Francis Drake

Sir Francis Drake (c. 1540 – 28 January 1596)[3] was an English explorer, sea captain, privateer, slave trader,[4][5][6] naval officer, and politician. Drake is best known for his circumnavigation of the world in a single expedition, from 1577 to 1580. This included his incursion into the Pacific Ocean, until then an area of exclusive Spanish interest, and his claim to New Albion for England, an area in what is now the U.S. state of California. His expedition inaugurated an era of conflict with the Spanish on the western coast of the Americas,[7] an area that had previously been largely unexplored by Western shipping.[8]


Francis Drake
Sir Francis Drake, oil painting by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger in Buckland Abbey (after 1590)
Bornc. 1540 (1540)
Tavistock, Devon, England
Died28 January 1596 (1596-01-29) (aged 55)
Spouse(s)
  • Mary Newman
    (m. 1569; died 1581)
  • Elizabeth Sydenham
    (m. 1585)
Piratical career
NicknameEl Draque (Spanish, "The Dragon")
TypePrivateer
AllegianceKingdom of England
Years active1563–1596
RankVice admiral
Base of operationsCaribbean Sea
Commands
Golden Hind (previously known as Pelican)
Battles/wars
WealthEst. Equiv. US$138.2 million in 2020;[1] #2 Forbes top-earning pirates[2]
Signature

Elizabeth I awarded Drake a knighthood in 1581 which he received on the Golden Hind in Deptford. In the same year he was appointed mayor of Plymouth. As a vice admiral, he was second-in-command of the English fleet in the victorious battle against the Spanish Armada in 1588. After unsuccessfully attacking San Juan, Puerto Rico, he died of dysentery in January 1596.[9]

Drake's exploits made him a hero to the English, but his privateering led the Spanish to brand him a pirate, known to them as El Draque.[10] King Philip II of Spain allegedly offered a reward of 20,000 ducats for his capture or death,[11] about £6 million (US$8 million) in modern currency.[12]