Tag Archives: Cape Horn

On this day in 1580 – Sir Francis Drake returned to England following his circumnavigation of the globe.

On 26th September 1580 Sir Francis Drake arrived in Plymouth following his circumnavigation of the world. Drake originally left Plymouth on 13th December 1577 with a fleet of five ships; the Elizabeth, the Pelican, the Marigold, the Swan and the Christopher.

The originally intention of the trip was to approach new nations and open trade links with them as well as discovering new shipping routes in order to weaken the Spanish influence in South America.

By June 1578 the fleet landed at Port San Julian (known in modern day as Argentina) whilst docked Thomas Doughty, an officer within the fleet stood trial and later executed for mutiny and sedition.

Whilst the fleet was at the Strait of Magellan, the Pelican was renamed the Golden Hinde in honour of the voyage’s patron, Sir Christopher Hatton, whose coat of arms featured a golden female deer, known as a hinde. The ships motto ‘Cassis Tutis Sima Virtus’ (Virtue is the safest helmet) was also taken from Hatton’s coat of arms. The Golden Hinde along with the Elizabeth and the Marigold then sailed through the Strait of Magellan and found themselves in the Pacific Ocean.

Golden HindeThe Golden Hinde

The fleet were hit by a series of storms which resulted in the loss of the Marigold, with all crew still aboard meanwhile the Elizabeth returned to England and the Golden Hinde was blown to the southern point of South America and an island that is known nowadays as Cape Horn.

Drake set out from Cape Horn and travelled along the west coast of South America taking treasure from Spanish and Portuguese settlements and ships. Drake received word that the Spanish ship Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion (Cacafuego) was heading towards Peru and it was filled with silver and jewels. Drake instantly changed his course to catch up with the Cacafuego and on 1st March 1579 just off the coast of Mexico he took over 362,000 pesos worth of silver from the Cacafuego.

Drake took the Golden Hinde north to North America where he docked and repaired the ship; he made contact and became the first European to trade with the local Native Americans. Drake named the land Nova Albion (New England) and claimed it in the name of Queen Elizabeth I.

Drakes routeDrake’s route around the world

From North America Drake sailed across the Pacific Ocean through Asia, the Golden Hinde arrived back in England at Plymouth via the Cape of Good Hope on 26th September 1580. The treasure that Drake acquired during his travels was calculated at £600,000 (approximately £25 million in today’s money). Half of this money was given to Elizabeth and the Royal Treasury was free from debt in the year that followed Drake’s return.

Queen Elizabeth I knighted Francis Drake aboard the Golden Hinde on 4th April 1581 whilst it was docked in Deptford and declared that the Golden Hinde should be a maritime museum. However, by the mid 1600s the ship fell into disrepair and disintegrated. The only parts of the ship that remains are a chair made from the timbers that is currently homed at the Bodleian Library in Oxford and a table (named the cupboard) that resides at the Middle Temple in London.

Hinde chairThe chair in the Bodleian Museum made from timber from

the Golden Hinde