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Dr. John Drury (1761-1823) Papers

Dr. John Drury (1761-1823) Papers

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DR. JOHN DRURY (1761-1823) PAPERS, 1739-1838


Processing for this collections was funded by the Mack Medical Fund.

Collection Summary

Repository:The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 161 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-948-6012
Creator:Drury, John, 1761-1823
Title:Dr. John Drury (1761-1823) Papers
Quantity:2 linear feet (5 boxes)
Abstract:The Dr. John Drury Papers contain correspondence and financial papers of this Marblehead, Massachusetts, physician and merchant.
Collection Number:MSS 51

Series List

SERIES I. CorrespondenceSERIES II. Business Papers
SERIES III. Legal Papers
SEIRES IV. Miscellaneous Papers

Scope and Content Note

The Dr. John Drury Papers contain his correspondence and financial papers from 1781-1823. The bulk of the papers contain his personal correspondence with family and friends. Although John was a Marblehead physician, there are few manuscripts documenting his medical practice. The majority of the business papers concern his Marblehead store and mercantile business. Also found here are a few deeds, powers of attorney, and records for estates he administered. The collection has been divided into four series.

Series I. Correspondence includes letters written to and from John and his family members. Subseries A. Letters to John include letters from his brother, Dr. Luke Drury of Marblehead, and father, Colonel Luke Drury of Grafton, which describe family concerns and John's shipping ventures. Of note are the February 10, 1787 letter from Dr. Luke Drury and March 20, 1787 letter from Colonel Luke Drury. These relate Colonel Luke Drury's arrest and forty-seven day imprisonment in Boston on an unspecified political accusation. Letters to John from his sons describe school life at Brown University for Luke, Samuel S., and William G., the naval career of John Temple, and shipping business of Austin. Letters from family include personal letters from his wife Hannah, brother Alden Drury, and in-laws, mostly Crossmans and Smiths. Letters from in-laws, Benjamin Greene and Nicholas Peck, also include descriptions of shipping ventures.

Subseries B. Letters from John include correspondence with his brother Luke and sons Luke, Austin, William G., Samuel S., and John Temple which discuss family matters and John's shipping business.

Subseries C. Family Papers contain letters to John's wives Hannah (Smith) and Sally (Crossman) Drury, from John, relatives and friends, and letters to John's brother Dr. Luke from Drury relatives and friends. Also included here are papers from Dr. Luke Drury's estate settled by his father Colonel Luke Drury. Alden Drury's papers include a personal letter as well as miscellaneous accounts and receipts. Contained in the miscellaneous family papers are personal letters between Drury in-laws, letters between John's sons, business accounts and receipts for Luke, John Temple, Austin, and letters to John's sons from Drury cousins.

Series II. Business Papers, 1786-1823, include correspondence, accounts, receipts, and shipping papers for his store, shipping ventures, and medical practice. The bulk of the business and miscellaneous correspondence contains letters regarding settlement of accounts and debts. Additional letters include correspondence on the purchase or sale of goods from Drury's store, the purchase of lottery tickets from a church in Bristol, Rhode Island, and correspondence concerning land owned by Drury in Rhode Island. The miscellaneous business accounts and receipts include purchase orders, accounts, and receipts for the store owned by Drury.

The Thomas Drury correspondence contains letters to and from John and Thomas, both while Thomas managed a store in Providence, Rhode Island for John, and later during Thomas' sea voyages. These letters discuss the activities of the stores, both in Providence and Marblehead, and after 1798 of Thomas' maritime ventures while attempting to sell surplus medical supplies.

The shipping papers reflect John's efforts to export surplus medicine through Thomas and other captains. These records contain correspondence, accounts of sales, and insurance policies for shipments to Lisbon, the West Indies, and southern United States. Included here are also the papers for the schooner Mary, owned by John and mastered by his brother Thomas, which was condemned.

Only a single folder of medical records documents John's career as a doctor. The bulk of these records contains accounts and bills to patients. There are also a few letters that discuss ailments, a letter relating to his selection as vice president of the Essex Southern District Medical Society and a few notes on ailments.

Series III. Legal Papers includes deeds, powers of attorney, and papers of estates settled by John.

Series IV. Miscellaneous Papers consists of accounts and receipts of John Glover.

Biographical Sketch

Dr. John Drury (1761-1823), Marblehead physician and merchant, was born in Grafton, Massachusetts, the second son of Colonel Luke and Lydia (Sherman) Drury. John lived both in Grafton and Medford until he settled in Marblehead, Massachusetts in 1789. One year after his move to Bristol, Rhode Island, he married his first wife Hannah Smith, by whom he had five surviving children. After her death in 1810 he married Sally Crossman, also of Bristol.

In the mid-1790s, John opened a store in Marblehead which sold medical supplies, furniture, and books, among other merchandise. Between 1796 and 1798 he also maintained a similar store in Providence, Rhode Island, managed by his brother, Thomas. From 1810 to 1814 Dr. Chandler Flagg was a partner with John in his mercantile business.

In addition to his store and medical practice John invested in shipping ventures. Financed by John, most of these shipping ventures were attempts by his brother Thomas to sell surplus medical supplies. Most of these investments ended in financial failure, including the schooner Mary, owned by John and mastered by Thomas.

A respected individual in the community, John administered several estates. He died in Marblehead in 1823.

Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in Philcat. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.

Breed, Macaijah
Cotelle, Philip
Drury, Austin, 1788-
Drury, Hannah Smith, d. 1810
Drury, John Temple, 1790-1815
Drury, Luke, 1737-1811
Drury, Luke, 1759-1790
Drury, Luke, 1794-1845
Drury, Sally Crossman, d. 1820
Drury, Samuel S. (Samuel Smith), b. 1799
Drury, Thomas, b. 1779
Drury, William G. (William Gorham), b. 1803
Flagg, Chandler, Dr.
Brown University
Mary (Schooner)
Estates, Administration of
Bristol (R.I. : Town)
Grafton (Mass.)
Marblehead (Mass.)
Providence (R.I.)


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Administrative Information


Requests for permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in writing to the Manuscript Librarian in the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum.

Preferred Citation

Dr. John Drury (1761-1823) Papers, MSS 51, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


The Dr. John Drury Papers are an integration and reorganization of four scrapbook volumes from an unknown source. The John Drury correspondence in Box 5, Folders 4 through 7 was purchased in 1988 (acc #88025). The fifteen letters in Box 5 Folder 8 were purchased in 2002 (acc #2002.064).

Processing Information

Collection processed by Nancy Barthelemy, Prudence Backman, April 1982. Updated by Catherine Robertson, October 2014 and Tatiyana Bastet, July 2019.

Related Material

Essex Southern District Medical Society Records, 1796-1970, MSS 52

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