Richard Hawkins
Admiral Sir Richard Hawkins (or Hawkyns) (c. 1562 – April 17, 1622) was a 17th century English seaman, explorer and Elizabethan "Sea Dog", and was the son of Admiral Sir John Hawkins
John Hawkins
Admiral Sir John Hawkins was an English shipbuilder, naval administrator and commander, merchant, navigator, and slave trader. As treasurer and controller of the Royal Navy, he rebuilt older ships and helped design the faster ships that withstood the Spanish Armada in 1588...


He was from his earlier days familiar with ships and the sea, and in 1582 he accompanied his uncle, William Hawkins, to the West Indies. In 1585 he was captain of a galliot in Drake
Francis Drake
Sir Francis Drake, Vice Admiral was an English sea captain, privateer, navigator, slaver, and politician of the Elizabethan era. Elizabeth I of England awarded Drake a knighthood in 1581. He was second-in-command of the English fleet against the Spanish Armada in 1588. He also carried out the...

's expedition to the Spanish main
Spanish Main
In the days of the Spanish New World Empire, the mainland of the American continent enclosing the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico was referred to as the Spanish Main. It included present-day Florida, the east shore of the Gulf of Mexico in Texas, Mexico, Central America and the north coast of...

, in 1588 he commanded a queen's ship against the Armada
Spanish Armada
This article refers to the Battle of Gravelines, for the modern navy of Spain, see Spanish NavyThe Spanish Armada was the Spanish fleet that sailed against England under the command of the Duke of Medina Sidonia in 1588, with the intention of overthrowing Elizabeth I of England to stop English...

, and in 1590 he served with his father's expedition
English Armada
The English Armada, also known as the Counter Armada or the Drake-Norris Expedition, was a fleet of warships sent to the Iberian Coast by Queen Elizabeth I of England in 1589, during the Anglo-Spanish War...

 at the coast of Portugal.

In 1593 he purchased the discovery ship Dainty, a vessel originally built for his father and used by him in his expeditions, and sailed for the West Indies, the Spanish Main
Spanish Main
In the days of the Spanish New World Empire, the mainland of the American continent enclosing the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico was referred to as the Spanish Main. It included present-day Florida, the east shore of the Gulf of Mexico in Texas, Mexico, Central America and the north coast of...

 and the South Seas. It seems clear that his project was to prey on the oversea possessions of Spanish crown
Spanish monarchy
The Monarchy of Spain, constitutionally referred to as The Crown and commonly referred to as the Spanish monarchy or Hispanic Monarchy, is a constitutional institution and an historic office of Spain...

. Hawkins, however, in an account of the voyage written thirty years afterwards, maintained, and by that time perhaps had really persuaded himself, that his expedition was undertaken purely for the purpose of geographical discovery. After visiting the coast of Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, the Dainty passed through the Straits of Magellan, and in due course reached Valparaíso
Valparaíso is a city and commune of Chile, center of its third largest conurbation and one of the country's most important seaports and an increasing cultural center in the Southwest Pacific hemisphere. The city is the capital of the Valparaíso Province and the Valparaíso Region...


Having plundered the town, Hawkins pushed north, and in June 1594, a year after leaving Plymouth
Plymouth is a city and unitary authority area on the coast of Devon, England, about south-west of London. It is built between the mouths of the rivers Plym to the east and Tamar to the west, where they join Plymouth Sound...

, he arrived in the Bay of San Mateo
Action of San Mateo Bay
The Action of San Mateo Bay was a naval engagement which took place from 24 June to 1 July 1594 between the discovery ship Dainty under English privateer Richard Hawkins and a Spanish squadron of three galleons commanded by Beltrán de Castro at the mouth of the Esmeraldas river, nowadays...

, at the mouth of the Esmeraldas
Esmeraldas, Ecuador
Esmeraldas is a coastal city in northwestern Ecuador. It is the seat of the Esmeraldas Canton and the capital of the Esmeraldas Province. It has an international sea port and a small airport ....

 river, nowadays Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

, at the position 1°1′2.6"N 79°36′30.5"W. Here the Dainty was attacked by two Spanish ships. Hawkins was hopelessly outmatched, but Daintys crew defended her with gallantry. At last, when he himself had been severely wounded, 27 of his men killed, and the Dainty was nearly sinking, he surrendered on 1 July 1594 on the promise of a safe-conduct out of the country for himself and his crew. Hawkins second in command, John Oxenham, was instead put on trial and eventually executed at Lima for heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...


Through no fault of the Spanish commander, this promise was not kept. In 1597 Hawkins was sent to Spain, and imprisoned first at Seville
Seville is the artistic, historic, cultural, and financial capital of southern Spain. It is the capital of the autonomous community of Andalusia and of the province of Seville. It is situated on the plain of the River Guadalquivir, with an average elevation of above sea level...

 and subsequently at Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

. He was released in 1602, and, returning to England, was knighted in 1603.

In 1604 he became Member of Parliament
Member of Parliament
A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

 for Plymouth
Plymouth (UK Parliament constituency)
Plymouth was a parliamentary borough in Devon, which elected two Members of Parliament to the House of Commons in 1298 and again from 1442 until 1918, when the borough was merged with the neighbouring Devonport and the combined area divided into three single-member constituencies.-In the...

 and Vice-Admiral of Devon
Vice-Admiral of Devon
This is a list of people who have been Vice-Admiral of Devon. Between 1603 and 1623, a separate command existed for North Devon.-Vice-Admirals of Devon:*George Basset 1558*John Courtenay 1558–1560 with*Robert Yeo 1558–1560*George Basset 1560...

, a post which, as the coast was swarming with pirates, was no sinecure. In 1620 to 1621 he was vice-admiral
Vice Admiral
Vice admiral is a senior naval rank of a three-star flag officer, which is equivalent to lieutenant general in the other uniformed services. A vice admiral is typically senior to a rear admiral and junior to an admiral...

, under Sir Robert Mansell of the fleet sent into the Mediterranean to reduce the Algerian corsairs
A privateer is a private person or ship authorized by a government by letters of marque to attack foreign shipping during wartime. Privateering was a way of mobilizing armed ships and sailors without having to spend public money or commit naval officers...

. He died in London on 17 April 1622.

Hawkins wrote the memories of his trip under the title Voiage into the South Sea (1622), which became the most famous Elizabethan adventure, re-published by the Hakluyt Society
Hakluyt Society
Founded in 1846, the Hakluyt Society is a registered charity based in London, England, which seeks to advance knowledge and education by the publication of scholarly editions of primary records of voyages, travels and other geographical material...

 and reworked in Charles Kingsley
Charles Kingsley
Charles Kingsley was an English priest of the Church of England, university professor, historian and novelist, particularly associated with the West Country and northeast Hampshire.-Life and character:...

's Westward Ho!
Westward Ho! (novel)
Westward Ho! is an 1855 British historical novel by Charles Kingsley, inspired in part by an Elizabethan travelogue by privateer Admiral Sir Richard Hawkins and by the Crimean War.-Plot summary:...

(1855). He depicts the Spaniards in the Americas in a positive way, judging them as "temperate" and "gentle".

External links

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