Sir Francis Drake(Short Piece)

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Sir Francis Drake

Typically, Francis Drake's life begins with a mystery - the date of his birth. 1540 is often mentioned, 1542 has been heard as has been 1538, and other years pop up here and there. Often the given date is based on a portrait which itself is dated and which includes the comment that it shows Drake at a particular age. The only safe conclusion is that he was born around 1540. His place of birth was Tavistock, in Devonshire, along the river Tavy (which eventually empties into the sea near Plymouth). Here his grandparents held a lease on about 180 acres of farmland and made what was probably a reasonably secure living as farmers. Here also Edmund Drake, who became Francis Drake's father, had been born. Some reports state that he was a sailor, but there are records that contradict this, and it seems likely that he too made his living from the land.

Edmund Drake's wife, the mother of Francis, was of the Mylwaye family but her first name is unknown. The couple had twelve sons; Francis was the eldest.

Papa Edmund had some difficulties, in part because he, not being an eldest son himself, did not inherit the bulk of the Tavistock lease. He also seems to have gotten into some legal trouble, perhaps involving petty crimes. Additionally, there have long been rumors that protestant Edmund was the victim of some sort of religious persecution. In any event, when Francis Drake was still a young boy the family left Tavistock and moved to Kent, nearer the sea, where they lived in the hulk of an old ship and where Edmund made a bare living as a preacher to the sailors of the navy. So, young Francis now was living (and learning) among the ships and seamen that would become the focus of his life.

Francis Drake first went to sea sometime in the 1550's, as a young boy apprenticed to the elderly master of a small coastal freighter. He apparently did well both nautically and personally, because the old captain, having no family of his own, willed

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