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John HawkinsJohn Hawkins
John Hawkins

© National Maritime Museum, London

Title: John Hawkins
Description: Following his slaving adventures in the 1560s, Hawkins embarked on a career in naval administration. In 1577 he succeeded his father-in-law, Benjamin Gonson, as treasurer to the navy and in 1589 also became comptroller, with responsibility for the manning, design and maintenance of royal ships. These key Navy Board posts gave Hawkins huge scope to rebuild and reorganise the Elizabethan fleet through the replacement of Henry VIII’s aging vessels with faster, better-armed ships. At the same time he sought to improve both the pay and conditions of English seamen. Hawkins commanded the Victory in action against the Spanish armada in 1588 and was knighted during the battle. In 1595, Hawkins – then aged 63 and too old for the task – took joint command with Sir Francis Drake of another expedition to the West Indies, which was marred by disputes between the commanders. Hawkins contracted dysentery and died in November 1595 off the coast of Puerto Rico. He was buried at sea.
Creator: Harding, S [engraver]
Date: 16th century
Credit line: National Maritime Museum, London


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