DRAKE, Sir Francis, 3rd Bt. (1647-1718), of Buckland Abbey, Devon.
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Family and Education
bap. 1 May 1647, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Thomas Drake of Brendon Barton, Week St. Mary, by Susan, da. of William Crymes of Buckland Crymes. educ. Exeter, Oxf. matric. 3 June 1663, aged 16. m. (1) 6 Feb. 1665, Dorothy (bur. 30 Jan. 1679), da. of Sir John Bampfield, 1st Bt., of Poltimore, 4da.; (2) lic. 21 Oct. 1680, Anne (bur. 22 Dec. 1685), da. of Thomas Boone of Mount Boone, and coh. to her bro. Charles Boone, s.p.; (3) 18 Feb. 1690, Elizabeth, da. of (Sir) Henry Pollexfen of Woodbury, 7s. 1da. suc. fa. c.1653, uncle Sir Francis Drake, 2nd Bt., 6 Jan. 1662.1
J.p. Devon 1670-5, 1689-d., commr. for assessment 1673-80, 1689-90, recusants 1675, inquiry into recusancy fines, Devon, Cornw. and Dorset 1688; recorder, Plymouth 1696-d., col. of militia ft. Devon by 1697-?d.; dep. lt. Devon and Plymouth 1701-d.; v.-adm. Devon 1715-d.2
Drake’s father joined the parliamentary army at the beginning of the Civil War, but later went over to the Royalists. After his death, Drake was brought up by his uncle, and subsequently by William Strode I and a brother of Sir John Davie, 2nd Bt., though his first marriage to the sister of the high Anglican loyalist, Sir Coplestone Bampfylde, was concluded without their knowledge. He was first returned for Tavistock four miles from his home on his own interest at a by-election to the Cavalier Parliament, and became an active opposition Member. He was appointed to 66 committees, made at least 13 speeches, and acted as teller in five divisions. In his maiden speech, on 20 Jan. 1674, he complained that the House had spent five days discussing the charges against Lord Arlington, and proposed an address for his removal. In the spring session of 1675 he acted as teller for including the Scottish army law in the charges against Lauderdale, whom he thought ‘not a fit companion for the King’. He was appointed in both sessions to the committees on the bills to appropriate the customs to the use of the navy and to hinder Papists from sitting in Parliament.3
On the Earl of Bath’s request Drake was removed from the commission of the peace during the long recess, and Sir Richard Wiseman was informed by a local correspondent that he was ‘dejected’ in consequence. Although he was marked ‘thrice worthy’ on Shaftesbury’s list, and (Sir) John Malet referred to his case as a grievance, he took no ascertainable part in the 1677 session, and on 31 May was given permission to go abroad with his family and servants ‘for the benefit of his health’. When he returned he was even more vocal in opposition. On 7 May 1678 he remarked:
We are in a declining age, and [have] one foot in the grave. Nothing can remove jealousies at home and abroad but removing these counsellors.
On the same day he was teller for presenting an address for the removal of Lauderdale. He asserted that ‘a standing army and a Parliament are inconsistent’, and on 17 June acted as teller against the naval estimates. In the ensuing debate on supply he argued:
Let us ... get these men removed from [about] the throne that have endeavoured to break trust and confidence betwixt the King and us. They are uneasy with a Parliament, and would have such a revenue granted the King that they may have no more. No Englishman can give this money demanded, and I would give none.
During the concluding session of the Cavalier Parliament he was added to the committee of inquiry into the Popish Plot and moved the impeachment of Secretary Williamson for signing commissions for Roman Catholic officers. He was teller on 26 Nov. against adjourning the debate on disabling Papists from sitting in Parliament, and was among those entrusted with drafting instructions for disbanding the army. He acted as teller for an address against private advices, which he helped to draft.4
Drake was re-elected to the Exclusion Parliaments and marked ‘worthy’ on Shaftesbury’s list. A very active Member in 1679, he was appointed to 35 committees and twice acted as teller. Among his committees were those to summon Danby to surrender, to extend habeas corpus, and to provide for security against Popery. He was teller against paying into the Exchequer the revenue intended for disbandment, and voted for exclusion. In his only speech, on 23 May, he attacked those Members of the previous Parliament who ‘came up to give money to betray their public trust’. After re-election he took part in petitioning for the meeting of Parliament, but he seems to have been absent until the closing days of the second Exclusion Parliament, when he became moderately active. He was named to five committees and moved for an address for the dismissal of Laurence Hyde. He was probably selected by Sir William Courtenay as his colleague for the county in 1681, but stood down for the more moderate (Sir) Samuel Rolle and served again for his borough. In the Oxford Parliament he was appointed to the committee of elections and privileges, and to those to prepare for a conference on the loss of the bill of ease for dissenters and to bring in the exclusion bill.5
In the Tory reaction after the Exclusion Parliaments, Drake’s continued opposition eventually led him into exile. According to Lord Grey of Warke, he was to be approached about a rising in the West, and he was accused of cognizance of the Rye House Plot. An action at law was actually commenced against him for saying that ‘it would never be well with England till the Duke of York was excluded’. Before the writ could be served he made over his estates in trust to Sir John Davie, 3rd Bt., and escaped overseas. He was pardoned by James II, and in April 1688 the King’s electoral agents concluded that he was ‘undoubtedly right’ on the religious issue and might stand for Devon in the proposed Parliament if your Majesty will lay an obligation on him so to do. They also noted his interest at Bere Alston, where he owned several burgages. However, by September they had come to realize that he could not be ‘prevailed upon to stand or concern himself in public business’. Two months later he joined William of Orange at Exeter.6
Elected again for Tavistock to the Convention, Drake was moderately active, being appointed to 26 committees and acting as teller in three divisions. During the first session he was appointed to the committees to inspect the coronation oath and to consider the bill from the Lords to prevent ‘all questions and disputes concerning the assembling and sitting of this present Parliament’. In his only recorded speech in this Parliament, during the debate on revenue of 27 Feb. 1689, he exclaimed:
I thank God we are delivered from these men; now we are under a Prince who has deserved well of the nation in delivering us, and I would give him the best acknowledgment we can, but not to prejudice the people. The same reasons for not giving formerly make me for it now, for our Prince to support the honour of the nation.
After the recess he was named to the committee of inquiry into war expenditure, and helped to draw up the address about the appointment of Commissary Shales. He acted as teller against recommending Members for service in Ireland, and was appointed to the committee on the bill for restoring corporations, in which he supported the disabling clause. After its defeat he was named to the committee on the bill to indemnify those who had taken part in the Revolution, and was a teller against the second reading of the bill to restore the university charters.7
Drake sat in three more Parliaments as a court Whig. He was buried at Meavy on 15 June 1718. His son, the fourth baronet, sat for Tavistock as an independent Whig from 1715 to 1734.8