Michael Drake

Looks at the Drake Family Originating in New Kent County, Virginia


It just never ends, I say to myself, as I ponder avenues of discovering just one more name in one more generation. Everyone who has a serious interest in family history knows the feeling. When I first began a serious search for the names of ancestors, I believed that someone had surely already found most of the answers, and that all I had to do was find the right book. But the book didnĎt exist.

So here I sit with bits and pieces of seemingly unrelated documented facts trying to piece them together using common sense and calculated hunches. I have concluded that the best candidate for the progenitor of the Drake family whose names were recorded in The Parish Register of St. Peters, New Kent County, Va. was Thomas Drake, who came into Virginia from England sometime prior to 23 April 1681. First, I will present the facts that have a bearing on my conclusion. Second, I will explain my reasoning.

The will of William Drake, who died in Franklin County, Virginia, 1792, names as his sons William, who inherited the bulk of the estate, Carter, Braxton, and Turner.

St. Peterís parish register shows the following Drake births: William Drake, son of William and Sarah Drake, was born 11 November 1734. Thomas Drake, son of William and Sarah Drake, was born 8 October 1736. Ann Drake, the daughter of William and Sarah Drake, was born 17 October 1738.

Carter Braxton was born 16 September 1736 in King and Queen County, Virginia, a county formed from New Kent County in 1691, which still remains adjacent to New Kent. Carter Braxtonís parents were George Braxton and Mary Carter Braxton. His mother died the day after giving birth to Carter and a twin brother. The twin infant was never named because he died 20 September 1736, four days after he was born. Carter Braxton was a major landowner, active in politics, and a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

The St. Peterís parish register contains the following two entries:

1755 Francis Izard Daughter of Geo. & Tabitha Wilkinson born Decí 23, baptized Janír 23.

1753 Mary Daughter of Izard & Mary Wilkinson born Decír 1st.

The Douglas Register, documents the following:

Martin, a son of William and Mary Watts Drake, was born in Goochland Count, Virginia on 3 March 1761.

Anna, daughter of William and Mary Watts Drake, was born on 7 April 1763.

Thomas Drake was born to Thomas and Lucy Drake in Cumberland County, and was baptized 10 January 1762.

The following are records of land transfers in Virginia:

MRS. FRANCES IZORD, 1036 A., 5P., Henrico Co., Varina Par; on S. side of Chichahominy maine Sw., 23 Apr. 1681, p. 86. Beg. Upon Uffenum brooke; crossing Widdows runn, &c. Trans. Of 21 pers: Jno. Starling, Tho. Ware, Eliz. Fisher, Tho. Meeler, Rich. Brooke, Eliz. Brock, Geo. Alees, Geo. Base, Rebecca Niccols, Fra. Little, Eliz. Rogers, Tho. Stanly, Robt. Spinlugg, Jno. Oakely, Wm. Rogers, Tho. Boeman, Nath. Jones, Nedd _____, Gunny ______, Tho. Worly; Pegg a Negro.

MR. HENRY TURNER, 712 A., 1 R., 24 P., Henrico Co., Varina Par., S. side Chichahominy Sw., 23 Apr. 1681, p. 86. Beg. At Mrs. Izardís line; to Whimsicull runn; &c. Trans. Of 15 pers: Tho. Auborne, Tho. Drake, Rich. Norden, Seth. Rouch (Roach), Izraell Pye, Hum. Strange, Mary Beven, Wm. Lawrence, Cha. Hooke, Jno. Evans, Tho. Fead, An. Balding, Wm. Green, Wm. Milson; Jno. a Negro.

The following surnames taken from the above land transfer records appear on the index of St. Peterís parish register: Izard (Izord), Turner, Ware, Brock, Rogers, Stanly, Oakley (Oakely), Drake, Norden, Strange, Hooke, Evans, and Green. There are several entries for Henry Turner. As was shown above, Izard was shown as given names for two persons with the surname of Wilkinson.

The register of St. Peterís Parish documents the following facts:

Sarah Turner, daughter of William Turner, was baptized 21 February 1702 or 3.

Anne Turner, daughter of Henry Turner, was baptized 18 March 1709.

Anne Turner, daughter of James and Judith Turner, was baptized on in the year 1712.

Sarah Turner, daughter of James Turner, was baptized 18 February 1710.

A land transfer in 1691 must also be noted. GILBERT ELAM, SENR., GILBERT ELAM, JUNR., & EDWARD WARD, 2015 acs., Henrico Co., in Varina Par; on Fallen (or Faller) Cr. Main br; 28 April. 1691, p. 147. Trans. Of 41 pers: Jno. Drake, Hannah Smith, Geo Dodson, Jno. Jenings, Antho. Hick, Wm. Stark, Jno Potter, Robert Frost, Mary Simpson, Jno. Knowles, Abra. Flood, Jno. Gardner, James White, Th. Wats, Tho. Elliot, Teague Collaine, Ino. Lawrence, Anne Doughty, James Harris, Jno. Porter, Tho. Livesay, Jno. Waltasse, Jno. Redliffe, Sarah Meares, W. Thomas, Jno. Ellison, Wml Wetherford, James Amys , Jno. Richardson, James Turner, Jno. Whitby, Wm. Ellis, Eliza. Revis, Dorothy Turner, Hester James, Rich. Whitby, Edwd. Wood, Danl., Bess, Tawney, Negroes.

The surnames appearing in both the register of St. Peterís Parish and the above land transfer are as follows: Drake, Smith, Jenings, Simpson, Gardner, White, Elliot, Harris, Porter, Thomas, Ellison, Wetherford, Ellis, Wood, and Turner.

The register of St. Peterís Parish shows that Joel Drake was born to William and Agnes Drake on 12 December 1755. Mary Drake, daughter of William and Agnes Drake, was born 13 November 1753. Court records show that Joel Drake was bound over to James Drake of Powhatan County in 1771. From the register of St. Peterís we learn that William Drake died on 24 October 1770, and was near the age of 63 making his birth year approximately 1707.

John Drake of Franklin County, Virginia lived near William Drake and wife Mary Watts Drake. The two men traded land in that county prior to Williamís death in 1792. John Drake was father to William Drake, Clayton Drake, and Allen Drake. This William Drake, son to John Drake of Franklin County, Virginia, enlisted on 6 April 1777, in Captain Perkinís Company of the 7th Virginia Regiment, Colonel Samuel Haws commanding, and served until May, 1780. He was discharged at Camden, South Carolina. In a deposition given by Allen Drake, Williamís brother, Williamís birth date is estimated at about 1755. William was married in June, 1783, in Chesterfield County, Virginia. His wife was Anna or Nancy Chappell, who was 60 years old in 1827. Anna Chappell was born to Abraham Chappell and Ann Drake Chappell. Abraham Chappellís parents were Robert and Eliza Chappell. Abraham Chappell was born 6 May 1729 in Bristol Parish, Prince George County, Virginia.

Thus ends the facts I have considered in proffering my opinions about the origin of the Drakes in New Kent, County, Virginia.


So where do these facts take us, and how? As I stated at the beginning, I believe the strongest candidate for the progenitor of the family was Thomas Drake. He is not, however, the only strong candidate.

For family historians, unusual names are assets. William Drake and his wife Mary of Franklin County, Virginia give three of their sons unusual names. The names Carter and Braxton are pretty obvious, to me, anyway. They name the boys after a well-known, local politician, Carter Braxton, signer of the Declaration of Independence. There appears to be no family connection between the Drakes of New Kent County and Carter Braxton. Since there is no direct, documented connection between the Drakes of Franklin County, Virginia and the Drakes of New Kent, the Carter Braxton name connection is good enough for me. There is no doubt in my mind that the William Drake born in New Kent County, Virginia in 1734 was the same William Drake who died in Franklin County, Virginia in 1792.

William Drake, born in New Kent in 1734, has a brother Thomas who was born in 1736. Thomas and William Drake are on the same page when the births of their children, Martin, Anna, and Thomas are listed in The Douglas Register. Very likely, this William and Thomas of The Douglas Register were the same William and Thomas Drake born in New Kent. It is also likely that their sister Ann Drake, born in New Kent in 1738, married Abraham Chappell.

Why did William and Mary Drake name a son Turner? There is a chance that Turner was the maiden name of Williamís mother, Sarah Drake. She was probably the daughter of James Turner. Sarah Turner was born in New Kent County in 1710.

Thomas Drake was transported to Virginia from England at the expense of Henry Turner. Henry Turner was awarded land in Varina Parish of Henrico County, Virginia for paying for the transport of Thomas Drake. One might conclude that, because the land was located in Henrico County, the indentured parties would go where the land was. But we know that Henry Turner, William Turner, and James Turner were living in St. Peterís Parish of New Kent County in the early 1700ís. I argue that Thomas Drake, along with most of the other indentured persons with whom he sailed in 1680 or 81, went to work on established plantations in New Kent County rather than to the newly granted, uncleared ground owned by Henry Turner in Henrico. Many of the surnames are in New Kent County 50 years after they came to Virginia. That the children of Thomas Drake would know and associate with the children of family to which Thomas had been bound is a distinct possibility.

Giving William and Sarah Drake the birth dates of 1707 and 1710 respectively would make them 27 and 24 years old when their son was born in 1734. Sarah Turner had a sister named Anna. William and Sarah Drake named a daughter Ann. Is there a connection? There might be.

Another reason to assume that Thomas Drake is the strongest candidate is the name itself. William and Sarah name a son Thomas. Add to this the fact that William and Mary Drake name a son Turner. Add the fact that Henry Turner transported a Thomas Drake to Virginia. Add then the fact that a Sarah Turner was born in New Kent County at a time convenient to make her the wife of William Drake of that same county, and then you will have the sum total of my reasons for making Thomas Drake, immigrant to Virginia in 1681, the best possibility as starter of the line there.

We cannot stop here, however. John Drake, emigrant to Virginia in April, 1691, could also be the direct ancestor of the Drakes in New Kent. It must be assumed that the parish register of St. Peterís Parish is incomplete, at best. There is evidence that strongly suggests that William and Sarah Drake had more than the three children, William, Thomas, and Ann, whose names are recorded in the parish register.

The John Drake of Franklin County in the 1790ís could have been a brother to William Drake who died in that same county in 1792. Given the fact that Johnís son William was born around 1755, it is fair to assume that John was older than William whose first child was born in 1761. That the two Drakes in Franklin were related can hardly be doubted when considering the migration routes of their children. Braxton and Carter moved west through Kentucky living for time in Casey County, Barren County, and Hardin County before crossing the Ohio River into Indiana. Braxton lived for a time in Orange County, Indiana before ending up in Pike County. Some of his children, including Elija, moved on to Jackson Township, Clay County, Indiana.

Clayton Drake, son of John Drake of Franklin County, Virginia migrated west to Barren County, Kentucky with his wife Sarah Meador and their son Greenberry Drake. Clayton had disappeared from the records by the 1810 Census leaving Sary as the head of household in that county. Greenberry married Nancy Lane in 1811, and resided in Barren County before moving on to Meade County, Indiana in time for the 1830 Census. By 1840 Greenberry was a resident of Jackson Township, Clay County, Indiana.

Greenberry followed his Uncle Allen Drake, who was the son of John Drake of Franklin County, Virginia. Allen Drake was in Barren County, Kentucky by 1801, and remained there through 1812. From 1815 to 1829, Allen lived in Hardin County. He was in Meade County, Kentucky from 1824 through 1837. Greenberry was never far away from Uncle Allen.

Tarlton Drake lived out his life in Barren County, Kentucky. Tarlton was the son of the elusive James Drake of Powhatan County, Virginia. Descendants of this James Drake and his wife Molly of Powhatan County, Virginia have been searching for his father and mother for years. As has been mentioned, Joel Drake was bound over to James Drake in 1771, shortly after the death of William Drake in New Kent County, Virginia. Joel, of course, was born in New Kent in 1755 and was on tax records in Powhatan County, Virginia in the 1780ís. Eventually, Joel moved west to Kentucky. James Drake bought land from John Watts in Powhatan County. John Watts was the father-in-law of William Drake of Franklin County, Virginia. Watts names his daughter Mary, wife of William Drake, in his will. DAR records show James Drake as veteran of the Revolutionary War. The membership application shows the following as children of James Drake of Powhatan County, Virginia: Thomas Drake, Samuel Drake, Lavinia Drake, Nancy Drake, Sir Francis Drake, Joseph Drake, William Drake, Delphia Drake, Tarlton Drake, Sally Drake, Martha Drake, and James Drake, Junior.

The information we have concerning John Drake of Franklin County, Virginia and James Drake of Powhatan County, Virginia suggests that these two men were also the sons of William and Sarah Drake of New Kent County. If they are brothers, the candidacy of John Drake for progenitor of the New Kent Drakes becomes stronger. The given names of John and James come into play. Remember, John Drake was transported into Virginia along with James Turner in 1690 or 91. A Sarah Turner, remember, was born the daughter of James Turner in 1710.

Both Thomas and John Drake could be the beginning of the line in New Kent County. Neither could be. The evidence to prove to a certainty just is not available. As I look at the facts at hand and try to piece the puzzle together, Thomas Drake, who arrived in Virginia in 1681, and John Drake, who arrived in 1691, as the two most likely to have begun the Drake line in New Kent County. I will let it alone until more information materializes or someone makes a more logical conclusion with the information we have. If anyone out there has a different idea, I would love to hear it.

Michael E. Drake


16 December 2001