Yarcombe Manor
by Ruth Everitt
The unfortunate death at sea of Sir Francis, whilst on an expedition to the West Indies in 1596. Brought several issues to the fore. Backers of the ill fated expedition pressed for payment. Sir Francis’ debtors tried to escape paying their dues, and Lady Drake and Sir Francis Drake’s brother, Thomas immediately ‘ crossed swords ‘. The will left his second wife, Elizabeth, well provided for, and the residue of his realty and personalty went to his brother Thomas. A codicil drawn up the same day as the will altered it on three important points. Yarcombe manor was bequeathed to his well beloved cousin Ffrancis, son of Richard Drake of Esher ( formerly Ashe ), upon condition that within two years he should pay to Thomas Drake the sum of 2,000 pounds ( a bargain as Drake had paid 5,000 pounds for the manor ). Otherwise the legacy was to be null and void. Sir Francis knew that he had debts and was hoping the 2,000 pounds would secure the prompt payment of them. The manor of Samford Spiney, was to be given to Jonas Bodenham, a serving officer on Drake’s ship, and a relation of his wife first wife, Mary Newman. Thomas Drake was a determined adversary, quite happy to bring suits against anyone in defence of “ his rights “. The Drakes of Esher offered Thomas 1,500 pounds for Yarcombe Manor, which he compelled to accept, with creditors, including the Queen, pressing their cases at every opportunity. He did , however, stipulate a date for completion. In the meantime Lady Drake had remarried. And become the wife of Sir William Courtenay of Powderham; within a couple of years she was dead. This occurrence removed some of the financial pressure from Thomas Drake. The completion date for Yarcombe Manor only brought bonds of a third party ( promises to pay ) from the Drakes of Esher. These were declined and the case went to the High Court of Chancery. A decree was issued, stating that if Thomas Drake paid Richard and Ursula Drake, 1,500 pounds, to be used for the benefit of there son Ffrancis, they must relinquish all rights to title of Yarcombe Manor, and deliver all deeds relating to the manor still in their possession. Thomas paid the 1,500 pounds and in the year 1600 Yarcombe Manor was secured for the Drakes of Buckland Abbey, near Plymouth. From A History of Yarcombe by Ruth Everitt