Preston, Amyas (DNB00)

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PRESTON, Sir AMYAS (d. 1617?), naval commander, of a family settled for many generations at Cricket in Somerset, was lieutenant of the Ark in the actions against the Spanish Armada of 1588, commanded the boats in the attack on the great galleass stranded before Calais on 29 July, and was there dangerously wounded. In 1595, in company with George Somers [q. v.], he undertook a voyage to the Spanish main; and having on the way plundered the island of Porto Santo near Madeira, and the island of Cocke between Margarita and the continent, they ravaged the coast of the mainland; after a toilsome march into the mountains, they plundered and burnt the town of Santiago de Leon, now more commonly known as Caracas; and, having done much damage to the Spaniards, though without obtaining any great spoil, they returned to England, where they arrived in September. In 1596 Preston was captain of the Ark with Lord Howard in the Cadiz expedition, and was knighted by Howard. In 1597 he was captain of the Defiance in the expedition to the Azores, known as the Islands voyage. He seems to have been, after this, mixed up with the fortunes of Essex, and in 1601 quarrelled with Sir Walter Ralegh, to whom he sent a challenge. There was no hostile meeting. On 17 May 1603 (Cal. State Papers, Dom.) he was granted the office of keeper of stores and ordnance in the Tower, which he held till his death, probably in 1617 (ib. 12 Nov. 1617). In 1609 he was member of council for the Virginia Company. It appears from the records of the company that he died before 1619. He married at Stepney, in 1581, Julian Burye, widow, of the city of London.

[Brown's Genesis of the United States; Defeat of the Spanish Armada (Navy Records Soc.), i. 15, ii. 57–8; Hakluyt's Principal Navigations, iii. 578; Lediard's Naval History; Edwards's Life of Ralegh, i. 419, ii. 312; Cal. State Papers, Dom.]

J. K. L.