Hawkins (or, more properly, Hawkyns), Sir John, seaman and statesman, born in 1532 at Plymouth, made several trading and smuggling voyages to the Spanish Main, and narrowly escaped being caught and hanged there in 1568. In 1572 he entered Parliament for Plymouth, and in the following year was made Treasurer of the Navy.
In that post he rendered most valuable services, and introduced many practical improvements of all kinds. In 1588 he commanded as a rear-admiral against the Spanish Armada, with his flag in the Victory, and for his valour was knighted by the commander-in-chief. In 1590, with Frobisher, he commanded an expedition to the coast of Portugal, and in 1595, with Drake, led another to the West Indies, but on November 12th in that year he died off Porto Rico. Hawkins, a man of undoubted genius, was the first of our naval reformers, and, but for him, the Armada would scarcely have found an English fleet worthy of the name in a condition even to observe its motions.