Manuscripts and Special Collections

Biography of Sir Drury Curzon Drury-Lowe (1830-1908)

Drury Curzon Holden was the second son of William Drury Holden and was baptised at Aston-on-Trent, Derbyshire. From 1849 he was known as Drury Curzon Lowe, following his father's assumption of the name and arms of Lowe on inheriting the Locko estate.

Drury was educated at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, graduating in 1854. The following year he joined the 17th Lancers as a Cornet. He attained the rank of Lieutenant in November 1854 and Captain in November 1856. In 1855 he went to the Crimea. He fought at the Battle of the Chernaya and was at Sevastopol for its fall. In 1858-1859 he served in India and was mentioned in dispatches. He purchased a commission as Major in 1862, and was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel in 1866. Sometime between 1862 and 1867 he assumed the surname Drury-Lowe in place of Lowe.

He retired in 1878 but when his successor accidentally shot himself in the foot the following year, he was brought back into the command of the 17th Lancers to serve in the Anglo-Zulu War. He was slightly injured at the battle of Ulandi but was able to join the cavalry charge. Drury-Lowe was made a CB the same year. He was sent back to South Africa in 1881 to command the Cavalry Brigade in the Transvaal in 1881, and was promoted as Major-General.

The Egyptian campaign of 1882 was the peak of Drury-Lowe's military career. He was in command of the cavalry at the capture of Mahsama, and led the night-time cavalry charge at Qassasin. After the battle of Tel al-Kebir he led the cavalry to occupy Cairo, and received the surrender of Arabi Pasha. He was publicly thanked in the House of Commons, and knighted on 18 November 1882.

After Egypt, Drury-Lowe returned to Britain. He was appointed as the commander of the Cavalry Brigade at Aldershot, and from 1885-1891 was Inspector-General of cavalry. He was promoted to Lieutenant-General in 1890. He became Colonel of the 17th Lancers in 1892. He retired in 1895 and was awarded the G.C.B. He spent his latter years at Key Dell, Horndean, Hampshire, and was buried at Denby.

Four photographs of Sir Drury Drury-Lowe, taken in 1883, are available on the National Portrait Gallery website.


He married in 1876 Elizabeth, dau. of Thomas Smith

Archive Collections

The Drury-Lowe papers held in Manuscripts and Special Collections at the University of Nottingham include:
  • letters sent by Drury Drury-Lowe from the Crimea, Turkey and India, to his father, 1855-1859 (Dr C 74/11-19)
  • personal letters sent by Drury Drury-Lowe to his brother William, 1859-1880 (Dr C 84-120)
  • papers relating to Drury-Lowe's military career (Dr N 18-26)
  • illuminated scrolls presented to Drury-Lowe on his return from Egpyt, 1882 (Dr 2F 9-16)  

Published Sources

H.M. Vibart, ‘Lowe, Sir Drury Curzon Drury- (1830–1908)’, rev. James Falkner, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [available online to subscribers,]


Manuscripts and Special Collections

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