Sunset at Gowanus Bay

Sunset at Gowanus Bay
Sunset at Gowanus Bay, Henry Gritten, 1851

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Will of John Drake of Essex County, New Jersey, 1740

The will of John Drake of Essex County, New Jersey, dated April 7, 1740, was proved September 29, 1741. It is found in New Jersey Wills, Lib. C, pages 442-444. An abstract can be found in Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New Jersey, First Series, Vol. XXX, Calender of New Jersey Wills, Administrations, Etc., Vol. II, 1730-1750, page 151. This will is found at Trenton, New Jersey, and is not found in the Essex County Probate Records. As of this writing FamilySearch has not yet placed digital images of the New Jersey wills found at Trenton online. The images below were made from FHL film #0522736 (found here in the FHL online catalog).

John Drake, NJ Wills Lib. C, p. 442

John Drake, NJ Wills Lib. C, p. 443

John Drake, NJ Wills Lib. C, p. 444

A second set of the same images can be found online with the following links: Lib. C, p. 442; Lib. C, p. 443; Lib. C, p. 444.

There were numerous men named John Drake living simultaneously in America during the colonial period. This John Drake, said to have been born in 1655, was a son of Captain Francis Drake whose estate was administered in Middlesex County, New Jersey on 28 October 1687 (New Jersey Wills, Vol. 1, 1670-1730, p. 142). Francis Drake, whose ancestry is unknown, came to Piscataway, New Jersey from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. It must be stated clearly that this John Drake is in no way related to the descendants of Josias Jansen Drats and Aeltje Brouwer, who probably adopted the surname Drake as an anglicized version of Josias' surname. Josias Drats and Aeltje Brouwer's son, John Drake, was a much younger man, born in 1687 and died in 1779 in Orange County, New York. However, it should also be noted that John Drake of Essex County, New Jersey, had a son Benjamin Drake (1683-1763) whose second wife, Hannah Seabrook (1706-1788) had been married first to Cornelis Matthysen, a.k.a. Cornelis Van Horne, a son of Matthys Cornelissen and Fytie Brouwer, and a grandson of Adam Brouwer. I offer this as an example of the complicated reality of researching the many unrelated Drake families found in colonial New Jersey and New York.

John Drake of Essex County, New Jersey is believed to have been married twice and had fourteen children. Some of the fourteen, along with a number of grandchildren are named in the will. What info I had collected on John Drake can be found on the Drake Genealogy Database website. Please use the index or search feature to locate him there. I am not researching this family so please do not contact me with questions or corrections. The images above were taken a few years back and were in my files which I am in the process of clearing out. Since they are not otherwise (to my knowledge) available online I thought I would make them available to anyone researching this family.

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for mentioning where to find New Jersey colonial wills. The images are now online at, but can only be viewed at a Family History Library.


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