Sir Richard William Drake [Obituary]

Trans. Devon Assoc., 1891, Vol XXIII, pp. 105-106.


Rev. W. Harpley, M.A.

Prepared by Michael Steer

The obituary was read at the Association’s July 1891 Tiverton meeting. Sir William Richard Drake, of Oatlands Lodge, Surrey was a Knight Commander of the Italian Orders of SS. Maurizio and Lazzaro, and of the Corona d'Italia, a Knight of the Austrian Order of the Iron Crown, and the 2nd class of the Turkish Order of the Medjidie, he was knighted 6 September 1869 at the instance of Mr Gladstone. The heraldic and genealogical library of Sir William Drake, F.S.A. was sold by Sotheby, Wilkinson and Hodge 24 February 1893. The article, from a copy of a rare and much sought-after journal can be downloaded from the Internet Archive. Google has sponsored the digitisation of books from several libraries. These books, on which copyright has expired, are available for free educational and research use, both as individual books and as full collections to aid researchers.

Sir William Richard Drake was the eldest son of the late Mr. William Drake (son of Mr. Henry Drake, of Barnstaple, by Ann, sister of Sir James Hamlyn), by Frances, daughter of Mr. Robert Lincoln.

Sir William was born on August 25th, 1817, and married, in 1846, Katherine Stewart Forbes, daughter of Richard Thomas Goodwin, E.I.C.S., formerly senior Member of Council at Bombay. Lady Drake died on August 21st, 1880.

Sir William was for many years in close and confidential relationship with the leader of the Liberal party. He was knighted at the instance of Mr. Gladstone in 1869. He was one of the founders, and for some years an active member of the Managing Committee, of the Devonshire Club.

Sir William Drake contributed to Art-history "Notes on Venetian Ceramics." He was one of the original members, and at the time of his death the Chairman, of the Burlington Fine Arts Club. He edited a descriptive catalogue of etched work of Francis Seymour Haden, and was also the Honorary Secretary of the Royal Society of Painter Etchers, in which he took great interest. He was a frequent visitor to Italy, and a collector of all forms of Italian art. In conjunction with Sir H. Layard, the late Baron Heath, and other friends, he took an active part in the formation and management of the Venice and Morano Glass and Mosaic Company, which for many years maintained a successful industry in Venice and the adjoining island of Morano. His contributions to archaeological and antiquarian literature included "Notes on the Capture of the Great Carrack," in the Archæologia of the Society of Antiquaries, of which he was one of the oldest members remaining. He made numerous additions to the family history of Devonshire, some of which were published in the Herald and Genealogist, the Miscellanea Genealogica of the Harleian Society; as also many other narrative and tabular pedigrees collected and printed for private circulation under the title of Devonshire Notes and Notelets, copies of which he presented to the libraries of the British Museum and the Society of Antiquaries, and the principal public libraries of his native county. He became a member of this Association in 1880, and although he was unable to be present at any of the Annual Meetings, the work of the Association always received his warm approval.

Sir William was a member of the legal profession, and senior partner of the firm of Bircham and Go. He was much engaged in the formation of Public Companies under the Act of 1862, particularly in connection with the banking establishments of Messrs. Glyn and Co., J. S. Morgan and Co., and other prominent financial City firms. He was a director of the Imperial Ottoman Bank, the Lombeig Czeronowitz Railway, and other societies; and it was in connexion with projects such as these that he received from the Austrian, Italian, and Turkish Courts various orders of knighthood.

He died at his residence. Prince's Gardens, South Kensington, after an attack of bronchitis, on December 2nd, 1890, at the age of 73 years.