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Sir Richard Grenville

The son of Roger Grenville, captain of the Mary Rose when it sank in the Solent in 1545. He was only three at the time. The Grenville's lived in a great house at Stowe, near Kilkhampton in North Cornwall.

He himself had became a naval captain, commanding the Revenge. Steeped in naval tradition, he was a cousin of Sir Walter Raleigh and a friend of Sir Francis Drake.


In 1585, while commanding a fleet of five ships carrying colonists to Virginia, he captured a much larger Spanish ship.


In 1591, as second in command to Lord Thomas Howard, he took a small fleet to the Azores to lie in wit for a Spanish treasure fleet homeward bound from South America. However the Spanish heard about the English fleet, and sent a large fleet to protect their treasure ships. Lord Howard decided that they did not have enough ships to fight the Spaniards, and ordered the English fleet to up anchors and put to sea. Richard Grenville refused to leave his ninety sick men ashore, and vowed to stay and fight the enemy.


On August 31st 1591 the Revenge with about a hundred men fought a battle against some fifty Spanish ships and five thousand men. Battle was broken off as darkness fell, and the next day the Spaniards were amazed to see the Revenge still floating. Its mast and sails were gone, its holds were flooded, and only twenty men were left to fight, including the mortally wounded Grenville. Grenville called on his chief gunner to sink the Revenge to stop it falling into enemy hands, but the remaining crew begged him to surrender. Grenville agreed provided the Spanish would grant them full honours of war, and return them to England immediately. The Spanish commander agreed and the battle ended.


Grenville died of his wounds on the Spanish ship. Shortly afterwards an enormous storm sank the Revenge and 14 Spanish ships.





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