Dru Drury

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Dru Drury
Drury Dru 1725-1803.png
From Jardine's The Naturalist's Library
Born 4 February 1724
Wood Street, London, England
Died 15 December 1803
Turnham Green, London, England
Spouse(s) Esther Pedley

Dru Drury (4 February 1724 – 15 December 1803) was a British entomologist.[1]

Early life

Dru Drury was born in Wood Street, London. His father, William Drury, was a silversmith. Drury inherited the family business in 1748, and by 1771 amassed enough wealth to buy the entire stock of a fellow silversmith.[2] This wealth allowed Drury to retire by 1789, and devote his time entirely to entomology.[2]

Personal life

Dru Drury married Esther Pedley, daughter of John Pedley of London, a soapmaker. Together they had three children, Mary, born 1749; William (also a silversmith,) born 1752; and Dru, born 1767.[3] Drury enjoyed a successful career as a silversmith. In 1801, he became ill and moved to Turnham Green hoping to improve his heath, but died of stone two years later and was buried at St. Martin-in-the-Fields.


Before retiring as a silversmith, Drury had a keen interest in the subject of entomology, and was the president of the Society of Entomologists of London from 1780 to 1782. Beginning in 1770, Drury kept correspondences with a number of entomologists from all over the world from India to Jamaica and America. It is through these connections that Drury received much of his collection.[3]

(26) To Mr. Keuchan, at Jamaica. June 13, 1774.

You inquire after Mr. Smeathman, who is settled on the Coast of Africa. He, has been there almost three years but has sent nothing over except irnsects, a circumstance which astonishes us, for his patrons expected a great variety of subjects long before this in ye differelnt branches of Natural History. Many of the insects that he has sent are surprisingly fine. A great number entirely new, especially among, the Coleoptera, some of which are very large.

--From a collection of letters published in The Scientific Monthly.[3]

From 1770 to 1787, he published the three-volume Illustrations of Natural History, Wherein are Exhibited Upwards of 240 Figures of Exotic Insects, which was later revised and republished under the title Illustrations of Exotic Entomology in 1837. Drury's work was self published and many of his correspondences with various workmen in the publishing industry have survived. In the letters, detailed accounts of prices and publishing techniques are provided which shed light on Britain's early printing industry.[2]

Drury was also a prolific collector—his collection comprised over 11,000 specimens:

there may be in Holland collections more numerous, having in many instances a great number of a single species, yet no collection abounds with such a wonderful variety in all the different genera as this. All the specimens of which it is composed, are in the highest and most exquisite state of preservation, such an extensive collection can be supposed to be, and a very considerable number are unique, such as are not to be found in any other Cabinet whatever, and of considerable value; many of which, coming from countries exceedingly unhealthy, where the collectors, in procuring them, have perished by the severity of the climate, give but little room to expect any duplicate will ever be obtained during the present age; and the learned quotations that have been taken from it by those celebrated authors Linnaeus and Fabricius, in all their late editions, are incontestable proofs of the high degrees of estimation they entertained of it.

— From a printed circular which Drury distributed with a view to the sale of the collection in 1788

Unfortunately, Drury's collections, while large, lacked substantial location and other data (as it was not customary at the time). Thus, it is difficult, if not impossible, for any sound scientific data to be formed in regards to the history of its specimens.[4]


  1. ^ Noblett, William (Jan 1, 1988). "Publishing by the Author. A Case Study of Dru Drury's 'Illustrations of Natural History' (1770-82)". Publishing History. 23: 67–94.
  2. ^ a b c Noblett, William (1994). "Dru Drury's Letters (1770-1775) to the Cambridge Bookseller, John Woodyer". Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society. 10 (4): 539–547. JSTOR 41154840.
  3. ^ a b c Cockerell, T. (1922). "Dru Drury, an Eighteenth Century Entomologist". The Scientific Monthly. 14 (1): 67–82. JSTOR 6568.
  4. ^ Cockerell, T. (1934). "The Entomological Society of London". The Scientific Monthly. 38 (4): 332–342. JSTOR 15577.

External links

  • Zoologica Göttingen State and University Library
  • Illustrations of Exotic Entomology - online pictures
  • BDH Illustrations of Exotic Entomology complete
  • Entry in the Dictionary of National Biography


  • Evenhuis, N.L. 1997. Litteratura Taxonomica Dipterorum. Leiden: Backhuys Publishers. 209-212
  • Gilbert, P. 2000: Butterfly Collectors and Painters. Four Centuries of Colour Plates from the Library Collections of the Natural History Museum, London. Singapore, Beaumont Publishing Pte Ltd : X+166 S. 27-28, Portr., 88-89, 140-141, 148-149: Lep.Tafel
  • Griffin, F. J. 1940: Proceedings of the Royal Entomological Society of London (A) 15 49-68
  • Haworth, A. H. 1807 Transactions of the Entomological Society of London 1 33-34
  • Heppner, J. B. 1982 Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 36(2) 87-111 (Sep. Heppner)
  • Jardine, W. (B.) 1842 The Naturalist's Library 13 17-71, Portr.
  • Leach, W. E. 1815 Brewster, Edinburgh Encyclopaedia 9 66
  • Noblett, B. 1985 Bulletin of the Amateur Entomologists' Society 44(349) 170-178, Portr.
  • Osborn, H. 1952: A Brief History of Entomology Including Time of Demosthenes and Aristotle to Modern Times with over Five Hundred Portraits Columbus, Ohio, The Spahr & Glenn Company : 1-303.
  • Salmon, M. A. 2000 The Aurelian Legacy. British Butterflies and their Collectors. - Martins, Great Horkesley : Harley Books : 1-432

Illustrations of Exotic Entomology

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