Benjamin was born in Rockland St Peter, Norfolk, and privately baptised on 14 April 1811. He was the son of Thomas and Mary Drake. His father was a shoemaker (b1766), and his mother Mary’s former name was Lincoln. His parents were both widowed when they married in 1809, but went on to have at least 8 children.
Benjamin became a Primitive Methodist Minister in 1834, in the North Walsham circuit.
We know that in 1842-43, Benjamin was in Old Newton, near Stowmarket in Suffolk. His style of ministry seems to have been fiery and evangelistic, according to these lines from a poem on the ‘Introduction of Primitive Methodism into Old Newton’.
Benjamin Drake, with words of power,
Cried, “Turn to God, this very hour;
Accept Salvation full and free,
Through Christ who died on Calvary”.
According to Leary, who used the stations given in the Minutes of Conference, Benjamin was stationed in the Yarmouth circuit at this time, which does not quite match, as Old Newton is a long way from Yarmouth. He was stationed by Conference until 1844, when he ‘disappears’ according to Leary. So what was going on?
Benjamin did continue in ministry, as the 1851 Census shows him as a ‘Minister’ in Terling Green, Essex. One explanation may be that as he had a gift for ‘mission’, he was in demand as a Hired Local Preacher, stationed by the District or Circuit, rather than as an itinerant preacher by Conference.
Benjamin was still unmarried in 1851, when he was said to be 38, but was actually nearer 40.
There is no trace of him after that, so perhaps he emigrated? One intriguing possibility is that he went to America, and continued his zeal for mission.
In April 1858 a new Methodist Church was built in Flowood, Mississippi. It was a one room log building, built by the new converts, and it was called ‘Drake’s Chapel’. The minister for this area from 1856-58 was Benjamin Drake. It seems just the thing he would do!
1834 N Walsham
W Leary , Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits , 1990
Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers
Drakes United Methodist Church