Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.

Drake Sir Francis

Drake, Sir Francis, one of the greatest and boldest of the Elizabethan seamen, was the son of a Devonshire clergyman, and was born about the year 1539 near Tavistock. At an early age he was sent as an apprentice on board a trading-ship, the master of which dying, left him the vessel. After a time Drake sold it and embarked in new ventures, first to the Guinea Coast and later to the West Indies. In 1567 he again went to the Guinea Coast, this time with Sir John Hawkins, and to the Spanish Main. Having in these and other expeditions gained much knowledge of the position and riches of the Spaniards in the New World, he in 1592 fitted out two vessels - one the Pasha of 70 tons, which he himself commanded, and the other the Swan of 25 tons, commanded by his brother John, for what we should now call privateering operations against them. He plundered a number of settlements and took over two hundred ships, and, having greatly enriched himself, returned to Plymouth in 1573. In 1577, at the head of a larger force, he undertook a voyage, in the course of which he circumnavigated the globe, passing through the Strait of Magellan, proceeding to the coast of California, and coming home by Java and the Cape of Good Hope, after rather more than two years and ten months' absence. For his services on this occasion he was knighted, and was visited at Deptford on board his ship the Golden Hind by Queen Elizabeth. In 1585, in command of a squadron of twenty-five vessels, and with Martin Frobisher as his vice-admiral, he led an expedition against the Spaniards, plundering Vigo, St. Jago, St. Domingo, and Carthagena, and returning tb Portsmouth in 1586. Against the Armada in 1588 he served as Vice-Admiral of England. Seven years later with Sir John Hawkins he sailed on his last voyage, another plundering expedition to the West Indies; and in the course of this, which was his only unfortunate adventure, he died on January 28th, 1596, off Puerto Bello, his end, it is believed, having been accelerated by the death of his old friend Hawkins. His ship the Golden Hind was long preserved in England by order of Elizabeth and her successors, and portions of it, made into articles of furniture, are still in existence. Drake, who had married Elizabeth Sydenham, died without issue; but many of the descendants of his brothers rose to honourable positions, and several served with distinction in the royal navy. Sir Francis was a short, broad-shouldered, brown-haired man, of cheerful and engaging manners, and was one of the most accomplished navigators of his day. It would be unfair, since he was encouraged by Elizabeth and loyally served her, to attack his character on account of his deeds; but it cannot be denied that had the Spaniards caught him upon any of his American expeditions they would have been fully justified in hanging him as a pirate.