DRAKE’S GREAT EXPLOITS
Too Long; Didn't ReadFrancis Drake was born near Tavistock, Devonshire, where a colossal statue of the great navigator now stands. The date of his birth is uncertain. By local tradition it is given as about 1545, and this is generally accepted by his later biographers, but some authorities place it five years earlier. Authorities also differ as to his parentage. Some contemporary writers aver that his father was Robert Drake, first a sailor, afterward a preacher; according to others he was Edmond or Edmund Drake, also a sailor turned preacher, who, in 1560, became vicar of Upchurch in Kent, and died there in 1566. The second Sir Francis Drake, nephew of the navigator, related of the father that he suffered persecution, and “being forced to fly from his home near South Tavistocke in Devon unto Kent,” was there obliged “to inhabit in the hull of a shippe, wherein many of his younger sonnes were born.” He had twelve sons in all, “and as it pleased God to give most of them a being on the water so the great part of them dyed at sea.” William Camden, the contemporary historian 228and antiquarian, recorded that the father, after coming to Kent, earned his living by reading prayers to the seamen of the fleet in the River Medway.