William Drake, of Elmstead

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William Drake

Birthdate: (64)
Birthplace: White Notley, Essex, England
Death: November 3, 1616 (60-68)
Elmstead, Essex, England
Place of Burial: Elmstead, Essex, England
Immediate Family:

Son of NN Drake and NN Drake
Husband of Joan Drake
Father of Isabella Bland alias Smith; Robert Drake, of Hampton; Thomas Drake; Joshua Drake; Joseph Drake and 5 others

Occupation: husbandman, farmer
Managed by: Flemming Allan Funch
Last Updated:

About William Drake, of Elmstead


  • Born say 1553 prob in Halstead, Essex
  • Parents unknown but he lived in his "inherited home" per court records and therefore was probably born in Halstead.
  • Buried 3 Nov 1616 Elmstead, Essex
  • Married 12 Oct 1678 Halstead, Essex
  • Probably lived for a time in Colchester, Essex
  • Children: Robert, Isabel, Thomas (the elder), Jushua, Joseph, Joan, Thomas (the younger), Alice, Ellen, Elizabeth - two of these children Isabel and Robert immigrated to New England.

Sources and Notes

I) Robert Charles Anderson, FASG "John Smith of Watertown, Massachusetts, in The American Genealogist (TAG). (Donald Lines Jacobus, et.al.), 61:22 link

Robert Drake of Hampton, NH was son of William and Joan Drake of Halstead, Essex, England not far from Colchester. William Drake and Joan Merrylls were married in Halstead 12 Oct 1578 and their first child Robert, the immigrant to Hampton was bp 23 Jul 1581 there. Joan (Merrylls) Drake left a will dated 16 Mar 1616/7 in which she mentions along with Robert and other children, "my dawter Esbell Drake the wife of John Smith." Nathaniel and Abraham Drake (sons of Robert) made a deposition in 1691 in favor of Isabell (Bland) Leavitt... etc. [The author explains that Isabella Drake of Watertown wife of John Bland Smith of Watertown and Martha's Vineyard was sister to Robert Drake].

II) Thompson, Alice Smith, and Anthony Richard Wagner. The Drake family of New Hampshire: Robert, of Hampton, and some of his descendants ; a genealogy. (Concord, New Hampshire: Historical Society, 1962)Download the full PDF of this book here

William Drake of Halstead remains, for the time being, the earliest proven ancestor of the Drakes of Hampton, New Hampshire. It is with him that the pedigree of the family begins and it is with him and his descendants that the genealogy of the Drakes is concerned.

The connected pedigree of the family which can now be put forward begins with William Drake, husbandman, sometime of the parish of Halstead and afterwards of the parish of Elmstead. The earliest mention of him, so far discovered, is the record of his marriage in Halstead parish church to Joan Merrylls. The flint—built church, dominating the little town, was already old when William Drake first knew it, but the parish registers date back only to 1564, for any earlier registers are lost. The entry, in the clear and careful hand of the parson, reads under the year 1578, “Will[ia]m Drakes and Joane Merrylls were married the xijth of October.”

Unless this was a second marriage, which we have no grounds at present for thinking, we may conjecture that William was then aged between twenty-five and thirty. This would give his date of birth as possibly somewhere about 1550.

It is, of course, most dangerous to take coincidences for evidence. We must, therefore, be on our guard against identifying our William Drake of Halstead with William, the son of Thomas Drake of Little Waltham, who was baptized there in 1552.

Children, the first three bp in Halstead, Essex and the rest probably in Elmstead, Essex::

  1. Robert bp 23 July I581
  2. Thomas, the elder bp 2 Dec 1582
  3. Joshua bp 29 Nov 1583
  4. Joseph
  5. Thomas the younger
  6. Isabel married to John Smith
  7. Joan married to Francis Cocke
  8. Alice
  9. Ellen
  10. Elizabeth

William Drake had abandoned his estate in Halstead, Essex by 1592 [parish rolls] and moved to Elmstead, Essex on the other side of Colchester where the younger children were probably born.

The parish registers record: "Joan Drake, Wife of William Drake lately deceased, was being buried on March 30th [1616/7].”

Will of “Jeane Merrels widdowe the late wife of William Drake of Elmstead, co. Essex, husbandman.” dated 16 March 1616/7. mentions her son Robert as being then alive, and also her sons Thomas the elder, Joseph, and Thomas the younger, and her daughters Isabel married to John Smith, Joan married to Francis Cocke, Alice, Ellen and Elizabeth. Her will was proved later the same year in the Commissary Court of the Bishop of London.

On 6 April 1592, William Drake is “presented,” that is to say reported at a View of Frankpledge in the manor court for default of residence." In short, he had removed himself from the jurisdiction of the lord of the manor of Abells, thus depriving the lord of his just reliefs, rents and fines. The membrane on which this entry appears is defective, but the normal punishment was a small fine. A couple of years later, on 16 October 1595 William Drake is fined at a View of Frankpledge of the manor of Abells for “inherited houses,” which he had apparently abandoned, but again the roll is defective and partly illegible. We see that he left Halstead after November 1584,and before April 1592.

In the records of the Archdeacon of Colchester's Court we find them being fined for not attending the parish Church in 1611, and again in 1615 he was presented by the Churchwardens of Elmstead "for not coming orderly to Church on the Sabbath Daye" and was duly fined 12d. on June 28, 1615.

This source has extensive research and full transcripts of wills and depositions and should be consulted. You can Download the full PDF of this book here

Disputed Parents

The author of this link below makes a lot of assumptions that are not accepted by established genealogists. It is unlikely he was eldest son born in White Notley because as court records show he was living in his "inherited home" right there in Halstead where he married. This implies his father had lived there. The parish records simply do not go back far enough to allow identification of his parents. Simply goal seeking reported parts in a nearby location without any other supporting evidence is not genealogy!

Read this with skepticism and refer to the sources above because they are very well researched:

  • from http://www.ringleib.com/ringleib_info/family_tree/colinr/d894.htm#P2597
  • "William, the eldest son of William and Joan Drake, was born about 1550 probably at White Notley [What is the evidence for this statement?]. Being the eldest son, it would have been expected that he would have succeeded to his father's lands; however, this was not the case. His younger brother John remained at White Notley. In a Court for Black Notley on May 21, 1589, John Drake was described as "Johannes Drake claudes" -- that is, the lame or cripple. In view of the fact that his brother John was lame and had also married a local girl, it is likely that William let him take up their father's property. Apparently William moved to Halstead where he had married Joan Merrylls (also Merrells, Merrels)."

The author cites no evidence linking him to White Notley!

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William Drake, of Elmstead's Timeline

White Notley, Essex, England
Age 27
Elmstead, Essex, England
Age 27
July 23, 1581
Age 29
Halstead, Essex, England
December 2, 1582
Age 30
Elmstead, Essex, England
Age 32
Age 36
Elmstead, Essex, England
Age 38
Age 38