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Sir John Hawkins: Queen Elizabeth's Slave Trader [Hardcover]

Harry Kelsey

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Book Description

15 April 2003
A portrait of a colourful Elizabethan slaver, merchant and admiral. Although his cousin Sir Francis Drake is more famous, Sir John Hawkins (1532-1595) was a more successful seaman and played a pivotal role in the history of England and the emergence of the global slave trade. Born into a family of wealthy pirates, Hawkins became fascinated by tales of the riches of foreign lands. Early in his career he led an illegal expedition in which he captured three hundred slaves in Sierra Leone and transported them to the West Indies. There he traded them for pearls, hides and sugar, thus giving birth to the British slave trade. His voyages were so lucrative that Queen Elizabeth herself sponsored subsequent missions. Discouraged from his career as a pirate by a near-fatal encounter with angry Spanish troops, Hawkins spent much of his later life in England at the service of the queen. Although he committed treason, murder and adultery at various points in his career, he was nonetheless knighted in 1588 for his role in defeating the Spanish Armada. In this work, Harry Kelsey, biographer of Sir Francis Drake, tells the story of this extraordinary man.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (15 April 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300096631
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300096637
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 16 x 24.3 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 925,035 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"A freshly documented and very readable biography of the second most famous of Elizabeth I’s seamen..." -- Peter Russell, author of Prince Henry the Navigator: A Life

'Kelsey has written an intricate and expert book on naval strategy in the late 16th Century'. -- Kathryn Hughes, Mail on Sunday, 15 June 2003

‘Kelsey’s succinct and authoritative biography, which rests on an exact and discriminating command of sources... easily supercedes its predecessors’. -- Blair Worden, Sunday Telegraph, 25 May 2003

About the Author

Harry Kelsey is a research scholar at the Huntingdon Library. He is the author of Sir Francis Drake: The Queen's Pirate (0 300 08463 3, pb. [pound]11.99), published by Yale University Press.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very informative 19 April 2010
By D. McMaster - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I bought this book because I wanted to learn more about my family history. Sir John Hawkins was my 11th great grandfather. The book is very informative and has been well researched. However, there are some facts that are not clearly documented, such as, the actual date of birth and mother of Sir John's first born son.
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