When Did Drake Sail Around the World?
Sir Francis Drake became the first Englishman to sail round the world in a voyage which lasted from 1577 to 1580. He left Plymouth on December 13 with his flagship the 100-ton Pelican, four other ships and 160 men on an expedition to the Pacific.
The expedition was financed as a joint venture, the investors being such high officials as Privy Councilors Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester; Sir Francis Walsingham; the Earl of Lincoln, Lord High Admiral of England; also, Sir Christopher Hatton; Sir William Winter, Surveyor and Master of Ordnance of the Navy; and John Hawkins, Drake’s former commander.
Queen Elizabeth herself may have been an investor, though this is not quite certain; what is certain is that she appropriated the lion’s share of the proceeds of the voyage. Drake himself participated to the tune of £1000, a good sum for that time.
After sailing down the coast of South America, Drake passed through the Strait of Magellan. Then he encountered a fierce storm which drove him southward to Tierra del Fuego at the tip of the continent.
Drake’s other ships had by now been lost or returned home. But the Pelican, renamed the Golden Hind, pushed on alone up the coasts of Chile and Peru, attacking towns and plundering Spanish vessels, notably the treasure-ship Cacafuego.
After continuing northwards and claiming the Californian coast in the name of Queen Elizabeth, he decided to avoid the outraged Spaniards by sailing home across the Pacific. On reaching the Moluccas or Spice Islands, he loaded six tons of cloves, but had to throw most of the cargo overboard when the ship struck a reef.
The rest of the voyage across the Indian Ocean and round the Cape of Good Hope was comparatively uneventful, and the Golden Hind returned to Plymouth on September 26, 1580, with treasure worth £500,000.
The Queen knighted Drake aboard his ship at Deptford in the Thames. Sir Francis later became an admiral and helped to defeat the Spanish Armada in 1588. He died at sea on January, 27, 1596.