Sir Francis Drake

Anna Kilcoyne

Sir Francis Drake

Sir Francis Drake was an explorer from England. He was born on a farm in England in the 1540's, but in his early teens he was apprenticed to become a merchant and privateer (a pirate protected by the country). He later joined the navy, and impressed the queen of England through military achievements. Queen Elizabeth I began assigning him tasks, military and exploration, until he died of dysentery and fever in 1596 in Panama.

What influenced him to become an explorer?

  • Sir Francis Drake was born in 1540 CE, the eldest of 12 sons. This would shape him to be a man that felt the need to impress people, and live up to his title as the "eldest and most responsible."
  • He was apprenticed as a merchant who sailed coastal waters, trading goods between England and France. Ever since he was young, he was learning how to maneuver ships, and how to deal with foreign people. This obviously lead to him choosing exploration and the navy for the rest of his life.
  • In 1568, Drake was trapped in the Mexican port of San Juan de Ulua. He and his cousin escaped but all their men were killed. Because of that, he developed a deep hatred of the Spanish crown. Because of his hatred for the Spanish, he decided to join the navy, which led him to become an explorer. Had he not had that run in with the Spanish, he might not have chosen to join the navy and ultimately become an explorer.

Why did he explore (gold, glory, or God)?

Sir Francis Drake was assigned many different tasks by Queen Elizabeth I, and his outstanding results led her to eventually knight him in 1581. Because of his achievements, he was appointed mayor of Plymouth, a member of the house of commons, and in 1588 the vice admiral of the English navy. Although the treasure he captured made him a wealthy man, that was not the initial goal of his journeys. The main reason for his expeditions was Glory; to impress the queen, gain titles for him, his family, and his country, and to gain sea control over the Spanish (boosting his ego).

Circumnavigating the world

His biggest achievement was being the first Englishman to circumnavigate the world, which means he sailed around the entire earth starting in Plymouth in 1577.
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  • SFD was paid £1000 for the journey(s), which was a good price back then.
  • He also collected a lot of gold and treasure on his voyages.
  • There were over 9 people who helped fund the trip(s).
  • The number of deaths were unknown, although he lost many crews and ships in sea battles with the Spanish.


His achievements were being the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe, determining that Tierra de Fuego was an archipelago, claiming part of the west coast of North America, and rescuing the Roanoke settlers through the years 1577 CE - 1588 CE.


Although many divers, historians, and Drake enthusiasts have searched for his body, their work has been in vain. Sir Francis Drake was supposedly "buried" in the sea after he died in Panama from dysentery and fever, but the body is yet to be found.