John Hawkins was a climber. A true corckonian. A big generous friendly man. Tragically he died in the Alps in the summer of 1998.

I was going to use this node as an eulogy to him. To recount my memories, tell stories, turn bits into a fleeting memorial to a soul that should not have left so suddenly

And you, the unknown reader, will you think of those that have passed when you read this?. Will you think of those that will post/node of you when you are gone?

John Hawkins

This man is counted among the most important English commanders involved in the sea battle known as The Spanish Armada. His family consisted of many generations of merchants from Plymouth. As a result, he grew up an enterprising, successful man, rather than a rugged, uneducated seaman. His father 'Old William' created a prosperous business, and his brother 'Young William' continued working locally. Young William went on to be the Mayor of Plymouth in the Armada year, but John was destined for greater things.

John Hawkins lead the 3 famous slave voyages of the 1560's, when 'black ivory' was a legitimate commodity. Afterwards, Queen Elizabeth I made him Treasurer of the Navy. This position was the leading one in the quartet of Principal Officers of the Navy, otherwise known as the Navy Board. In short, they were responsible for the upkeep of the Queen's ships. Hawkins soon discovered dishonesty and pilfering at every level of the Navy, and he set about remedying this corruption. His new measures both brought his colleagues into line, and maintained excellent condition of the key ships which eventually fought in 1588. Thus (after enduring much resistance and criticism), Hawkins finally won the respect of everyone including the Lord Admiral himself who had this to say: "I protest before God and as my soul shall answer for it that I think there were never in any place in the world worthier ships than these are."

During his years as Treasurer of the Navy, John Hawkins saved the Queen approximately 4,000 pounds per year, a very substantial sum for those times. Moreover, his innovations in ship-construction lead to the creation of an entirely new type of war ship. When he took over, the 'great ships' of the fleet were more or less sea-fortresses - sluggish, clumsy, and very high in freeboard. Under John's instruction, new ships called 'galleons' were built. These were longer in relation to their breadth, lower in freeboard, were less fortified, and were far more manoeuvrable. Most impressively, the galleons had one continuous gun-deck. These features had never been seen before, and ultimately lead to the English triumph over the Armada fleet. According to contemporary and modern opinion, these ships were undoubtedly the best warships afloat in 1588.

John Hawkins went to sea to face the Armada in one of his galleons, and played a major part in both council and fight. During a lull in the action, he was knighted, as he so richly deserved.

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