Hero and Horror: the Life of Sir Francis Drake

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Sir Francis Drake, an English sea captain, navigator, slaver, privateer and politician. He was second in command of and English fleet against the Spanish Armada. He also accomplished the second circumvolution of the world. A hero to some and a pirate to others let us peek into the life of Sir Francis Drake. In Tavistock, Devon year 1544, Francis Drake was born. Drake’s birth is not formally recorded, but since he received command of the Judith in 1566 when he was twenty-two years old, his birth would have been in 1544. Of the twelve sons of Edmund Drake, Francis was the oldest. In 1549, Drake and his family fled for Devonshire into Kent because of the religious persecution during the Prayer Book Rebellion. While in Kent Drake was apprenticed to his neighbor, master of a barque used for transporting costal trade merchandise to France. Young Drake’s conduct was so satisfying to the shipmaster that he bequeathed the barque to Drake. Francis Drake made his first excursion to the New World at age twenty-three. Drake sailed with Sir John Hawkins, his second cousin on one of the fleet of ships owned by the Hawkins family of Plymouth. In 1568, Drake was trapped by the Spaniards in the Mexican port of San Juan de Ulúa while once again with the Hawkins fleet. Drake, who had escaped with the Hawkins, consecrated revenge following his defeat. Francis Drake was married to Mary Newman in 1569, but twelve years later she died. In 1585, Drake married Elizabeth Sydenham, the only child of Sir George Sydenham. Unfortunately, he had no children with either of his wives leaving him with only a nephew as an heir to his estate and titles. In 1572, Drake mad his first major independent adventure. He planned an attack on Tierra Firme or the Spanish Main. In late July Drake and his men capture the town and its treasure. However, they withdrew and left the treasure when Drakes men noticed he was bleeding profusely from a wound. For almost a year, Drake stayed in the...
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