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Mary Drew (Gladstone)

Birthplace: Westminster, London
Death: Died
Immediate Family:

Daughter of William Ewart Gladstone, Prime Minister of UK and Catherine Gladstone
Wife of Rev. Harry Drew
Mother of Dorothy Mary Catherine Drew and Nancy Drew
Sister of William Henry Gladstone; Agnes Wickham (Gladstone); Rev. Stephen Edward Gladstone; Catherine Jessy Gladstone; Helen Gladstone and 2 others

Occupation: political secretary to her father, writer, and hostess
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Mary Drew

Mary Drew (née Gladstone; 23 November 1847–1 January 1927), was a political secretary, writer and hostess. She was the daughter of the British Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone, and achieved notability as his adviser, confidante and private secretary. She also attained a fair degree of political influence by controlling access to him.


   * 1 Family
   * 2 Marriage and declivity of influence
   * 3 Diaries and letters
   * 4 References
   * 5 Notes
   * 6 External links


The Gladstones were a large and eccentric family. Mary's mother (née Catherine Glynne) and her mother's cousin, Lady Lyttelton, married on the same day in the same church, and often kept both families in the same house. Lord Lyttelton, Mary's uncle, recalled finding "seventeen children upon the floor, all under the age of twelve, and consequently all inkstands, books, carpets, furniture, ornaments, in intimate intermixture and in every form of fracture and confusion".[1] In all, there were seven Gladstone and twelve Lyttelton children.

Mary's father's rescue work amongst the prostitutes of London is well known and was considered by many contemporaries unbecoming of a Prime Minister. His sister went insane after converting to Roman Catholicism, and subsequently used tracts written by Protestant theologians as lavatory paper, an act which incensed the zealously Anglican Prime Minister.

Mary Gladstone, growing up against this outré background, was her father's favourite, a plain girl and studious, but with little serious education. Her considerable gumption, however, won her the nickname Von Moltke. After a few infatuations with several uninterested men, she resigned herself to life as a spinster. In 1880, on becoming Prime Minister for a third term at the age of seventy, her father created her one of his Downing Street secretaries. Thus began her political career: she soon became the door to her father. It was a powerful position in which she delighted.

Marriage and declivity of influence

On 2 February 1886, at the age of 38, Mary Gladstone astounded her friends and family by marrying the Rev. Harry Drew, curate of Hawarden, who was ten years her junior. They had one surviving daughter, Dorothy Mary Catherine Drew, born 11 March 1890, who was a favourite of her grandfather.

After the Prime Minister's final retirement in 1894, her political influence waned. Although a great friend to his successor Lord Rosebery, she was never again able to wield influence.

Diaries and letters

A keen diarist, Gladstone kept copious notes of her father's meetings and conversations, in addition to her own observations of late 19th-century political events. Her archives, "The Mary Gladstone Papers" (some of which were published by Lucy Masterman in 1930 under the title Mary Gladstone (Mrs. Drew), Her Diaries and Letters), are a much-used source of many 20th- and 21st-century biographies of leading figures of the day.

The diary, which served as an emotional outlet, diminished in its thoroughness after her hymeneals, when what she had previously committed to paper she found she could instead commit to her husband. She wrote nothing at all for the seven years between 1904 and 1911, but picked it up again almost immediately after her husband died. She had intended for a time to publish the diaries herself, but, according to Lucy Masterman, the proofs "were considerably 'edited' and much of the raciness and individuality taken from them. They have therefore been discarded, except as evidence of an intention to publish, wherever the original MS. exists."[2]

Gladstone had an eccentric grammar, employing a sort of long dot as her generic period. Masterman (whom the diary describes at twenty-two as "rather a minx with forward priggy manners") took pains to edit out both this and the many banal lists of attendees at parties and dinners, along with the myriad accounts and analyses of symphony concerts, and evidence of her congenital dayums: "Anniversaries of births, christenings, confirmations, proposals, betrothals, deaths, and funerals were constantly noted, together, of course, with Saints' Days and Festivals of the Church."[3]


   * Drew, Mary. Mary Gladstone (Mrs. Drew): Her Diaries and Letters. Edited by Lucy Masterman. London: Methuen, 1930.
   * Gooddie, Sheila. Mary Gladstone: A Gentle Rebel. John Welly and Sons Ltd. ISBN 978-0-470-85423-5.


  1. ^ Quoted by Masterman in Drew 1930, pp. 1-2.
  2. ^ Masterman preface to Drew 1930, p. v.
  3. ^ Masterman preface to Drew 1930, p. vi.

External links

   * Archival material relating to Mary Gladstone listed at the UK National Register of Archives

Source; Downloaded 2010 from Wikipedia.


A report of Mary Drew (Gladstone)'s wedding:

GLADSTONE AND HIS SON-IN-LAW. from the London World.

At the marriage of Miss Mary Gladstone the people who came to look on were allowed to occupy every seat except one that was reserved for the Prince and Princess of Wales; a few seats in another pew were kept for the Gladstone family, and were occupied by Mr. and Mrs. W. E. Gladstone, the bride's mother, (who wore the historical blue velvet,) and Mrs. Wickham [the bride's sister]. Mr. Gladstone did not come down from his place in the chancel to invite the Prince and Princess into the vestry. He followed the bride and bridegroom, and the Prince "personally conducted" the Princess and Prince George out of the church. When the happy pair came out again Mr. Gladstone hurried down the aisle after them. He neither spoke nor even looked at any of his friends. Once he turned to beckon to Mrs. Gladstone, and she immediately set off after him. Mr. John Drew, the father of the young clergyman to whom Miss Mary Gladstone was married last week, is one of the most ardent and active Conservatives in Devonshire and a Tory of the "stern and unbending" type. Mr. Drew is a land surveyor in a large way of business, and acts as agent to Lord Devon for the Powderham and Moreton estates. The Rev. Harry Drew was educated at Newton Abbot school and at Keble College, Oxford. He was tutor to the son of Lady Anne Speirs, of Elderslie, for some time, and then returned to Newton as assistant master, after which he became traveling tutor to the second son of Lord Manvers, who died at Rome. Mr. Drew then went to Cuddesden, where he prepared for orders under the supervision of Canon Furse. He went on a walking tour in North Wales during one of the vacations, and happened to visit the Reverend Stephen Gladstone at Hawarden, who offered him a curacy as soon as he was ordained, and he has been officiating at Hawarden during the last two years. Mr. and Mrs. Drew went to Lady Sarah Spencer's place in Hertfordshire for their honeymoon; but they are expected to go to Devonshire this week to stay with Mr. and Mrs. John Drew, at Kewton, near Starcross.

Source: NY Times, February 24, 1886.

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Mary Drew's Timeline

November 23, 1847
Westminster, London
December 21, 1847
St Martin in the Fields, Westminster, London
March 11, 1890
Age 42
January 1, 1927
Age 79