The surname of DRAKE was derived from the Old English word 'draca' a name given to a standard bearer. Most of the occupations or professions reflected in family names are those known in the small villages in Europe, or those followed in a king's or important noble's household, or in some large religious house or monastery. During the middle ages much of Europe was composed of small villages, and the occupations would be used to describe the bearer. Early records of the name mention Leuing Drache listed in the Domesday Book of 1086. Wimund le Drake, was documented in the year 1205 in County Dorset. Richard le Drake of County Lancashire, was listed in the Subsidy Rolls in 1332. Stephen Drake of County Somerset, was documented during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377). Johannes Drac, of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Thomas Martin married Sarah Drake at St. Dionis Backchurch, London in the year 1645. The most famous of the name is probably Sir Francis Drake (1540-1596) the English navigator and pirate, born near Tavistock. He worked in the coasting trade from the age of thirteen, but by 1565 he was voyaging to Guinea and the Spanish Main. In 1572, with two small ships the Pasha and the Swan, and a privateer's licence from Queen Elizabeth I he plundered on the Isthmus of Panama and became the first Englishman to see the Pacific Ocean. On his return he became a popular hero. In many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another. The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. Over the centuries, most people in Europe have accepted their surname as a fact of life, as irrevocable as an act of God. However much the individual may have liked or disliked the surname, they were stuck with it, and people rarely changed them by personal choice. A more common form of variation was in fact involuntary, when an official change was made, in other words, a clerical error.
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