Drakes History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The history of the name Drakes goes back those Anglo-Saxon tribes that once ruled over Britain. Such a name was given to a a fierce, powerful person. The surname Drakes is derived from the Old English word draca or from the Old Danish word draki, which both mean dragon. [1]

The name is "not from the waterfowl, but from Anglo-Saxon draca (Latin draco,) a dragon. Le Dragun, the Anglo-Norman form, occurs in the Hundredorum Rolls, but the nearest approach to this that I have seen in modem times is Drago, a name which existed at Ely about a century since. Several families of Drake bear as arms the wyvern, or two-legged dragon; and it is worthy of remark that in giving to various pieces of cannon the names of monsters and animals of prey, that of ' drake' was assigned to a peculiar species of gun, as those of caliver, basilisk, culverin, fawconet, saker-all appellations of serpents and rapacious birds-were to others. The compounds, "fire-drake," and "hell-drake," become intelligible when the latter syllable is understood to mean, not the harmless and familiar denizen of the pool, but the ' fell dragoun ' of medieval romance. " [2]

"The drake gules (red) was the cognizance of the ancient family of Drake of Ashe, near Axminster. In this instance it is probable that the armorial bearing was occasioned by the name, and that some legend lay behind the name. Sir Francis Drake, the navigator, assumed the arms, though he could establish no relationship, and a contest of words ensued in the presence of Queen Elizabeth between Sir Bernard Drake of Ashe and the sailor.

'Well,' said the Queen, 'I will settle the dispute. Sir Francis shall bear on his coat a ship carrying reversed on its flag the wyvern gules.'

Eventually, unwilling to mortify so worthy a man as Sir Bernard, she granted to Sir Francis an entirely different coat." [3]

Early Origins of the Drakes family

The surname Drakes was first found in Hampshire where they held a family seat from ancient times. The surname comes from the Anglo-Saxon word "draca" which means a dragon or sea serpent. Soon after the Norman invasion in 1066 the name made its appearance in the Isle of Wight and Hampshire area in the south of England.

Leuing Drache, who spelled his name with an early Norman variant, held land in Hampshire at this time.

The parish of Musbury, Devon played an important part in the family's early lineage. "This place was the residence of the Drake family, from the time of Henry VII., for several generations. The church is a very ancient structure, with a south aisle added towards the close of the fifteenth century, by the Drake family, to whom it contains some monuments. Ash House, now occupied as a farmhouse, derives interest from having been the birthplace, in 1650, of the renowned Duke of Marlborough, whose mother was then on a visit to her father, Sir John Drake." [4]

And over in Yarcombe, again in Devon, another branch of the family was found. "It comprises about 5000 acres, and is the property of Sir H. F. T. S. Drake, to whose ancestor, Sir Francis, one moiety of the manor was granted by Queen Elizabeth." [4]

The famed Sir Francis Drake held estates in the parish of Meavy in Devon and remains of his ancient mansion can still be seen today. [4] "It was from Plymouth that Drake sailed in 1572 on his expedition to Nombre de Dios. When he returned one Sunday in August in the following year, the news reached St. Andrew Church while the people were assembled in worship, and straightway the preacher was deserted and the good folks ran to the seaside to welcome their hero home." [5]

Early History of the Drakes family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Drakes research. Another 210 words (15 lines of text) covering the years 1185, 1205, 1273, 1303, 1581, 1581, 1660, 1700, 1540, 1596, 1588, 1637, 1625, 1629, 1617, 1662, 1646, 1662, 1608, 1669, 1625, 1669, 1660 and are included under the topic Early Drakes History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Drakes Spelling Variations

Sound was what guided spelling in the essentially pre-literate Middle Ages, so one person's name was often recorded under several variations during a single lifetime. Also, before the advent of the printing press and the first dictionaries, the English language was not standardized. Therefore, spelling variations were common, even among the names of the most literate people. Known variations of the Drakes family name include Drake, Drakes, Draike, Drayke, Draykes, Draikes and others.

Early Notables of the Drakes family (pre 1700)

Distinguished members of the family include Sir Francis Drake, Vice Admiral (1540-1596), an English sea captain, privateer, navigator, slaver, a renowned pirate, and politician, according to Forbes, he was the second highest earning pirate who had a wealth of over 115 million in today's dollars; Sir Francis Drake, 1st Baronet (1588-1637), an English politician who sat in the House of Commons in two parliaments between...
Another 64 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Drakes Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Drakes Ranking

In the United States, the name Drakes is the 11,393rd most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [6]

Ireland Migration of the Drakes family to Ireland

Some of the Drakes family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 84 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Drakes migration to the United States +

For political, religious, and economic reasons, thousands of English families boarded ships for Ireland, the Canadas, the America colonies, and many of smaller tropical colonies in the hope of finding better lives abroad. Although the passage on the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving, those families that survived the trip often went on to make valuable contributions to those new societies to which they arrived. Investigation of the origins of family names on the North American continent has revealed that early immigrants bearing the name Drakes or a variant listed above:

Drakes Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Henry Drakes, who arrived in Virginia in 1665 [7]


The Drakes Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Aquila non captat muscas
Motto Translation: The eagle is no fly-catcher.


  1. ^ Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  2. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. ^ Baring-Gould S., Family Names and their Story. London: Seeley, Service & Co. Limited, 1913. Print
  4. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  5. ^ Worth, R.N., A History of Devonshire London: Elliot Stock, 62, Paternoster Row, E.G., 1895. Digital
  6. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  7. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)


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