Drury, Robert, Bl.
DRURY, ROBERT, BL.
Priest and martyr; b. Buckinghamshire, England, 1567; d. hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn (London) under James I, Feb. 26, 1607. Drury began his seminary studies at Rheims in 1588 and completed them at the English College at Valladolid, Spain, where he was ordained (1593). Upon his return to England, he worked chiefly in London.
His name is affixed to the appeal against archpriest Blackwell, which is dated Nov. 17, 1600, from Wisbeach Prison. On Nov. 5, 1602, the government invited these appellant priests to acknowledge their allegiance to the queen, which they did in the famous address of Jan. 21, 1603. The statement, drafted by Dr. William Bishop and signed by 13 leading priests, including Drury and Bl. Roger cadwallador, acknowledged the queen as their lawful sovereign, repudiated the claim of the pope to release them from their duty of allegiance to her, and expressed their abhorrence of the forcible attempts already made to restore the Catholic religion and their determination to reveal any further conspiracies against the government that should come to their knowledge. In return they ingenuously stated that as they were ready to render to Caesar the things that were Caesar's, so they should be permitted to yield to the successor of Peter that obedience which Peter himself might have claimed under Christ's commission. Thus they hoped to distinguish between their several duties and obligations. Although the theological faculty of Louvain condemned their repudiation of papal power to depose the sovereign, the pope himself selected Dr. Bishop to revive episcopal authority in England in 1623.
Disappointingly, Elizabeth died within three months of the statement's signature, and James I was unsatisfied with purely civil allegiance. He thirsted for spiritual authority. With the assistance of an apostate Jesuit, a new oath of allegiance was crafted with a subtlety designed to trouble the conscience of Catholics and divide them on the lawfulness of taking it. It was imposed July 5, 1606, about the time of Drury's arrest.
Drury was condemned for his priesthood, but offered his life if he would take the new oath. A letter from Jesuit Fr. Persons was found on Drury condemning the oath (also condemned by Pope Paul V, Sept. 22, 1606). He died because his conscience would not permit him to take the oath.
A pious contemporary account of his martyrdom, entitled "A true Report of the Arraignment … of a Popish Priest named Robert Drewrie" (London, 1607; reprinted in the Harleian Miscellany ) calls him a Benedictine and says he wore his monastic habit at the execution. He may have been a Benedictine oblate. Drury was beatified by Pope John Paul II on Nov. 22, 1987 with George Haydock and Companions.
Feast of the English Martyrs: May 4 (England).
See Also: england, scotland, and wales, martyrs of.
Bibliography: A True Report of the Arraignment, Tryall, Conviction, and Condemnation, of a Popish Priest, Named Robert Drewrie … (London 1607). r. challoner, Memoirs of Missionary Priests, ed. j. h. pollen (rev. ed. London 1924). j. h. pollen, Acts of English Martyrs (London 1891).
[k. i. rabenstein]