DRAKE, Francis William (1724-87), of Hillingdon, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



29 Jan. 1771 - 1774

Family and Education

bap. 22 Aug. 1724, 2nd surv. s. of Sir Francis Henry Drake, 4th Bt., and bro. of Sir F. H. Drake, 5th Bt.. m. 3 Nov. 1763, his cos. Elizabeth, da. of Sir William Heathcote, 1st Bt., M.P., 2da.

Offices Held

Entered R.N. bef. 1740, capt. 1748; gov. Newfoundland 1752-4; r.-adm. 1778; v.-adm. 1780.


Drake served under Knowles in the West Indies, 1748; under Rodney in Newfoundland 1751, succeeding him as governor; under Boscawen at Lagos, 1759. At various times his career seems to have been impeded by ill-health. N. Rowe, a close friend of the Drake family, wrote about him to Sir Francis Drake in March 1750:1

He’s an honest young fellow, who, though he has seen the world abroad, wants to be better acquainted with that at home. A perfect harmony between you, which I greatly wish, may be a great means thereto; I need not mention to you the obligation. His health is better than I expected, and would be more so if he’d use the means.

He retired on half pay in 1763, but in 1766 was given command of a guardship at Plymouth.2 His elder brother, who on being appointed master of the Household did not choose to seek re-election, returned Francis William to Parliament in his place, 29 Jan. 1771. He does not, however, appear in the two division lists of February-March 1771, and on 8 Mar. 1772, is marked in Robinson’s survey on the royal marriage bill as ‘pro, sick, absent’. Over the petition of naval captains on half-pay he voted against the Government, but is marked as a ‘friend’. Otherwise he voted with the Government. No speech of his is recorded; and after the dissolution of 1774 he did not again stand for Parliament.

In August 1780, while holding the command in the Downs, he was offered by Sandwich employment under Rodney, but had to decline it from the ‘shattered condition of my constitution’, and for fear that ‘his Majesty’s service there might suffer from my bodily inability’.3 A short time later, crippled by gout, he quitted his station.4  He died in December 1787.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. Lady Eliott-Drake, Fam. and Heirs of Sir F. Drake, ii. 258.
  • 2. Ibid. ii. 306.
  • 3. Sandwich Pprs. iii. (Navy Rec. Soc. lxxv), 227.
  • 4. Charnock, Biographia Navalis, vi. 61.