Cliff McCarthy, 2016
Last updated, 29 May 2017
John Drake was the most distinguished son of Capt. Francis and Mary Drake, born in 1655 near the Piscataqua River, which formed the boundary between the Provinces of Maine and New Hampshire. The father, Francis Drake, and others from that region, removed to found Piscataway, New Jersey in about 1668. John Drake and two of his brothers and their families relocated to New Jersey at the same time. They were likely religious refugees, Baptists in a colony that didn’t tolerate that form of religious expression. The governor of New Jersey offered them greater religious freedom.
John Drake became a lay preacher in the early days of the settlement, and later, was the first regular pastor of the Piscataway Baptist Church when it organized in 1689. The first settlers of the township from which the Church takes its name were chiefly emigrants from Piscataqua District in the Province of Maine, and thus the name for their new home in the Province of New Jersey.
Mr. Drake was ordained as pastor of the Church at the time of its organization, and continued to occupy this position for nearly fifty years. Nothing definite is known of Mr. Drake’s ministry, or of the condition of the Church during his pastorate. Morgan Edwards speaks of him as “an excellent man,” a fact that his long pastorate would of itself establish. In 1707, the Church united with four others in forming the Philadelphia Association, the earliest Baptist Association in America. The other four churches were at Pennepack, Pa.; Middletown, N.J.; Cohansey, N. J; and Welsh Tract, Delaware.
John Drake married, in 1677, Rebecca Trotter, as his first wife. She was the daughter of one of the original associates of Elizabethtown, N.J. who came originally from Newbury, Massachusetts. Pastor Drake had, by this marriage, fourteen children. Rebecca (Trotter) Drake died about 1700, probably following the birth of Mary, her last child. He married second, about 1703/4, Elizabeth (Bonham) Slater, widow of Edward Slater, and daughter of Nicholas & Hannah (Fuller) Bonham.
Some researchers claim that John Drake married a third time and have identified one Barbara Scott who purportedly married John Drake in the First Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia on July 8, 1707. This is not likely for several reasons: a) there is good evidence in civil records that second wife, Elizabeth (Bonham) Slater Drake, remained alive until at least 1715; b) divorce would have been unthinkable for Rev. John Drake; c) neither Barbara Scott or any step-children are mentioned in John’s will, although Elizabeth’s children are mentioned; d) the location of the marriage in Philadelphia seems unlikely geographically; and e) marriage in a Presbyterian church for a clergyman so long associated with the Baptist church would violate long-standing denominational differences between Presbyterians and Baptists.
John Drake left an extensive will, dated 7 April 1740 and probated 30 September 1741; he must have died between those dates. His residence is listed as “of Essex Co.” in his will.
Descendants of John & Rebecca (Trotter) DRAKE
JOHN DRAKE was born in near Piscataqua River, probably New Hampshire, and died Bet. 7 April 1740 – 30 September 1741. He married (1) REBECCA TROTTER 7 January 1676/77, daughter of WILLIAM TROTTER and CUTBURY GIBBS. She was born 5 July 1655 in Newbury, MA. He married (2) ELIZABETH (BONHAM) SLATER Abt. 1700, by whom he had no progeny. The Children of JOHN DRAKE and REBECCA TROTTER are:
i. JOHN DRAKE, b. 2 June 1678, Piscataway, NJ; d. Bef. 1740; m. SARAH COMPTON.
ii. FRANCIS DRAKE, b. 23 December 1679; m. PATIENCE.
iii. SAMUEL DRAKE, b. 1680, Piscataway, NJ; m. ELIZABETH HULL.
iv. JOSEPH DRAKE, b. 21 October 1681, Piscataway, NJ; m. ANNE HULL.
v. BENJAMIN DRAKE, b. 1683; m. (1) MARY; m. (2) HANNAH.
vi. ABRAHAM DRAKE, b. April 1685; m. DELIVERANCE WOODEN.
vii. SARAH DRAKE, b. 1686; d. May 1749; m. (1) BENJAMIN HULL, 1704; b. 4 April 1680; d. 1732; m. (2) ISRAEL FOLSOM, Bef. 7 April 1740.
viii. ISAAC DRAKE, b. 12 January 1687/88; m. HANNAH.
ix. JACOB DRAKE, b. 1690.
x. EBENEZER DRAKE, b. 19 July 1693; m. ANNA DUNN.
xi. EPHRAIM DRAKE, b. 1694.
xii. REBECCA DRAKE, b. 21 November 1697; m. JOSEPH FITZRANDOLPH.
xiii. ABIGAIL DRAKE, b. 10 May 1699.
xiv. MARY DRAKE, m. ? DAVIS.
- Brown, James F., “Piscataway Baptist Church, Piscataway, New Jersey,” Historical Narrative, 1871, on the Baptist History Homepage, http://baptisthistoryhomepage.com/1871.hist.pcwy.nj.html
- Thompson, Alice Smith, Drake Family of New Hampshire (New Hampshire Historical Society, Concord, N.H., 1962).
- History of the First Baptist Church of Piscataway with an Account of Its Bi-Centennial Celebration and Sketches of Pioneer Progenitors of Piscataway Planters (Stelton, N.J., 1889).
- Leonard, O. B., “Pioneer Planters of Piscataway, N.J. During the First Half Century of Their Settlement, 1666-1716,” New York Genealogical & Biographical Record, Vol. 29, January 1898.
- Monnette, Ozra Eugene, “The Hull Family in America — New Jersey Branch,” The Old Northwest Genealogical Quarterly, Vols. XII & XIII, 1909-1910.
- Skillman, William Jones, “The Skillmans of America and Their Kin,” New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, Vols. 37-38.