by Daphne Drake

The most celebrated member of the Devonshire family of Drake was Admiral Sir Francis Drake,who was the first Englishman to sail through the Strait of Magellan into the Pacific Ocean,in 1578,who very materially helped to break the power of Spain in 1588,and who died on 28th January 1596 and was buried at sea,in a bay off Nombre de Dios.He was one of twelve children of Edmund Drake,who afterwards became vicar of Upnore on the river Medway,Kent,and who was a chaplain in the Royal Navy according to the historian Camden,who knew Francis Drake personally. Francis Drake's grandparents were John and Margery Drake,who owned their own farm at Crowndale,one mile from Tavistock. It is not known exactly when or where the Admiral was born,probably about 1540-1545.His father was said to have left Tavistock "on account of religious persecution"but a member of the Devonshire Association who was rooting in some old Tavistock records in the 1930s made a discovery,which he communicated - with some amusement - to Daphne Drake ( author of this book).This was the entry in a register of local trials of a prosecution of a young man named Edmund Drake for playing highwayman on the Tavistock - Bridestowe road and relieving a farmer of his purse. He got off with a fine,which seems to show that he was not regarded as a serious criminal;it may have been a young man's freak,and if this was Francis Drake's father,may explain why he had better leave his native country.Drake was brought up at the expense of a kinsman,the celebrated John Hawkins of Plymouth.There are numerous lives of Sir Francis Drake,some of which are listed at the end of this chapter,so the present notes will only concern themselves with points not usually noted in the published biographies.He was of Tavistock descent,as has already been noted.His cousin John Drake,who was taken prisoner by the Spanish,was in 1587 brought before the Inquisitor at Llos Reyes,and asked numerous questions about "elDraque".The notes of his evidence survive. Among other details he gives the names ofSir Francis' grandparents and states that they were "gentlepeople".The Admiral was christened Francis after Francis Russell,afterwards Earl of Bedford,who was his godfather.The Russells owned most of the land around Tavistock,and may have been the ground - lords of Crowndale Farm.There had been Drakes at Tavistock from an early period - a John Drake was a commissioner at Tavistock in 1346 - and Alexander Maynard of Tavistock,known as the Admiral's first cousin,was descended from an Elizabeth Drake ( and Robert Maynard) who was born about 1494,and owned the same piece of land upon which a Roger Drake was paying tax in the reigh of Edward I, in 1303. (Tax Roll,31st year of Edward I,in the Record Office,London.) Admiral Francis Drake bought a seat,Buckland Abbey,which has recently been presented to the nation by his descendents and is now being restored as an historic monument and museum.He married twice but died childless.His considerable estates passed to his newphew and godson,Francis son of Thomas Drake,who was created a baronet 2nd August 1622. His descendent,the fourth baronet,also a Sir Francis Drake,left an only survivng child, a daughter Anne Pollexfen Drake,who married George Augustus Elliott,Baron Heathfield of Gibralter.Their daughter Anne Elliott married John Trayton Fuller;their son Thomas Ttrayton Fuller took the additional names of Elliott - Drake and was created a baronet in 1821.A descendent of this marriage married the Lady Elliott-Drake who wrote "Family and Heirs of Sir Francis Drake" in 1911.Sir Francis Drake's family had therefore been extinct in the male line since the early 18th century.His connections with the other well-known family,Drake of Ashe,are described in the section dealing with that family.