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Ash in the parish of Musbury in the county of Devon is an historic estate, long the residence of the ancient Drake family, the heir of which remarkably was always called John, only one excepted, for ten generations. It was formerly believed to have been the birthplace of John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough (1650–1722), whose mother was Elizabeth Drake, but was in fact probably in ruins at the time of his birth. The future Duke was however baptised in 1650 in the Chapel at Ash, which had been licensed by the Bishop of Exeter in 1387. Ash was "burnt and demolished" during the Civil War and "lay long in ruins" during which time the family moved one mile away to Trill, Axminster. John Drake (1625–1669), the wartime occupant who had suffered so greatly for the Royalist cause received some recompense at the end of the troubles by being created a baronet by King Charles II on the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660. Ash was rebuilt "to a greater perfection than it was of before" by Sir John Drake, 2nd Baronet (1647–1684). The last in the male line was Sir William Drake, 6th Baronet (ca. 1695–1733), who died without children and bequeathed all his estates to his widow Anne Williams (died 1793), who remarried to George Speke, MP, and had by him a daughter Anne Speke (before 1741–1797), who brought the Drake estates, including Ash and the advowson of Musbury, to her husband Frederick North, 2nd Earl of Guilford (1732–1792), who sold them piece-meal to various persons. Ash House survives today as a grade II* listed private residence in much the same form as depicted by Swete in 1795.The Drake family of Ash rejected a claim by Admiral Sir Francis Drake (c. 1540 – 1596) of Buckland Abbey, whom they considered to be below the rank of gentry, that he was descended from their ancient Drake family of Ash, and a famous physical confrontation broke out in the court of Queen Elizabeth I between Admiral Sir Bernard Drake (c. 1537 – 1586) of Ash and Admiral Sir Francis Drake of Buckland Abbey when the latter made claim to the armorials of Drake of Ash.
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