1902 Encyclopedia > Sir John Hawkins

Sir John Hawkins
English sailor
(c. 1532 - 95)

SIR JOHN HAWKINS, (c. 1532-1595), was born in Plymouth about 1532, and was bred a sailor. Learning that negroes from the coast of Guinea were good merchandize for traffic in the West Indies, he made trial of this in three voyages, the first in 1562, the second in 1564. Ths third, made in company with young Drake in 1567, ended in disaster, the story of which is related by Hawkins himself. He was returned M.P. for Plymouth in 1572; and the next year he was made treasurer and comptroller of the navy. In the expedition against the Armada he was appointed vice-admiral, hoisting his flag on board the "Victory," and for his services on that occasion he was afterwards knighted. His last expedition (1595) was undertaken, once more with Drake, mainly with a view to rescue his son Richard, who three years before had fallen into the hands of the Spaniards off the coast of Quito. It was unsuccessful; and, worn out with fatigue and broken-hearted, he died off Puerto Rico on the 12th of November 1595. Hawkins was the first to use chain pumps and fighting nettings for ships. Stow speaks of him as a very wise, vigilant, and true-hearted man. Along with Sir Francis Drake, he founded in 1588 the "Chest at Chatham," the forerunner of Greenwich Hospital, where it is now preserved. A portrait of Hawkins once adorned the Armada tapestry in the House of Lords.

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