DRAKE, William (1723-96), of Shardeloes, nr. Amersham, Bucks.

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



26 Feb. 1746 - 1796

Family and Education

b. 12 May 1723, 1st surv. s. of Montague Garrard Drake, M.P., of Shardeloes by Isabella, da. and h. of Thomas Marshall. educ. Westminster 1738, B.N.C. Oxf. 1739. m. 9 Feb. 1747, Elizabeth, da. of John Raworth of Basinghall St., London, 5s. 3da. suc. fa. 1728.

Offices Held


The Drakes of Shardeloes, a very old Buckinghamshire family, controlled both seats at Amersham. William Drake was classed as a Tory in Dupplin’s list of 1754, and again in Bute’s list of December 1761, with ‘well inclined’ added in Bute’s own hand. He appears in Fox’s list of Members favourable to the peace preliminaries. In the division of 18 Feb. 1764 on general warrants he voted against the Grenville Administration, but is not known to have done so in any other division. Rockingham in July 1765 classed him as ‘contra’, and he voted against the repeal of the Stamp Act, 22 Feb. 1766. He voted against Chatham’s Administration on the land tax, 27 Feb. 1767.

On Wilkes and the Middlesex election he was uncertain: voted with the Opposition on Wilkes’s petition, 27 Jan. 1769, with the ministry on the motion to expel Wilkes, 3 Feb. 1769, but against them on the petition against the seating of Luttrell, 8 May 1769. On Dowdeswell’s motion about the Middlesex election, 25 Jan. 1770, and the Spanish convention, 13 Feb. 1771, he was again with Opposition; was classed by Robinson on the royal marriage bill, March 1772, as ‘doubtful’; but supported the court on the renewal of the Middlesex question, 26 Apr. 1773, and although he voted for making Grenville’s Election Act permanent, 25 Feb. 1774, was classed in the King’s list as normally a friend to Government.

At first he supported North on the American war: his name occurs in none of the six minority division lists, 1775-8. He voted with Opposition on measures concerned with economy or the reduction of the influence of the Crown: the contractors bill, 12 Feb. 1779, the motion for an account of pensions, 21 Feb. 1780, for the abolition of the Board of Trade, 13 Mar. 1780, and Dunning’s motion, 6 Apr. 1780; but with the court on the motion about prorogation, 24 Apr. 1780. In 1779 the Public Ledger wrote about him: ‘A respectable independent gentleman, a Tory in principle, and a great admirer of Lord North, votes with the ministry in general, but sometimes in the minority.’ And Robinson in his survey for the general election of 1780: ‘Mr. Drake senior is oftener with Government than against: in ministerial questions he may be against, but in the great constitutional points he will always be with, if the questions are to affect the government or constitution.’ His monumental inscription describes him as ‘attached to no party, [but] supporting such measures as appeared to him constitutional and expedient’.1

Drake voted with the ministry on Lowther’s motion to end the war, 12 Dec. 1781, but in the five divisions February-March 1782 with Opposition: he had at first doubted, but eventually Yorktown convinced him it was impossible to continue the war. He voted for Shelburne’s peace preliminaries, 18 Feb. 1783, and against Fox’s East India bill, 27 Nov. 1783; and was classed by Robinson in January 1784 as ‘very hopeful’. He appears in no division list for the 1784 Parliament, but in the consolidated list on the Regency is listed as having voted with Pitt. There is no record of his having spoken in the House before 1790.

He died 8 Aug. 1796.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: John Brooke


  • 1. Lipscomb, Bucks. iii. 170.