A Sea-Dog of Devon: A Life of Sir John Hawkins, English Naval Commander, Privateer and Slaver of the 16th Century (Paperback)
Sir John Hawkins was a naval commander and privateer during the Elizabethan era in the 16th century, who explored swathes of the New World amid danger and treachery.
Born to William Hawkins, master of The Great Galley of Henry VIII's navy, from youth John aspired to a mariner's career. His father's reputation as sailor and merchant aided John's rise, especially when it was clear the younger Hawkins had inherited the vital talents of seamanship and business. John's first commission from Queen Elizabeth in 1562 was a turning point; returning home with enormous gains, which he built upon in further expeditions, his future in England's navy was set.
Hawkins was pivotal in planning and commissioning further ships for the English navy, and proved an able administrator. As the Spanish Armada approached in 1588, he served alongside Francis Drake and other commanders - the dispatches Hawkins gave of the enormous fleet are matter-of-fact, noting the immense operational challenges England's sailors were under.
In modern times, Hawkins is notorious for his dealings in the slave trade, being among the first English slavers. On several journeys he bartered for hundreds of African tribes people, whom he then ferried for sale to plantation owners in the New World. His actions marked the point England joined an inhumane, barbarously lucrative trade, in direct competition with the Spanish and Portuguese.