These extracts are taken from a book called Purchas his Pilgimes by Samuel
Purchas which was published in 1625. It contains many accounts of exploration,
discovery and famous voyages.
• The account of Drake’s voyage around the world was actually
written by a man called Richard Hakluyt (c1552-1616). He was the first
lecturer on geography and cosmography at Christ Church, Oxford and was
the first person to introduce the use of globes in English schools. He
wrote a number of books on voyages of discovery.
• Drake was born sometime between 1540 and 1543. He was the eldest
of 12 sons. He first went to sea in the 1550s when he was apprenticed
to a master of a small coastal freighter. He later started to sail with
a relative, John Hawkins, and became involved with the slave trade.
• Drake’s first voyage across the Atlantic took place in 1571
and he went again in 1573. This time he attacked a mule train near Panama.
It was laden with gold and treasure worth over £20,000. Drake claimed
it for himself and for Queen Elizabeth I.
• Trade with the New World was controlled by the Spanish and Portuguese.
However, England wanted access to the riches of America and the Spice
Islands as well. From the 1560s, piracy became common as Spanish and English
ships found themselves under attack.
• The Spanish also disliked the English for other reasons. King
Philip of Spain had been married to Queen Mary I of England and after
her death he had wanted to marry Queen Elizabeth I. She had refused. Spain
was also a Catholic country and hated the Protestant religion of England.
This caused a lot of tension between the two countries.
• When Drake set off in 1577 it was probably with the intention
of plundering Spanish ships and possibly fighting a route to the Spice
Islands of the East Indies. It was a dangerous voyage. Only one ship,
the Pelican, which was renamed the Golden Hind, made it back to England.
Two ships had to be destroyed, one was lost at sea and the other turned
back after trying to sail round South America.
• When Drake returned he was knighted by Elizabeth for his services.
He was the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe, had made discoveries
and claimed new land for England and brought back enough treasure to pay
off the national debt.