This is a copy of an article published in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, on 8th April 2002, reproduced by kind permission of the author, the late Desmond Holden.

The “What's in a Name” series was a regular feature in the Advertiser over the period 1993‑2004, taking a refreshing look at the derivation of some typically Derbyshire surnames.

Articles are confined to the origins and meanings of surnames, and do not indicate any particular interest on Desmond's part in the genealogy, descent, or family history of individuals bearing the surnames featured.

Editor's Note: Articles are provided for general interest and background only. They are not intended to provide an exhaustive treatise for any individual family history - investigations of which may yield quite different results. Or, in Desmond's own words:

“In the end it must remain with individual bearers of the names to draw upon family traditions and to seek out such documentary evidence as is available to decide the matter for themselves.”

WHAT'S IN A NAME … Are you called DREW or DRURY?
(Local variations: Dreuitt, Drewett, Druse, Drewery).

Although the personal name Drew is recorded as early as 1230 in Scotland (he was the priest at Campsie, Stirling), it is not known whether that name was a short form of Andrew. In fact in 1400 Drew Barentyn, Lord Mayor of London protested against the entry of his name in the Lists of Freemen as "Andrew", alleging that the clerk had ignorantly assumed "Drew" to be an abbreviation and not a name in its own right. In recent years, however from simply being a fond form of calling a boy "Andrew", it has advanced to being a popular name especially in Australia. Otherwise surnames generated by "Drew" have several distinct sources.

Some families who claim French ancestry probably owe their name to a predecessor who lived alongside a stream. The French dialect term "ru" would have led to "de ru" (ie. "Brookside"). Other surnames might have originated from specific locations such as Rieux (20 miles south of Toulouse). Researchers could also look to Dreux (50 miles west: Paris). But note this takes its name from a Gallic tribe called Durocasses which was settled here.

Then there is an Irish connection. Following the embargo upon the use of native names by the British, the surname "Drew" was concocted upon the Gaelic name Druaidh. Exactly what it signified is uncertain. Probably it referred to the ancient priesthood of the Druids but whether this ties in with their veneration for the oak tree (Gaelic: Dara) or being guardians of the Druidical faith (Gaelic: Derb 'faith') is speculative.

Many surnames have originated from nicknames and numerous families called Drew as well as its derivations such as Drewett or Dreuitt (Little Drew) or Drews, Drewes or Druse (son/child of Drew) can follow this lead. The words upon which the name is constructed are either "drut" or "druerie" and entered the language via an old French word "dru". This had a Germanic base which survives in the modern German "traut". The meaning of all the foregoing terms centres on "close friendship" or "endearment". In a religious work dated 1240 we read: Iesu, swete Iesu, mi drut, mi dearling. And in another (1315) the writer addressed the Blessed Virgin as "Crystes owne drury". Chaucer urges the object of affection to "beare the name of Druerie". How exactly those nick-named as "dru" or "drewery" came by those descriptions it would be interesting to know! No doubt William Dru of Worcester (1275) was simply somebody's, "beloved" but why was Henry of the same place and date described as "Le Druie"? Was he possessed of too amorous a disposition? In Lancaster (1204) dwelt Robert Druerie and in York (1205) Nigel Drury. Except now in the forms of surname the words have become archaic.

Here it might be noted that although the London thoroughfare called Drury Land certainly acquired an unsavoury reputation during the 18th century on account of its being resorted to by people who weren't quite respectable, that is merely coincidental. It had borne the name since the 15th century and was named after a family called Drury.

The most extensively canvassed suggestion as to the origin of this surname is that it is a development of the personal name, Drogo. This is Germanic and its most celebrated bearer was one of the sons of Charlemagne, the Holy Roman Emperor (742-814). Whether he was given this name in baptism or acquired it later in life is ambiguous. It is agreed that it comes through an old Teutonic (Saxon) expression "drog" which signifies "phantom" and perhaps it may survive in modem German as "Trug" (delusion). But why it was deemed appropriate as a given-name is puzzling. Perhaps the aforesaid Drogo was some sort of visionary? Those learned in the history of the period are best able to comment. Note: recent research suggests it might emanate from the Slavonic word "dorogo" which means "loved one".

As a personal name it was popular with the Normans and one of William the Conqueror's cronies was called Drogo and set up the Montague family. It has been a personal name for many of the family ever since. Otherwise it doesn't seem to have been widely favoured by the general community and now survives mainly in surnames. Curiously enough it is largely special to the eastern region where it is first recorded - Lincoln (1159) - in the person of Radulf filius Dragonis. Then John Drew (Cambridge: 1327). In 1392 the Bailiff of Norwich was designated as both Richard Drue and Drew.

Although there are a fair number of entries under Drew in the standard biographies, none is exactly a headliner. The name went across the Atlantic with John Drew of Dublin (1827) who founded a celebrated family of actors, continued through the Barrymores. In the variation Drury we have Sir Drury-Lowe who was born in Spondon and is buried at Denby. He is associated with many of the military ventures of the Victorian era, especially the Crimean War and the Indian Mutiny.

The variation "Druce" yields George Druce (1850-1932) who was and remains a leading authority in wild flowers.

Site Index Site Index © Desmond Holden
From "The Peak Advertiser", 8th April 2002.

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URL of this page: https://names.gukutils.org.uk/Drew.shtml
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