Hawkins, Sir John

Hawkins, Sir John

biographical name

(born 1532, Plymouth, Devon, Eng.—died Nov. 12, 1595, at sea off Puerto Rico) English naval administrator and commander. A relative of Sir Francis Drake, he became a merchant in the African trade and the first English slave trader. After a successful slave-trading voyage in 1562–63, a group that included Elizabeth I provided money for a second expedition. A Spanish fleet attacked him on his third voyage (1567–69, with Drake), beginning the quarrel between England and Spain that led to war in 1585. As treasurer (1577) and controller (1589) of the navy, he rebuilt older ships and helped design the faster ships that withstood the Spanish Armada in 1588. He later devised the naval blockade to intercept Spanish treasure ships. One of the foremost seamen of 16th-century England, he was the chief architect of the Elizabethan navy.

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