Sir Richard Grenville

English Naval Commander

Born: 1542

Died: 1591

After fighting the Turks in Hungary and helping to suppress an uprising in Munster, Ireland, Grenville planned a voyage of discovery to the Islands of the South Pacific. He, like so many other Explorers of his time, was looking for a Northwest Passage from England to China. Grenville never actually launched his expedition, but Sir Francis Drake adopted his plan for his own circumnavigation of the globe in 1577-1580.

In 1585, Grenville commanded the seven ships that carried English colonists to Roanoke Island, North Carolina.

In 1591, he sailed as the second in command of a naval force called to intercept a Spanish treasure fleet off the Azores. Fifty-three Spanish vessels approached him, but undaunted, he tried to run his ship right through the Spanish Fleet. For fifteen hours, his crew of around 200 men fought in hand-to-hand combat with the force of around 5,000 Spanish sailors. Eventually captured, Grenville later died as a prisoner aboard a Spanish ship.

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