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Francis Herbert (Frank) Drake (1868–1939)

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This entry is from People Australia

Francis Herbert (Frank) Drake (1868-1939) ironworker, trade unionist and socialist activist 

Birth: 29 August 1868 in Pimlico, London, England, son of Charles Drake (1838-1898), scripture reader, grocer, later an insurance agent, and Caroline Zelia Ford Stokes, née Horn (1842-1879). Marriage: 23 December 1889 at Bethel House, in Sydney, New South Wales, with Congregational forms, to Eliza Margaret Kingston. They had three daughters and a son. Death:  6 November 1939 in Glebe, Sydney. Religion: Anglican [described as “Secularist” on passenger list]. 

  • Employed as a card cutter (maker) at Shoreditch, England, in 1881.
  • Arrived as an assisted immigrant in Sydney with his father, a widower, and sister Alice aboard the Smyrna on 29 September 1883. His two eldest brothers had arrived on the Orontes the previous year.
  • Resided in Sydney and worked as boilermaker’s assistant, blacksmith’s striker and foundry assistant.
  • Employed in various engineering shops in NSW, especially railways as tradesman’s assistant.
  • Active in Australian Socialist League (ASL) (c.1900), helping to reorganize Ironworkers’ Assistants Union and holding post of secretary. With Harry Holland and J.O. Moroney member of organizing committee for Tailoresses Union 1901.
  • With Moroney Tom Batho comprised press committee of the ASL/Socialist Labor Party newspaper, the SLP candidate for NSW Senate position 1903.
  • Founder, first full-time secretary, Federated Ironworkers’ Association 1909-10; federal president 1912. Censured for ‘great incompetence’ in keeping books of union, 1915, following disappearance of sum of money during 1914 strike. May have been victim of factional strife.
  • Objected to his son Charles William Drake enlisting in the Australian Imperial Force in May 1918.
  • Resigned and lived in obscurity, working as labourer, residing in Glebe. Family reported to be ‘in financial difficulties’ at time of his death.
  • Cause of death lobar pneumonia, bronchitis and asthma.

Robert Murray and Kate White, The ironworkers: a history of the Federated Ironworkers’ Association of Australia (Sydney, c 1982); R. Sharpe MA thesis, 2003; Ironworker, 1 Dec 1939; Labor News, May 1961.

Additional Resources

  • death notice, Sydney Morning Herald, 7 November 1939, p 10

Citation details

'Drake, Francis Herbert (Frank) (1868–1939)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 23 May 2024.

© Copyright Labour Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


29 August, 1868
London, Middlesex, England


6 November, 1939 (aged 71)
Glebe, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death


Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

Passenger Ship
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Political Activism