Manuscripts of Francis Drake, York local historian

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 192 DRA
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      5 volumes

Scope and Content

The collection currently comprises one three-volume set of Drake's Travels in Italy, written in his own hand, and one two-volume set of Drake's history of York's 'Eboracum' owned by Drake and including handwritten annotations.

Administrative / Biographical History

Francis Drake was born in Pontefract, the son of vicar Reverend Francis Drake. He was baptised in Pontefract on 22 January 1696.

Drake was apprenticed to Christopher Birbeck, a York surgeon. When Birbeck died in 1717, Drake took over the practice. Ten years later, at the age of 31, he was appointed to the office of city surgeon of York.

In 1720 Drake married Mary Woodyeare, daughter of a former secretary to Sir William Temple, in York Minster. Together they had five sons, although only two of them survived childhood.

Mary Drake died in 1728 at the age of 35 and was buried in the church of St Michael le Belfrey.

Drake had a lifelong interest in history. With the aid of a number of local historians and collectors, Drake compiled the history of York, 'Eboracum', a folio-sized book of around 800 pages with the subtitle The History and Antiquities of the City of York, from its Original to the Present Time; together with the History of the Cathedral Church and the Lives of the Archbishops (published in 1736).

Francis Drake was elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London and of the Royal Society during his lifetime. In 1741 he was appointed honorary surgeon to the new York County Hospital, retiring in 1756 (although he was relieved of the position during 1745–6 because of his Jacobite sympathies). Between 1751 and 1760, he published thirty volumes of The Parliamentary or Constitutional History of England from the Earliest Times to the Restoration of King Charles II, with a second edition, in twenty-four volumes, appearing in 1763.

In 1767, failing health forced him to leave York to live with his eldest son, Francis, who was the vicar of St Mary's Church, Beverley. He died in Beverley and was buried in the local churchyard.

Access Information

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Archivist's Note

Compiled by Laura Yeoman, Archives and Local History Public Services Manager, May 2015.

Conditions Governing Use

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