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Francis Drake Facts

Sir Francis Drake

Sir Francis Drake Explorer

Facts about Francis Drake

The following Fact File contains fast information about the life of Francis Drake.

Interesting facts and an overview and description of the life and times and his involvement in the Exploration and the discovery of the New World leading to the colonization of America.

Fact 1: Why was Francis Drake famous and what part of America did he explore? He was the first to pass from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast of South America. Francis Drake stopped to make repairs to his ship in California California

Fact 2: When was Francis Drake born? He was born in 1540

Fact 3: What was his country of origin and where was Francis Drake born? He was born in Tavistock, Devon, England

Fact 4: He sailed round the world in a small ship that was originally called the Pelican but he re-named his ship the Golden Hind

Fact 5: He was a distant relative of Sir Walter Raleigh and the cousin of John Hawkins

Fact 6: Francis Drake came from a middle class family, the son of a farmer and preacher, and was educated in various subjects including navigation, astronomy, cartography, mathematics and seamanship

Fact 7: Francis Drake was an adventurer. He started his career as a naval officer and followed the lead of his cousin on slave ships bound for Africa and sailed to the Caribbean with his cousin John Hawkins

Fact 8: He became a privateer (the Spanish called him a pirate) working on behalf of Queen Elizabeth I attacking Spanish treasure ships

Fact 9: In 1577 Queen Elizabeth selected him to be the head of an expedition to search for new trade routes. A voyage that would take 3 years, in which he would sail around the world

Fact 10: The expedition, consisted of a fleet of five ships, set sail from Plymouth Sound in Devon, England in 1577

Fact 11: His ship was square-rigged, three-masted galleon with 18 guns of various sizes

Fact 12: The Golden Hind ship was a small 150 ton ship measuring:

  • Length: 70 feet (21.3 m)
  • Breadth: 19 feet (5.8 m)
  • Depth: 9 feet (2.7 m)

Fact 13: The expedition consisted of five ships:
The Pelican: Francis Drake flagship, later renamed the Golden Hind
The Elizabeth: 80 tons, 16 guns - under John Winter
The Marigold: 30 tons, 16 guns - under John Thomas
The Swan: 50 tons, 5 guns - under John Chester
The Christopher: 15 tons, 1 gun under Tom Moone

Fact 14: December 13, 1577: The expedition left Plymouth with 5 ships (Pelican, Elizabeth, Swan, Marigold, and Benedict)

Fact 15: The number of crew on the 5 ships totalled 164

Fact 16: Francis Drake travelled across the Atlantic Ocean to South America, through the treacherous Straits of Magellan, the Pacific Ocean, the coast of California, Vancouver, New Albion, the Philippines, the Spice Islands, Java and round the Cape of Good Hope and on to Sierra Leone.

Fact 17: In 1579 he stopped near the present-day San Francisco to repair the Golden Hind. He claimed the land for for England which he called New Albion

Fact 18: September 26, 1580:The Golden Hind was the only vessel to return to England 58 men had survived the journey

Fact 19: April, 1581: He was knighted "Sir Francis Drake" on board the Golden Hind by Queen Elizabeth

Fact 20: Francis Drake married Elizabeth Sydenham in 1585. He was 20 years older than his bride who came from a wealthy, well-connected family. They lived in Devon in a large manor - his house was called Buckland Abbey

Fact 21: Later in 1585 Drake travelled to Brazil

Fact 22: 26 June, 1586 - Drake visited Sir Walter Raleigh's colony headed by Ralph Lane, finding disheartened colonists and hostile Native Indians. He returned to England

Fact 23: The following year, in 1587, Drake attacked and destroyed the Spanish Fleet at Cadiz - war between Spain and England was inevitable

Fact 24: July 29, 1588: The Spanish Armada consisting of 132 ships sailed for England.

Fact 25: Francis Drake was appointed Vice Admiral of the navy. England's navy consisted of only 34 ships and 163 armed merchant vessels

Fact 26: A famous legend about Sir Francis Drake was that he insisted on finishing a game of bowls before sailing to meet the Spanish Armada

Fact 27: August 8, 1588: The English Navy destroyed the Spanish Armada

Fact 28: In 1595 Sir Francis Drake embarked on his last voyage to the Caribbean with Sir John Hawkins (who dies of fever on the voyage). Their aim was to attack Spanish settlements in the West Indies

Fact 29: January 28, 1596: Sir Francis Drake died on board his ship of Yellow Fever aged 55. He was buried at sea in a lead coffin off Puerto Bello

Fact 30: In 1628 a relative of Sir Francis Drake published the chronicle of the circumnavigation called 'The World Encompassed'

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Updated 2018-01-01

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