Sir John Hawkins Fact File Biography: Lifespan: 1532 – 1595 *** Full Name: Sir John Hawkins *** Occupation: English Naval Commander, Administrator, Navigator, Shipbuilder, Merchant, Slave Trader and Privateer *** Date of Birth: Sir John Hawkins was born in 1532, an exact date is unknown *** Place of Birth: Sir John Hawkins was born in Plymouth, England *** Family background: His father was William Hawkins and his mother was Joan Trelawny. His father was a merchant, sea captain and ship owner. John had an older brother, William. His father as also a intimate friend of King Henry VIII and also one of England’s leading sea captains *** Early life and childhood: He grew up in Plymouth, England *** Education: Sir John Hawkins was a well-educated ***
Sir John Hawkins Fact 1: Sir John Hawkins was born in 1532 and during the 16th century period in history when Spain and Portugal led the world in exploration.
Sir John Hawkins Fact 2: William Hawkins Sr. had already made the trip across the Atlantic to the New World and Sir Francis Drake was second cousin to his father and had assisted him on his second voyage.
Sir John Hawkins Fact 3: Young William was eager to follow in his father’s footsteps.
Sir John Hawkins Fact 4: At the age of twenty one he found himself on the wrong end of the law when a fight between himself and another individual ended in the death of the other man. Self-defense was proved and royal pardon secured.
Sir John Hawkins Fact 5: There is some suggestion that young Hawkins had in fact been in the service of the ambassadors from Spain, who were busy negotiating the marriage details between Philip II of Spain and Mary I of England.
Sir John Hawkins Fact 6: He was apparently well known in the Spanish court and had referred to King Philip as ‘my old master’, even had a Spanish name known as Juan Aquines such was his reputation.
Sir John Hawkins Fact 7: At that time Hawkins gained a reputation for the being the first Englishman to bring serious trade in slaves to English shores. He succeeded in making a considerable fortune from his slave trading.
Sir John Hawkins Fact 8: While on the business of slave trading Sir John Hawkins trod on one too many toes and would be banned by the Spanish from trading in the West Indies colonies as he was seizing other vessels and plundering their cargoes.
Sir John Hawkins Fact 9: By 1564, as Queen Elizabeth I had taken the thrown, he joined with Her Majesty and leased a huge 700 ton ship, the Jesus of Lubeck and set out on a far more extensive voyage with his second cousin, Francis Drake. They travelled to the West African coast privateering as and when the opportunity arose.Sir John Hawkins Fact 17: Although Sir John Hawkins was better known for his management skills, he was also quite the innovator, and his improvements as a shipwright proved more than useful.
Sir John Hawkins Fact 10: His next destination was Rio de la Hacha. The officials there imposed taxes in an attempt to halt the sale of slaves, but Sir John Hawkins threatened to burn down the town and they relented. From there he and his crew headed for Florida and a French colony for a little rest and relaxation.
Sir John Hawkins Fact 11: Captain Hawkins would make his return to England in 1566 and his expedition was hailed a success with a 60 percent increase in his profits.
Sir John Hawkins Fact 12: During his third voyage in 1567 more slaves were acquired, either from other slave ships or from African traders.
Sir John Hawkins Fact 13: Hawkins third voyage ended not as well as the first two, he became involved in the Battle of San Juan de Ulua and all of his ships except for the two, were destroyed. His journey home was a very unhappy one.
Sir John Hawkins Fact 14: Although Queen Elizabeth I profited from the ventures, their overall expenses came out of their own pockets, so any loss or damages could be catastrophic.
Sir John Hawkins Fact 15: In order to find out who was behind a potential assassination plot on the Queen’s life, Sir John Hawkins let it be known that he was involved in the Ridolfi plot of 1571. Sir John Hawkins gained the confidence of the Spanish ambassador, and learned of the details of the plot to kill the Queen and later gave the details to the government in order to thwart the plot against the Queen.
Sir John Hawkins Fact 16: In the year 1582 he would accused by Sir William Wynter of administrative wrong doing, but under the investigation of Francis Walsingham, William Cecil and Drake himself, they all decided Hawkins had not only done no wrong but that the Queen’s Navy was in tip top shape.
Sir John Hawkins Fact 18: During 1588 Sir John Hawkins was given the opportunity to test out his latest innovations with the Royal fleet against the Spanish Armada. As Rear Admiral, and one of the three leading commanders of the English fleet next to Martin Frobisher and Francis Drake, the mission was a success and for his part he was awarded a battlefield knighthood by Effingham, the Lord High Admiral, on behalf of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth I.
Sir John Hawkins Fact 19: During 1590 between Hawkins and Drake they started a charity to help the elderly and sick mariners, later they founded a hospital too.
Sir John Hawkins Fact 20: Hawkins would be one of the first to introduce tobacco and art of smoking to England from Florida, although the partaking of the smoking would not catch on for many years.
Sir John Hawkins Fact 21: Accompanying his cousin Sir Francis Drake on a voyage to the West Indies in search of treasure, they attempted an attack on San Juan, twice in fact, but were unable to breach the defences. However, both men fell sick
Sir John Hawkins Fact 22: Sir John Hawkins died on November 12th 1595 off of the coast of Puerto Rico and on January 27th of 1560 Sir Francis Drake also died.
Influence & Legacy: His legacy would be that without his innovative ideas on shipbuilding and renovations made to existing stock, it is unlikely that the English Navy would have been able to out sail the Spanish Armada.