The History of the Family of


In the Counties of Suffolk and Norfolk

From the Conquest

By Arthur Campling, London, 1937


Drury of Thurston

THE way is now clear for an account of ROBERT fil. RICHARD fil. Drieu, who was to carry on the family at THURSTON. He is probably the Robert Dreu who is cited in the Castleacre Priory as witness to a grant of William de Waunci, knight, and certainly the Robert fil. Richard, and brother of Humphrey, who with Herbert, prior of St. Edmund’s (1200-20), witnessed a grant to Castleacre, and the Robert de Thurston so called in a Curia Regis suit as to dower claimed by his widow Matilda, Easter 1230.

A charter of his runs:

  • "Bury vicus francorum. To all men of St. Edmund, french and english present and future, Robert son of Sir Richard fil. Drieu of St. Edmund send greeting. Know all that I grant give and by this my present charter confirm to William Ruffus son of Peter Blund a certain part of my land lying between the gate of my stone house in the part of the French and the lands which Norman the parmenter holds of me To hold of me and my heirs to the aforesaid William and his heirs freely quietly and in fee and heredity rendering to me and my heirs annually four shillings rent at two terms viz. At the feast of St. Michael two shillings and at Easter two shillings for all services aids customs and exactions. And for this grant and confirmation the aforesaid William gives me in reward one ‘aurum’ And I Robert and my heirs warrant the beforenamed William and his heirs the beforenamed land for the service underwritten. Witness: William de Hastings, Nicholas de Kent, Humphrey de Criketot, Humphrey and Walter sons of Sir Richard, Robert de Norwich, &c."
  • MATILDA, wife of ROBERT DE THURSTON, was a personage of note, as it was she who brought to the Drurys the 1-1/2 carucates of land in Thurston, the history of which goes back to the time of the conquest and beyond. A saxon strain was thereby introduced, for one Alvric the priest, was granted by Abbot Leofstan of St. Edmund’s the land and church of Thurston prior to the conquest, that is 1065 or earlier. This grant was confirmed by Abbot Baldwin before 1098 to Osward son of Alvric. Domesday says that an Alvric presbyter was in Saxon times under the commendation of Wisgar. Alvric survived the Conquest and made his peace, for Osward de Thurston his son was a witness 1115 to a grant of Abbot Albold of St. Edmund’s of land, in Thurston, and after 1121 to a grant of Abbot Hugh of land in Westley, Fornham, etc.

    The descent from Osward, through Anselm de Thurston his son to Matilda is set out in Charters of Abbot Baldwin and his successors as follows:

  • "Baldwin by the grace of God Abbot of St. Edmund to all the faithfull in God present and future greeting. Note that I give and grant to Osward the land and the church of Turstun peacefully and free from all services just as my predecessor Abbot Leofstan gave it and as I rendered it to his father Alvric the priest as witness all the brethren; he to perform six masses every week for the King and our brethren three for those living and three for the faithfull departed. On those who take it from him or from us be an everlasting curse. Amen. Let it be done."
  • The grant of Abbot Baldwin was confirmed after 1157 by Abbot Hugh by his charter thus:

  • "To all the sons and faithful of Holy Mother Church, Hugh by the grace of God Abbot of St. Edmund and the Convent of the same place Greeting. We will that it be known to all of you that we, with one assent, have granted and given to M. DAUGHTER OF ANSELM DE THURSTON AND TO RICHARD SON OF SAME MATILDA and their heirs one carucate of land and a half, of the lay fee which Anselm father of the said Matilda and Osward father of Anselm held in the town of Thurstun; to hold of our church and us for ever and in inheritance, together with all lay things of every kind belonging to the same land in burgh and without burgh, by the same service and the same customary dues as Anselm and Osward did for the same land and which the same land ought to do to the hundred of Thedwardstre. Wherefore we will that the aforenamed Matilda and Richard and their heirs (shall) hold the same land with all the integrity of its lay appurtenances by the same service. In peace etc. Saving the service of the lord King and to us and our successors the right of advowson and church of Thurstun. Witness these: Robert de Chokefeld etc."
  • In Abbot Sampson’s Calendar he records under Thurston that Matilda held one knight’s fee there in 1186. She married three times, firstly Alexander de Wridewell, who held a fee in Whelnetham 1166. He died before 15 November 1180. She married secondly Henry de Sapiston, and as Matilda de Sapiston held a fee in Great Whelnetham in 1186. A deed is cited in the Sacrist’s register of St. Edmund’s in which Walter fil. Henry de Sapiston grants to Cecilia daughter of Matilda de Sapiston. Her third husband, Robert de Thurston, younger son of Richard fil. Drieu, was dead before July 1203 when her said father-in-law was concerned in her dower in Horningsheath as by the fines as follows:

    In the Octave of Trinity 1203. Suffolk. Final agreement between Matilda de Sapiston by Alexander her son and Richard fil. Drieu (by Norman de St. Edmund) of reasonable dower of Matilda contingent on a free tenement which was Alexander de Wridewell formerly her husband in Horningsheath. Matilda quit claims to Richard who gives five marks silver.

    There is a Harleian Charter of Matilda de Sapiston and her sons (by her first husband) William and Alexander, of her land in Stow Langtoft. She is styled de Thurston in pleadings in the King’s Court as follows: Suffolk. Matilda de Turston comes into court and warrants to Alexander son of Alexander of All Saints (Wordwell) 28 acres of land with the appurtenances in Turston which he has by charter of the said Matilda.

    A Suffolk (Michaelmas 1223) Fine records the final agreement between William fil. Walter de Hepworth and Alexander fil. Matilda de Sapiston of 80 acres of land in Whelnetham. William quit-claims to Alexander who gives ten marks argent.

    Matilda, as has been said, had married firstly Alexander de Wridewell (or Wordwell) one of the knights of St. Edmund, who had held previous to 1204 a half fee in Horningsheath, and by him had a son Alexander fil. Matilda de Sapiston, who in 1203 was a party to his mother’s claim for dower, and later party to a Fine in Whelnetham 1223. By her third husband Robert fil. Richard fil. Drieu she had four sons, Richard fil. Robert, who, as Richard fil. Matilda, had been concerned in a Fine in Hedenham co. Norfolk 1209, Nicholas fil. Robert de Thurston, witness to a grant in 1257, John fil. Robert de Thurston and Jordan.

    At Easter 1230/1, an Assize roll for Suffolk records as follows: Matilda who was wife of Robert de Thurston impleads Richard fil. Robert for a third part of 12 acres of land with appurtenances in Sturston (sic) as her dower. And Richard comes and grants to her the aforesaid third part of the land saving to the said Richard his capital messuage and she is to have seisin.

    Alexander of All Saints (1209-10) seems to have been the son of Matilda by her first husband Alexander de Wridwell. The suffolk assize Roll for 1249 states that the Jury enquired whether Richard de Thurston, uncle of William fil. Jordan, was seised of 156 acres in Thurston on the day he died, of which John de Gloucester held 120, Alexander of All Saints 30 and Turgis de Aula 6 acres.

    William withdrew his plea and Alexander came and said that Richard de Thurston only had the land for life of the gift of Matilda de Thurston his mother, with reversion to the said Matilda if he had no heirs of his body.

    JOHN fil. ROBERT DE THURSTON, the second son and eventual heir to his father, was born before 1203, probably about 1180. He was a surety for his half-brother William de Wridwell in the latter’s suit against the Abbot of Warden in 1239, and in 1242 was one of the Inquisition of St. Edmund’s held for the purpose of ascertaining the holders of fees in the Hundred of Thedwastre owing military service.

    John de Thurston was cited in a plea at Sudbury in 1244, and it appears from the Abbey Cellarer’s accounts that he held a parcel of land in Rougham. He was living in 1249, a party to a suit as to land in Thurston.

    Conforming to a practice less common in England than among the Latin races Drieu began to take on i or y and became disyllabic on the analogy of Alvred becoming Avery, Elmer – Emery, Reinfrid – Renfrey and perhaps Hugh into Urri and finally Hurry. Much later in Tudor days the Drury’s harked back and christened their sons Dru or Drew.

    About this time the family surname of Drury settled and the next generation of the family are so styled, although their territorial designations persisted for some time in documents concerning them.

    A supreme example of this avoidance of the colloquial surname is that of Plantagenet; the first known use of this dynastic appellation is no earlier than in the reign of Henry VI when Richard, duke of York, father of Edward IV, assumed it.

    There is sufficient evidence that the numerous Richards, Williams and Rogers of the Domesday survey had their surnames, hereditary or otherwise, in spite of the neglect thereof by the scribes of that return; and this custom of more of less ignoring them in documents of legal force continued for some generations.

    JOHN fil. JOHN DE THURSTON succeeded at Thurston. He was an attorney for John de Dagworth in a suit before the King’s Bench in 1251. John de Dagworth held in Gissing, co. Norfolk under Hugh de Vere, earl of Oxford, and was concerned later (in 1297) in a plea of conspiracy and trespess at Buxhall, co. Suffolk, with Henry Drury, son of John de Thurston.

    In the itinerary of Salamon of Rochester 1286 under Thurston he records that Richard Claviger held there of the fee of St. Edmund’s, and that John fil. John held under him; further that William de Pakenham held of the Abbot, who held in chief, and John fil. John held of the said William and Richard fil. Lawrence under the same John.

    In a Suffolk fine 3 Feb. 1304/5 between Henry de Thurston and John Drury the latter acknowledged a messuage and land in Thurston to be the right of Henry in return for which Henry granted to John for his (John’s) life an annuity of 40s. This is far more likely to be a transaction between brothers than father and son.

    Another fine June 1309 goes to show that John was dead before then as Alice daughter of John Drury grants to Henry de Thurston three messuages 307 acres of land meadow and pasture & 42s. rent in Thurston, Baxton, Drinkstone, Tostock, Norton and Pakenham and if Henry die then remainder to John Drury, Matilda and Alice son and daughters of Henry Drury successively, remainder to right heirs of the said Henry de Thurston.

    These 307 acres alienated to Henry Drury de Thurston by the fine of 1309 in all likelihood comprised not only the 1-1/2 carucates of land inherited by Matilda de Thurston and confirmed to her by the charter of Abbot Hugh (1157-1180) but the 1-1/2 carucates held in Thurston by Richard, called Calvus, under St. Edmund’s at the time of Domesday. No record of any son of Richard has been found and it is suggested that his holding may have passed by marriage to one of Matilda’s ancestors.

    Alice, daughter of John Drury, appears later as wife of Henry Le Lomb in a fine September 1325 in which they grant to Henry De Thurston and Cecily Rayner a messuage and 103-1/2 acres of land and pasture and 9s. rent in Rougham and Barton next St. Edmund’s with remainder to John son of the same Henry de Thurston, and to Alice and Matilda sisters of the said John.

    The series of deeds abstracted and used about the year 1600 by Thomas Drury in the compilation of the Drury Pedigree can now be brought in aid to prove the children of John Drury and John fil. Richard de Thurston. They show that there were three brothers John, Henry and Roger born in all probability about 1240 to 1250.

    The undated deeds which would not be executed later than say 1290 are:

  • "A dede without date wherein mention is made, That Richard the sonne of John le Palmer of Thurston sould (with warrantie) for a somme of money certaine Lands lieinge in Thurston field unto John Drury of the same Towne and under his heires for a certaine somme of money etc. To hold of the said Richard and his heires by the tenure of a penny farthing yearely at the feat of Saint Michell the Archeangle for all services and demands etc."

    "A dede without date wherein is mentione that Richard the sonne of William Le Helder de la grene, of Thurston, sold (with warrantie) certaine Lands lieinge in Church field, To John Drury the son of John and to Henry his sonne and to their heires, Reservinge the tenure of one penny fathing to hym and to his heirs for all services and demands etc."

  • HENRY fil. JOHN DRURY DE THURSTON, to give him his full description, was a man very active in affairs. He acted as attorney to the Abbot of St. Edmund’s 1294.

    Undated deeds concerning Henry Drury are:

    "A dede without date, which declareth that Roger Drynn de Rucham, sould (with warrantie) A messuage with a crofte and other Lands therto pertayninge etc. in the said Towne, To Henry the son of John of Thurston, To hould of the said Roger and his heirs renderinge to the Lord of the fee yearly a penny fathinge And to the said Roger and his heires yearlie one grayne of corne for all services and demands etc. with proviso that iff the said Henry deceased without lawful heires of his body that then the said messuage etc. should remayne to Roger Drury brother of the said Henry, and to his heires."

  • "A dede without date, wherein is expressed That Adame the son of Richard Russell of Thurston did sell (with warrantie) certaine lands lieinge in the said Towne to Henry Drury and his heires etc. Reservinge to hym and his heires the tenure of a close Jollifloure etc."

    "Dede without date in which mention is made, That Walter de la grene, sould with warrantie certaine lands in Thurston to Henry of Thurston, and Havise his wife etc. To hold of the Lord of the fee by the service dewe."

    "A dede without date mentioninge That Adame the sonne of Hedon de Skoto of the parishe of Thurston sold (with warrantie) certaine lands in the said Towne (for a somme of money etc.) To Henry Drury the son of John, of the same towne, and unto John Drury called of Thurston sonne and heire of the said Henry and unto their heires etc. To hould of the said Adame and his heires by the Tenure of one penny yearly for all services and demands etc."

  • In 1286 in the Register Pinchbeck of St. Edmund’s Henry de Thurston is shown to hold 4 acres of land in Fornham All Saints in Thingo Hundred of Walter Freysel and he of the Abbot of St. Edmund’s chief lord of the same (no doubt part of the holding there of Robert fil. Drieu 1198), and Henry de Thurston had letters-patent of Protection 18 Feb. 1297-8.

    Some proceedings at the Assizes taken at Palgrave bridge 25 Sept. 1285, and a suit Coram Rege Trinity June 1297 disclose that Henry Drury was concerned in an attack on John de Dagworth as to the right to land in Buxhall and Rattlesden co. Suffolk, and Henry de Thurston was a witness to a quit-claim by Edmund, son and heir to Sir William de Pakenham, of land in Thurston, etc., dated 12 November 1306.

    Other deeds concerning Henry are:

  • "A dede dated the 21 Edw. I (1292) Emme de la Hyde in her free widerhood sold (with warrantie) a messuage with the Lands and Tenements with their appurtenances etc. called Westbrome in Drynchiston etc. To Henry of Thurston and Havise his wife and Matilda and Alice their daughters To have and to hould of the said Eme and heires To the said Henry Havise Matilda and Alice etc. The Remayne in Faile to Henry etc. And for default of such issue to Matilda and Alice etc. The remainder to Henry in fee etc. By the tenure of a paire of Guilt spurres to the Lord of the fee or vid in money for all services and demands etc."

    "A dede dated 26 Ed. I (1297) Waldewine de Planch sold land to Henry of Thurston and Havise his wife etc."

    "A deed 33 Edw. I (1304) Peter the sonne of Thomas de Bradefield sold certaine Land lieinge in Drinkeston to Henry de Thurston and Havise his wife daughter of Richard at Grene of Barkeway and John their sonne etc."

    "A dede dated 34 Ed. I (1305) John the sonne of Alexander Hubard de Hegesett sold certaine land lieinge in Drinkeston to Henry Drury of Thurston and Havise his wife and to John his sonne etc."

    "Sondry dedes dated the 9, 10, 15, 17 Edw. 2 (1315-1325) whiche do all make mention that Henry Drury of Thurston, bought certaine lands to hym And Sicely his wife (daughter of John Reyner, for her Joynter) and to his heires for ever etc."

    "A dede dated 2 Edward 3, (1328) Welling Swettinge and Alice his wife, daughter of Henry de Thurston released to the said Henry and Matilda and to their heires etc. all ther clayme to the said Lands purchased of Eme de la Hyde in Dringeston etc."

  • These transactions in land are exemplified by the Fines already alluded to, and as these agreements are of importance the Fines are abstracted fully as follows:

    Final Concord made in the King’s court at York on the Morrow of the Purification 32 Edward I (3 Feb. 1304) between Henry de Thurston, plaintiff, and John Drury, deforciant (by Walter Ruiel, his attorney), as to a messuage and 15 acres of land in Thurston, as to which a plea of covenant was summoned between them, to wit, that John acknowledged the premises to be the right of Henry and his heirs, to hold of the chief lords of the fee; in return for which Henry granted to John, for his (John’s) life an annuity of 40s. payable at Easter and Michaelmas.

    Final concord made in the King’s court at Westminster in the Quinzaine of St. Martin 3 Edward II (1309) between Henry de Thurston, plaintiff, and Alice, daughter of John Drury, deforciant, as to 3 messuages, 307 acres of land, meadow and pasture, and 2s. rents in Thurston, Beketone, Drinkeston, Tostok, Norton and Pakenham, as to which a plea of covenant was summoned between them, to wit, Henry acknowledged the premises to be the right of Alice, who, in consideration thereof, granted them to Henry, to hold to him and the heirs male of his body; in default thereof, to remain to John, Matilda and Alice, son and daughters of Henry Drury, and the heirs of their bodies, successively, and, in default again, to the right heirs of the said Henry de Thurston to hold of the chief lords of the fee.

    Final concord made in the King’s court at Westminster in the Octave of St. Michael 19 Edward II (1325) between Henry de Thurston and Cicely Rayner, plaintiffs, and Henry le Lomb and Alice, daughter of John Drury, deforciants, as to a messuage, 103-1/2 acres of land and pasture, and 9s. rent in Rougham and Barton next the vill of St. Edmund, as to which a plea of covenant was summoned between them to wit, that the plaintiffs acknowledged the premises to be the right of Henry le Lomb, as things which Henry and Alice have of the gift of the plaintiffs for their (the plaintiffs’) lives, with remainder after their deaths to John, son of the same Henry de Thurston, and to Alice and to Matilda, sisters of the said John and the heirs of their bodies, successively, and final remainder to the right heirs of the said Henry de Thurston. To hold of the chief lords of the fee.

    A grant to Geoffrey fil. Geoffrey de Thorpe Ixworth to Thomas de Pakynham of land inThorpe is witnessed by Henry de Thurston. This deed is entered at length in a Cartulary of the de Pakenham family with whom the Drurys had very close relations.

    20 Feb. 1315/16 he witnessed a quit claim of lands in Felstead &c., co. Essex, and October 1318 by his deed dated at Thurston and witnessed by Roger Drury, he and John his son granted arable land there to Thomas de Banleye of Thurston; and Sept. 1325 he was party to the fine in Rougham and Bacton already quoted. He was alive in 1327 when in the Subsidy roll that year he is taxed in Thurston as Henry fil. John, his being the second largest assessment, Henry de Stanton being slightly higher. He seems to have died before Trinity 1330 when John, son of Henry Drury of Thurston, had a quit-claim by fine from Ralph de Norwich and Cecily his wife (who had been widow of Henry) or a moiety of 3 messuages 257 acres of land etc., and one watermill in Thurston, Bacton, Drinkston, Tostock, Norton and Pakenham as dower of the said Cecily.

    NIGEL DRURY, younger brother of John, son of Henry Drury of Thurston, migrated to London and became a citizen of some renown. His first appearance is on a Commission of levy customs granted by the merchants to the King beyond the ancient customs at Kingston-on-Hull 10 February 1303/4. He was elected Sheriff of London 28 Sept. 1307, Dave the Clerk, Roger the Barbour, William atte Stales and John Caperon being clerks and sergeants of Nigel. He was found to be dead by January 1320. Hugh de Waltham his executor then having given up the rolls for his time.

    A grant from Henry de Gloucester to Nigel Drury, citizen and alderman of London, and Margery his wife, is dated at London, September 1309.

    On 26 April 1311 he was pardoned with the Mayor and other alderman for failing to appear at the Exchequer because engaged in raising forces for the King’s service in Scotland and took an active part in sending money to the King in Scotland giving bond for part of the money. He was alderman of Billingsgate Ward 8 February 1313/4. A grant of his son was dated at London October 1331.

    "Deed of Edmund Druri son and heir of Nigel Druri formerly citizen & corder of London. Where he granted to Thomas de Spayne citizen and corder of London and to Sarah his wife, his (Edmund’s) sister and the heirs of their bodies for ever, a ‘place’ of land with houses thereon called Beaurepeir in All Hallows Haywarf (ad fenum) London, to hold to them and the heirs of their bodies for ever, paying him 4 marks a year for his life; he quit claims the said rent charge to Thomas and Sarah and to John their son and heir and to the heirs of the bodies of Thomas and Sarah. Witness: Henry de Preston and other (named)."

    Another grant of Edmund Drury was dated at London 13 January 1334/5 is among the harleian Charters where Edmund Drury, son and heir of Nigel Drury, formerly citizen and corder of London, quitclaims to Thomas de Spayne, citizen and corder of London, his heirs and assigns, the "place’ called Beaurepeir of All Saints at Haye in the city of London.

    JOHN fil. HENRY DRURY DE THURSTON succeeded. Abstracts of deeds concerning his transactions in land begin 1291. His last conveyance was in 1345 by John Drury of Thurston to Edmund de Walpole, parson of the church of St. Peter of Brunham, and Thomas Jarkevile in Thurston, Hessett, Bacton, Drinkston, Tostock, Norton and Barton.

  • "Two dedes dated 19, 20 Edw. I (1290-91) do make mention that John Drury the sonne of Henry of Thurston, conveyed lands to hym and to Annabill his wife for her joynter etc."

    "A dede dated 23 Edw. I (1294) John Drury the sonne of Henry de Thurston sold certaine lands (which bounded upon the lands of Nigell his Brother) to Robert Penne of Barton by the tenure of a halfpenny for all services and demands etc."

  • Final concord made in the King’s court at Westminster in the Octave of Trinity 4 Edward III (1330), between Ralph de Norwich and Cicely his wife, plaintiffs, and John, son of Henry Drury of Thurston, tenant, of a moiety of 3 messuages, 257 acres of land, meadow and pasture, of one watermill, and of 52s. rents in Thurston, Beketon, Brenkeston, Tostok, Norton and Pakenham, to wit, that Ralph and Cicely granted the said moiety to the said John, and quit claimed to John and his heirs all right therein in name of dower of the said Cicely, for which John gave them 10 marks of silver.

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