Special Collections & University Archives University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries

Drury, Luke, 1737-1811

Luke Drury Papers, 1746-1831.
4 boxes (3 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 258

Soldier in Revolutionary War and Shays Rebellion, later a state legislator and local politician from Grafton and Marlboro, Massachusetts. Drury’s papers contain family and business (farm and mill) correspondence, notes of hand, bills, receipts, and legal papers as well as records pertaining to the town of Grafton. Collection also includes papers of Timothy Darling and the Goulding, Place, and Sherman families.

Biographical Note

The Grafton, Massachusetts Drurys traced their family back
to Hugh Drury, born in England in 1616. By 1659 Hugh had
emigrated to Boston, where he established himself in
business. His great-grandson Thomas (b.1690) moved from
Framingham to Grafton sometime in the 1720s. Thomas was not
one of the original proprietors of Grafton, but he acquired
land and began farming. He and his wife Sarah had ten
children by 1743, including Thomas Jr. (b.1721) and Luke
(b.1734). When Sarah died in 1745, Thomas married again. He
and his second wife Mary produced three children, including
Manoah (b.1746).

From an early date Thomas Sr. was active in Grafton
affairs, an example his sons would follow. He served in the
militia, as a selectman, and as a member of at least three
church committees.

His third son Luke, who farmed in addition to operating a
grist mill, took an even more active role in Grafton. In 1757
he joined the militia in protecting Grafton during the French
and Indian Wars. In the tense years before the Revolutionary
War, Luke moderated at least one grievance meeting of
concerned citizens in Grafton. When the alarm of British
invasion spread on April 18, 1775, he was serving as a
captain of militia. He marched his company to Concord and
Lexington to repulse the British. Nine days later he raised a
company and joined Colonel Artemus Ward’s regiment to fight
at Bunker Hill. Luke served in different areas during the
war, from West Point to Grafton, where his company guided
military stores. In addition, Luke also supported the
Continentals financially, at one point giving fifty pounds to
enlist soldiers in Grafton (see Folder 8).

In the years after the Revolution, Luke was deeply
involved in the growing conflict between agrarian and
commercial interests which came to a head in Shays’
Rebellion. As a farmer and a miller, he shared the resentment
of other western Massachusetts farmers who felt taxes were
too heavy. They also objected to merchants squeezing debtors
for hard money payments with which to pay their own debts to
British merchants. Farmers demanded paper money and laws
allowing payment in kind to ease the economic situation.

The farmers’ first response was to organize town and
county conventions, and to appeal to the state legislature
for relief. Grafton voters chose Luke Drury to represent them
at the Worcester County convention on August 17, 1786. A
committee notified him of specific issues to address, such as
the reduction of taxes and amnesty for all “rebels.” The
convention petition clearly stated the grievances most
farmers felt (see Folder 44).

In Massachusetts, the governor and legislature opposed any
concessions to the farmers, unwilling to upset the market
status quo. When peaceful means failed, the farmers, led by
Daniel Shays, turned to action. Their major tactic was to
close down debtor courts, which had prosecuted so many
debt-ridden farmers. By this the “Shaysites” hoped to prod
the government to economic reforms. On September 5 and
November 21, Shaysites closed county courts in Worcester.
Given Luke Drury’s militia and Continental Army service, he
probably took part. This experience also explains his
position on the Worcester “committee of the people,” one of
the groups set up to organize and govern each county. Luke
may also have joined the Worcester rebels in a failed attempt
to seize the state arsenal at Springfield on January 25,
1787.

The military defeat at Springfield and a similar one at
Petersham on February 2 ended the Massachusetts Shaysites’
concerted action. Some fled the state, while others scattered
to continue hit-and-run actions. But the feelings behind the
rebellion remained strong on both sides. Luke was imprisoned
as “a person dangerous to the state.” In March he petitioned
the governor for release on bond of good behavior, and he was
eventually released (see Folder 1). In state elections in
June three Shaysites, including Luke Drury, were elected to
the House. The General Court refused to seat the “rebels,”
however.

Economic improvements over the next few months helped ease
tensions in the state, and Luke returned to his farm and
family. He had married Lydia Sherman in 1759, and the couple
had nine children. Besides farming, he continued to take an
active role in state and local politics. He served terms in
the state House of Representatives and the General Court. In
Grafton over the years he was chosen constable, deputy
sheriff, tax collector, assessor, and selectman. He also
acted as legal guardian to at least four minors, who
apparently were allowed to choose him as their guardian.

Lydia Drury died in 1793. Two years later Luke married
Mary Howland. He continued farming in Grafton until 1803,
when he and Mary moved to Marlboro. His sons Ephraim and
Alden remained in Grafton to farm the Drury lands. Luke died
in Marlboro in 1811, leaving his widow Mary and seven
children.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Luke Drury papers (1746-1831) comprise the personal
and business papers of Colonel Luke Drury of Grafton and
Marlboro. They represent three generations of his family,
which settled in Grafton in the 1720s. The collection also
includes the papers of four families related to the Drurys by
business or marriage. These are the Darling, Goulding, Place
and Sherman families. In addition, the collection contains
documents from Grafton’s town government, with an extensive
series of tax records. Correspondence and business papers
involving various Grafton citizens are included.

Most of the documents in the collection are from the years
between the Revolution and the War of 1812. They consist
primarily of business papers, including correspondence, notes
of hand, bills and receipts. There are also many legal
papers, such as leases, deeds, and court papers. These
documents provide important information about the Grafton
area and Massachusetts for these years. Specifically, the
documents demonstrate the problems that led to Shays’
Rebellion in 1786, in which Luke Drury took a prominent role.
The documents also illustrate the fluid economic situation
that persisted into the 1800s. This can especially be seen in
the sheer volume of the notes of hand. Many people were in
debt, for various amounts to various people. Yet these same
people were loaning out money. Luke Drury is a good example.
Folders 15-17 in the collection contain notes of money he
borrowed and lent. In addition, in Folder 19 there is an
account book dated 1802 which lists notes he had acquired,
perhaps as partial payments for still other notes. The
economic situation was complicated, to say the least.

Grafton itself was originally one of John Eliot’s “praying
villages,” reservations to Christianize and civilize local
Indians. The Grafton Indians sold small parcels of land over
the years, and by 1727 several English families had settled
in what would become Grafton. That year both the Indians and
the English petitioned the legislature to allow large-scale
land purchases. This permission was granted in March 1728,
and the English proprietors began dividing the lands. From
the time of settlement, agriculture was a crucial factor in
the town’s economic life. In the 19th century manufacturing
interests developed, producing finished cloth and shoes.
Tanneries also played an important role, both in their own
right and as part of the shoe industry.

The Luke Drury papers have been organized into the
following series, including Drury papers, (1750-1829), Related
families (1757-1831), Grafton materials (1741-1823), and
Miscellaneous materials (n.d.).


Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

The collection is open for research.

Preferred Citation

Cite as: Luke Drury Papers (MS 258). Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

History of the Collection

Acquired from Cedric Robinson, 1989.

Processing Information

Processed by Lisa May, November 1989.


Additional Information

Sponsor
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon
Foundation.

Language
English.


Series Descriptions
1750-1829

This series contains four subseries. The first is
Correspondence, which includes family correspondence
among various branches of the Drury and related families,
generally centered around Luke. It also contains business
correspondence, again mainly Luke’s, dealing with his
farm and mill, and especially with loans to and from
local people. Those appearing frequently include the
Adams, Bachelor, Prentice and Rice families in Grafton,
as well as the Brooks, Chase and Turner families, related
to the Drurys by marriage. There is also a series of
letters dealing with the estate of Timothy Darling, of
which Luke was executor.

The second subseries comprises Financial Papers. These
are mainly Luke’s bills and receipts, and his notes on
personal loans. A batch of small account books deals with
milling, while another contains notations of fur
trapping. A third, dated 1802, is a list of Luke’s notes
of hand. There are also papers from estate valuations and
sales. One details the estate of “PerryGreen” [Peregrine)
Howland, who was probably a relative of Luke’s second
wife Mary Howland Drury. The other papers are not clearly
identified, but they seem to be from the estates of
Timothy Darling, Luke Jr. (d.1790), and Luke Sr.
(d.1811).

A third subseries, Legal Papers, contains various
documents. Besides deeds and conveyances, it includes
powers of attorney, papers establishing guardianship, and
warrants to Luke Drury as deputy sheriff. There are also
papers from specific legal actions. These include one
case (Perkins v. Thompson, 1820-26) which does not seem
to be related to the Drurys.

Subseries 4, Miscellaneous Papers, includes military
documents for both Luke and his son Ephraim. There are
also medical lectures which were probably noted by either
Luke Jr. or his brother John, both of whom became
doctors. The series also contains prescriptions and
recipes, including one for “strong bear” (beer).

1757-1831

Subseries 1 contains the papers of Timothy Darling,
who was not actually related to the Drurys. He and Luke
were both prominent in Grafton affairs, and the two
shared business connections. In addition, Luke executed
Darling’s will, a lengthy process involving at least one
lawsuit. The documents in this subseries deal with
business; the majority are notes of hand. The Goulding
papers, Subseries 2, also concentrate on business, though
they include military papers as well. Israel Goulding
married Luke’s daughter Lucy. His brothers Jonah, John,
Joshua and Ephraim also appear. The Place papers,
Subseries 3, deal mainly with financial matters. It has
so far been impossible to trace this family, but there
was at least a business connection with the Drurys. The
Shermans, Subseries 4, were connected with the Drurys by
marriage as well as business. Their papers include leases
as well as notes of hand, bills, and receipts. They
represent Thankful Temple Sherman (Luke’s mother-in-law),
her sons Moses, David, and Aaron, and her nephew
Timothy.

1741-1823

This large series has been divided into three
subseries. The first, Town Papers, includes
correspondence to and from the selectmen, appointments
and warrants for town positions (especially the highway
survey and repair committees). It also includes documents
relating to the 1786 county convention where Luke Drury,
as one of Grafton’s representatives, clearly supported
the demands and concerns of the Shaysite rebels.
Subseries 2 deals with taxes. It contains tax documents,
mainly warrants to Luke Drury and other tax collectors.
The tax records show collections for highway, town,
state, minister, and county taxes. In addition, there are
valuations of real estate and personal property. There
are individual assessments for taxation. Also included is
a complete tax list for 1794, presumably listing every
taxpayer in Grafton. The third subseries contains the
papers of Grafton families, again including the Adams,
Bachelor, Brooks, Chase, Prentice and Rice families. Like
the Drury papers, these range from business to legal,
containing few personal papers. The people represented
here had some connection, business or otherwise, with the
Drurys.

Undated

This series consists of fragments and scratch papers,
some of which can be identified, but none of which can be
reconstructed.

Contents List
Series 1. Drury Papers
1750-1829
Subseries A. Correspondence
Family correspondence
1782-1799
Box 1:1
Family correspondence
1800-1810, n.d.
Box 1:2
Business correspondence
1761-1785
Box 1:3
Business correspondence
1786-1796
Box 1:4
Business correspondence
1797-1802
Box 1:5
Business correspondence
1803-1805
Box 1:6
Business correspondence
1806-1812, n.d.
Box 1:7
Subseries B. Financial Records
Bills and receipts
1757-1777
Box 1:8
Bills and receipts
1780-1789
Box 1:9
Bills and receipts
1790-1799
Box 1:10
Bills and receipts
1800-1802
Box 1:11
Bills and receipts
1803-1809
Box 1:12
Bills and receipts
1810-1817
Box 1:13
Bills and receipts
1819-1829, n.d.
Box 1:14
Notes of hand
1771-1789
Box 1:15
Notes of hand
1790-1800
Box 1:16
Notes of hand
1802-1822, n.d.
Box 1:17
Account books
1758-1794
Box 1:18
Account books
1767-1802, n.d.
Box 1:19
Estate valuations and sales
1796, n.d.
Box 1:20
Subseries C. Legal Records
Deeds and conveyances
1763-1800, n.d.
Box 2:21
Powers of attorney and miscellaneous
1764-1799, n.d.
Box 2:22
Action against Matthias Rice
1786-1795, n.d.
Box 2:23
Drury v. Wheeler
1798-1800, n.d.
Box 2:24
Drury v. Greenwood
1800
Box 2:25
Perkins v. Thompson
1820-1826, n.d.
Box 2:26
Subseries 4. Miscellaneous
Military papers
1786-1795, n.d.
Box 2:27
Maps and surveys
1750-1779, n.d.
Box 2:28
Recipes and prescriptions
n.d.
Box 2:29
Medical lectures
n.d.
Box 2:30
Writing fragments
n.d.
Box 2:31

Series 2. Related Families
1757-1831
Subseries A. Darling
Financial papers
1760-1782
Box 2:32
Settlement of estate
1777, n.d.
Box 2:33
Subseries B. Goulding
Correspondence
1787-1821
Box 2:34
Financial papers
1757-1809
Box 2:35
Military papers
1801-1802
Box 2:36
Subseries C. Place
Financial papers
1773-1821, n.d.
Box 2:37
Subseries D. Sherman
Correspondence, notes of hand
1781-1831, n.d.
Box 2:38
Bills and receipts
1770-92, n.d.
Box 2:39
Leases
1771-1790
Box 2:40

Series 3. Grafton Materials
1741-1823
Subseries A. Town Records
Town correspondence
1762-1801, n.d.
Box 3:41
Town meeting minutes, appointments
1781-1799, n.d.
Box 3:42
Town bills and receipts
1784-1800, n.d.
Box 3:43
Delegates to the Worcester county
convention (Luke Drury)
1786-1787, n.d.
Box 3:44
Highway surveys and repairs
1763-1820
Box 3:45
Subseries B. Tax Records
Tax correspondence
1796
Box 3:46
Tax documents — highway tax
1774-1797
Box 3:47
Tax records — highway tax
1794-1797, n.d.
Box 3:48
Tax documents — town tax
1773-1796, n.d.
Box 3:49
Tax records — town tax
1793, 1795
Box 3:50
Tax documents — state tax
n.d.
Box 3:51
Tax records — state tax
1793
Box 3:52
Tax documents — minister tax
1794-1796
Box 3:53
Tax records — minister tax
1795
Box 3:54
Tax documents — county tax
1795
Box 3:55
Tax list
1794
Box 3:56
Valuations
1790-1795, n.d.
Box 3:57
Assessments
1786, n.d.
Box 3:58
Unidentified tax records
1782, 1793 n.d.
Box 3:59
Subseries C. Grafton Citizens’ Records
Business correspondence
1767-1821, n.d.
Box 3:60
Bills and receipts
1770-1790
Box 3:61
Bills and receipts
1791-1823, n.d.
Box 3:62
Notes of hand
1772-1820
Box 3:63
Deeds and conveyances
1762-1786
Box 3:64
Military papers
1794-1795, n.d.
Box 3:65
Legal papers
1763-1789, n.d.
Box 3:66
Maps
1741-1804, n.d.
Box 3:67

Series 4. Miscellaneous
Undated
Scratch paper — math
n.d.
Box 3:68
Scratch paper — writing
n.d.
Box 3:69
Correspondence fragments
n.d.
Box 3:70
Financial papers fragments
n.d.
Box 3:71
Unidentified fragments
n.d.
Box 3:72
Oversize materials -
encapsulated
Box 4

Subjects
  • Grafton (Mass.)--History
  • Massachusetts--History
  • Shays' Rebellion, 1786-1787
Contributors
  • Darling, Timothy
  • Drury, Luke, 1737-1811
  • Goulding, Israel
  • Sherman, Thankful Temple
Types of material
  • Deeds
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