The Drewrys In
Charles Parish, one of the original shires formed in 1634 when the colonies were divided, was located on a peninsula southeast of the Jamestown settlement (1607). Virtually surrounded by water, Charles Parish would become part of the York County by mandate of Charles I of England in March, 1642/3. There is much confusion as to the exact dates and names by which the parish was known. There is evidence that it was also known as Charles River County, New Poquoson County, New Towson County, and, perhaps, Yorkhampton County.
What is important is that Charles Parish was the home of three churches during the period before 1648 and continuing until the last church burned in 1789. During these years four church scribes maintained a register of parish births and deaths, The Register of Charles Parish, York County, Virginia, the oldest volume of records of the Church of Colonial Virginia existing today. Within it we find much of the information known about the earliest Drewrys in the colonies.
Of particular interest to the Drewrys is the fact that 98 Drewry births were recorded from July 24, 1673 when John Drewry, son of John and Deborah (Collins) Drewry, was born, and continued until March 11, 1787 when Esther Morrow Drewry, daughter of William and Anne Drewry was born. During this same period 22 Drewry deaths were also recorded.
Another remarkable fact is that the family surname is recorded with the exact spelling of DREWRY with only one alternate spelling found. Records from colonial times were recorded by the scribes and clerks of the courts and churches and surnames were usually spelled at the whim of the writer and could vary greatly between the different clerks and scribes. In later records we find the Drewry surname spelled Drury, Drurie, and Drewery. We do not know why there was such consistency in the spelling of the Drewry surname in Charles Parish. It could be an indication that the Drewrys of Colonial Virginia were educated and, perhaps, assisted the clerks and scribes in the spelling of their surname in these official records. It is unusual to find such consistency and loyalty to the spelling of a surname during these times. Only one entry in the register, interpreted by historians as Dowry, was spelled differently, however, this is believed to be a misinterpretation of the handwritten registers as the parents were recorded as being "John and Deborah" and the date is consistent with a child being born to John and Deborah Collins Drewry.
The original church, called New Poquoson Church, ca. 1642-43, was followed by the New Towson Parish Church, ca. 1680, and then Charles Parish Church, sometime before July 8, 1702. It was known by this last name until the close of its registers in 1789 when the church burned. The foundation of the last church survives today. Nearby lies a graveyard with a few tombstones, the earliest dating to 1858, but nothing earlier survives. An ancient black oak, certainly over two-hundred years old, adorns the graveyard. There is also a historical marker noting the historic importance, to our country and to us, the Drewry descendants, of this site.
Within Charles Parish lived John and Deborah (Collins) Drewry who are believed to be the founding family of Drewrys in Colonial America. It is believed that they lived their entire life within Charles Parish, York County, Virginia, and their deaths are recorded in the registers.
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