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Hakluyt, Richard

Hakluyt, Richard

(b. London, England, ca. 1552; d. London, 23 November 1616)

geography, history, advocacy of English overseas expansion.

Richard Hakluyt was the leading advocate and chronicler of English overseas expansion in the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I. His collections of voyages established in the English language a new kind of historical literature, which remained in vogue for over 200 years.

A member of an influential and long-established Herefordshire family—his father was a London merchant—Hakluyt was educated at Westminster School, London, and Christ Church, Oxford. His cousin Richard Hakluyt, a lawyer of the Middle Temple, introduced him as a schoolboy to maps and books on cosmography, thus firing his life-long interest in the new and rapidly developing subject of geography. At Oxford, where he held a studentship at Christ Church (1570-ca. 1588), his study of the humanities as undergraduate and bachelor of arts (1570–1577) was the prelude to a teaching career as master of arts (1577 to 1582 or 1583) in which geography was increasingly his concern. He claimed to be the first to give public lectures in “the olde imperfectly composed, and the new lately reformed Map, Globes, Spheares, and other instruments of this Art...,” and he was among those consulted by the great Flemish geographer Abraham Ortelius when the latter visited London in 1577. By the time he was ordained in 1578 he was an accepted authority on maritime affairs.

Hakluyt’s first pamphlet (MS, 1579–1580) was a memorandum recommending that England should colonize and fortify the Strait of Magellan and so command “the gate of entry into the tresure of both the East and the West Indies.” With Spain and Portugal already in possession of rich empires in America and Asia, he saw the need for England to establish her own routes to the coveted regions of the Orient, and to acquire her own sphere of influence in lands not yet annexed. Hence his special interest in, and advocacy of, the colonization of North America and the search for the Northwest Passage to Asia. In 1580, when Sir Humphrey Gilbert was projecting a colony in North America, Hakluyt commissioned John Florio to translate the narrative of Cartier’s voyages to Canada. This was the first of a series of foreign works for which Hakluyt sponsored publication in English, as propaganda for English enterprise and as intelligence about regions already discovered. His years in Paris as chaplain to the English ambassador (1583–1588) gave him valuable access to French and Spanish sources.

Hakluyt’s major and most original contribution to knowledge and literature lay in his three great collections of voyages. In the first, Divers Voyages Touching the Discoverie of America (1582), published under the initials R.H., he sought to establish England’s claim to North America on the basis of priority of discovery. This was followed in 1589 by a volume of much wider compass, The Principall Navigations, Voiages and Discoveries of the English Nation.... Based on such original sources as the journals of explorers, sailing directions, and reports by merchants and seamen, many received by Hakluyt in person, it was a handbook of Elizabethan exploration and discovery. In working design it owed its inspiration to Giovanni Battista Ramusio’s great work Delle navigationi et viaggi (1550–1559), As in Ramusio’s collection, the voyages were arranged regionally and systematically, and the text was a model of discreet but informative editing.

Finally came the great three-volume work, of similar title to its predecessor but much enlarged to bring the record up to date and to include foreign enterprises, The Principal navigations... of the English Nation (1598–1600), acclaimed by J. A. Froude as “the Prose Epic of the modern English nation.” In his preface and three new dedicatory epistles, Hakluyt set out his own ideas for England’s maritime destiny and affirmed his belief in geography as the “right eye” of history. He also made the practical proposal that a lecture in navigation be established in London, “for the banishing of our former grosse ignorance in Marine causes.”

Hakluyt did not restrict his activities to the role of chronicler but participated actively in projects of overseas expansion. Twice in the early 1580’s he had hopes of sailing on voyages to America, but others went instead. Hakluyt’s 1584 manuscript treatise for the queen and Francis Walsingham, “The Discourse of Western Planting,” urged the advantages of an American settlement as a national enterprise. From 1599 he acted as consultant to the East India Company. As patentee of the Virginia Company in 1606, he had plans to go to Jamestown, but these too did not materialize. When he died he had traveled no farther than Paris. Yet his work provided inspiration and a wealth of information for his own and future generations of British seamen and colonial entrepreneurs.

The Hakluyt Society, founded in London in 1846 for the publication of records of voyages and travel, carries on Hakluyt’s work and commemorates his name. Hakluyt was buried in Westminster Abbey.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

I. Original Works. Richard Hakluyt’s major works are Divers Voyages Touching the Discoverie of America (London, 1582); The Principall Navigations, Voiages and Discoveries of the English Nation... (London, 1589); and The Principal Navigations, Voiages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation..., 3 vols. (London, 1598–1600),

Hakluyt’s later collections, edited and augmented after his death by Samuel Purchas, are in Hakluytus Posthumus, or Purchas His Pilgrimes (London, 1625).

II. Secondary Literature. Works on Hakluyt include G. B. Parks, Richard Hakluyt and the English Voyages (New York, 1928), revised in 1961 with a complete bibliography of Hakluyt’s writings; E. G. R. Taylor, The Original Writings and Correspondence of the Two Richard Hakluyts (London, 1935), Hakluyt Society, 2nd ser., LXXVI-LX.XVII: Edward Lynam, ed., Richard Hakluyt & His Successors (London, 1946); The Principall Navigations..., a photolithographic facs., with an intro. by D. B. Quinn and R. A. Skelton and a new index by Alison Quinn (Cambridge, 1965); and D. B. Quinn, Richard Hakluyt, Editor. A Study Introductory to the Facsimile Edition of Richard Hakluyt’s Divers Voyages (1582) (Amsterdam, 1.967).

Helen Wallis

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Richard Hakluyt

Richard Hakluyt

The English geographer and author Richard Hakluyt (c. 1552-1616) was one of the first practical geographers in England and an important promoter of the English colonization of North America.

The second son of Richard Hakluyt, a London skinner, Richard Hakluyt attended Westminster School. A meeting with his cousin, the geographer Richard Hakluyt (ca. 1535-1591), aroused his interest in practical geography, cosmography, and trade. Young Richard performed well at Westminster and proceeded to Christ Church, Oxford, where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in 1575 and a master of arts degree in 1577. He was ordained priest a few years later. Meanwhile, he avidly pursued his geographical studies and lectured on geography at Oxford. He cultivated the acquaintance of men he called "the chiefest Captains at sea, the greatest Merchants, and the best Mariners of our nation." These men included Sir Francis Drake. In 1580 he sponsored the publication of two accounts of voyages by Jacques Cartier. John Florio, who was at Oxford, translated the originals.

Hakluyt became involved with the colonialist party in England. His first significant work, Divers Voyages Touching the Discovery of America (1582), served as an inspiration for English expansion. It was dedicated to Sir Philip Sidney. In addition to accounts of English voyages, it included a list of American products and a discussion of the Northwest Passage.

Within a few months after the publication of the Voyages, Hakluyt entered government service. He helped to promote Sir Humphrey Gilbert's voyage of 1583 and then went to France, where he served as chaplain to the ambassador, Sir Edward Stafford. During his years in France (1583-1588) he collected geographical information from French, Portuguese, and Spanish sources. Meanwhile, he returned to England on various occasions. In behalf of Sir Walter Raleigh he presented the Queen with a plea for royal aid in Western planting (1584). The Queen rewarded him with a prebend at Bristol. He was in England when Raleigh's first colony sailed, when Drake brought it home again, and when Raleigh's second, or "lost, " colony sailed. In France he sponsored the publication of books concerning geography and exploration.

In 1589 Hakluyt published the first edition of his major work, The Principal Navigations, Voyages, and Discoveries of the English Nation, a historical compilation of English enterprise abroad. Shortly thereafter he married. He continued to associate with those interested in the Virginia colony and in the East India Company. The second edition of the Principal Navigations, about twice as long as the first, appeared in three folio volumes between 1598 and 1600. It contained new material from all periods, including new information on the exploits of Sir Walter Raleigh. Hakluyt received a prebend at Westminster and was made chaplain of the Savoy.

Further Reading

Hakluyt's Principal Navigations was reprinted in 12 volumes by the Hakluyt Society (1903-1905). Several partial reprints have been published. There is a short biography by Foster Watson, Richard Hakluyt (1924). The standard work on Hakluyt's life and achievement is George B. Parks, Richard Hakluyt and the English Voyages (2d ed. 1961). The influence of the voyages on English literature was studied by Robert Ralston Cawley, The Voyagers and Elizabethan Drama (1938) and Unpathed Waters:Studies in the Influence of the Voyagers on Elizabethan Literature (1940). □

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Hakluyt, Richard (1552–1616)

Hakluyt, Richard (15521616)

English explorer and author of two famous volumes on the voyages of English navigators. Born in Hereford, Hakluyt was the son of a skinner who showed promise as a scholar and was admitted to Oxford University, where he took a deep interest in geography and the history of exploration. He became a lecturer on the subject and in 1582 printed Divers Voyages Touching the Discovery of America that inspired several English voyages to the New World. His work brought him to the attention of Sir Edward Stafford, Queen Elizabeth's ambassador to France, who asked Hakluyt to accompany him to Paris as his chaplain and secretary; in France Hakluyt also worked as well as a spy whose task was to discover the efforts of French companies and explorers to claim land and resources in Canada. Hakluyt's pamphlet known as A Particular Discourse Concerning Western Discoveries was read by the queen and her ministers, who took to heart Hakluyt's recommendation of setting English farmers and artisans in new colonies along the coasts of North America.

Hakluyt secured appointments as a clergyman in the Church of England, while he continued his work as a geographer and historian. He met and interviewed navigators and sailors, and compiled hundreds of diaries, letters, histories, and eyewitness accounts. In 1589, he published this massive collection as The Principal Navigations, Voyages and Discoveries of the English Nation. He translated works of French and Spanish historians of exploration in North America and, after the turn of the seventeenth century, took part in organizing the colony of Virginia, which he promoted with an account of the voyages of Hernando de Soto in Virginia Richly Valued, which appeared in 1609. He was a member of the East India Company and also joined the Northwest Passage Company, meant to discover a northern route to Asia that would avoid the seas controlled by Spain.

See Also: exploration; Raleigh, Sir Walter

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Hakluyt, Richard

Richard Hakluyt (hăk´lōōt, hăk´əlwĬt), 1552?–1616, English geographer. He graduated in 1574 from Oxford, where he later lectured on geography. A passionate interest in the history of discovery led him to collect and publish narratives of voyages and travels. He was active in promoting English discovery and colonization, especially in North America. His chief work, called by J. A. Froude "the prose epic of the English nation," is The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffics, and Discoveries of the English Nation (3 vol., 1598–1600), an enlargement of a one-volume version (1589). Other publications include Divers Voyages touching the Discovery of America and the Islands Adjacent (1582) and an account of the discoveries of Hernando De Soto under the title Virginia Richly Valued (1609). Manuscripts left at his death were included by Samuel Purchas in his Pilgrims (4 folios, 1625); others are preserved at the Bodleian Library, Oxford. The publication of narratives of early explorations has been continued by the Hakluyt Society, founded in 1846.

See The Original Writings and Correspondence of the Two Richard Hakluyts (1935, repr. 1967).

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Hakluyt, Richard

Hakluyt, Richard (c.1552–1616), English geographer and historian. He compiled Principal Navigations, Voyages, and Discoveries of the English Nation (1598), a collection of accounts of great voyages of discovery which inspired further discovery and colonization.

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