Australian Dictionary of Biography

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: Use double quotes to search for a phrase

Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

Older articles are being reviewed with a view to bringing them into line with contemporary values but the original text will remain available for historical context.

Ann (Anne) Drew (1822–1907)

by S. J. Routh

This article was published:

Ann Drew (1822?-1907), welfare worker, was born probably on 4 May 1822 at Ashton, Devon, England, daughter of John Cornish, a yeoman farmer, and his wife Sarah, née Smalridge. On 21 December 1848 at St James's Church, Exeter, Ann married Richard Langler Drew (1823-1869). He had been born on 9 October 1823 at Highweek, near Newton Abbot, Devon, son of Richard Langler Drew, yeoman farmer, and his wife Mary Frances, née Evans.

In 1851 the younger Drews were living at Totnes, Devon, Richard a clerk in a railway company. Reputed to have served in the Royal Navy during the Chinese War, he migrated with Ann to Victoria in about 1858 and after three years they moved to Queensland. Briefly a customs agent, then shipping master, in July 1862 Drew was appointed, at £300 a year, shipping master and secretary to the Marine Board—in effect chief clerk. W. L. G. Drew, possibly a relation, was under-secretary of the Queensland Treasury, the supervising department.

Richard Drew in 1862 bought and subdivided land on the outskirts of Brisbane, setting up a signboard: 'This is the village of Toowong'. Described as the 'spirit which began and leavened nearly all the movements both religious and secular in early Toowong', Drew donated land for the first Church of St Thomas the Apostle, and was one of its original trustees.

Childless, Ann (who also signed as 'Anne') used her connections to advocate and help administer an array of welfare institutions for four decades, more visibly after her husband's death from a ruptured aortic aneurysm on 8 October 1869 in Brisbane. She was, for example, secretary (1870-79) of the committee of the Lady Bowen Hospital, which met weekly. Most notably, she founded the Female Refuge and Infants' Home ('Mrs Drew's Home') in April 1871 for 'those who having lost their character are desirous of reforming'. After fifteen months, during which she and her friends funded the home, she successfully sought government help, but as 'Lady Superintendent' also obtained many donations in money or kind, and effectively managed investment and some income from the residents' work. A public meeting on 13 May 1885 led to the establishment of Lady Musgrave Lodge as a hostel and training place for immigrants and other 'friendless' girls: as lady president of the Social Purity Society, Ann Drew was a prominent participant. She also took part in agitation to repeal the Contagious Diseases Act of 1868.

In September 1885 she returned to England for eighteen months. Prior to her departure the premier (Sir) Samuel Griffith thanked her on behalf of the government and her fellow-colonists for her 'many and great services', and offered travel funds. By early 1887 she was back in charge.

In October 1900 F. E. Hare reported to the government that, with Ann Drew's increasing age and dominance in administration, her methods had 'perhaps become somewhat out of touch with modern ideas'. Hare acknowledged, however, 'the good will and gratitude of very numerous [past] inmates' towards her. The government subsidy was withdrawn from the refuge, whose finances, nevertheless, continued sound. After a series of reforms, in 1906 Mrs Drew retired as 'Foundress and Superintendent'.

The Drews' friend J. B. Fewings described R. L. Drew as 'timid, modest, and retiring', yet unobtrusively successful in realizing his plans; by comparison, Ann Drew's talents were much more evident and varied; he emphasized particularly her 'great practicable ability'. Ann Drew died at Sandgate, near Brisbane, on 5 August 1907. The Drews are buried in Toowong cemetery. Ann left an estate valued at about £2000 to her adopted daughter Fanny Elizabeth Parke.

Select Bibliography

  • H. Gregory, A Church for its Times (Toowong, Qld, 1977)
  • K. Daniels and M. Murnane (eds), Uphill all the Way (Brisb, 1980)
  • H. Gregory (ed), Arcadian Simplicity: J. B. Fewings Memoirs of Toowong (Brisb, 1990)
  • Queensland Heritage, 2, no 10, May 1974, p 27, 3, no 1, Nov 1974, p 21
  • Queenslander, 16 Oct 1869, p 2
  • Brisbane Courier, 15 Aug 1884, p 6, 7 Aug 1907, p 7
  • R. L. Evans, Charitable Institutions of the Queensland Government to 1919 (M.A. thesis, University of Queensland, 1970)
  • PRV 8779/1/2, PRV9294 and SRS5253/1/426/letter3543 (Queensland State Archives).

Citation details

S. J. Routh, 'Drew, Ann (Anne) (1822–1907)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2005, accessed online 26 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Volume, (Melbourne University Press), 2005

View the front pages for the Supplementary Volume

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Cornish, Ann

4 May, 1822
Ashton, Devon, England


5 August, 1907 (aged 85)
Sandgate, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.