Mathurin & Theodore Du Ry in France and Britain.htm

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Mathurin & Theodore Du Ry in France and Britain

Mathurin Du Ry (1602-1674) and his sons and grandsons’ Scottish and British links

Theodore Dury (1661-1742), Samuel  (1651-1729), Charles (c. 1702-1785) and Alexander (1704-1758)

Mathurin (Matthieu) Du Ry, 1602-1674, was born in Verneuil-sur-Oise, near Beauvais, France, and died in Paris in 1674. He was French, the son of Charles Du Ry, 1568-1655, who was born in Argentan, Lower Normandy (between Caen and Le Mans). Mathurin’s son, Theodore, 1661-1742, the ninth child came to England after the edict of Nantes in 1685 some say leaving estates in Picardy which were confiscated. Often recorded as Durie, he was the French Huguenot military engineer and surveyor, successor to John Abraham Slezer as the Board of Ordinance Chief Engineer and Master Gunner of Scotland after Slezer’s death in 1689. The position was granted him by William and Mary in 1693 and confirmed by Queen Anne in  Calendar of State Papers - Queen Anne 1703. He is called ‘Captain Theodore Dury, a French gentleman, chief engineer to all her forts and garrisons etc.’ and was naturalised. Partly in response to anti-Union feelings and James Stuart's abortive uprising in 1708, the castles of Edinburgh, Stirling and Fort William were all upgraded in the early part of the 18th century and these works were carried out under the particular guidance Captain Theodore. The Dury battery in Edinburgh Castle was one of his works and he also reconfigured the defences at Fort George, Dumbarton and elsewhere in Scotland between 1708 and 1710 and then in 1741 Castle of Blackness. Theodore’s wife was Mary Anne Boulier. See Plan of Stirling battery

Theodore and Mary Anne’s sons were both in the military and recognised Battery at Stirling Castle as French-ancestry Scots. The eldest, Charles Theodore, was born c 1702 and served in the Royal Marines reaching the rank of a Lieut-General and died in 1785. His wife Frances survived him but with no recorded children. Major General Alexander Dury (1704-1758), Lieutenant-Colonel the 1st Guards, was the younger son, born in Edinburgh 11th December 1704 he fell in action at St Cast-le-Guildo, Brittany – Near St Malo on 11th September 1758. He was commemorated on the 1882 Guards Officers Memorial, at the Royal Military Chapel, Wellington Barracks, London. He Maj Gen Alexander Dury - after Sir Joshua Reynolds was was also recognised for having prepared, with The Duke of Cumberland and his adjutant general, Robert Napier ‘The 1757 Manual Exercise’ which retained the platoon firing system - until 1763 when a new one was required. Alexander’s wife, Isabella, was an aunt of Bennet Langton a friend of the celebrated diarist Samuel Johnson. Johnson, only twenty days after Maj Gen Dury’s death in action, wrote to Langton with his condolences and a thoughtful comment about the advantages of a violent death in action especially for those in the military who would have prepared for it. Langton sent the letter on to his aunt via a mutual friend commenting on his pity for her and reflecting that the General “was amiable in His Conduct.” [See pdf File below: Samuel Johnson Letter]

Alexander had three children before he married and two with his wife Isabella Turnor (Turner) who he married 1753. She inherited an estate in Derbyshire from her maternal grandfather Sir Henry Ferne who had been Receiver General. The mother of Alexander’s premarital children was Barbara Moncrieff who had been a servant in Alexander’s parent’s house; as the children were surnamed Thompson it is assumed the mother married in London between 1748 and 1758. The first child died in London in 1745, the year he was born. The second, Henry, was born in London in December 1746 and lived until after 1758, we do not know if he had any children. The third child, named Barbara after her mother, was born in 1748 and still alive in 1758. The information about Alexander’s premarital children comes from the last letter Alexander wrote to his wife Isabella in 1757 and is in the National Archives in London. First page of Maj Gen Alexander Dury's will

Alexander and Isabella’s surviving son was Lt Col. Alexander Dury (1756-1843) of the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards – now known as the Grenadier Guards, who married Lucia Maria Bowles daughter of Samuel Bowles of Ealing, Somerset. Alexander joined the Regiment as an Ensign in 1775, was promoted Captain, later Lieutenant-Colonel, a Company Commander, in 1789, and retired in 1794. It is understood the earliest known extant regimental colours were with his descendants up until 1974. He lived at Bonsal, Derbyshire and at Hadley, Middlesex.

While living in England he had bookplates made, showing the undifferenced Durie arms, and these impaled with arms of Bowles, his wife’s name. These were not registered in England and confirm that the connection between Scottish Durie armigers and French Du Rys is only coincidental. (See DFA Arms)

This Dury family continued to give great service to their adopted country. Many descendants served in the military and the family first names of Theodore and Alexander were handed down. Lt. Col. Alexander’s son, another Alexander, served in the Royal Artillery reaching rank of Captain and died at Hadley in 1825. His elder son, Alexander, served as a Lieut in the 67th Regiment and died aged twenty-three. The younger son Theodore Henry was born in Woolwich in 1823, married Antoinetta Monsley in 1845 and joined the 10th Royal Hussars as a Cornet 11th June 1847. He served only in Kurkee (Kirkee, India) and then transferred to the 3rd Dragoon Guards. He left the Army shortly after to attend to his “considerable property” at Bonsall, in Derbyshire, where he was a JP and DL as well as being a well known cricketer, playing for England. [Obituary]

His eldest son, Col Alexander William Dury served with the 4th King’s Own Royal 54th and Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiments taking part in the Abyssinian Campaign 1867-68 and retired around 1901; his youngest son Lieut Robert Ashton Theodore Dury served in the 2nd South Wales Borderers and was killed in Minhla, Upper Burma on 17th November 1885 while attached to the 17th Bengal Native Infantry. A memorial erected by his brother officers is in Rochester Cathedral. Two other sons, John Henry and Theodore Charles, died in South America.

Theodore Henry’s uncle, Thomas, was a Midshipman on HMS Aeolus and died in 1803 of Yellow Fever at the age of sixteen. He had been with the famous Captain Riou, possibly a relative, on the Amazon at Copenhagen in 1804 when Captain Riou was killed. Another uncle was Francis a Lieut. in the 49th Regiment of Foot, who died in the American War in 1813 reportedly “defending the colours”. The youngest of his uncles was the Rev Theodore, Rector of Keithley... and therein lies another – un-military - tale. [See pdf file below: Memoir of Rev Theodore Dury]

The collateral Du Ry branch - living to this day in the Netherlands - descends from Mathurin’s son, Samuel, born in Paris 2nd December 1651. Samuel was the eleventh child of Mathurin and Marguerite Du Ry, born Aubert.  He too was a military engineer and made many drawings of fortifications under his name Samuel Du Ry Chevalier de Champdoré (a title bestowed c. 1690). He is known also to have been with his older brother Theodore in Edinburgh in 1692. and in February 1693 William and Mary issued a “Warrant to the Commissioners of the Treasury of Scotland to pay all arrears due to Samuel Dury, second engineer, the King intending to continue but one engineer in that kingdom”. Two of his sisters, Marie and Susan Dury, stayed in London and were naturalised in 1688.

He married Marie Savary in Maastricht in 1684 and moved to Leyden. It is arguable that Samuel settled in Leyden as he was Protestant and he too, like his brother Theodore, had left France around the time of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 and its consequences. It is very probable he knew of both Robert and John Durie, the Scottish father and son connected with the Scots Kirk there. This is likely because his oldest son Samuel (b. 1685 Leyden) studied medicine in Leyden and the university was a small world then. In February 1686 his mother Marguerite and most of his sisters left France and moved to Montfoort (near Utrecht) where his mother died in 1697. Samuel died in 1729 at Leyden, Netherlands.

Family Tree Durys - See file below 'Miscellanea Genealogica et heraldica 3-Dury'


Sources: Dr Bruce Durie, Olav Du Ry, London Gazettes, Foot Guards Tripod, Glosters Tripod, Warfare History Network, Magna Britannia, Pillinger Diaries.

The great-great-grandmother of Olav Du Ry van Beest Holle, who has provided much of this information, was Adelaide-Sophie Du Ry
. Olav is a direct descendant of Samuel Du Ry. For more about the Du Rys:


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If you have a story or a history for us, please send as a Word Document or Plain Text by email, accessible from our Contact page. Photographs should be in Jpeg format (.jpg).

All information will be reviewed and may be used on the website and shared with the family genealogist.

We hope you will also help us build up our extended Family Tree -

There is an historical information section on Overseas Duries included in '750 Years of Duries' by Dr Bruce Durie. Click Here


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