Joan Howard-Drake and her contribution to local history in the Wychwoods

Joan and Jack taken at the celebration of their 60th anniversary

The death occurred on 31 October of Joan Howard-Drake following a long struggle after she suffered a severe stroke about a year earlier.

Joan and her husband, Jack, were founder members of the Wychwood Local History Society (WLHS) in 1981.They remained stalwarts of the Society for the remainder of their long lives. Joan and Jack were very computer literate into their 90s and spent many hours beavering away in their book lined study in Shipton largely for the benefit of history research in the Wychwoods and the WLHS in particular.

Both were on the Society’s committee following the first Annual General Meeting 1982. Jack became the Chairman in 1984 until 1992. He died in 2013 at the age of 94. Joan was on the committee for 35 years, until 2016.

Under the auspices of the Family History Society, the Howard-Drakes started the long task of transcribing the Shipton parish registers from 1538-1899. They also worked together on significant projects such as the transcription of the Oxfordshire Tudor Church Court Rolls.

Joan became the guardian of the Society’s archives in 1995. She managed them until she stepped down from the Committee by which time they had grown from one box file to more than five. Joan herself added much material to the archives through her research on local family histories.

Joan was involved with the planning, writing and production of the Society’s well respected annual Journal for thirty years and was joint editor with Trudy Yates from 2012 to 2015. She indexed all the first 27 volumes of the Journal.

She was an active member of the Wills Group – associated with and partly funded by the WLHS – which transcribed 17th century wills in the Wychwoods.

Apart from researching and publishing with other members of the WLHS on team projects, Joan also wrote separately on:

  • The Poor of Shipton under Wychwood Parish 1740
  • The Burford to Banbury Turnpike Road
  • Care in the Community 18th Century Style
  • Bruern Abbey (with Joy Timms)
  • The Reade Family
  • The Crown Inn Charity
  • The Old Beaconsfield Hall Shipton
  • The Brookes Family of Shipton
  • Brasenose Leases

She was always ready to give real and generous help to younger local historians working on various projects and for that alone she will be sorely missed.

AWV November 2021