Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Drake, Sir Francis
DRAKE, SIR FRANCIS, an English navigator, born in Tavistock, in Devonshire, England, in 1539. or according to some authorities in 1545. He served as a sailor in a coasting vessel, and afterward joined Sir John Hawkins in his last expedition against the Spaniards (1567), losing nearly all he possessed in that unfortunate enterprise. Having gathered a number of adventurers, he fitted out a vessel in which he made two successful cruises to the West Indies in 1570 and 1571. Next year, with two small ships, he again sailed for the Spanish Main, captured the cities of Nombre de Dios and Vera Cruz, and took a rich booty which he brought safely home. In 1577 Drake made another expedition to the Spanish Main, having this time command of five ships. On this the most famous of his voyages Drake passed the Straits of Magellan, plundered all along the coasts of Chile and Peru, sacked several ports, and captured a galleon laden with silver, gold, jewels, etc., to the value of perhaps $1,000,000.
He then ran N. as far as lat. 48° N., seeking a passage to the Atlantic, but was compelled to return to Port San Francisco on account of the cold. He then steered for the Moluccas, and holding straight across the Indian Ocean doubled the Cape of Good Hope, and arrived at Plymouth Nov. 3, 1580, being thus the first of the English circumnavigators. The queen showed her favor to Drake by knighting him on board his own ship. Five years afterward Drake was again attacking the Spaniards in the Cape Verde Islands and in the West Indies, and in 1588 particularly distinguished himself as vice-admiral in the conflict with the Spanish Armada. In 1593 he represented Plymouth in Parliament. His later expeditions, that in 1595 against the Spanish West Indies and that to Panama, were not so successful, and his death, on Jan. 28, 1596, at sea off Porto Bello, was hastened by disappointment.