Recorded in the spellings of Drake, Drakes, and Drakers, this is one of the most famous of all English surnames. Forever associated with Sir Francis Drake (1540 - 1596), admiral of the fleet, one of the victors over the Spanish Armada in 1588, first known person to sail his ship around the world, and feared throughout the then Spanish Empire as "El Drako", it is perhaps not surprising that the name has almost certainly little or nothing to do with small feathered birds. It was originally a nickname for a fierce warrior, although later in medieval times it was also used to describe a "draker" or standard bearer in an army. The derivation is from the pre 7th century Norse-Viking word "draki" or the Olde English "draca", both meaning a "dragon", although arguably the ultimate origination of the name, buried in the pre history period, is the Roman (Latin) "draco", meaning a snake or monster! Early examples of the surname recording include: Robert Drake of Winton, Hampshire, in 1148, and Wigmund le Darke, of Dorset, in 1205. He was possibly a standard bearer but more likely somebody not to be crossed. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Leuing Drache. This was dated 1086, in the Domesday Book of the county of Hampshire, during the reign of King William 1st, known as "The Conqueror", 1066 - 1087. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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