Privateers > English Sea Dogs > Richard Hawkings

Richard Hawkings

Chapter Decoration

Background

Richard Hawkings (c. 1562 – 17 April 1622), also known as Sir Richard Hawkins or Hawkyns was a famous English Sea Dog during the Privateering Era.

Richard Hawkings was born to Admiral John Hawkins and was introduced to the maritime life very early. In 1582 he would accompany his uncle William Hawkings to the West Indies and in 1585 he would be the captain of a galiot in Francis Drakes' expedition to the New World. There they would raid the Spanish Main together. A few years later in 1588 he would command a ship during the English defense against the Spanish Aramada. Two years after this he would be along his fathers expedition to attack the coast of Portugal.

1593 Expedition

In 1593 Hawkings purchased the explorer ship named Dainty which was originally built for his father. He then set sail for the West Indies, the Spanish Main and the South Seas on a self-proclaimed exploration voyage but in reality which was a privateering expedition. He would reaffirm these views the voyage was for exploration only but maybe over the decades he had persuaded himself of this fact. After visiting the coast of Brazil he sailed down through the Straits of Magellan on a course to reach Valparaiso.

Here he plundered the settlement and then pushed north and in June of 1594 about one year after leaving Plymouth he arrived in the Bay of San Mateo which was located at the mouth of the Esmeraldas River in modern day Ecuador, located at the coordinates 1°1′2.6″N 79°36′30.5″W. Here the Dainty was intercepted by two Spanish ships who attempted to bravely fight them off. Hawkings would finally surrender on 1 July 1594 after he was severely wounded, twenty-seven of his crew dead and the ship itself sinking into the bay. His terms were that he and his crew were allowed safe passage out of the region.

However, the promise was not kept through no fault of the Spanish commander and in 1597 Hawkings was sent back to Spain where he was sent to prison in the city of Seville and later in Madrid. He would be released in 1602 where he returned to England amid much fanfare.

The following year in 1603 he would be knighted and then elected Mayor of Plymouth. In 1604 he was elected as a member of the Parliament for Plymouth and the Vice-Admiral of Devon which during this time was facing a major problem with pirates off the coast. In 1605 he was named as one of the 557 founding members of the Spanish Company. Between 1620 and 1621 he would serve as vice-admiral of the fleet under Sir Robert Mansell which was headed to thwart the Barbary Corsairs.

Death and Legacy

After a long and successful career Richard Hawkings would die in the city of London on 17 April 1622. One of the greatest legacies of Hawkings was that he wrote a biography of his voyages titled Voiage into the South Sea (1622) which became one of the most famous adventure novels of the Elizabethan era. The book would be republished by the Hakluyt Society in 1847 and revamping to be includied in Charles Kingsley's Westward Ho! (1855). Throughout the account he depicted the Spanish in a positive manner where he portrayed them as civil and gentle.

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Sources

Primary Sources

Voiage into the South Sea (1622)

Secondary Sources