On this day in history, 26th September 1580, Sir Francis Drake returned to England from his 3-year circumnavigation of the Globe, arriving at the port of Plymouth in The Golden Hind, which was laden with treasure and spices.
Drake had left Plymouth on his travels on 13th December 1577 with his fleet of five ships. Storm damage to two of his ships had delayed his departure. The purpose of this journey had been to sail into the Pacific and raid the Spanish colonies there. It was a secret mission authorised by Queen Elizabeth I, and investors of Drake's mission included the Queen, Sir Francis Walsingham, William and George Wynter, Christopher Hatton and John Hawkins. Only one ship, The Pelican", made it safely to the Pacific, arriving there in October 1578. As a tribute to its success, it was renamed The Golden Hind, after Sir Christopher Hatton's coat of arms. Drake then sailed along South America's Pacific coast, plundering towns and Spanish ports, and capturing Spanish ships laden with gold, silver and jewels.
In June 1579, Drake landed just north of Point Loma (present-day San Diego, California), which was Spain's northernmost holding in the Americas. He claimed it for England in the name of the Holy Trinity and called it Nova Albion, “New Britain”. He then turned south and made his way back home.
Drake came back from his voyage with a beautiful jewel for the Queen from Mexico. It consisted of a ship with an ebony hull, an African diamond and enamelled gold. In return, Elizabeth gave him a jewel, now known as the “Drake Jewel”. It had a sardonyx double cameo portrait of an African male and a European regal figure on one side and a locket containing a miniature of the Queen by Nicholas Hilliard on the other. You can see a photo of the jewel in an article by Nicola Tallis at nicolatallis.com/
Drake was the first Englishman to circumnavigate the Globe and was rewarded by Queen Elizabeth I with a knighthood on 4th April 1581, aboard the Golden Hind at Deptford.
Article based on an earlier article on The Elizabeth Files and an extract from On This Day in Tudor History by Claire Ridgway.