Mrs Dring – Author and Poet

 Among the many books on the shelves in the local studies area of Newark Library are two small volumes. The author of both is a Mrs Dring.

Title page from Mrs. Dring's "Engigmas; Geographical", printed by W. Tomlison of Newark in 1861

Title page from Mrs. Dring’s “Enigmas; Geographical”, printed by W. Tomlison of Newark in 1861

 The first entitled ‘Enigmas: Geographical etc.’ was printed in1861 by W. Tomlinson & Son of Stodman Street, Newark and is described as a book of geographical, astronomical, geological, musical terms and miscellaneous enigmas with answers. An example is below:

 To what is sombre add a fane, –                     A sea-port you will form;                          Along the neighbouring Gallic coast,        Exposed to channel storm.


Answer: Dunkirk (fane is an archaic word meaning temple or church)(1)


The second book is simply called ‘Poems Volume Third’ by Mrs Dring. This was printed for private circulation only by Tomlinson & Whiles, “Advertiser” office, Newark in 1866 and is collection of religious poetry. On the first page is the following dedication:



To My Children:                                                                                                                                 A Third small volume – Children dear –                                                                                           I now present to you,                                                                                                                        In human probability                                                                                                                       The last that you may view  

By me prepared; Time hastenes on                                                                                           With ever-ceaseless speed,                                                                                                          And its lesson on advancing age                                                                                                      I cannot fail but read      

So, farewel! and then should it prove                                                                                           These lines the last I give,                                                                                                            May we, united in the Lord,                                                                                                           Seek but in heaven to live.              

Newark, June 1866


SKMBT_C22415060513350_0001These are the only clues to the identity of Mrs Dring and so it would appear that, at the time of writing these volumes, she was married or widowed, had children, was not a young woman, but had the time to write and was a lady of independent means with money to pay for the printing of her work herself (The book is inscribed ‘Printed for private circulation only’).

Who Was Mrs. Dring?

We may perhaps infer too that she lived in Newark or somewhere close by.   The title page of one of the copies of her ‘Poems’ held at Newark Library has the word ‘Newark’ written in by hand under the author’s name on the title page (see illustration), and her chosen printer/publisher (Tomlinson & Whiles) were also a Newark firm.  The dedication (quoted above) is signed from Newark, whilst amongst the poems themselves is one entitled The Newark Bible Society Meeting, December 4th, 1865 (pp.174 – 176).

 A search of all the female Drings in Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire, at the time of the 1861 census, identified one who was the most likely to be the poet and author of these books. However there is absolutely no proof that this lady was the writer concerned and if anyone reading this has any more information, I would be happy to hear it.

 On 7 April 1861, the date of the census, Ann Dring, a widow born about 1789 in Hull, Yorkshire, was living at 35 Millgate, Newark with her daughter Jane (born about 1827) and son-in-law John Harvey, a druggist.(2) By the time of the 1871 census, she was still living with John and Jane Harvey but by now they were living at 14 Lombard Street, Newark and in the occupation column it is written that she had interest on mortgages, which could be a source of the money that she needed to fund her poetry.(3)

 There is a baptism record for Jane Dring born 24 April 1826 to Henry and Ann Dring. She was baptised on 9 August 1826 in Kingston-upon-Hull, Yorkshire.(4) There is some confusion here as, in all the census records in which she appears, Jane gives her birthplace as Bermondsey, Surrey or London. This may be the case, even though she was baptised in Hull, though I think it more likely that the error is within the family, as there is a record of a baptism of Ann Dewsbury Dring at Jamaica Row Independent, Bermondsey, Surrey on 10 December 1824 with parents Henry and Ann.(5) Assuming this is the same family Ann would have been an elder sister of Jane.

 Henry Dring and Ann Todd married in Sculcoates, Kingston upon Hull, Yorkshire on 26 December 1815.(6) Apart from Jane and Ann they had at least four more children:

 Elizabeth Ann baptised 14 December 1815 in Bridlington, Yorkshire(7)

            Mary Calvert baptised 3 March 1817 in Bridlington, Yorkshire.(8)

           Henrietta Todd baptised 30 April 1819 in Bridlington, Yorkshire.(9)

Henry John baptised 10 August 1821 in Zion Independent, Bridlington, Yorkshire.(10)


No further definitive information has been found regarding Henry Dring. In the 1841 census there is a Henry Dring, aged about 65 and of independent means, living in Sykes Rd, Sculcoates, Yorkshire with a female servant Mary Wright but there is no sign of Ann or any of his children, so it is not possible to say that this is the right one.(11) There is also a death record for a Henry Dring in Kingston upon Hull in 1849 but as no age is given, again it is not possible to confirm the identity.(12) There is also a record in the 1841 census for Ann Dring, aged 47 born in Yorkshire and of independent means, living in St John’s Street, Bridlington with Mary Dring aged 18. Again there is no way of confirming their identity, though as most of Ann’s children were baptised in Bridlington it is more likely that this is the right one.(13)

 By 1851 Ann was living in Millgate, Newark, a widow and an annuitant with two servants. At this stage she was not living with her daughter, Jane as she was in the 1861 and 1871 censuses.(14) She died in Newark on 17 July 1877 and probate was granted to her son-in-law, John Harvey on 2 August 1877. She left an estate valued at about £1500 (roughly equivalent to £72,465.00 at 2005 rates).(15) (16)

 This is all that I have discovered about Ann Dring but is she ‘Mrs Dring’? Maybe there is someone who knows more about her and her family and could confirm whether or not Ann Dring is in fact ‘Mrs Dring’ the poet.

 Compiled by Jenny Campbell, April 2015


  1. – accessed 12 Apr 2015
  2. Census 1861, England, Newark, Nottinghamshire Class: RG 9; Piece: 2480; Folio: 28; Page: 7; GSU roll: 542977
  3. Census 1871, England, Newark, Nottinghamshire Class: RG10; Piece:    

     3543; Folio: 77; Page: 13; GSU roll: 839758

  1. Baptism, parish records, England, Independent Church, Holborn Street, Hull, Yorkshire, 1826/08/09; England Births & Christenings 1538-1975 Batch no. I03141-8; GS film no.828133 reference ID RG4/3226 p.17; – accessed 16 Apr 2015
  2. Baptism, parish records, England, Jamaica Row Independent, Bermondsey, Surrey 1824/12/10; England Births & Christenings 1538-1975; Batch no. C C09640-1 film 0597081 (RG4 4260); – accessed 16 Apr 2015.
  3. Marriage, parish records, England, Sculcoates, York 1815/12/26; England Marriages 1538-1973; batch no. I03299-6; GS film no. 919439; ref. ID 207 – – accessed 16 Apr 2015
  1. Baptisms, parish records, England, Bridlington, Yorkshire 1815/12/14;

     England Births & Christenings 1538-1975; batch no. C105787-1; GS film no.      

  1. – accessed 16 Apr 2015
  2. Baptisms, parish records, England, Bridlington, Yorkshire 1818/03/03;  

     England Births & Christenings 1538-1975; batch no. C105787-1; GS film no.      

  1. – accessed 16 Apr 2015
  2. Baptisms, parish records, England, Bridlington, Yorkshire 1819/04/30;  

     England Births & Christenings 1538-1975; batch no. C105787-1; GS film no.      

  1. – accessed 16 Apr 2015
    1. Baptisms, parish records, England, Zion Independent, Bridlington, Yorkshire; 1821/08/10; England Births & Christenings 1538-1975; batch no. C07977-1; GS film no. 0816610 (RG4 3020). – accessed 16 Apr 2015.
    2. Census 1841, England, Sculcoates, Yorkshire, Class: HO107; Piece: 1232; Book: 10; Civil Parish: Sculcoates; County: Yorkshire; Enumeration District: 3; Folio: 5; Page: 2; Line: 8; GSU roll: 464226
    3. Death, statutory record index, England, Kingston upon Hull, Yorkshire 1849 Dec Q. vol.22; p.312.
    4. Census 1841, England, Bridlington, Yorkshire, Class: HO107; Piece: 1213; Book: 6; Civil Parish: Bridlington; County: Yorkshire; Enumeration District: 4; Folio: 32; Page: 13; Line: 1; GSU roll: 464216
    5. Census 1851, England, Newark, Nottinghamshire, Class: HO107; Piece: 2137;

       Folio: 319; Page: 14; GSU roll: 87767

  1. Death, statutory record index, England, Newark, Nottinghamshire, 1877 Sep Q.  

           vol.7b; p.195.

  1. Probate, England, Principal Registry, 1877/08/02. England & Wales National

           Probate Calendar (Index of Wills & Administrations) 1858-1966.    

  – accessed 16 Apr 2015.