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On This Day… The Slave Trader Who Defeated The Armada And Was Knighted

Written by: George Chittenden : 22 May 2019

It was on this day, 26th July back in 1588 when the English Admiral John Hawkins was knighted for his service to the country regarding the defeat of the Spanish Armada. Hawkins became Treasurer of the Royal Navy in 1577 and was the chief architect of the Elizabethan navy. He rebuilt older ships and helped design the faster ships that withstood the Spanish Armada. He was also the Rear Admiral, one of three main commanders of the English fleet against the Armada itself. English hero, right? Well folks there are two sides to every story. John Hawkins also holds claim to the title of England's first slave trader.

English Admiral John Hawkins

English Admiral John Hawkins

In 1562 he sailed from the Barbican in Plymouth with three ships and violently kidnapped about 400 Africans in Guinea and traded them in the West Indies. From 1562-1567 Hawkins and his cousin Francis Drake made three voyages to Guinea and Sierra Leone and enslaved between 1,200 and 1,400 Africans. Admiral John Hawkins eventually fell sick during a treasure-hunting voyage to the West Indies and died on November 12th, 1595. He was buried at sea off Puerto Rico. 1595 Hawkins accompanied his second cousin Sir Francis Drake on a treasure-hunting voyage to the West Indies. They twice attacked San Juan in Puerto Rico but could not defeat its defences. During the voyage they both fell sick. Hawkins died on November 12th, 1595 and was buried at sea off Puerto Rico.

The Elizabethan navy

The Elizabethan navy

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