Richard Grenville Timeline

Richard Grenville Timeline

  • 1542 - 1591

    Life of the Elizabethan adventurer, mariner and privateer Sir Richard Grenville.

  • 1562

    Richard Grenville is pardoned after killing a man during a riot.

  • 1563

    Richard Grenville serves as a Member of Parliament.

  • 1568

    Richard Grenville creates a plantation in the Munster region of Ireland.

  • 1571

    Richard Grenville represents Cornwall as a Member of Parliament.

  • 1571

    Richard Grenville fails to win royal approval for his proposed expedition to find the great southern continent.

  • Apr 1585 - Jul 1585

    Settlers sail to Virginia in North America to create England's first colony on Roanoke Island.

  • Jul 1588 - Aug 1588

    Richard Grenville fights against the Spanish Armada.

  • 1591

    Richard Grenville sails as vice-admiral to Lord Thomas Howard in an expedition to plunder Spanish treasure ships in the Azores.

  • 9 Sep 1591 - 10 Sep 1591

    Richard Grenville commands the Revenge in a heroic but losing battle against a large Spanish fleet in the Azores.

Sir Richard Grenville

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Sir Richard Grenville, (born June 15, 1542—died September 1591), colourful and daring English naval commander who fought heroically, against overwhelming odds, in a celebrated encounter with a Spanish fleet off Flores Island in the Azores.

He fought with the imperial army against the Turks in Hungary (1566–68). Next he helped to suppress an uprising in Munster, Ireland, in 1568–69, and between 1573 and 1575 he made preparations for a voyage of discovery to the South Pacific, hoping to locate a northwest passage from England to China. For political reasons the expedition was never made, but Sir Francis Drake adopted the plan for his circumnavigation voyage of 1577–80.

In 1585 Grenville commanded the fleet that carried 100 English colonists to Roanoke Island in present-day North Carolina, and in 1589–91 he worked to establish a plantation in the Irish province of Munster (modern counties of Clare, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary, and Waterford).

Recalled to England in 1591, Grenville was made second in command (under Lord Thomas Howard) of a squadron of about 15 vessels sent to intercept a Spanish treasure fleet off the Azores. When 53 Spanish vessels approached to protect their treasure ships, the English retreated, but Grenville was delayed and cut off. Undaunted, he attempted to run his ship, the Revenge, through the Spanish line. After 15 hours of hand-to-hand combat against 15 Spanish galleons and a force of 5,000 men, the Revenge with her 190-man crew was captured (Sept. 9/10, 1591). A few days later the wounded Grenville died on board the Spanish flagship. His exploit is commemorated in Tennyson’s poem “The Revenge.”

Richard Grenville, III

“He [Richard II] was succeeded by his eldest son, Richard, who held the manor of Bideford by half a knight’s fee of the honour of Gloucester in the reign of Henry the Second, and in the twelfth year of the same reign he is mentioned in the rolls as holding three knights fees and a half in Devon and Cornwall. In the second year of the reign of King John, 1200, he was knighted, being styled Lord of Bideford and Kilkhampton… In the year 1204 King John (by a charter dated the 14th September), granted and confirmed to him, by the name of Richard, eldest begotton son of Richard de Grenvil, the marriage of the daughter and heir of Thomas de Middleton, with all her inheritance, fees, etc.”[1]

“In Bennett’s History of Tewkesbury, pp. 340-344, we find that the living of Bideford had been given in the reign of Henry the First to Tewkesbury Abbey, the patronage being vested in Mabel, Countess of Gloucester. This Richard de Greinville had the misfortune to become involved in legal proceedings with the Abbot of Tewkesbury concerning the advowson of the Churches of Bideford and Kilkhampton and in the second year of the reign of King John he paid forty marks and a palfry to have an assize against that prelate. The lawsuit lasted many years, but at last a compromise was effected in his grandson’s time, and we read in “Nevyll’s Registers,” fol. 7, that the advowson of St. Mary’s Church, Bideford, was annexed to the manor of Bideford. [2]

“He married, according to Austin’s pedigree, one Gundreda, by whom he left a young family, all under age at the time of his death, 1204. The king gave the land and wardship to Richard Fleminge… [3]

1.↑ Roger Granville, The History of the Granville Family (1895), p. 31. 2.↑ Roger Granville, The History of the Granville Family (1895), pp. 31-32. 3.↑ Roger Granville, The History of the Granville Family (1895), p. 32.

Biography ==Sir Richard Grenville, (born June 15, 1542𠅍ied September 1591) colourful and daring English naval commander who fought heroically, against overwhelming odds, in a celebrated encounter with a Spanish fleet off Flores Island in the Azores.

He fought with the imperial army against the Turks in Hungary (1566�). Next he helped to suppress an uprising in Munster, Ireland, in 1568�, and between 1573 and 1575 he made preparations for a voyage of discovery to the South Pacific, hoping to locate a northwest passagefrom England to China. For political reasons the expedition was nevermade, but Sir Francis Drake adopted the plan for his circumnavigationvoyage of 1577�. In 1585 Grenville commanded the fleet that carried 100 English colonists to Roanoke Island in present-day North Carolina, and in 1589� he worked to establish a plantation in the Irish province of Munster (modern counties of Clare, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary, and Waterford). Recalled to England in 1591, Grenville was made second in command (under Lord Thomas Howard) of a squadron of about 15 vessels sent to intercept a Spanish treasure fleet off the Azores. When 53 Spanish vessels approached to protect their treasure ships, the English retreated, butGrenville was delayed and cut off. Undaunted, he attempted to run hisship, the Revenge, through the Spanish line. After 15 hours of hand-to-hand combat against 15 Spanish galleons and a force of 5,000 men, the Revenge with her 190-man crew was captured (Sept. 9/10, 1591). A fewdays later the wounded Grenville died on board the Spanish flagship. His exploit is commemorated in Tennyson’s poem “The Revenge.” Richard Grenville was the eldest son and heir of Sir Roger Grenville (d.1545), who was captain of the Mary Rose when it sank in Portsmouth Harbour in 1545, by his wife Thomasine Cole, daughter of Thomas Cole ofSlade.[1] Thomasine remarried to Thomas Arundell.[1] The ancient Grenville family were lords of the manors of Bideford in Devon and of Stowe, Kilkhampton in Cornwall. He was a cousin of Sir Walter Raleigh and the privateer and explorer Humphrey Gilbert. Grenville's birthplace is believed to have been at Bideford. His father (who had pre-deceased his own father Sir Richard Grenville (c.1495-1550), MP for Cornwall in 1529[2]) died when he was an infant, aged 3,and his mother remarried to Thomas Arundell of Clifton Arundell House, where Grenville spent much of his childhood. At age 17 Grenville began law studies at the Inner Temple. In 1565 Grenville married Mary St Leger (c.1543-1623), daughter of SirJohn St Ledger of Annery, Monkleigh, near Bideford, and heir to her brother. She outlived her husband and died aged about 80 on 9 November 1623 and was buried at St Mary's Church, Bideford. The family initially lived at Buckland Abbey before moving to a newly built house at Bideford. They had 4 sons, including Bernard Grenville.[4]

GRENVILLE, Sir Richard (1600-1659), of Fitzford, nr. Tavistock, Devon.

bap. 26 June 1600, 2nd s. of Sir Bernard Grenville&dagger (d.1636) of Stowe, nr. Kilkhampton, Cornw. and Elizabeth, da. and h. of Philip Bevill of Killigarth, Cornw. bro. of Bevill*.1 educ. ?Oxf. Leiden 16342 vol. Netherlands 1618-c.1620, ?Germany 1634-9.3 m. c.Nov. 1628,4 Mary (admon. 20 May 1672),5 da. and h. of Sir John Fitz of Fitzford and wid. of (Sir) Allan Percy* (d.1611) of Tower Hill, London, Thomas Darcy (d.1612) and Sir Charles Howard (d.1622), 1s. (?d.v.p.) 1da.6 kntd. 20 June 16277 cr. bt. 9 Apr. 1630.8 d. 21 Oct. 1659.9 sig. Ry[chard] Grenvile.

Offices Held

Capt. Germany c.1620-3,10 Cadiz expedition 1625,11 lt. Netherlands 1624,12 sgt.-maj. Île de Ré 1627,13 col. Som. 1628,14 officer, 1st Bps.’ War 1639,15 maj. horse, 2nd Bps.’ War 1640,16 maj. horse, Ire. 1641-3,17 gov. of Trim, co. Meath 1642-3,18 lt.-gen. (parl.), 1643-4,19 ‘Field Marshal’ (roy.), Plymouth, Devon 1644-5,20 Taunton, Som. and Lyme Regis, Dorset 1645, maj.-gen. Western army 1645.21

Gent. of the privy chamber (extraordinary) 1628-31, by 1641.22

J.p. Devon 1629-33,23 commr. piracy 1630,24 sheriff by 1645.25


Virtually nothing is known of Grenville’s early life. He is said to have attended Oxford, but does not appear in the college records. As a younger son he could not expect a substantial inheritance his father Sir Bernard was prominent in local administration but not especially wealthy. The example of his famous grandfather and namesake, Sir Richard Grenville&dagger of the Revenge, doubtless helped to point him to a military career.26 In 1618 he volunteered for service in the Netherlands, and graduated from there to the ill-fated regiment sent to protect the Palatinate against Imperial troops. By 1623, when the outnumbered and poorly supplied Englishmen were forced to withdraw, Grenville had acquired the rank of captain and a record of energetic leadership. He was back in the Netherlands in 1624, this time as a lieutenant, and in the following year served on the unsuccessful Cadiz expedition under another Low Countries veteran, Sir John Burgh.27

Grenville’s next campaign was the 1627 Île de Ré expedition, during which he was wounded and mistakenly reported dead.28 An eyewitness journal, The Expedition to the Isle of Rhee, has been ascribed to him. However, while its criticism of the duke of Buckingham for preferring the advice of ‘insinuating sycophants’ to that of his commanders is reminiscent of Grenville’s later works, there is too little evidence to permit a firm attribution, and Grenville had scant cause at this juncture to attack the duke.29 Buckingham probably knighted him immediately before the expedition, and was credited with helping to arrange his marriage in 1628 to Lady Mary Howard, a wealthy heiress.30 This union must initially have seemed the answer to Grenville’s growing debts, but even before the wedding there were signs of trouble. For some years Mary had been battling with her former brother-in-law the 2nd earl of Suffolk (Theophilus Howard*, Lord Walden) over the jointure estate due to her following her third husband’s death. Although she obtained a ruling in her favour in Chancery in November 1628, Suffolk refused to accept this judgment, so drawing Grenville into the dispute.31 At the same time, to protect herself against a recurrence of these problems, Mary insisted on a pre-nuptial agreement which left her in total control of her estates, contrary to the standard practice of the day. Grenville could receive the rents and profits, but only with his wife’s consent, a condition which soon proved irksome.32

Grenville probably owed his election as a Fowey burgess in the 1628 Parliament to Buckingham’s patronage. It would have been natural for him to align himself with John Mohun* and (Sir) James Bagg II*, Buckingham’s West Country agents, and indeed he enlisted Bagg’s help when he missed the sailing of the expedition to La Rochelle in September 1628 through failure to report for duty on time.33 Certainly he was more in sympathy with his father, a Mohun ally, than with his brother Bevill, who supported Buckingham’s opponents John Coryton* and (Sir) John Eliot*. On 20 Mar. 1628, three days after the Parliament opened, Coryton accused Grenville’s father Sir Bernard and others of attempting to block his election as a Cornish knight of the shire. When Eliot, Sir Edward Coke and Sir Robert Phelips backed Coryton’s demand for an inquiry, Grenville angrily denounced their speeches as malicious, and avoided being called to the bar of the House only through the intervention of Phelips, who excused his behaviour on the grounds of parliamentary inexperience. Grenville learnt from this mistake, and on 22 Apr. saved Sir Bernard from being summoned to London by a well-judged offer, laced with parliamentary courtesies, to accept any punishment due himself rather than see his sick father put to such trouble.34 Apart from these interventions, Grenville played little part in the Common’s proceedings. On 24 Mar. he was named to a committee for framing a bill on impressment, and on 15 May he gave evidence during an inquiry into alleged abuses in billeting soldiers formerly under his command perpetrated by Sir John Stawell* at Taunton, Somerset, earlier that year.35

Grenville’s marriage brought a temporary halt to his military career. He had already been granted the post of gentleman of the king’s privy chamber, presumably through Buckingham’s influence and residence at Fitzford, his wife’s ancestral home, brought him a place in local government. However, relations with his wife quickly turned sour. In part, Mary proved too strong-willed and independent for Grenville’s liking, but money was also a major cause of contention. Grenville spent lavishly during his marriage, purchasing a baronetcy in 1630 and stocking his wardrobe with clothing worked with gold and jewels. However, Mary’s estates were apparently less extensive than he had anticipated, and in addition to his own debts, Grenville was now responsible for debts his wife had accumulated prior to their marriage, not least the considerable and long-delayed expense of suing out her livery to end her status as a royal ward. In November 1629 Grenville launched a series of law suits aimed at overturning the pre-nuptial agreement and harrassing Mary’s principal creditor, her former steward George Cuttford, who had drawn up the settlement. To protect her own position, Mary sided with Cuttford, and in 1630 came to terms with Suffolk, her erstwhile enemy, who encouraged her to separate from her husband.36 The earl was still refusing to accept the 1628 Chancery decree, and now used his position as a privy councillor to victimize Grenville, who had refused to drop the matter. In 1630-1 Grenville was summoned three times to attend the Council on insubstantial charges.37 Eventually accused of denouncing Suffolk as a ‘base lord’, in February 1632 he was fined £8,000 for slander in Star Chamber and confined to the Fleet. Within days the Court of Wards put the Fitzford estate into trust, in order to secure the unpaid livery, so that although Grenville was still expected to meet Mary’s other debts and pay her alimony, he was deprived of his principal means of doing so. This experience left him permanently embittered. He remained in the Fleet until October 1633, when he somehow contrived his escape and fled the country.38

Very little is known of Grenville’s movements during the next six years. By his own account he fought for Sweden in the Thirty Years War but he also found time to enrol as a mathematics student at Leiden in early 1634. On reports of preparations for the First Bishops’ War in 1639 he returned to England and offered his services to the king, then used this show of loyalty as a platform for resuming his attacks on his wife and Suffolk. In December 1640 he secured a parliamentary committee hearing of his case, but the outcome is not known.39 In February 1642 Grenville joined the English forces attempting to suppress the Irish rebellion. As garrison commander at Trim he acquired a reputation for effective but periodically brutal tactics against the rebels, which allegedly included the slaughter of civilians. Grenville’s morale-boosting victory at Rathconnell in January 1643 was widely reported in England but he also tended to overestimate his powers of leadership, and his conduct at the Battle of Ross in March 1643 was called into question after he was briefly forced into retreat. Significantly for the future, he refused to relinquish the command of Trim to a higher-ranking officer who brought reinforcements in May 1642.40

By the summer of 1643 Grenville was disillusioned with the war effort in Ireland, where a truce was being negotiated. Although he later asserted that he had been summoned back to England to join the king’s forces there, and was indeed arrested at Liverpool on suspicion of royalism, he initially sided with parliament, probably with a view to preserving his freedom and obtaining his arrears of pay for his Irish service.41 In December 1643 Grenville accepted a commission as lieutenant-general of horse under Sir William Waller&dagger, and joined the parliamentarian Council of War, gaining access to its military secrets. He then flamboyantly defected to the king in March 1644, writing to the Common’s Speaker to blame Parliament for driving him to this course. Ever after, he was one of the most reviled of royalist commanders, popularly known in the parliamentarian press as ‘Skellum (scoundrel) Grenville’.42

If he was expecting instant high promotion in the royalist forces, Grenville was disappointed, though as his wife had sided with parliament he was granted her sequestered lands in Devon and Cornwall. He also secured the imprisonment of George Cuttford, and, on a dubious charge of spying, the execution of one of his wife’s lawyers.43 However, his first serious military task, the command of the force blockading Plymouth, had given him little scope for action when, in July 1644, he was forced to withdraw as the 3rd earl of Essex’s parliamentarian army swept through the West Country. Grenville now showed his mettle, leading an orderly retreat into western Cornwall, and regrouping for what proved to be an equally swift counter-attack when Essex was cut off by the arrival of the king’s own army. For his contribution to the overwhelming royalist victory at Lostwithiel at the end of August, he was rewarded with fresh estates in Devon and Cornwall, becoming temporarily a very wealthy man.44 This was the high point of Grenville’s Civil War campaign. After Lostwithiel he was given command of most of the royalist forces in Devon and Cornwall, on the strength of which he adopted the title ‘The King’s General in the West’. He was also the royalist appointee as sheriff of Devon. However, the stalemate at Plymouth continued, despite Grenville’s promises of a breakthrough, and his growing frustration is seen in the mass execution of prisoners taken near the town in October 1644.45

During 1645, the royalist war effort collapsed. Whether Grenville could have done more to delay the parliamentarian advance into the West Country is open to question. He was more conscious than several of his fellow commanders of the need to maintain discipline among his troops and avoid alienating the local populations which provided the army’s pay and reinforcements. However, his uncompromising attempts to secure men and money put him at odds with the civilian authorities of Devon in particular, who accused him of lining his own pockets.46 He also alienated the Council set up under Prince Charles to co-ordinate royalist operations in the West by his periodic insubordination. Grenville combined unshakeable faith in his personal powers of leadership with an increasingly narrow focus on his own military priorities. He resisted efforts to remove him from his command at Plymouth in February 1645, but resigned his command at Lyme Regis in June when promised reinforcements were necessarily diverted elsewhere. His quarrels with another rival commander, Lord Goring (George Goring&dagger), helped to prevent the relief of Bristol in September, though Goring’s own conduct was no more creditable.47 In fairness, the royalist high command did little to improve the situation. Grenville and Berkeley were given overlapping jurisdictions in Devon, and the king overruled the Prince’s Council to award Goring the leadership of a proposed new consolidated army in May after Grenville had already been appointed. It was widely acknowledged that Grenville’s local connections and military reputation were vital for keeping the Cornish levies in the field, but in November he displayed his feeble grasp of politics when he proposed that Prince Charles should place his hope in Cornwall alone and unilaterally come to terms with Parliament. This seriously undermined the prince’s trust in him, and he was finally arrested in January 1646 for refusing to accept a commission under Lord Hopton (Ralph Hopton*).48

Imprisoned without trial for nearly two months, Grenville escaped to France in March during the general evacuation of royalist leaders from Cornwall. Shortly afterwards, he wrote a pamphlet, a Narrative of the proceedings of his Majesty’s affairs in the West of England, a very selective account of events since early 1645, which alleged that plots against him by his fellow commanders and the Prince’s Council had substantially contributed to the royalist defeat. Sir Edward Hyde&dagger, a member of the Council, replied with his own version of events, which, as Lord Clarendon, he later incorporated into his History of the Rebellion. Hyde’s vituperative attack on Grenville’s conduct confirmed the latter’s prejudices, and he thereafter regarded Hyde as his greatest enemy.49 Despite this, Grenville continued to offer his services to the royalist cause, and after a year spent in Italy occupied himself with abortive plans for risings in Ireland and the West Country. In 1653 he alienated himself from the king by a clumsy attempt to discredit Hyde, and this disgrace prompted him to pen another self-justificatory tract, his Defence against all aspersions of malignant persons. Drawing parallels between his treatment at the hands of royal councillors in the 1630s and 1646, Grenville portrayed himself as a loyal but wronged subject. He ended the piece pathetically expressing the hope that he might die quietly in England.50 In fact he remained in exile, engaged in a lengthy legal contest with the son of his old enemy Suffolk, was only partially reconciled with the king by the time he died at Ghent in October 1659. His son is said to have died during the 1650s, and administration of his estate was granted to his daughter on 17 Aug. 1661. No will is known to survive. His grave is also lost, but it is said to have borne the inscription ‘Sir Richard Grenville, the king’s general in the West’.51


Valid hypotheses about the Lost Colony of 1587 on Roanoke Island have existed since the settlers' disappearance. In 1603, Bartholomew Gilbert attempted the last contemporary expedition to locate the colonists, but his search ended with the death of himself and four crewmen at the hands of Algonquian natives. John Smith, an influential leader of the Jamestown Colony of 1607, had heard stories from Native American chiefs about villages where some of the men wore European-style clothing. His search efforts would come up empty-handed, except for producing a map showing the locations of the suspected communities with walled housing. It wasn't until 1701 with John Lawson's expedition to the then Province of Carolina that a European exploration would again check the Roanoke site along with the Croatoan area, which became Hatteras Island. Lawson's examination of Roanoke yielded few clues except for the ruins of a fort and some English items. His meeting with the Hatteras natives, however, provided a curious revelation: some of the Hatteras tribal members had gray eyes and claimed a few of their ancestors were white. After Lawson's search, with inconclusive evidence and no forensic methodology at the time, interest in the Lost Colony's fate faded over the decades. In the 430 years since the colonist's disappearance, hypotheses ranging from massacre and conspiracy to assimilation have remained unprovable. Even with tantalizing finds through recent archaeology and DNA research, we are still one conclusive discovery away from declaring the story of the Lost Colony of Roanoke, a "Mystery Solved!"

Theodor de Bry’s engraving of John White’s illustration of “Arriual of the Englishemen in Virginia” in 1585. From the Digital Public Library of America, Courtesy of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill via North Carolina Digital Heritage Center.

The Lost Colony, design by William Ludwell Sheppard, engraving by William James Linton. From A popular history of the United States: from the first discovery of the western hemisphere by the Northmen, to the end of the first century of the union of the states

“The arrival of the Englishmen in Virginia (1590). Engraving by Theodor De Bry, from a drawing by John White: Map showing the coast of Virginia with many islands just off the mainland, two Native territories, Secotan and Weapemeoc, and the Native community of Roanoak on an island at the mouth of a river.”

Watercolor of a Secotan village, by John White

Sir Walter Raleigh, from 1588

Sir Richard Grenville, circa 1571

“Thomas Harriot, who translated and learned the Carolina Algonquian language from Wanchese and Manteo.”

“Warrior of the Secotan Indians in North Carolina. Watercolour painted by John White in 1585.” Thought to be a portrait of Manteo

“‘A chiefe Herowan,’ or watercolor by John White depicting the weroance ("chief") of a Native American community. The identity of the man and his tribe are unknown, but he is generally presumed to be the Secotan leader Wingina.”

“Ceremony of Secotan warriors in North Carolina. Watercolour painted by John White in 1585. British Museum, London.”

“'The Flyer', a Secotan Indian holy man or "conjuror" (as the British often called them) painted by John White in 1585. British Museum, London.”

“Dancing Secotan (Roanoke) Indians in North Carolina. Watercolour painted by John White in 1585.”

Assault on Aquascogoc Uncredited, from John L. Denison (ed.) (1868) An Illustrated History of the New World

“A 1962 illustration depicting the artist's reconstruction of the fort built by Ralph Lane for the 1585 Roanoke Colony. In modern times the fort has come to be known as "Fort Raleigh," particularly since efforts to restore the earthwork at Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. From Search for the Cittie of Ralegh by J. C. Harrington (1962)”

“Death of George Howe” by Henry Davenport Northrop, 1836-1909

“John White at the ruins of the Roanoke Colony in 1590, Engraving by John Parker Davis - Columbus and Columbia: A Pictorial History of the Man and the Nation (1893)”

Richard Hakluyt pictured in a stained glass window in the West Window of the South Transept of Bristol Cathedral, photo by Charles Eamer Kempe.

“Contemporary Flemish interpretation of the launching of English fire-ships against the Spanish Armada, 7 August 1588”

Defeat of the Spanish Armada, 8 August 1588 by Philip James de Loutherbourg (1796)”

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Roanoke Island in the Outer Banks of the state of North Carolina, USA, where John White’s colony of English settlers disappeared sometime after 1587

History-Sir Richard Grenville

The son of the Cornish Captain Roger Grenville who went down on the Mary Rose in 1545, Sir Richard Grenville was born in 1542. He became a student at Inner Temple in 1559. In 1563 Grenville served Cornwall in Parliament, he was also pardoned for killing a man in a duel that same year. He later served with special distinction in Turkey under Emperor Maxmilian. On his return he became the sheriff of Cork afterwards returning to his family estates at Biddeford and again represented Cornwall in the Parliament in 1571. He was knighted sometime after this for his service in Ireland against the Catholics. Grenville never having believed in a Northwest Passage submitted a proposal in 1574 to search south for a passage west to Queen Elizabeth, but fearing attack the Spanish requested her refusal. Had he waited a few years until the Queen was of a more Anti-Spanish mind his name could be among the famous explorers of the day. He became sheriff of Cornwall in 1577 it was during this time that he was involved in the arrest and imprisonment of Cuthbert Mayne who was later given sainthood. He spent these years at Buckland Abbey, which he sold to his cousin Sir Walter Raleigh in 1580. At 43 in 1585 he captained his first major sea voyage, a colonizing expedition to Virginia at the Roanoke Islands in his cousin Raleigh’s stead. On the way he captured 2 Spanish ships and on the return voyage captured the Santa Maria de San Vicente from which came very great profit. He sailed along side the Santa Maria for 3 days when on the third day the Spanish ship came about and attacked. In the battle his own ship was destroyed but he and what remained of his crew made a raft of sea chests and finished taking the Spanish ship most of who’s crew had gone down with his ship. When he returned to resupply the colony after returning home, it was deserted and had either both failed and been abandoned or all the occupants had died. It the following year Grenville organized the land defenses that were never needed when the Great Spanish Armada was beaten at sea by Sir Walter Raleigh. In 1591 Grenville was commissioned as second to Lord Thomas Howard on a voyage of legal piracy to the Azores in a squadron of 13 ships. They were there to capture Spanish treasure fleets as they left South America for the long journey home. While anchored off Flores to gather fresh water and tend to men sick from a catastrophic sickness on August 31, a Spanish fleet numbering 53 ships, 15 of which were great ships, surprised the fleet. Guarding the rear of the retreat Grenville in the “Revenge,” a ship that had flown Raleigh’s flags at the defeat of the Armada, was surrounded making good the escape of the other 12 ships. Of Grenvilles 200 men only half were healthy enough to fight. He and those remaining men, 40 of which were killed in the fighting held off those 15 great ships for 15 hours sinking 2 and making another 5 unfit to sail while doing injury to many more. After running out of ammunition and surrendering himself on the sole condition that his men be released back to England Grenville was taken onto one of the remaining ships where he died from wounds sustained in the battle 2 days later. Ever unrelenting it is said that he, as a show of English resilience consumed a wineglass while on board the enemy ship. This victory was a greater moral defeat to the Spanish than the defeat of the Armada and was quickly followed by Spain’s decline as a super power on the sea. Lord Howard was quoted as saying of the men of the “Revenge”, “God send us to sea in such a company together again, when need is.”

Early America—European Exploration

Viking expeditions to Canada—The first exploration of the American continents by Europeans that was definitely recorded in the historical records of the time is the voyage of Leif Ericsson , which occurred around 1000 A.D. The height of Viking exploration and expansion were the 9th through 11th centuries, during an extended period of "global warming", when the climates of Iceland, Greenland, and the Nordic countries are thought to have been considerably more temperate than they currently are. Leif Ericson's voyages occurred during this period, and he reported finding so many grapes and berries in the regions of Canada he discovered (probably the coast of Newfoundland), that he referred to the region as Vineland.

Although the Viking explorers found the harbors and climate of the new continent to their liking, the land was populated by hostile natives. Since they were greatly outnumbered, they abandoned the colony after a few years. Their journey, however, was recorded in the Icelandic Chronicles of the age.

Spaniards in North America—The Spanish exploration of North America began with Christopher Columbus and for most of the 16th century, almost all serious exploration of the New World was conducted by Spaniards. For the first thirty years of Spanish colonization, the islands of Haiti and Cuba were the base of Spanish operations. From these islands, the Spaniards sent out dozens of ships to explore the mainland, but no wholesale conquest was attempted until Cortez's daring and unauthorized raid on the Aztec capital of Mexico. Pizarro's conquest of the Incan kingdom in the Andes soon followed, and due to the nearly unlimited riches in gold and silver found in Mexico and Peru, Spanish development from that time concentrated almost entirely in regions south of the United States.

The two most famous Spanish explorers of the southern United States were Ponce de Leon , and Hernando De Soto . Both were ambitious explorers, driven by prospects of riches and glory. Ponce de Leon was a governor of Puerto Rico, who led several expeditions to Florida in early 1500's supposedly in search of the "Fountain of Youth". Although it is certain he explored the regions, he encountered hostile natives, and failed to find either gold, or magical waters, and he was killed when one of his early settlements was attacked by natives.

Hernando de Soto was already a wealthy and famous conquistador when he undertook an ambitious expedition to the Southeast United States. He played a dramatic role in the conquest of Peru, but sought even more glory for himself, so in 1439, with a party of over 600 men, he embarked on an inland trek through what is now the southeast United States. He traveled for three years several thousand miles from Florida, through Georgia, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi, before dying in Arkansas. Although he explored a great deal of territory, and is credited with discovering the Mississippi River, his expedition was considered a failure because he failed to find gold or other treasures. His party had many encounters with southeast Indian tribes, the most famous of which was his battle with Tuscaloosa .

Other early Spanish explorers in North America were Cabeza de Vaca , one of the few survivors of the disastrous Panfilo de Narvaez expedition Pedro Menendez , founder of St. Augustine and first Spanish governor of Florida, and Juan Pardo, who led another disastrous Spanish expedition into the inland territories of the southwest. Far to the west, Francisco de Coronado led an expeditition through New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Although most of his followers returned alive, he failed to find significant cities, gold, or minerals that had been the object of his expedition. The Spaniards did not establish a permanent colony in the west for another fifty years, when Juan de Onate founded the city of Santa Fe.

French Explorers in North America—The first well-known French explorer of the Americas was Jacques Cartier , who led three voyages between 1534 and 1542. Cartier's primary goal was to explore the northern regions in search for a passage to Asia, and he avoided those regions already actively colonized by the Spanish. The first French settlers in America were Huguenots, who established a colony in Northern Florida that was soon destroyed by the Spanish. From that time, French colonization occurred far north of Spanish influence, primarily around the St. Lawrence Seaway, the Great Lakes, and the Mississippi River valley.

Whereas the early Spanish explorers sought gold and often enslaved natives to work on their mines or plantations, the French primarily sought to trade furs and developed positive relationships with the Indians. French Jesuits, such as Isaac Jogues , and other missionaries lived among the Indians and attempted to convert them to Christianity without disrupting their livelihood. In most of its wars with the British colonies in later years, the French depended heavily on the support of their Indian allies.

The most important French exploration and expansion in the New World occurred in the early 17th century. Samuel de Champlain founded the permanent settlements of Quebec and Montreal. Pere Marquette and Joliett explored the upper Mississippi and Great Lakes region, and Rene La Salle led an expedition from the Great Lakes to the mouth of the Mississippi, claiming the entire Mississippi Valley for France.

Early English Exploration in North America—The first permanent English colonies in America were not settled until the early 17th century, after England had established naval supremacy over Spain. Until that time, though English explorers frequently visited the New World, traded with the Indians, charted the northern seas, and searched for a "Northwest Passage" to the east, they did not establish any sort of permanent settlement.

The first explorer to sail to the New World under the English flag was John Cabot , who sailed for Henry VII only a few years after Columbus. He landed briefly in Newfoundland and claimed the territory for England, but further English exploration did not occur for another fifty years. The reign of Queen Elizabeth was the hey-day of English exploration, when English sailors such as Martin Frobisher , Humphrey Gilbert , and John Davis explored the northern regions of Canada, in search of a Northwest passage. Meanwhile Walter Raleigh and Richard Grenville worked unsuccessfully to establish a British colony at Roanoke in Virginia, and other famous sailors, such as Thomas Cavendish and Francis Drake , sailed around the southern tip of the Americas and harrassed the Spanish galleons in the region.

The most important English explorer of the age was Henry Hudson , after whom both the Hudson river in New York, and Hudson Bay in Canada, are named. He was a fearless explorer, but was killed when his crew mutinied, and cast him and his son adrift in Hudson Bay. By the time the English planted permanent colonies in the New World, a great deal of the coastline had been charted, trade with Indians had already been established and ambitious fishermen had already discovered the shoals of cod off the coast of Newfoundland.



ATKA: All the King's Armies, Stuart Reid (Staplehurst 1998)

CCW: Confederate Catholics at War 1641-49, Pádraig Lenihan (Cork 2001)

CHGR: Clarendon's History of the Great Rebellion, Roger Lockyer (ed) (Folio Society 1967)

CII: Charles II, King of England, Scotland and Ireland, Ronald Hutton (Oxford 1989)

DNB: Dictionary of National Biography

HGCW3: History of the Great Civil War vol. iii, S.R. Gardiner (London 1889)

HGCW4: History of the Great Civil War vol. iv, S.R. Gardiner (London 1894)

IB: Irish Battles, G.A. Hayes-MacCoy (London 1969)

NUS: A Nation Under Siege, the civil war in Wales 1642-48, Peter Gaunt (HMSO 1991)

ODNB: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

RCRS: Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Scotland 1644-1651, David Stevenson (Newton Abbott 1977)

SA: Scots Armies of the English Civil Wars, Stuart Reid (Osprey 1999)

SGCW: Sieges of the Great Civil War, P. Young and W. Emberton (London 1978)

TCG: The Cromwellian Gazetteer, Peter Gaunt (Stroud 1987)

TGCW: The Great Civil War, A.H. Burne and P. Young (London 1958)

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WWA: The Work of the Westminster Assembly, John Murray (Presbyterian Guardian 1942)

David Plant, Timeline 1646, BCW Project

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License
Text updated: 11 June 2010

Richard Nixon Timeline

Richard Milhous Nixon was born in Yorba Linda, California to Frank and Hannah Milhous Nixon, he was the second born of five brothers.

Frank Nixon sold the family home and lemon grove in Yorba Linda, and moved the family to nearby Whittier, California.

Richard Nixon finished 3rd in his high school class and won numerous awards, including the Harvard Club California award for outstanding all-around student, which earned him a scholarship to Harvard University. Due to the family’s limited finances, Nixon had to forgo the scholarship and instead attended Whittier College.

At Whittier College, Richard Nixon was elected student body president, founder and president of the Orthogonian Society, joined the debate team, acted in several plays, and was on the football team.

Family / Military Service

At Whittier College, Richard Nixon was elected student body president, founder and president of the Orthogonian Society, joined the debate team, acted in several plays, and was on the football team.

Met his future wife, Pat Ryan, at a Whittier Community Players tryout for the play, “The Dark Tower.”

June 21, 1940

Married Pat Ryan at the Mission Inn in Riverside, California.

June 21, 1940

Married Pat Ryan at the Mission Inn in Riverside, California.

Began work as an attorney at the Office for Price Administration (OPA) in Washington D.C. where he witnessed first-hand the problems of government bureaucracy. The experience greatly influenced the policies Nixon would later develop during his political career.

August, 1942

Richard Nixon was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Navy.

January – July 1944

Richard Nixon received a battle-station assignment for the South Pacific, first at Bougainville and then at Green Island. While in Bougainville, he opened a “Nick’s Hamburger Stand” for flight crews on their way to battle missions. He also developed a skill for poker, which quickly became a great diversion while on active duty.

September 1945

Richard Nixon was urged by Republican leaders in Whittier to run for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

January 1946

Richard Nixon was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy with the rank of lieutenant commander.

February 21, 1946

Richard and Pat Nixon welcomed their first daughter, Tricia.

Political Career

November 1946

Richard Nixon defeated five-term veteran Democratic Congressman Jerry Voorhis and was elected to represent California’s 12th district in the U.S. House of Representatives.

November 1946

Richard Nixon was appointed by the Speaker of the House to a special committee, led by Representative Christian Herter of Massachusetts. Nixon was tasked with traveling throughout Europe and preparing a report on the Marshall Plan.

Richard Nixon worked as lead committee member in the investigation of accused Soviet spy Alger Hiss, which ultimately uncovered Hiss’ role in the Communist Party and conviction on charge of perjury.

Richard Nixon was elected to the U.S. Senate, defeating Democratic Congresswoman and one-time Hollywood starlet Helen Gahagan Douglas.

July 11, 1952

The Republican National Convention ratified by acclamation Dwight Eisenhower’s choice of Richard Nixon as his Vice Presidential running mate.

September 23, 1952

Richard Nixon gave his famous televised Checkers’ Speech, refuting false charges of fiscal impropriety, retaining his position as Vice Presidential candidate to General Dwight D. Eisenhower, and gaining nationwide support.

November 4, 1952

General Eisenhower was elected President of the United States. Richard Nixon was elected as his Vice President.

Spring 1953

At the request of President Eisenhower, Vice President Nixon—along with Pat Nixon—made a two-month goodwill trip to over 30 countries throughout Asia and the Middle East.

September 1955

President Eisenhower suffered from a heart attack. In his absence, Vice President Nixon presided over regular Cabinet and National Security Council meetings.

Spring 1958

Vice President and Mrs. Nixon made a goodwill trip to South America, visiting Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela. In Caracas, Venezuela, the Vice President and Second Lady narrowly escaped death after a violent communist mob attacks this motorcade.

July 24, 1959

Vice President Nixon went head-to-head with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev on the merits of freedom versus communism at the American Exhibition in Moscow in what became famously known as the “Kitchen Debate.”

Vice President Nixon runs for President of the United States. His opponent was Senator John F. Kennedy. The two candidates participated in the first televised debates in American history. Kennedy defeated Nixon by the smallest popular-vote margin in American history.

Richard Nixon wrote his first book, “Six Crises.” He ran for governor of California against the incumbent Governor Pat Brown and lost.


During his years as a private citizen, former Vice President Nixon traveled across the globe and met world leaders, and campaigned tirelessly across the country for Republican candidates in the 1964 and 1966 elections.

August 8, 1968

Richard Nixon was nominated as the Republican candidate for President and pledged to bring the nation together.

November 5, 1968

Richard Nixon was elected President of the United States, beating Vice President Hubert Humphrey and Alabama Governor George Wallace in the general election.


January 20, 1969

Richard Nixon was inaugurated as the Thirty-Seventh President of the United States, declaring in his inaugural address,”The greatest honor that history can bestow is the title of peacemaker.”

February 1969

Richard Nixon made his first foreign trip as President to Europe, where he visited France, Great Britain, Belgium, and the Vatican.

July 20, 1969

President Nixon made the longest long-distance phone call in history, as astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took mankind’s first steps on the moon.

July 25, 1969

President Nixon announced his new foreign policy doctrine in Guam that called for the United States to act within its national interest and keep all existing treaty commitments with its allies.

August 8, 1969

President Nixon gave his first major address on domestic policy announcing plans for welfare reform and returning greater authority to state and local governments.

November 3, 1969

President Nixon received overwhelming support from the “silent majority” following a televised address announcing his plan to honorably end the Vietnam War.

January 1, 1970

President Nixon signed the National Environmental Policy Act, and launched several environmental initiatives including the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, the Mammal Marine Protection Act, and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.

April 30, 1970

In a nationally televised address, President Nixon announced military incursion into Cambodia, where communist sanctuaries were aiding the North Vietnamese and Vietcong.

Fall 1970

President Nixon peacefully and effectively ended school segregation, leading Daniel Patrick Moynihan to say: “There has been more change in the structure of American public school education in the past month than in the past 100 years.”

June 12, 1970

President and Mrs. Nixon’s daughter Tricia married Edward Finch Cox in the Rose Garden at the White House.

July 15, 1971

President Nixon announced on national television that he had been invited to the People’s Republic of China, ending a quarter of a century of hostility between the U.S. and China.

October 12, 1971

A joint announcement was issued in Washington and Moscow confirming that President Nixon would visit the Soviet Union three months after returning from China.

February 21-28, 1972

President Nixon made a historic trip to China, meeting with Chairman Mao Zedong and Premier Zhou Enlai, and agreeing on a roadmap to peaceful relations through the Shanghai Communique. President Nixon called it ”the week that changed the world.”

May 21-27, 1972

President Nixon journeyed to the Soviet Union and signed the historic agreement on the limitation of strategic arms with Premier Leonid Brezhnev. He became the first President to visit the Soviet Union.

November 7, 1972

President Nixon was re-elected with largest mandate in American history, winning 49 out 50 states, and nearly 61 percent of the popular vote.

January 27, 1973

The United States, South Vietnam, Viet Cong, and North Vietnam formally sign “An Agreement Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam” in Paris.

February 1973

American POWs captured during the Vietnam War begin to return home.

May 24, 1973

The President and Mrs. Nixon host the largest dinner ever held at the White House for all the POWs who returned from Vietnam.

June 22, 1973

Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev visited the United States for the Summitt II talks. A Prevention of Nuclear War Agreement is signed.

October 1973

President Nixon provided massive American military aid to Israel during the Yom Kippur War, ensuring the survival of Israel.

Early 1974

President Nixon initiated the Middle East Peace process through “Shuttle Diplomacy”.

June 1974

President Nixon re-engaged the Middle East as the first president to visit Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Syria, and Saudi Arabia.

August 8, 1974

President Nixon announced his decision to resign as President of the United States due to the Watergate scandal.

August 9, 1974

President Nixon bid farewell to White House staff and returned to his home in San Clemente.

Post Presidency


Richard Nixon worked tirelessly as America’s Elder Statesman, advising his successors Ronald Regan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton.

Summer 1977

With over 45 million people watching, the Nixon-Frost interview became the most-ever watched political interviews in history.

Richard Nixon released his memoirs RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon, which sold more than 300,000 copies, becoming the best selling presidential memoir ever.

Richard Nixon finished his third book The Real War, which greatly influenced President Reagan’s foreign policy.

October 1981

Richard and Pat Nixon moved to Saddle River, New Jersey.

Richard Nixon finished his fourth book, Leaders.

Richard Nixon finished his fifth book, Real Peace.

Richard Nixon finishes his sixth book, No More Vietnams.

Richard Nixon finished his seventh book, 1999: Victory Without War.

July 19, 1990

President Nixon attended the dedication of the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace with four Presidents and their First Ladies, and 50,000 friends and supporters.

Richard Nixon finishes his eighth book, In the Arena: A Memoir of Victory, Defeat, and Renewal.

Summer 1990

Richard and Pat Nixon Nixon moved to Park Ridge, New Jersey.

Richard Nixon finished his ninth book, Seize the Moment: America’s Challenge In A One-Superpower World.

June 22, 1993

First Lady Pat Nixon died at home in Park Ridge, New Jersey, at the age of 81. She was laid to rest four days later at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, California.

January 1994

On the 25th Anniversary of his first inauguration, President Nixon opened the Nixon Center for Peace and Freedom, a Washington foreign policy think tank based on pragmatic and principled realism.

Richard Nixon finishes his tenth and final book, Beyond Peace, which was published posthumously.

April 22, 1994

President Nixon died at 81 in New York City.

April 27, 1994

President Nixon was laid to rest at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, California, next to First Lady Pat Nixon and just yards away from his birthplace and boyhood home. Presidents Bush, Reagan, Carter, and Ford attended the funeral, as did then-Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole. Rev. Billy Graham officiated the ceremonies which tens of millions observed on television. In his eulogy, Senator Dole said that the second half of the 20th century would be known as “The Age of Nixon.”

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