Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Dru Drury, Silversmith and Insect Expert

Dru Drury (London, England, 4th February 1725 - London, England, 15th January 1804)


Dru Drury

I keep a clean house here on Gin Lane and you would not find so much of a whisper of an insect scuttling around my skirting boards. That would probably leave today's guest disappointed as Dru Drury loved nothing so much as insects.

Drury was born to silversmith Dru Drury and his wife, Mary Hesketh. He spent four decades following in his father's footsteps as a silversmith yet his true passion was for the natural world and even before he devoted himself full time to entomology, he was recognised within the world of insect-study. As an amateur entomologist of some renown, he was made President of the Society of Entomologists of London in the 1780s and held the office for two years. 

After four decades of silversmithing and following the death of his wife, Esther Pedley, Drury retired from the business to devote himself full time to the study of insects and the natural world. He handed over the running of the silversmiths to his son, whilst his daughter married a merchant in London.

Drury's life was not always happy and he struggled with financial insolvency at times, juggling his studies and collecting with the day-to-day business of writing and society. He was a fellow of the Linnean Society. He was believed to be the first English practitioner of the Linnean method of biological classification and championed pioneering techniques into entomological classification.

His masterwork was Illustrations of Natural History, a three volume exhaustive work on insects that he began publishing in 1770, with the final edition coming out in 1787. His hand-coloured illustrations perfectly captured the vast range and beauty of the insect world. By the time of Drury's death his collection of specimens numbered over 11,000 and was considered one of the greatest in England.

8 comments:

The Greenockian said...

Interesting chap! Insects are not something I would like to devote any time to!
Liz

Madame Gilflurt said...

I take it that your collection is decidely less than 11,000?

Gem Twitcher said...

I wonder,Madame that he didn't embark with the other gentlemen on that vessel The Bounty? Nearly everyone of note seems to have gone on the adventure?

Madame Gilflurt said...

An interesting point; I wonder if there is a story there...

Gem Twitcher said...

I hope,Madame that you didn't call him in on the pretence of inspecting the salon for bugs?

Madame Gilflurt said...

Indeed not sir; if any were found, that girl of mid knows she would soon seeking a new situation.

Barbara Monajem said...

I am keen on insects, too! I would love to see some of his illustrations. :)

Madame Gilflurt said...

You can see a selection of images at the link below, they are beautiful.
http://www.gla.ac.uk/services/specialcollections/virtualexhibitions/birdsbeesandblooms/bees/drudruryillustrationsofnaturalhistory/