After the death of the 4th baronet Admiral Sir Francis Drakes'
descendants in the male line ware extinct, and the baronetcy came to
an end. In the early 17th century a family of gentle birth at a
place named Farway, in East Devon, who were undoubtedly connections
of the Admiral's but who were extremely poor, emigrated to America.
There all trace of them was lost; but it would appear that had the
two sons who left Farway had male descendants at the time of the
4th baronet's death they would have been heirs to the baronetcy,
According to one writer a lineal descendant was living in the United
States who knew of his ancestry, and his claim to the baronetcy, but
who did not trouble to come forward and claim it.
The Devonshire periodical "THE WESTERN ANTIQUARY" mentioned on page 2, has a good deal of correspondence about this claim and some claimants including (as already mentioned) a Francis Drake who was a member of the Churchstanton family.
The story got abroad in the United States, and some confidence trickster saw an opportunity to make money out of it; he launched a version that there were enormous estates waiting "in Chancery" to be claimed by the "rightful descendants of Sir Francis Drake" i.e. of course, of a brother of the Admiral, since the latter died childless. A number of American citizens named Drake were taken in by this tale and parted with money to have theirdescent established and their claim to "the Drake millions' made good.
Until fairly recent years some even made personal visits to England under the impression that they only had to look into the matter and employ a good solicitor to find themselves Baronets and in possession of a great estate.
In actual point of fact, had any genuine collateral descendant of the Admiral been able to prove his claim, he would have inherited the Baronetcy only, had his petition to revive it been accepted. (There is now a time limit after which claims to revive a lapsed hereditary title cannot be lodged.) The Drake estates descended by will to the ultimate heirs of the Admiral's bloody who since 1740 have all been women. The present representative of the family, through marriage with these heiresses, is Lord Seaton, and the "great estates" have dwindled,through successive inheritancesy death duties and taxation. Neither Buckland Abbey nor Nutwell Court, the two princpal Drake houses, now belong to the family.
Sophia Daphne Drake