The Box was almost certainly made by Jim Drewry for his wife May for a special occasion - hence the initials M D on the front.
The box is made of plate steel and is very heavy, weighing more than 4 kilos.
Dimensions: width 9 inches, depth 5.5 inches, height 5.5 inches. There are no maker's marks. It is clearly hand made but to a very high standard, which is consistent with what we know of Jim's attention to detail.
May Drewry left the box to her daughter Christine and it later came into the possession of her and Jim's grandchildren.
The holder of the box just added more personal things; so the box contains both old and recent items from different families.
There are documents from May's Hyde family and some that must have come from her Drewry in-laws. The items of interest to the Drewry side (and some that possibly may be of interest) comprise:
- A mortgage repayment deed
- A Seal
- A Badge
- A Hebrew document
- A letter from Surinam
- A letter from Elizabeth Sotheby
The mortgage repayment deed
A large legal document signed by "William Drewry".
It is a legal indenture, dated 1834, releasing William from a mortgage on a cottage and garden in Ulceby, a small village 11 miles from Grimsby, in Licolnshire. William isrecorded as a 'yeoman' (a farmer who cultivates his own land.)
Who is this William Drewry? Why was the document kept? Is the document a clue to a link between our Drewry line and Lincolnshire?
The document and the possibility of a link is particularly intriguing because:
- We have a clear line back to a Samuel Drewry, a gentleman, first mentioned in 1777. We know that his father was Robert Drewry of Lincoln.
- There may be a link to the printer, Samuel Drewry, of Derby.
- There are number of records showing that the family of Samuel Drewry of Derby originated in Lincolnshire; for example "Hannah Drewry and family moved from Lincolnshire to Derby where her uncle Sam started a newspaper".
- Also in the Box is the Seal from a Derby school.
An impression of the 1585 charter seal of the Free Grammar School (now Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School) in Ashbourne, Derbyshire.
The seal is a piece of card. There is nothing on the back. Possibly the impression was made in the mid 1900s.
A Genuki web page describes the Ashbourne seal in detail and reports that it was recovered from the United States in 1987. The page does not say when it was 'lost' to the States.
Is there a connection to either Drewry or Hyde families? Could one of them have gone to the school?. Did someone teach there? (For example, Julia T. Drewry was a headmistress).
At a guess this badge is something to do with Shelvoke & Drewry's provision of cleaning vehicles to Manchester City.
The Hebrew Document
A printed form in Hebrew with a wax seal, also in Hebrew, with some details entered in English.
It is a shipping document certifying that a consignment of 60 barrels of salt beef and tongue shipped to India are prepared in accordance with the requirements of Jewish ritual law.
The document is dated 1813 and the name of the ship is the Lowther castle. We know that Cosmas Stewart was purser on the HEIC ship Lowther Castle and indeed died on that ship in Madras on 11 Aug 1815. William T. Drewry also travelled to India on the Lowther Castle, arriving in 1815.
The Captain of the Lowther Castle, (William) Crowder, mentioned in the document, died at Canton, China (in his 82d year), so the voyage to which this document relates is presumably the the voyage before that on which Cosmas died. That the document was kept is curious. Was Cosmas involved in a clever enterprise or investment, shipping kosher meet out to India? In any case the fact that the document is found in a box belonging to a Drewry appeares to be another corroboration of the Stewart/Drewry link.
On the back of the document, there is a note dated 4 Jan 45 (presumably 1845) to "My Dear John" suggesting that he gets the documented translated. The note is signed RHS. Could this be Cosmas' son Richard Harding Stewart? There is no John in either the Drewry or Stewart families so the identity of "Dear John" is a mystery.
The Letter from Surinam
(A copy of ?) a letter in Sranan Tongo ('Surinamean tongue', Suriname Creole). On the outside is written: "Copy of a Bush Negro's letter. 'Job' by name of Paramaribo, Surinam, South America. (to entreat a Missiiam (?) Clergyman to come and preach the Gospel to them.) Petersham, Oct 17th /53."
We eventually found a translator, who suggests the letter starts as follows:
"Poor Hiob, in the jungle [or bush-bush] writes to the teachers in (?). I Hiob send this letter to my teacher Temi and all the other teachers, men and women as well."
The letter mentions the Lord a number of times, for example: "I thank God, my Lord, that you had pity on the poor Hiob too. And obeying my teachers request, I have one more thing to ask you. We all beg you to think of us, the poor in the work of the Lord, and send us a teacher to stay with us for a while."
The letter ends: "Little Johannes called me and told me to write underneath the letter that you must give the miss my best wishes too. You must also wait for me because I am making preparations to come downtown to visit you. I long for you with all my heart, from my head to my feet."
The Elizabeth Sotheby Letter
[Click on the images to see whole letter.]
The letter is from an Elizabeth Sotheby to her parents. Elizabeth appears to be at an Ursuline convent in Boulogne. The letter is not dated but on the reverse is a letter, in French, dated 13th May 1776, from Therese de Sainte and also to Elizabeth's parents. In her final paragraph, Therese De Sainte says "Madame La Superieure me charge de faire ses compliments a Monsieur Sotheby" and in the French way, puts "Aux Ursulines de Boulogne" beside her signature.
Elizabeth writes (the spelling mistakes are hers):
"My Dear Mama & Papa
I received your letter of 29 of April Which made me very unhappy to hear that you and my sister was so ill but hope that you will soon recover. I am very much obliged to you for the things you was so good as to send me. I should be very much obliged to you if you would send me a french Dictionary. I have got no news to tell you at present but there is two Nuns a going to take the black vail & two the white & then I will let you know all about it pray Give m Duty to Grandmama and Love to my Brothers and Sisters & I am very much obliged to my sister Marya for the Box She was so good as to send me.
I remain Dear Mama & papa your ever Dutiful & affectionate Daughter Elizabeth Sotheby."
The letter on the reverse appears to have been added before the letter is sent on to the parents. We still need to have the letter translated properly, but it would seem that Therese De Sainte is responding to a request from Elizabeth's mother to write. There has been some correspondence before; at least one letter from Elizabeth's mother to Therese. Therese says that Elizabeth's brother (Captain Sotheby) has recently visited the convent with some things from home for his sister, and that the visit went well (though with lots of tears from Elizabeth.) She says that "The Captain brought all the things that you told me you would send." There is a sentence which hopes that God will give someone back the use of their legs. The general tone of the letter is considerate reassurance for the mother that Therese and the convent are pleased with Elizabeth and that she is doing well in her work.
It was quite common for daughters of the gentry to finish off their education in convents abroad and that could be why Elizabeth is in France. But who are the Sothebys? Are they ancestors of the Drewrys or are they part of May's maternal lines, the Hydes or the Bloomers? Could Sotheby be a maiden name of one of our relatives? Why was the letter kept?
Notes on the Sothebys
- White's Directory of Essex 1848 reports that "Captain Sotheby, R.N., is lord of the manor of Sewardstone [near Waltham Abbey], and resides at the Manor House".
This mention of Captain Sotheby is some seventy years after the letter, so it cannot be the same captain. However, he could be a relation.
- Debrett's Peerage of England, Scotland, and Ireland, reports that in 1820 on January 12, "the hon. Mrs. Sotheby, lady of Captain Sotheby R.N." bore a son.
- The National Archives have correspondence, dated 1826 "from Captain Sotheby, R.N. of H.M.S. Seringapatam, on the Egypt station".
- "The Sea Fencible organisation was developed for the naval defence of the country during the Revolutionary War of 1793 to 1802, and was made up of seafaring men residing along the East Coast of England who voluntarily enrolled themselves to serve in time of invasion... on September 13th 1803, the Severn District Sea Fencibles with its H.Q. at Bristol, was formed under the command of Captain Thomas Sotheby, a man with local connections". (Bristol Past)
John Hyde was born 29 Dec 1774 in Baptised at St Aldgate's, Oxford, and died 11 Dec 1838. Buried at Witney, Oxon. He was the son of William Hyde and Margaret Southby.
(Synge family and connections).
Margaret Southby was sister to Mary and Elizabeth (and other siblings). Elizabeth Southby was born 07 May 1749 in Hinton Waldrist, Berkshire and died 1765; Buried 14 Sep 1765 at St Michael's, Oxford. Unfortunately, this death predates the letter. However, it may be that the marriage of William Hyde and Margaret Southby suggests that the Sotheby letter may have a Hyde provenance.