Francis Drake (c. 1545-1596) was a English buccaneer and explorer. Having enriched himself as a pirate against Spanish interests in the Caribbean 1567-1572, he was sponsored by Elizabeth I for an expedition to the Pacific, sailing round the world 1577-1580 in the Golden Hind, robbing Spanish ships as he went.
He was mayor of Plymouth in 1582 and member of Parliament 1584-1585. In 1587 he raided the Spanish port of Cadiz. Against the invasion fleet of the Spanish Armada in 1588 he was vice admiral.
He was born in Devon and apprenticed to the master of a coasting vessel, who left him the ship at his death. He accompanied his relative, the navigator John Hawkins, in 1567 and 1572 to plunder the Caribbean, and returned to England in 1573 with considerable boot
y. After serving in Ireland as a volunteer, he suggested to Queen Elizabeth I an expedition to the Pacific, and in December 1577 he sailed in the Pelican with four other ships and 166 men towards South America.
In August 1578 the fleet passed through the Straits of Magellan and was then blown south to Cape Horn. The ships became separated and returned to England, all but the Pelican, now renamed the Golden Hind. Drake sailed north along the coast of Chile and Peru, robbing Spanish ships as far north as California, and then, in July 1579, South-West across the Pacific. He rounded the South African Cape June in 1580, and reached England in September 1580. Thus the second voyage around the world, and the first made by an English person, was completed in a little under three years. When the Spanish ambassador demanded Drake's punishment, the Queen knighted him on the deck of the Golden Hind at Deptford, London.
In 1581 Drake was chosen mayor of Plymouth, and in 1584-1585 he represented Bosinney in Parliament. In a raid on Cadiz in 1587 he burned 10,000 tons of shipping, "singed the King of Spain's beard", and delayed the Armada for a year.
He was stationed off Ushant in 1588 to intercept the Armada, but was driven back to England by unfavourable winds. During the fight in the Channel he served as a vice admiral in the Revenge. Drake sailed on his last expedition to the West Indies with Hawkins in 1595, and in January 1596 died on his ship off Nombre de Dios.
Why is Sir Francis Drake famous?
Sir Francis Drake was an English captain, privateer, navigator and politician of the Elizabethan era.