Robert? Drake
  bp: 23/Jul/1581 - Halstead, Co. Essex, England
  d: 14/Jan/1667(1668) - Hampton Township, Rockingham Co., New Hampshire Prov.

Spouse: *****

Child-1: Nathaniel - b: ~1612 - England
                               d:  1653 - Hampton Township, Rockingham Co., New Hampshire Prov.
                              m: Sarah Denham - 25/Mar/1641 - London, Co. Middlesex, England
          2: Francis?
          3: Sussana - b: ~1612 - England
                             d: ~1663 - Hampton Township, Rockingham Co., New Hampshire Prov.
          4: Abraham- b: ~1619 - England
                              d: ~1712 - Hampton Township, Rockingham Co., New Hampshire Prov.
                             m: Jane *****

Biographical Details:

The surname "Drake" derives from Latin "draco" which meant "snake" or "monster" the latter meaning which became more specifically associated with "dragon" in the Middle Ages.  Alternatively, "drake" also denotes a male duck.1  The reason for the disparity of these meanings is not obvious, but it is likely that they derive from different Indo-European roots and, as such, converged to homonyms by subsequent usage.  Moreover, it is widely believed that the American Drake family descended from a brother of the famous navigator, Sir Francis Drake, who was known to his Spanish enemies as "El Draque", i.e., "The Dragon".  Unfortunately, there is no incontrovertible evidence that the American Drake family is related to Sir Francis; however, it is plausible and, as such, remains and open question.

Robert Drake is believed to have been born at Halstead or Colchester, County Essex, England, in June or July of 1581.  He was baptized on July 23 of that year in Halstead.  Alternatively, some researchers assert that Robert was born in Devonshire, perhaps, Exeter.  This latter location probably derives from attempts to link him to the famous Drake family that included Sir Francis Drake, who in 1588 defeated the Spanish Armada and saved England from invasion.  However, Sir Francis had no children of his own and descent of the American Drake family is thought to be through one of his brothers, viz., Thomas or William, but this awaits definitive proof.2  Indeed, the County Essex location seems more likely since this part of England was strongly Puritan during the sixteenth century and provided many settlers of New England.  Moreover, according to his will, Robert was a serge-maker.  (Serge is a finely woven woolen cloth used for coats and other outer garments.)  Indeed, this occupation was common among the Puritan inhabitants of eastern England, e.g., County Essex.  Accordingly, it is probable that Robert married in England, but the name of his wife is entirely uncertain (although various names have been suggested, none of them should be regarded as factual).  Apparently she also died in England; however, by 1643 Robert Drake had emigrated with his children to Exeter Township in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, subsequently included in the Province of New Hampshire.3  (Exeter became the seat of Rockingham County, which was officially recognized in 1769.)  Moreover, on February 23, 1645 (1646 N. S.) Robert was granted pasture rights in Hampton Township.  He bought a house and lands on March 15, 1650 (1651 N. S.) and took the oath of fidelity on October 4, 1653, serving as a selectman in 1654.  Robert Drake took the oath of a freeman in 1663.  He made his will on May 18, 1663, which was proved April 14, 1668.4  In the will, Robert mentions two sons, viz., Nathaniel and Abraham, one daughter, Susanna, and several grandchildren.  He does not mention a son, Francis.  It has been widely speculated that this omission represents a religious dispute between father and son; however, if Robert wished to disinherit Francis, it would seem more likely that he would have mentioned him and would have left him a token legacy (perhaps, a few shillings).  Therefore, it seems more likely that Francis was not a son of Robert, although he may well have been a close relative.  Robert Drake died on January 14, 1667 (1668 N. S.) in Hampton Township, but no burial place is known.  It is reported that was a devout and eminently pious man.

Source Notes and Citations:
1. Patrick Hanks (ed.), Oxford Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, periodically updated.
     "1. English: from the Old English byname Draca, meaning 'snake' or 'dragon', Middle English Drake, or sometimes from the Old Norse cognate Draki.  Both are common bynames and, less frequently, personal names.  Both the Old English and the Old Norse forms are from Latin draco 'snake', 'monster' (see Dragon)."
     "2. English and Dutch: from Middle English drake, Middle Dutch drake 'male duck' (from Middle Low German andrake), hence a nickname for someone with some fancied resemblance to a drake, or perhaps a habitational name for someone who lived at a house distinguished by the sign of a drake."
     "3. North German: nickname from Low German drake 'dragon' ... ."
back to bio.

2. Oliver B. Leonard, History of the First Baptist Church of Piscataway, Pakenham & Dowling, Steam Printers, New York, NY, Stelton, NJ, 1889: pgs. 111-2.
      "The Drakes of this part of New Jersey are direct descendants of Francis and Mary Drake, who moved into this township about 1667-8 from the New Hampshire district of the same name.  The ancestors of Francis Drake had first lived on the banks of the swift-flowing Piscataqua River since 1635.  Among the first to settle in the new world in that New England locality was Robert Drake, a man of eminent piety.  At his death in 1667 two or three sons survivied him---Nathaniel, Abraham and probably Francis, the progenitor of the New Jersey line.  By some it is claimed that Francis, last named, was a grandson of Sir Francis Drake's brother Thomas, to whom the Admiral had left his valuable estate, by others he is believed to have been his nephew.  Robert Drake, first mentioned, was co-temporary with Sir Francis, his birth occurring in 1580, the same year the great navigator sailed around the world, in honor of which marvellous circuit of the globe at the age of thirty years, Queen Elizabeth knighted him.  Both Robert and Sir Francis belonged to the original family of Devonshire, Eng., where the Drake estate was established shortly after the conquest of William of Normandy.
      In 1556 there was a Robert Drake living, who suffered as a martyr-minister in a neighboring county for conscience's sake, and was burned at the stake April 23 of that year.  It is recorded of him that he said, when exhorted by the priest to renounce his faith;  'As for your Church in Rome, I utterly deny its works and defy its power, even as I deny the devil and defy all his works.'"
back to bio.

3. Howard Eugene Bonham and Jean Allin, Bonham and Related Family Lines, Bonham Book(s), 5104 Bridlington Ln., Raleigh, NC, 27612, printed by Genie Plus, Bradenton, FL, 1996: pgs. 454-6.
      "There have been many books written about the very prominent Drake family.  Our connection to this family is through Elizabeth (Bonham) Slater, widow of Edward Slater, and daughter of Nicholas & Hannah (Fuller) Bonham, who married Reverend John Drake as his second wife (no issue).  Also, through Elizabeth Drake, who married Hugh Dunn.  Their daughter, Mary Dunn married, as his (1) wife, Hezekiah Bonham , Sr.  While our direct line is through Hezekiah Bonham, Sr. & his (2) wife, Mary Bishop, we have included this 'Drake' information with the hope it might prove useful to our readers and future researchers.
      C. I. Kephart, writing in the D. A. R. Magazine (Vol. 64, 1930), stated:
      The presumed father of Francis Drake was Robert Drake, who, with his children, emigrated from Colchester, Essex, England to New Hampshire in the autumn of probably 1640 and finally settled at Hampton, where he died January 14, 1668, aged 88 years.  Thus he was born in 1579.  He was a 'sergemaker' by occupation at the time of emigrating.  According to a disposition executed by his sons Nathaniel and Abraham on April 27, 1691, which appears in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register Vol. 21, page 316, they had resided at Colchester 'since childhood.'  The will of immigrant, Robert Drake, on file at Ipswich, Mass. makes no mention of a wife or a son Francis.  This circumstance has added to the difficulty of tracing this [The Drakes in New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Kentucky, p. 1.]"
      "Robert is probably the father of Francis, but because absolute proof of this connection is sadly lacking, for the purpose of this book we show Captain Francis Drake to be the first generation."
back to bio.

4. "In the name of God Amen: the fifth of May in year of our lord one thousand six hundred & sixty three; I Robert Drake in the Town of Hampton in New-England in Norfolk Searge--Maker, being of good and perfect memory, do ordaine, and make my last Will & Testament, being in manner and form as followeth:  First, I do bequeath my soul into ye hands of allmighty god, trusting assuredly to be saved only by ye merrits of Jesus Christ, my alone saviour and redeemer, and my body to ye earth:
      Item: my goods I give & bequeath as followeth: To my son Nathaniell Drake I Will & bequeath six pound; & to my son Abraham Drakes eldest son Abraham Drake I give twelve pounds  To my Daughter Susanna Drake twelve pounds to my Grandchild Rachell Drake twelve pound; to Jean Drake twelve pounds ye which are my son Nathaniels two Daughters; to my Grand-children Susanna Drake, Sarah Drake, Mary Drake, Elisabeth & Hannah, to each of them twelve pounds, being ye Children of my son Abraham Drake; & to my son Abraham Drake I will & bequeath the remainder of my estate being my house & house lot with my Medowes salt marsh & fresh with six shares, fower of Cow Commons & two of ox Commons with all rights previ-leges & appertenances thereunto belonging my upland & whatso-ever lands; as also my Cattell; three steres two of seaven yeares of age & one of fouer; two Cows, one yearling, Item my houshold stuff bed & bedding Brasse & puter Iron & Lead whatso-ever; all which my mentioned estate I will & bequeath to my son Abraham Drake; my sayd son to pay ye aforespesified legacies to the severall parties as before given; at one & twenty yeares of age; none to make any demand till a year after my decease; Item if any of my Grandchildren dye before they be of age, there portion to be devided equally amongst my Grandchildren yet liv-ing; It: I Will & give to my son Abraham Drake all Debts, Dues, bills; bonds whatsoever belonging to me
      Item I ordain & Constitute my son Abram Drake my sole executour to this my last will & testiment revoking all other former wills by me made; in witnesse whereof I have hereunto set my hand & seal the eighteenth of May one thousand six hundred & sixty three    /s/Robert hisXmark Drake (Seal)    Testes: /s/John Barsham   /s/Giles fuller    Proved:  April 14, 1668.

      Inventory of the estate of Robert Drake, yeoman, 'who deceased the 14th of Jenewary, 1667'; taken by Samuel Dalton and Abraham Perkins  Jan. 28, 1667; amount, £184.10.0."  (Essex County, MA., Probate Files; Norfolk County, MA., Court Files, vol. 1, p. 106.)
back to bio.

Additional Citations:

5. Alice Smith Thompson and Ray Nash, The Drake Family of New Hampshire, published by the New Hampshire Historical Society, Concord, NH, 1962, pg. 32.

Return to Index