The Drakes first appear in the Cruwys Morchard records in 1545 when John Drake was listed in the Lay Subsidy Roll. He was one of the wealthier parishioners with an annual income from goods of £12. John Cruwys, the then Lord of the Manor, was the wealthiest person in the parish with an income from land of £40. John Drake married Agnes Locke, the daughter of Hugh Locke and Johan Jete. He died in about 1552. A transcript of his will is provided on the Drake website. The hamlet of Ruckcomb which is mentioned in the will is Ruckham in Cruwys Morchard. The Drakes lived at Ruckham Farm from around 1550 to about 1801.
It seems highly likely that the Drakes of Cruwys Morchard are in some way descended from the Drakes of Ashe in the parish of Modbury. There was an earlier marriage which appears in all the published pedigrees between John Drake and a Miss Cruwys, the daughter of John Cruwys of Cruwys Morchard. John Prince provides the following convoluted account of the early Drake pedigree in his book The Worthies of Devon, published in 1810:
John Billet and Alice his wife had issue Christian, their sole daughter and heir who was married first unto John Drake of Exmouth; secondly unto Richard Francheyney, and had issue John Drake and Christopher Francheyney; which Christopher held Ash, and his son Simon after him. Against whom, John Drake brought his Formedon, as being son of John and Agnes, daughter of John Kelloway, the son of John and _______ daughter of John Cruwys, of Cruwys-morchard, son of John and Christian, his wife, daughter and heir of John Antage, who was eldest son of Christian Billet, by John Drake her first husband, and recovered Ash, which he left to his posterity; in which it hath florished ever since, now upward of two hundred and fifty years.The name of the Cruwys daughter is not known, though some unreliable sources suggest that she is called Alice Jane. The estimates of the date of the Cruwys/Drake marriage on the IGI vary wildly from as early as 1446 to as late as 1480. Ros Hickman has prepared a detailed timeline which suggests that the eldest son from this marriage, also called John Drake, married Agnes Kelloway or Kayleway in about 1489. It would therefore seem most likely that the Cruwys/Drake marriage took place some time in the 1460s. By this time, the Lord of the Manor of Cruwys Morchard was Sir Thomas Cruwys, the son of John Cruwys. Thomas was confirmed as the son and heir of John Cruwys in 1447. He seems to have married shortly afterwards for we have confirmation from his IPM (inquisition post mortem) that his eldest son was born in about 1449. Sir Thomas famously fought at the Battle of Towton in 1461 and was subsequently killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471. We know that Thomas's father, John Cruwys, died some time before 1438 as his mother Joan or Johanna is mentioned in a deed of this date as the "relict of John Cruwys of Morchard". Unfortunately the Cruwys daughter who married John Drake does not appear in any of the Cruwys pedigrees so we have no independent confirmation of her parentage. If she is indeed the daughter of John Cruwys, as the Drake pedigrees suggest, then the only plausible explanation is that she is the daughter of the John Cruwys who died before 1438 and hence the sister of Sir Thomas Cruwys. If so, she must have been born before 1438, which makes a marriage in the 1460s less likely, as medieval brides often married in their teens rather than in their twenties. The date of the Drake/Kelloway marriage could of course be much earlier than suggested because it is based on the approximate birth date of the eldest son. It is quite possible that there were other sons and daughters from this marriage who died as infants. The research continues and we hope that one day we might find the answer.