Sir Francis Drake Biography / Autobiography / Memoir resources

Full Name: Sir Francis Drake
Date of Birth: circa 1540–43
Place of Birth: Devonshire, England
Died: January 28, 1596
Place of Death: off Puerto Bello, Panama
Classification: Heroes & Icons

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Short Biography of Sir Francis Drake

Known to have instilled fear for his acts of piracy against the Spanish, Sir Francis Drake earned a reputation with the Queen of England as a genius navigator who seemed to always bring home more riches, greater stories, and more islands conquered after a voyage than any other before him. As a merchant and as a pirate, he led England to several victories over Spain in both the known and unknown waters of the world.

When Francis was young, he was brought up in Plymouth after his father was forced to move and join his family, the well-to-do Hawkins family, who were known for their pirating ventures off of the coast of France. Drake’s life training came at the age of 18 when he joined their illicit behavior along settled waters. Within a few years, Drake became involved in the African Slave Trade to England, which was sponsored in part by the crown. When the Spanish attacked his boat off of the coast of Mexico, Drake was forced to sail back to England empty-handed, something he vowed to avenge. When Elizabeth I heard about his misadventure, she summoned him to her court. Drake talked her into financing future voyages to the coast so that he could gather information and the Queen agreed that he could plunder Spanish vessels.

When de set out to capture a town in Panama, he was wounded in the attack. He didn’t take over the town and many of his men were killed, but he plundered their riches before they were even aware. He arrived to England to find that Spain and England were again political allies. When he did not receive much in the way of congratulations from the Queen, he sailed for Ireland with much of his plundered fortune in hand.

Due to his great ability at navigation and his ability to carry out the crown’s desires, he was hired to sail around the southern tip of South America, where he would explore the Pacific coastline. Once there, his ship was the only one that had made it to its destined goal. Along the coast, he raided Spanish ships and unexpecting coastal towns. He obtained gold bars, silver, and pearls that filled the hull of his 100-ton ship. His ship, known as the Golden Hind, completed a circumnavigation of the world and returned to England with more bounty than had ever been witnessed. Queen Elizabeth crowned Francis Drake a knight on the spot. His later voyages were not as successful and he eventually died from disease off of Puerto Bello.

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