Sir Francis Drake


Birth And Death

1543 - 1596

Drake was born in Devonshire, England but was forced to move to Kent where him and his family lived in an abandoned ship. He died of a disease called Dysentery. His crew buried him at sea.

The Judith

1560 - 1568

By the 1560s, Drake was given command of his own ship, the Judith. With a small fleet, Drake and his cousin, John Hawkins, sailed to Africa and worked illegally as slave traders. They then sailed to New Spain to sell their captives to settlers, an action that was against Spanish law. In 1568, Drake and Hawkins became trapped in the Mexican port of San Juan de Ulúa in a face off with the newly established Spanish viceroy's forces. The two escaped on their respective ships while scores of their men were killed. The incident instilled in Drake a deep hatred of the Spanish crown.

First Independent Voyage

1572 - 1573

Drake embarked on his first independent voyage to Panama. He planned to attack the town of Nombre de Dios, a drop-off point for Spanish ships bringing silver and gold from Peru. With two ships and a crew of 73 men, Drake captured the town. However, he was seriously wounded during the raid, so he and his men withdrew without much treasure. They stayed in the area for a time, and after Drake’s wounds healed, they raided several Spanish settlements, picking up much gold and silver. They returned to Plymouth in 1573.

Circumnavigation Of The Globe

1577 - 1580

After plundering Spanish ports along the west coast of South America, Drake headed north in search of a passage back to the Atlantic. He claimed to have traveled as far north as 48° N (on parallel with Vancouver, Canada) before extreme cold conditions turned him back. Drake anchored near today’s San Francisco and claimed the surrounding land, which he called New Albion, for Queen Elizabeth.

Heading back west across the Pacific in July 1579, he stopped in the Philippines and bought spices in the Molucca Islands. He then sailed around the Cape of Good Hope and arrived back in England’s Plymouth Harbor in September 1580. Despite complaints from the Spanish government about his piracy, Drake was honored as the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe and became a popular hero. Several months after his return, Queen Elizabeth personally knighted him aboard the Golden Hind.


1580 - 1581

When Francis Drake came back from his circumnavigation of the globe he brought lots of treasure to Queen Elizabeth 1 therefore he was Knighted.

The Battle: Spain And England

1585 - 1588

In 1585, with hostilities heating up again between England and Spain, the queen gave Drake command of a fleet of 25 ships. He sailed to the West Indies and the coast of Florida and mercilessly plundered Spanish ports there, taking Santiago in the Cape Verde Islands, Cartagena in Colombia, St. Augustine in Florida and San Domingo (now Santo Domingo, capital of the Dominican Republic). On the return voyage, he picked up the failed colonists from Roanoke Island off the Carolinas, the first English colony in North America. Drake then led an even bigger fleet (30 ships) into the Spanish port of Cádiz and destroyed a large number of vessels being readied for the Spanish Armada. In 1588, Drake served as second-in-command to Admiral Charles Howard in the English victory over the supposedly invincible Spanish fleet.

Spain's Revenge

1588 - 1589

Spain decides to attack England. They formed their ships in a crescent shape and attacked. Drake was vice admiral

Drake's Final Voyage

1595 - 1596

After a failed 1589 expedition to Portugal, Drake returned home to England for several years, until Queen Elizabeth enlisted him for one more voyage, against Spanish possessions in the West Indies in early 1596. The expedition proved to be a dismal failure: Spain fended off the English attacks, and Drake came down with fever and dysentery. He died in late January 1596 off the coast of Puerto Bello (now Portobelo, Panama).