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Grenville, Sir Richard

Grenville, Sir Richard (1542–91). Of a landed family, Grenville was born at Buckland abbey, between Tavistock and Plymouth, which he sold to Francis Drake in 1581 (hence it became a Grenville–Drake shrine). Having campaigned against the Turks as a soldier, and in Ireland, in 1576 Grenville became sheriff of Cornwall and was knighted. A relative of Ralegh, Grenville was much involved, both as MP and man of action, in transatlantic settlement, especially during 1585–6 at Roanoke Island (North Carolina). In 1588 he fitted out ships against the Spanish Armada, and in 1591, under Lord Thomas Howard's command, Grenville sailed to the Azores to intercept the Spanish treasure fleet. Detained at Flores, with many sick, Grenville, in Revenge, a ship of proven fighting qualities, confronted alone a force of over 50 Spanish warships. Sinking one and damaging others before surrendering, Grenville died of his wounds; Revenge foundered in a gale shortly afterwards. Grenville's last fight became a legend.

David Denis Aldridge

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Grenville, Sir Richard

Sir Richard Grenville, 1542?–1591, English naval hero. His cousin, Sir Walter Raleigh, gave him command of the fleet of seven vessels carrying the first colonists to Roanoke Island in 1585. In 1591, Grenville was second in command, under Lord Thomas Howard, of the fleet sent to capture the Spanish treasure ships off the Azores. When Lord Thomas withdrew on finding the odds against him too heavy, Grenville's ship, the Revenge, became separated from the rest of the fleet, and Grenville tried to break through the Spanish line. He fought 15 Spanish ships all one evening and night, was mortally wounded, and died in Spanish captivity. His exploit is celebrated in Tennyson's poem "The Revenge."

See biography (1937, repr. 1963) and study (1957) by A. L. Rowse.

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Grenville, Sir Richard

Grenville, Sir Richard (1541–91) English naval commander and hero. He commanded the fleet that carried Sir Walter Raleighs colonists to Roanoke, Virginia, in 1585. His adventurous career ended when he was fatally wounded and his ship, Revenge, captured in a 15-hour battle off the Azores (1591).

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