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Our 2,768 members have registered
2,405 study surnames with us
and a further 6,120 variant names.

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About the study

The Drakes One-Name study commenced in 1970. Like many one-name studies, it grew out of an attempt to trace my own ancestry. I was seeking the baptism of my 4 x great-grandfather Daniel Drakes/Dracas in the IGI and Parish Registers without success and began to gather an increasing collection of Drakes/Dracas entries. Daniel eventually turned up as Daniel Drakehurst at a nearby village, which I later discovered at Lincoln Archives, is locally renowned for weird spellings in the Parish Registers for a period of over 100 years. His surname appears in various records as, Drakehurst, Draykas, Drakehas, Dracas, Dracus, Draker, Dracass, Drakes, and Drakelas. The only way I could confirm that this was him, was to eliminate all other possibilities and prove that the ‘Drakehurst’ surname only existed for the period when his ‘Dracas’ family disappeared from Parish records, which I eventually did.

I have over 4,300 pages of trees and notes about individuals now living worldwide, plus numerous other associated files. I would be delighted to hear from anyone who is either studying these names or is related to one of them. I will do my best to help where I can and my work is free and self-funded. The name was registered with the Guild of One-Name Studies in 2014.

Variant names

The registered variants of the name are Drax, Dracas, Dracass, Drakehas, and Draykas.

There are numerous other variants in various records including: Draix, Draxe, Drakehurst, Dracus, Draker, Drakelas, & Dracos, some of which are transcription errors. I have even seen the ‘D’ transcribed as ‘C’ in one online index.

The present-day families with these surnames predominantly originate in an area 25 miles north to south immediately below the Humber estuary in Lincolnshire & 50 miles west to east from Darfield, West Yorks., to Old Clee, Lincs.

The only other lines are a family named ‘Drakes’ in Cornwall, and a few instances in Ireland, both of which appear to be ‘Drake’ and to have added an ‘s’. I have not found any evidence to link them to the ‘Drakes’ elsewhere.

Name origin

Prior to the mid-18th century, there was no standard National English Dictionary and spellings were phonetic; words and names could be spelt differently in the same document, sometimes even on the same line.

Drax and Drakes are interchangeable in historic records for the same individuals; most names ending in ‘x’ can also be found ending in ‘kes’. Dracas is their Latin form, and is frequently used in early official church records.

The Drax (Drakes) surname in the UK originates with a Geoffrey Drax (Drakes) who was born in 1126 Normandy, France, first came to England with Empress Matilda in 1154 in a failed attempt to wrest the throne from her cousin King Stephen. He returned to England later in 1154 with Henry Plantagenet (Henry II) and was awarded lands in Kent.I cannot find any link to the village of ‘Drax’ in West Yorkshire, which has a Roman or pre-Roman origin. Drakes is not related to ‘Drake’ except where an individual has dropped the ‘s’, and this is normally only in North West Lincolnshire.

The black West Indian, and American ‘Drakes’ lines appear to be descended from former slaves on the ‘Drax’ estates in Barbados & Jamaica. It is interesting to note that there appear to be no present-day ‘Drax’ families on Barbados, but there are numerous ‘Drakes’. Historically these two names were interchangeable.


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