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Francis Drake, diplomat: 1795 - 1804.

September 1795 brings Drake news of a different and alarming kind. His friend, Lord Hervey, had boarded HMS Terrible at Leghorn, thinking he would have a quiet voyage back to England. But as the ship sailed past Toulon a mutiny broke out, some of the crew perhaps wanting to join the revolutionaries. Captain Campbell, however, suppressed the mutiny. (1700M/CP 394)

Here Lord Hervey writes to Drake describing the 'short, stupid and useless cruise' in which the 'dreadful mutiny' broke out - and Captain Campbell's 'spirit and firmness of mind' demonstrated in his successful dealings with the mutineers.


In the meantime, plans for joint operations between General Devins and Captain Nelson are not going well. In September Admiral Hotham tells Drake he has called off a proposed landing at an unsuitable place. (1700M/CP 396)

In September Admiral Hotham tells Drake he has called off a proposed landing at an unsuitable place. In September Admiral Hotham tells Drake he has called off a proposed landing at an unsuitable place.

The next year Sir William Hamilton is still intent upon securing more help for the British fleet where Hotham had been replaced by Admiral John Jervis (later Lord St Vincent). In a letter dated 10 April 1796, Sir William outlines details of a flotilla of small ships ready to be sent for coastal operations. (1700M/CP 473)

In a letter dated 10 April 1796, Sir William outlines details of a flotilla of small ships ready to be sent for coastal operations.


By the middle of the following year Drake has evidently left Genoa for various calls in Europe before returning to England again, by October. Brame writes in June to tell him of a dramatic change of government in Genoa. (1700M/CP 495)

Joseph Brame writes to Drake in June 1797 to tell him of a dramatic change of government in Genoa.


In April of 1799, there is talk of Drake being appointed as envoy to Switzerland, but it is not until the following year, 1800, that his next post is confirmed - to be envoy at the Court of the Elector of Bavaria, based in Munich. Although there was a short peace between Britain and France in 1802-3, the problems created by the war were never far away. One set of papers sees Drake wrestling with the financial problems of a British officer who had been captured by the French. (1700M/CP 668)

Here we see Drake wrestling with the financial problems of a British officer who had been captured by the French.


His time at Munich is rather less eventful compared to the stresses of responding to French threats in the Mediterranean. Drake even earns the thanks of the London Board of Agriculture for reporting to them on agricultural practices in Bavaria, as the letters below show. (1700M/CP 591 and 1700M/CP 595)

A Mr Arthur Young writes to Drake on behalf of the London Board of Agriculture, thanking him for reporting to them of agricultural practices in Bavaria. Further communication from the London Board of Agriculture informs Drake that he has now been elected an honorary member of the Board


But all the time Drake has been keeping in touch with his informants in France. In 1804 came a bolt from the blue. The French government had intercepted some of his letters, printed them, and circulated them in Paris. Napoleon was about to demand Drake's recall to London. This exciting turn of events is described in a copy of a dispatch from the British envoy in Berlin to London in April of that year. (1700M/CP 682)

The British envoy in Berlin writes to London that the French government has intercepted some of Drake's letters, printed them, and circulated them in Paris.  Napoleon was about to demand Drake's recall to London. The British envoy in Berlin writes to London that the French government has intercepted some of Drake's letters, printed them, and circulated them in Paris.  Napoleon was about to demand Drake's recall to London.


It is not clear exactly what happens next, but in a letter from a friend, Mr Fawkener, Drake is told that Ministers in London thought it would be better to suffer things to remain quiet.(1700M/CP 703)

 It is not clear exactly what happens next, but in a letter from a friend, Mr Fawkener, Drake is told that Ministers in London thought it would be better to suffer things to remain quiet.


So Francis Drake winds up his affairs in Munich, returns to England and sets out to discover, what if any further tasks the government might offer him .........


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