, who received three separate legacies. ... "

As is the following, a snippet view of 'Collections for a history of Staffordshire' in

"John Drewry died on 30 September 1794 at the age of 54, a wealthy man. He left no children, and the chief beneficiaries under the ..."

The Will of John Drewry (primus)

John Drewry I left a Will dated 1793.     (Pages: [1] [2] [3] [4])     Transcription

Summary of family members mentioned in the will:

His 'dear wife Ann'
John son of brother Thomas Drewry
William, Joshua, and Mary, sons and daughter of brother Joshua Drewry
Thomas, George, Frederick, Ann Chester wife of Charles Chester (see below)
Sarah, and Sophia, sons and daughters of brother Thomas Drewry
Ann and Jane, daughters of sister Hannah Stokell

Once again the newspaper business was passed from uncle to nephew.
John Drewry, who had been working with Joshua, was left the printing works and machinery.

The Reverend James Pilkington of Derby is left £50.
The Reverend Pilkington and John's nephew, John Drewry, are Executors of the Will.

Apprenticeship Records

In 1783 John took on William Ward as an apprentice, and in 1791, Thomas Noble.



William Ward

"On Thursday, 28th November, 1782, an advertisement appeared in the 'Derby Mercury'; it read: 'An Apprentice is wanted to the Printing Business - a steady, well disposed Youth, that has had a tolerable Education, will be most agreeable'. According to J. D. Andrew ('The Derby Newspaper Press 1720-1855'), this was the advertisement, placed by the newspaper's owner John Drewry, that started William's career as a printer. He was 13 years old." []

I've read all the Derby Mercury's from 1785 to 1794. I believe William Ward took over as editor in January 1789 because that was when 'Drewry's Derby Mercury' became 'The Derby Mercury'. The old type was completely replaced, the page width was increased, it went from 4 columns to 5 columns per page and the price went up. William was just 19. It was the time of the French Revolution, which the paper fully supported. It would not have done so without the full support of John Drewry. It also campaigned strongly for the Reform of Parliament, the Abolition of Slavery, and the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts which had taken away rights from Dissenters. By 1794 the England was in a state of turmoil and Dissenters were in grave danger. Riots broke out in Birmingham and Parliamentary Reformers were put in the Tower of London. Habeus Corpus was suspended by George III. The Derby Mercury printed the Proclamation. When John Drewry died the newspaper was covering the trials of the Reformers at the Court of the Kings Bench in London. William Ward had published a political manifesto in Derby, almost certainly typeset and printed by him at 'The Mercury', so he was in great danger. The Drewrys sent him to Stafford to start a newspaper there with Joshua Drewry. As an experienced editor it would have been William Ward's role to provide the expertise, but the extraordinary thing is that in the Local Studies Library in Stafford there is absolutely no record of his ever having anything to do with the newspaper ... only Joshua Drewry. So William Ward was able to keep an almost invisible profile thanks to the Drewry's. He eventually went to India as a missionary. " (Ronald Ellis)


" An alphabetical list of the burgesses of the borough of Derby, who polled ... At the election of a burgess to serve in Parliament ... Taken on Friday, Saturday, and Monday, the 27th, 28th, and 30th days of January, 1775 Derby.
printed and sold by John Drewry; also by the booksellers and persons who distribute the Derby Mercury in every town and village. [1775]. 24p.