Notable Family History

John Hawkins, Esquire (abt. 1450 - abt 1500)
Captain William Hawkins (abt. 1495 - abt. Feb 1553/54)
William Hawkins (abt. 1519 - October 7, 1589) Admiral Sir John Hawkins (1532 - November 12, 1595)
William Hawkins  (abt. 1560 - May 1613) Sir Richard Hawkins (1561 - April 17, 1622)
The Ridolphi Plot

John Hawkins, Esquire (abt. 1450 - abt 1500)

Captain William Hawkins (abt. 1495 - abt. Feb 1553/54)

     A man beloved of King Henry VIII, William Hawkins was one of the principal sea captains, William went three times to Brazil in his ship the 'Paul' of Plymouth (250 tons).  He returned from his second voyage with a Brazilian Chief who made a splash in Henry's court.  The chief unfortunately died on the return voyage to Brazils (Hawkins third trip).  William combined West African (Guinea) trade (in ivory) with Brazil and was probably the earliest Englishman to frequent the Brazil trade.  From 1544, William's ships were involved as privateers in the Channel. King Henry had great respect for Wiliam as an authority on Naval Affairs.  William served as Receiver or Treasurer to the corporation of Plymouth in 1524/25 and as collector for the subsidy for Devon the previous year and was 'Treasurer of her Majesties Navie'.

1530 - First sea voyage  to Brazil followed by two other 1531/32
1532/33 - Mayor of Plymouth Oct-Oct
1538/39 - Mayor of Plymouth Oct-Oct
1547 - Member of Parliament for Plymouth

William Hawkins (abt. 1519 - October 7, 1589)

      William's eldest son and primary heir to his Plymouth concerns.  Three times Mayor of Plymouth, including the Armada year.
      In Nov 1582, William sailed as vice-admiral along with Richard Hawkins (21 year old son of John) with six ships, the 'Primrose' (300 tons), the 'Minion' (180 tons), the Bark 'Hastings' (100 tons), two ships of Francis Drake's (100 tons each) and a pinnace (80 tons).

1567/68 - Mayor of Plymouth
1578/79 - Mayor of Plymouth
1587/89 - Mayor of Plymouth - Armada year

Admiral Sir John Hawkins (1532 - November 12, 1595)

     Known as 'Terror of the Spanish and Portuguese' or "Achines de Plimua," by the Spaniards, and by the Portuguese "Johannes de Canes."
     In early records, John was granted a royal pardon for the manslaughter of John White, barber of Plymouth,  who he did not kill feloniously but because he could not avoid him.
     Commanded the 'Salomon'(120 tons) which with the 'Swallow' (100 tons) and bark 'Jonas' (40 tons) with possibly a fourth ship for his first slaving voyage commencing Oct 1562.  He obtained 300 negroes (or 910 by Portuguese count) in Sierra Leone 'partly by sword' and partly by other means.  All of these seem to have been taken from the Portuguese as part of 6 (or 13) 'prizes'.
     In Oct 1564 John sailed as Commander in Chief onboard the 'Jesus of Lubeck' (700 tons) along with the 'Salomon' (120 tons), the 'Tiger' (50 tons) and the 'Swallow' (30 tons - a second Swallow
     On 2 Oct 1567 John sailed on his third voyage on the 'Jesus of Lubeck' with the ships 'Minion', 'William and John' (150 tons), 'Swallow' (100 tons), 'Judith' (50 tons) and 'Angel' (33 tons).  Francis Drake (his nephew) was onboard the 'Jesus' with Hawkins.  Drake later commanded the 'Judith'.  After losing all but the 'Minion' and 'Judith' to Spanish treachery at San Juan de Ulua in the West Indies, Hawkins escaped in the 'Minion'.  Francis Drake in the 'Judith' left during the night after the battle and returned to England alone to report all lost five days before Hawkins returned.  Hawkins was forced to land 100 men in Florida, keeping 100 men onboard he sailed for England, arriving in Mount's Bay 25 jan 1569 with no more than 15 survivors.
     John probably also commanded the Rochelle relief squadron (Hawkins squadron) of over sixty ships to trade with the blockaded  Huguenot's.
     John Hawkins was instrumental in confounding the Ridolfi conspiracy of 1571 in which England was to be invaded by the Spanish with the blessing of Pope Pious V.  The pope had excommunicated Queen Elizabeth and absolved her subjects of their allegience.  John was approached by the Spanish to forward their plans in return for the release of his men in Spanish America.  Hawkins (with secret knowledge of  Queen Elizabeth and Lord Burghley) declared himself a Catholic and sent George Fitzwilliam (recently released from a Spanish prison) to an interview with King Philip of Spain.  Fitzwilliam demanded the release of the remaining prisoners and offered Hawkins' services for the enthronement of Mary Queen of Scots and the restoration of the Catholic religion.  The plot thickened as Fitzwilliam gained admittance to Mary Stuart and obtained a recommendation from her for the prisoners release and impressed her with Hawkins as a recruit to her cause, thus Mary herself vouched for Hawkins.  The letter was written in 'invisible ink' such as lemon juice, to appear only when heated.  It was arranged that Hawkins would sail his fleet to the Netherlands, leaving the Channel open for the Spanidh Invasion.  The prisoners were released, given money as compensation and sent home in merchant ships.  Fitzwilliam then signed, on behalf of Hawkins, an indenture with the Duke of Feria for the service he was to perform.  In this was granted a patent of nobility, a pardon for his transgressions in the Indies and money to maintain twelve ships and 1600 men for two months.  Hawkins had thus made himself the pivot of the invasion.
     In a letter to Sir William Cecil, Lord Burghley, John Hawkins outlined and confirmed the devious plots to confound the Spanish.  Burghley eventually obtained enough information to arrest the Duke of Norfolk for conspiring with the Queen of Scots, along with his confederates from which the rack obtained the last threads of the conspiracy, thus ending the invasion plans.  Hawkins role remained known only to Hawkins, Fitzwilliam, Lord Burgley and Queen Elizabeth.  King Philip of Spain may have forever believed that Hawkins was a willing servitor.
     John also commanded the 'Victory' (800 tons) in the Spanish Armada battles.  For his valient service, along with five others, John was knighted on Friday 26 July 1588 by Lord Thomas Howard on the English Flagship the 'Ark Royal' opposing the Spanish Armada.
     In 1590 Drake, Hawkins and others founded the 'Chest of Chatham' for the relief of sick and worn out mariners.  The chest itself is in the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.  In 1592 he alone founded a hospital for aged and infirm mariners and shipwrights at Chatham.  In 1594, he obtained a charter for the endowment and government of the foundation for 'Sir John Hawkin's Hospital'.  The head of the governors was the Archbishop of Canterbury and the charity continues today.
     John Hawkins took sick and died in his cabin on 12 Nov 1595 at 3PM off 'Porto Rico' and was buried at sea.  He was in joint command, with Sir Francis Drake, of an expedition.  Drake died in January 1596 in Nombre de Dios Bay.
      Apart from his noteriety as the first English Slaver and Spanish Armada Hero, John Hawkins is noted for two 'discoveries' which greatly affected Europe and the World. Potatoes (These were sweet, or convolvulus, potatoes.) were first imported into Europe, in 1565 by Hawkins, from Santa Fe in Spanish America and planted first in Ireland by Sir Walter Ralegh, who had an estate there. A total ignorance of what part of the plant was proper food had nearly prevented any further attention to its culture as the green apples on the stem were supposed to be the eatable part.  These, when boiled, were found to be unpalatable and the idea of growing potatoes was abandoned. Accident discovered the real fruit, owing to the ground being turned over through necessity that season, when a plentiful crop was discovered underground.  This time the root, when boiled, proved good to the taste, whereupon the cultivation of potatoes was continued. Some authors say that Sir John imported potatoes in 1563, in September, on his return from his first voyage to America.
     The introduction of tobacco into England is attributed to Sir John Hawkins, on his return from his third voyage in January, 1569, by several authors.  Another account says that Sir John introduced tobacco into England in 1564, which seems the more likely, as tobacco is mentioned in the account of this second voyage.
     John's skill and success had given him such a reputation, that by way of augmentation to his arms (Sable, a golden lion walking over the waves) Mr. Harvey, then Clarencieux King-at-Arms, granted to John Hawkins, by patent, for his crest, on his return from his voyage of 1564, a demi-Moor proper bound captive, with annulets on his arms and in his ears, for his victory over the Moors. 2nd augmentation for John Hawkins exploits at Rio de la Hauche, and in honour of his great action at Ulloa, and to preserve the memory of his other noble achievements, Mr Cooke then Clarencieux added to his arms-on a canton or an escallop between two palmer's staves sable. This patent is [in 1779] still in existance."
      The terms of the first grant of augmentation are worthy of note. Sir John is described as "gentleman," and as the second son of William Hawkins, of Plymouth, and Joan his wife, daughter of "Edmund" Trelawny, of Cornwall; who was son of John Hawkins, of
Lawnstone, Cornwall, esquire, by Joane his wife, daughter and heir of William Amidas, of Lawnstone aforesaid. There is no record of the original grant of arms, which according to the augmentation were borne by his immediate ancestors. • In 1616 the Corporation of Plymouth placed the arms of Sir John Hawkins, and those of Sir John Hele, in the Guildhall windows, at a cost of 33s. 6d., protecting them the next year with a "small grate of wire" costing 13s. 10d. In the new Guildhall windows Sir John is represented, but his arms have been omitted.

1571/72 - Member of Parliament for Plymouth
January 1, 1577/78 - became Treasurer of the Navy
1569-1580 - looked upon as chief sea commander of England

William Hawkins  (abt. 1560 - May 1613)

     William commanded the 'Griffin'  (200 tons) during the Armada action in 1588.  He also sailed in 1582 as Lieutenant-General and second-in-command with Edward Fenton.  John Drake (Francis' nephew) was in command of another ship, the 'Francis'.  On 28 March 1607 William (most likely) captained the 'Hector', part of the Third Fleet - East India Company.  At this time he spoke fluent Turkish and was entrusted by King James I with a letter of introduction to the Grand Khan, or Great Mogul in India.
      Once landed in Surat, India (abt. 200nm north of Bombay) on Aug 27 1607, he was constantly threatened by Jesuit sposored Portuguese assassination plots.   Eight months later, William received an audience in Agra with the Great King - Jehangir Khan (son of Akbar Khan).  The Khan agreed to allow a permanent trading factory at Surat (thus setting the roots of the English Eastern Trade empire) if William would remain at his court as ambassador until a successor arrived.  Jehengar also insisted he marry one of his ladies.  William declined stating that as a Christian he ought to marry a Christian.  Jehengar then produced a fair Armenian who belonged to the ancient Church of Armenia, and whose father Mabarique Sha (or Mabarik Khan) had been in Akbar's favour.  He was  offered a starting salary of 3200lbs/year.  The Grand Khan also changed Hawkins name to Inglis Kan or English Lord which bore with it in Persia the rank of Duke.  He was married, using protestant rites, by his faithful servant Nicolas Ufflett - the only Englishman remaining with him.  When a preacher came with Sir Henry Middleton, William was told this was not lawful and he was remarried.  On 26 Jan 1612, William left India in Middleton's fleet off Surat.  On May 20 1613, William died onboard the 'Thomas' enroute to England.  His wife brought his body home.

Sir Richard Hawkins (1561 - April 17, 1622)

     Known as 'The Compleat Seaman', Richard was knighted by King James I following his release from Spanish captivity.   In 1588, Richard commanded the 'Swallow' in 1588 during the Spanish Armada fight.  In 1593 Richard sailed in his ship, the 'Dainty', with a pinnace and a victualler.  He reached the coast of Peru with the 'Dainty' and was captured by the Spanish in 1594.  He endured nearly eight years captivity, having been denied 3000lbs left him in his father's will to secure his early release, by his mother in law.   Richard was released in late 1602, was knighted in 1603, and in 1604 he became Member of Parliament for Plymouth and was appointed Vice-Admiral of Devon.

The Ridolphi Plot

    This excerpt from Sir John Hawkins by James A. Williamson, 1927 details the letter from Sir John to Lord Burghley (Queen Elizabeth’s chief advisor) outlining the finalization of his ‘defection’ to the Spanish plot makins himself pivotal to the planned Spanish Invasion and thus able to best prevent it:

By the hand of his trusty follower Hawkins sent the following letter to Burghley:
    'My very good Lord,
    It may please your honour to be advertised that Fitzwilliams is returned from the court of Spain, where his message was accept-ably received, both by the King himself, the Duke of Feria, and others of his privy council. His despatch and answer was with great expedition and with great countenance and favour of the King.
    The articles [i.e. the agreement just signed in Spain] are sent to the ambassador, with order also for the money to be paid to me by him for the enterprise to proceed with all diligence.
    The pretence is that my power should join with the Duke of Alva's power which he doth shortly provide in Flanders, as well as with the power which cometh with the Duke of Medina out of Spain, and so all together to invade this realm and set up the Queen of Scots.
    They have practised with us for the burning of Her Majesty's ships, therefore there would be some good care had of them, but not as it may appear that anything is discovered, as your lord-ship's consideration can well provide.
    The King hath sent a ruby of good price to the Queen of Scots, with letters also, which in my judgment were good to be delivered. The letters be of no importance, but his message by word is to comfort her and say that he hath now none other care than to place her in her own. It were good also that the ambas-sador did make request unto your lordship that Fitzwilliams may have access to the Queen of Scots, to render thanks for the delivery of our prisoners which are now at liberty; it will be a very good colour for your lordship to confer with him [Fitz-williams] more largely.
    I have sent your lordship the copy of my pardon from the King of Spain in the very order and manner I have it. Also the Duke of Medina and the Duke of Alva have every of them one of the same pardons, more amplified, to present unto me (although this be large enough), with very great titles and honours from the King, from which God deliver me.
    I send your lordship also the copy of my letter from the Duke of Feria in the very manner as it was written, with his wife and son's hand in the end.'
    Their practices be very mischievous, and they be never idle, but God, I hope, will confound them and turn their devices upon their own necks.
    I will put my business in some order and give mine attendance upon Her Majesty, to do her that service that by your lordship shall be thought most convenient in this case.
    I am not tedious with your lordship because Fitzwilliams cometh himself, and I mind not to be long after him, and thus I trouble your good lordship no further.

    From Plymouth, the 4th day of September, 1571,

Your good lordship's most faithfully to my power,

John Hawkyns.'

    The reference to 'burning Her Majesty's ships' points to a by-plot which has left little other trace. The idea was perhaps inspired by Thomas Stukeley, who had fled from Ireland to Spain in 1570 and was now submitting megalomaniac plans for Philip's consideration. Philip could at least put a just estimate upon such a man, and he told him nothing of the Hawkins undertaking. So in I57i~we find Stukeley asking to be equipped with four ships, a foist (a small galley), and two barks, together with 3,000 foot and 500 horse. With these he under-takes to sail from Santander, burn and take Hawkins's fleet at Plymouth, and then take Cork and Waterford and conquer all Ireland for Spain; and not content with that, to burn all the Queen's ships in the Thames.3 Needless to say, he never sailed from Spain on any such errand.


Sir John Hawkins - The Time and the Man,  by James A. Wiliamson, 1927 Oxford at the Clarendon Press

The Hawkins Dynasty - Three Generations of a Tudor Family, by Michael Lewis, George Allen and Unwin Ltd, Ruskin House, London 1969

Plymouth Armada Heroes, by Mary W. S. Hawkins. 1888

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