Drury, Robert

, an English mariner, and a native of Leicestershire, merits some notice as the author of the most authentic account ever given of Madagascar, which was first published in 1729, reprinted in 1743, and more recently, in 1808. Drury was shipwrecked in the Degrave East Indiaman, on the south side of that island, in 1702, being then a boy, and lived there as a slave fifteen years. After his return to England, he had among those who knew him, the character of a plain honest man, without any appearance of fraud or imposture. The truth of his narrative, as far as it goes, was confirmed by its exact agreement with the journal kept by Mr. John Benbow (eldest son of the brave but unfortunate admiral), who, being second-mate of the Degrave, was also shipwrecked, and narrowly escaped being massacred by the natives, with the captain and the rest of the crew, Drury and three other boys only excepted. Mr. Benbow’s journal was accidentally burnt in 1714, in a fire near Aldgate; but several of his friends who had seen it, recollected the particulars, and its correspondence with Dairy’s. (See Benbow). Indeed the authenticity of Drury’s narrative seems to be amply confirmed, and his facts have been accordingly adopted by the compilers of geography. There is all that simplicity and verbiage which may be expected in the narratives of the illiterate, but none of the artifices of fiction. After his return from his captivity, he went to Loughborough, to his sister and other relations. It is said that he had the place of a porter at the India-house, and that his father left him 200l. and the reversion of a house at Stoke Newington. A friend of the late Mr. Duncombe, who was living in 1769, knew him well, and used frequently to call upon him at his house in Lincoln’s-inn fields, which were not then inclosed, and had often seen Drury throw a javelin there, and hit a small mark at a surprizing distance; but other particulars of his life are not known. 2


Hughes’s Letters by Duncombe, vol. II. 253. —Gent. Mag. LX. 1189; LXI. 530.