Richard Hakluyt 1552-1616


Richard Hakluyt was born in Hereford and spent his boyhood at Eaton Hall near Leominster. He was to become famous for writing about voyages of discovery.
'The chief and ancientest of the Hakluyts' says Leland 'have been gentlemen in times out of memory; they took their name from the forest of Cluyd in Radnorshire, and they had a castle and a habitation not far from Radnor' The Hakluyts were recorded as being associates of Roger Mortimer (1287-1330) and Walter Ap-Llhwyd or Hakluyt was the high-sheriff of Herefordshire during the reign of Edward II, and the same office was held by other members of the family down to the age of Henry VIII. When Mary sat on the throne, two Hakluyts represented Leominster in parliament.

The Haluyts were given Eaton Hall by Owen Glendower when he invaded that part of Herefordshire in 1402.
William Hakluyt fought at the battle of Agincourt in 1415.
When he was old enough, Richard was sent to Westminster School, where he was a queen's scholar. Whilst in London he met up with his cousin, another Richard Hakluyt who spoke delightedly of "certain books of cosmologie, an universall mappe, and the Bible" inspired Richard to "prosecute that knowledge and kind of literature".
At the age of eighteen he became a student at Christ Church College, Oxford "his exercises of duty first performed", he set out to read all the printed or written voyages and discoveries that he could manage to get his hands on. Having just completed his Masters in 1575, he started to give lectures in public in geography, the first to show "both the old imperfectly composed maps and the new lately reformed mappes, globes, spheares, and other instruments of his art".
Have found out all this knowledge, he went on to write and publish in 1582 the book Divers Voyages Touching the Discoverie of America and the Ilands Adjacent unto the Same , Made first of all by our Englishmen and Afterward by the Frenchmen and Britons. Richard later produced The Principall Navigations, Voiages, and Discoveries of the English Nation. For this work, he used whenever he could, first-hand, eye-witness accounts.
This first book of Richard's attracted the attention of Lord Howard of Effingham who was to be one of the commanders of the Royal Navy against the Spanish Armada. Lord Howard got his brother-in-law, Sir Edward Stafford, interested too. Stafford , at the age of thirty, knew the "chieftest captaines at sea, the greatest merchants, and the best mariners of our nation". Richard was chosen as chaplain to accompany Stafford who had become the English Ambassador at the French Court, to Paris in 1583.
Richard was instructed by Secretary Francis Walsingham to gather information on the French and Spanish movements and also to engage in "making diligent inquirie of such things as might yield and light unto our westerne discoverie in America". In Paris, he was annnoyed to hear the French talking of how limited the English were as far as travel was concerned.
The church in Suffolk where Hakluyt lived The results of Richard's Parisian enquiries are incorporated in the most important work called A particuler discourse concerning Wesierne discoveries written in the yere 1584 by Richard Hackluyt of Oxforde, at the requeste and direction of the righte worshipfull Mr Walter Ragfly before the comynge home of his twoo barkes.
This manuscript was for a long time lost but was found again in the latter half of the 19th century and finally printed in 1877. What Richard by writing what he did was trying to encourage was the establishment of English settlements in places in North America where Europeans had not yet planted themselves.
Richard's other work is mainly of translations & compilations. From a few of his surviving letters we can know a bit about Richard himself.
1n 1584 Hakluyt came back to England where he presented Elizabeth I with a copy of his Discourse and in return before he went back to France she presented him with the grant of the next vacant prebend at Bristol which was open for him two years later and he held it with other preferements until his dying day.
Back beside the Seine, Richard took an interest in the publication of the manuscript journal of Laudonière, La histoire notable de la Florida, and he translated this into English and had it published in London in 1587 as A notable historie containing foure voyages made by certain French captaynes into Florida.
Also in 1587 the publication De orbe novo Petri Martyris Anglerii decades octo illustratae labore et industria Richardi Hackluyti appeared in the French capital. This contained a copperplate map signed by Francis Gaulle which was dedicated to Richard Hakluyt. It is on this map that the name of "Virginia" was first seen.
After being in France for five years, Richard returned to England in 1588 with Lady Stafford. The following year he published for the first time his main work The Principall Navigations , Voiages, and Discoveries of the English Nation . In this book he announced that he was planning to publish the first terrestial globe in England by Molyneux.

Wetheringsett


the village sign for Wetheringsett shows Hakluyt In 1590 he was instituted to the rectory of Witheringsett-cum-Brockford in Suffolk, where he remained the rector until 1610.
Between 1598-1600 he published the last, improved and much expanded version of the The Principall Navigations, Voiages, Traffiques, and Discoveries of the English Nation. A small number of the copies of this contain a very rare map indeed, the first on the Mercator projection that was drawn in England following the true directions established by Edward Wright. Richard's book has been described as the "prose epic of the modern English nation". It is of great value to historians as far as geographical discovery and colonization are concerned.
In 1601 Richard edited a translation from the Portuguese of Antonio Galvano The Discoveries of the World. That very year, the East India Company took him on as an advisor and he supplied them with maps and gave them information about markets.
In 1602 Richard was installed as prebendary of Westminster, and the next year he was elected as archdeacon of Westminster. On March 30th 1604, he was married for the second time, and in the marriage license he is described as one of the chaplains of the Savoy, and his will refers to chambers occupied by him there which he held until his dying day.






The rectory in Suffolk where Hakluyt dwelt

In 1605 he secured the prospective living of James Town, which was meant to be the capital of the planned colony of Virgina, James Town of course being named after the new monarch, and the following year his name is recorded as one of the main promoters of the petition to James I for patents in order to found colonies in Virginia.
In addition he was one of the pioneer adventurers on the London or South Virginia Company. The last thing that Richard published was a translation of Hernando de Soto's discoveries in Florida, called Virginia Richly valued by the description of Florida her next neighbour. The purpose of bringing out that book was to try and boost the fledgling colony of Virginia.
It was been said about Richard Hakluyt that "England is more indebted for its American possession than to any man of that age." Further to his credit, it was Richard who suggested to Robert Parke that he translate Mendoza's History of China which came out in 1588, and that John Pory bring out his version of Leo Africanus (A Geographical History of Africa, 1600).



This is inside the rectory in Suffolk where Hakluyt lived and wrote
Richard passed away in 1616 and was buried in Westminster Abbey on November 26th. He made a small fortune from emolements and preferments from various parishes, but these savings were squandered away by one of his sons.
Several of his manuscripts came into the possession of Samual Purchas who put them in a version of his Pilgrimes (1626). Other of his manuscripts which comprise mainly the notes gleaned from authors of his day are kept at Oxford in the Bodleian Library.

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