The early 20th C US writers on the Drakes, Louis Stoughton Drake and Edwin H Drake, appear to have used few English records in their discussions on the identity of Thomas Drake. These records are now more readily available centrally and a fresh examination of his ancestry and close family may be made and a final identification attempted. There may also be additional information herein for researchers of ancestors of Devon origin, particularly those with connections to the Dorchester Company.
The last of eight children of William and Margaret Drake of Yardbury, Thomas Drake was baptised at Colyton church on 13th September 1635. Three days later on the 16th Sept, also at Colyton church , his mother was buried. . Margaret Drake nee Westover was married by licence 14th Nov 1620, possibly at Exeter and was the daughter and co-heiress of her father, William Westover, gentleman of Colyton. He was baptised at Colyton, 31 July 1580, buried 14 March 1614, and her mother was Elizabeth, daughter of John Ellacott of Exeter, married on 13 June 1603 at Exminster. Following William Westover`s death, his widow, Elizabeth, married Lewis Hele, at Honiton on 3rd Dec 1615 and she was buried at Exeter in July 1634. One of William Westover`s sisters, Frances, married John Eedes, Vicar of Colyton , and Rector of Honiton. William Westover`s father, also known as William Westover of Colyton, was admitted to the Inner Temple in 1567, and was buried at Colyton 2 Apr 1586. He married twice, firstly to Alice daughter of John Yonge of Axminster, and by her had Katherine, who later married John Freek of Crewkerne. He married his second wife, Margaret daughter and heiress of James Kirkham at Paignton in July 1575. William`s will dated 25 February 1584 says: "whereas my father hath enfeoffed William Pole Esq , Edward Wiltsheire now decd, and sd John Yonge of Axminster in lands called Bakilford and Axe ......" ( PCC 33 Spencer )
Apart from his son William, William Westover of Colyton had 5 daughters and a further untraced son, James, bapt at Colyton in 1582. His will dated 27 Feb 1614/5 appoints: "My trusted and loving friends John Drake the younger of Aysh, gent., and William Hull, of Colyton, clerk .....to my wife Elizabeth my mansion, Barton and demesne of Yardebury, messuage in Colyton called Luggeshalle ......on condition she gives them at her death ....to my daughter Margaret" and was witnessed by Henry Ellacott his brother in law, and by Edward Drake, attorney at law of Colyton, and of Waddon, Southleigh. (PCC 38 Rudd ) This, therefore, is how Yardbury came to the Drakes.
William Drake of Yardbury, Colyton, was the brother of Sir John Drake of Ashe, and of Mary Drake. They were the children of John Drake and Dorothy (Button). Dorothy Drake’s will was proved 13 Jan 1631, and mentions: "William Drake of "Yarborough" my son, ..to Dame Mary my daughter, wife to Sir Henry Roswell;..... to Dorothy Drake my neece, dau of Sir John Drake of Ash;...... my nephews George Drake and Thomas Drake, sons of my said son Sir John Drake..... To my nephews and nieces, Mary, Helen, Elizabeth, John, Joane and Henry, children of my said son, Sir John Drake, and to John, Hellen, William and Jane the children of my said son, William Drake .......... Overseer Sir Henry Rosewell Kt." Sir Bernard Drake of Musbury 1528 - 1586 and his wife Gertrude Fortescue of Filleigh were his grandparents. Various branches of the Drake family lived within a 10 mile radius of Colyton, in the parishes of Musbury, Southleigh, and Wiscombe.which is, like Yardbury, a hamlet of Colyton . Of Wiscombe Risdon says: "Here inhabits a generous tribe of the Drakes, of which besides other brothers were Robert and Henry, sons of Robert, the first a Colonel in the Netherlands, of good esteem with the Prince of Orange and the States, for his valour, the other a captain of much hope, both taken away in the flower of their age in defence of Ostend." Mary Drake, William’s sister, married Sir Henry Rosewell who was later to become part of the Dorchester Company, and who was appointed executor in trust to both his brother in law, William Drake’s, will of 1639 (PCC 25 Coventry), and, the will of his nephew John , eldest son of William ,who died 12th April 1648.(PCC 188 Fairfax). Apart from Sir Henry, power in both wills is reserved also to Sir John Drake of Ashe and additionally in William’s, to John Button, his brother in law, and Lewis Hele, who was the second husband of his mother in law, Elizabeth Ellacott; and in John`s to John Seward his brother in law, married to his sister Eleanor Drake at Axmouth in 1646. Sir Henry Rosewell died in 1656 and his will was proved the same year. (PCC 1656 150).
Of the seven brothers and sisters of Thomas Drake, John, the eldest, died, as we have seen, in the early part of 1648, possibly as a result of action in the Civil War. Troops were quartered in Colyton in 1646, during the siege of Lyme Regis. He was baptised 1621 and d.s.p. 1649; of Exeter College, Oxford, matriculated 1636/7 aged 15; BA Brasenose 1637; MA 1640; Inner Temple 1646. William, the second son, inherited Yardbury, as a minor, and again the estate and the children were placed in trust of Sir John Drake and Sir Henry Rosewell, by his elder brother John. This William married Leticia Bailey. John mentions his niece Anne Seward in his will of 1648, and this Anne is the daughter of his sister Eleanor, married to John Seward of Axmouth in 1646. His other sister, Jane, married brother, Thomas Seward of Axmouth on 5th May 1651. Of the remaining brothers and sisters, Endimian disappears, but may possibly be identified with the Monmouth rebel of 1685 renamed Endimian Walker. A number of rebels appear to have disguised their names perhaps to prevent identification and further persecution of their families, and Drake would be a well-known name.
(The Monmouth rebels from Dorchester Gaol, it may be worth noting at this point, were transported from Weymouth, Dorset, by the "Happy Return" of Poole, Capt. Roger Wadham, to Barbados between Sept 1685 and Jan 1686 (new date) and by Capt. James May of the "Betty" out of Weymouth, to Barbados. Weymouth in 1685 was a substantial trans-Atlantic port, and may have been so thirty or more years earlier).
Dorothy the eldest, died young, 1623 - 1626 , and Elizabeth and Thomas emigrated to Weymouth MA in 1653 when Thomas was 18 and free of family guardianship. They followed in the footsteps of many Colytonians and members of their own family who were either investors or participators in the Dorchester Company.
The principal objections to identifying Thomas Drake of Weymouth as Thomas of Yardbury, bapt. 1635, brother of Elizabeth, bapt 9 Dec 1632, have been:
a) the possibility of a second sister emigrating with them: Joane Drake and
b) the deposition of Thomas Drake of Weymouth MA "aged 49 years" in March 1676/7.
Joane Drake was the second daughter of William and Margaret Drake of Yardbury, bapt at Colyton 11 June 1628. She was mentioned in her grandmother Dorothy Drake`s will of 1631, and was one of the " fower" daughters mentioned in the will of William Drake in 1639. There is a Jane Drake, with no further description, buried at Colyton 15th June 1642. However, Jane Drake daughter of William was married to Thomas Seward of Axmouth in 1651. So perhaps this Jane was the missing Joane. Weymouth VR have no record of Joane Drake marrying Thomas Randall, as has been claimed. Gary Boyd Roberts revised edition of "Torrey’s Book of Marriages" has now been adjusted to indicate that the marriage of Thomas Randall was not to ? Joane ? Drake. As to the marriage of Elizabeth Drake to Ezekiel Hamlyn by Governor Bellingham in Boston MA in 1654, there is no doubt. It may also prove that Ezekiel`s father Stephen Hamlyn of Exeter, is connected to Nicholas Hamlyn, cordwainer of Exeter, whose 1604 will was overseen by Augustine Drake, the brother of Edward Drake the attorney at law who witnessed William Westover`s will of 1614.
The Supreme Judicial Court, Archives and Records Preservation Department`s copies of the depositions of the witnesses (received March 2002) appearing at Suffolk County Court in March 1676/7, reveal a number of men and women who reported what they saw and heard and did. No date or dates are given when these events took place. None of the statements are signed, nor dated, nor do the deponents give even a sketchy address, nor are the statements witnessed. These odd shaped pieces of paper appear to be notes taken perhaps by a court writer of verbal evidence. Perhaps the writer has enquired of the witness their age, perhaps the court writer is merely guessing by looking at the witness. The ages given, in Thomas Drake’s case, 49 years, in others "aged 35 or thereabouts" "aged about 33" are more likely to be for identification and to establish that they are of sufficient age to testify. They are of no significance to the events concerning the disappearance of the child of the Indian servant of Stephen French.
Thomas Drake’s evidence is rambling, - the words of a countryman concerned with distances in furlongs, rods, poles etc., and the girl Partridge grubbing for groundnuts. He arrives at no conclusion as to what has happened to the woman or the child. By 1677 Thomas Drake would have been in Weymouth for 24 years, had he left Devon in 1653/4 aged 18. What education he may have had at Colyton Grammar School (founded 1546) may very well have been unnecessary for his life in the new world. The life span of the early pioneers was not great, and aged 42 or 49 he was an elder of his community.
Turning therefore appositely to the confirmed emigrants, John Drake, and Elizabeth and William Pole, it may be helpful to consider their family relationships with Thomas and Elizabeth Drake of Yardbury.
All are descendants of John Drake of Ashe 1500 - 1588 and Agnes Kailway. Their son John Drake of Exmouth married Margaret Cole. Their daughter Agnes married William Pole later of Shute. John and Margaret Drake of Exmouth had John Drake who married Amy Grenville, of the family of Sir Richard Grenville of the Revenge. Their son, Bernard Drake 1528 - 1586, himself a noted seafarer and adventurer, married Gertrude Fortescue. Their second son, Robert Drake, married Elizabeth Prideaux; Polwele notes in his History of Devonshire Vol 11: "The manor of Thorncombe as possessed by the monks of Ford until the reign of Henry Vlll...........the said King gave to Sir Richard Pollard, whose son Sir John alienated the same to Sir Amias Pawlet Knt. and he sold it to William Rosewell Esq the father of Sir Henry Rosewell who sold the same to Sir Edmund Prideaux, the Attorney General, whose son Edmund Prideaux married one of the daughters and heiresses of Francis Combe Flory, who resided there a contemporary of Sir William Pole." There is a memorial in the church at Southleigh which reads " Robert Drake lies here, one who feared God and remembered the poor, his wife Elizabeth, bore him seven thrifty sons and five comely daughters, died 30 March 1600. "
Bernard and Gertrude Drake had John Drake of Ashe who married Dorothy Button (will 1631 extracts above). John and Dorothy Drake had Sir John Drake of Ashe; Mary who married Sir Henry Rosewell; and William Drake of Yardbury, who married Margaret Westover, and were the parents of Thomas and Elizabeth Drake. Bernard Drake`s brother, Robert Drake, married Elizabeth Prideaux and had William Drake 1555- 1619 who married Phillippa Dennys. They were the parents of John Drake the emigrant. This makes John Drake the emigrant, second cousin to William Drake of Yardbury and third cousin (or second cousin once removed) to Thomas and Elizabeth Drake.
Bernard and Robert Drake’s great aunt, Agnes, married William Pole as we have seen, and they were the parents of William Pole of Shute, who married Katherine Popham, sister to Sir John Popham Lord Chief Justice. Their son, William Pole, married Mary Periham dau of Sir Wm. Periham , Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer, and two of their children were William and Elizabeth Pole the emigrants. William and Elizabeth Pole’s parents are both buried at Colyton. William and Elizabeth Pole are therefore third cousins of Thomas and Elizabeth Drake. In addition and more compellingly, William and Elizabeth Pole’s first cousin, the son of their aunt Dorothy Erle (nee Pole), was Sir Walter Erle, Governor of Dorchester and Governor of the New England Plantation. He too, was third cousin by the same remove to Thomas and Elizabeth Drake. To quote from Polwhele again: "Manor of Axmouth; Edward Vl in the 5th year of his reign, gave the manor to Walter Erle , Esq, so descended to Sir Walter Erle whose father married Dorothy the daughter of William Pole of Shute. ...the fourth part of this manor was sold to William Mallock and his son Richard Mallock now enjoys the same"
In addition to cousinship, the village of Colyton with it’s hamlets or tithings of Yardbury and Wiscombe also includes the hamlet of Colyford, the birth place of Sir Thomas Gates, Governor of Virginia 1611 - 1614. The list of associates of the Rev. John White, cited in Rose-Troup`s book, contains many individuals who are both closely related to the Poles and the Drakes, and like them, have many connections with the village of Colyton.
" Richard Bury of Colliton......; John Davy of Crediton son of John Davie and Margaret Southcott ( Catherine, sister to William and Elizabeth Pole, married Thomas Southcott ) cousin to Capt Richard Southcott who came in 1630. John Davie`s daughter Isabel married Walter Yonge, son of Walter Yonge and Jane Periam (sister to Mary Periham and thus aunt to William and Elizabeth Pole)........Christopher Erle..and Sir Walter Erle...and their sister Elizabeth Erle married Sir Richard Strode (Anne dau of Sir John and Eleanor Drake, 1st cousin to Thomas and Elizabeth Drake, married Sir Richard Strode , and her brother John Drake married 2ndly Dionis Strode ) William Fry of Yarby ( Yarbery hamlet of Colyton ( actually Yardbury)) married Mary dau of John Yonge and Alice Steere ( a William Fry married Dorothy Drake daug of Sir John Drake and 1st cousin to Thomas and Elizabeth Drake). Richard Mallock of Axmouth married Joan Yonge dau of John Yonge and Mary Steere of Colliton......Sir Henry Rosnell (sic) (actually Rosewell ) Lord Lieut of Devon ; High Sheriff of Devon (and uncle by marriage to their aunt Mary , of Thomas and Elizabeth Drake )... Thomas Southcott of Mohunt Ottery ( not found) (actually Mohuns Ottery , a hamlet, today just a farm, in the parish of Luppitt, some 10 miles north west of Colyton ) married Katherine Pole ( sister to William and Elizabeth Pole) Walter Yonge of Colyton son of John Yonge of Colliton married Jane Periam (see above).
The two earliest emigrants, William and Elizabeth Pole, children of Sir William Pole, the antiquarian, were no doubt well educated by him and possibly at Colyton Grammar School. Doubtless, they wrote dispatches back to him and the rest of their extended families,and news of life in the New World would have filtered through the village. By luck, the later emigrant John Drake is mentioned in the will of a cousin, and sent £20 in goods to the New World; the ladies of Taunton MA raised a memorial to Elizabeth Pole or Poole the founder of Taunton; as yet, no documentary evidence has been found of their cousins Thomas and Elizabeth Drake.
However, their place of birth in Colyton, their proven family connections stretching back 100 years before the emigration, the proven connections between Colyton people and the new world, and the senior figures of Governor Sir Thomas Gates, Governor Sir Walter Erle, Lord Lieut. Sir Henry Rosewell, all contribute significantly to this identification being soundly based.
DCNQ Transcripts of the registers of Colyton, Musbery, Axmouth;
PCC will indexes; Polwhele "The History of Devonshire";
Pole`s Collections towards a description of Devon;
W.H. Hamilton Rogers’ "Memorials of the West";
Coldham`s "Complete book of Emigrants" (SP Dom);
Risdon`s "Survey of Devon"; Rose-Troup "The Adventures of John White, Patriarch of Dorchester and Founder of Massachusetts" 1930 Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Archives and Records Preservation Dept.