Hakluyt, Richard

views updated May 21 2018

Richard Hakluyt

BORN: 1552 • London, England

DIED: November 23, 1616 • London, England

English geographer; writer; priest

Though he never traveled very far from his native England, Richard Hakluyt (pronounced Hack-loot) inspired a great interest in exploration and adventure. A scholar and priest, Hakluyt was fascinated with geography and maps. He was one of the first people in England to practice geography, or the study of the Earth's surface, and he collected and published the stories of ship captains, merchants, adventurers, and common sailors who voyaged to distant parts of the world. Readers loved these accounts, and Hakluyt's work helped to promote interest in England's colonization, or settlement, of North America.

"Richard Hakluyt contributed more to English letters, and has had more effect on English writing, than any other man who ever lived, with the possible exception of Shakespeare."

—Delbert A. Young. According to Hakluyt: Tales of Adventure and Exploration.

Early fascination with geography

Richard Hakluyt was born in 1552. Some accounts give his birthplace as London, while others say he was born in Herefordshire, where his ancestors had lived for many generations. His father, also named Richard, was a merchant who sold skins and furs. Historians believe that the family, which was most likely of Welsh origin, was relatively wealthy since it could afford to send Richard and his three brothers to school. (Richard also had two sisters.) Richard's parents both died when he was five. A cousin, also named Richard Hakluyt (1535–1591), became guardian of the Hakluyt children.

The young Hakluyt attended Westminster School and then entered Christ Church College at Oxford University. He received some financial support during his university years from the Skinners' Company in London, an association of fur traders. He completed his bachelor's degree in 1574 and his master's degree in 1577. The next year he was ordained as a priest.

When he was sixteen and still a student at Westminster, Hakluyt paid a visit to his cousin. The older Richard Hakluyt was a lawyer who collected maps, charts, and travel writings. At that time European countries including England, Spain, and Portugal were sending ships to explore regions of the world that few Europeans had ever seen. Maps of these regions—North and South America, India, and Southeast Asia—were often incomplete or inaccurate, if they existed at all. The materials that Hakluyt's cousin collected were very important to people who wanted to organize new expeditions. This is because better knowledge of geography could help explorers make safer voyages. Explorers could also venture farther into territories that were new to them. Young Hakluyt became fascinated with his cousin's collection, and the cousin told him all he could about geography and the sights that European explorers described in their travels. The cousin finished by quoting a passage in the Bible: "Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters; they saw the deeds of the Lord, His wondrous works in the deep."

Tales of adventure

This experience deeply impressed Hakluyt, and he returned to school determined to complete his education and devote his life to promoting geographical knowledge. Although he became a priest and supported himself through his church work, geography and travel writing remained his primary interest. Just three years after earning his master's degree, Hakluyt published the story of French explorer Jacques Cartier's (1491–1557) first two voyages to North America. Cartier was hoping to find something known as the Northwest Passage, which would give European sailing vessels a shortcut to Asia. European traders bought and sold many valuable products in Asia, but the region was very far away from Europe. Ships had to sail all the way around Africa to get there. If a shorter route could be found, trade could become even more profitable. By the 1500s explorers hoped that such a route could be found through the waters north of Canada. Cartier sailed to eastern Canada in 1534. He explored the coast of Newfoundland and eastern Quebec. In 1535 he made a second voyage, sailing farther up the St. Lawrence River to the site of present-day Quebec City. An account of these voyages had been written by an Italian historian, and Hakluyt asked John Florio (1553–1625), a specialist in Italian literature at Oxford, to translate this material into English. Hakluyt published this book in 1580. For the first time English people could read about Cartier's adventures.

Hakluyt published his own book, Divers [Various] Voyages, in 1582. He dedicated this volume to Philip Sidney (1554–1598; see entry), a poet and courtier. (A courtier is a person who serves or participates in the royal court or household as the king's or queen's advisor, officer, or attendant.) The book contained the stories, in their own words, of several men who had sailed on voyages of exploration. Historians believe that Hakluyt had begun collecting material for this book while he was still a student at Oxford. It is likely that he interviewed several men who sailed with explorer Martin Frobisher (1535–1595), who explored northeastern Canada in the 1560s and 1570s looking for the Northwest Passage. Hakluyt talked with as many people as he could, and he wrote down their stories in their own direct language. As Delbert A. Young noted in his introduction to According to Hakluyt: Tales of Adventure and Exploration, "Any sailor, merchant prince or between-decks seaman, fascinated him."

Government leaders considered Hakluyt's work so important that William Cecil (Lord Burghley; 1520–1598; see entry), secretary of state to Queen Elizabeth I (1533–1603; see entry) arranged financial support for him. In 1582 Hakluyt traveled to Paris where he worked as a priest for the English ambassador to France. He held this job until 1587. England and Spain had become political enemies, but France had remained neutral. As the possibility of war increased, England and Spain sent spies to France, hoping to get information there about enemy plans. Though it is not known whether Hakluyt was actually a spy, he did sometimes carry secret papers back to England. In France Hakluyt was able to study materials relating to French, Portuguese, and Spanish voyages of exploration.

After Hakluyt returned to England he was given a prebend, or financial allowance, from the church in Bristol. In 1590 he was appointed to a parish job in Wetheringsett, Suffolk, and he held this job for the rest of his life. In addition he received a prebend from Westminster in 1602. From 1603 to 1605 he served as Archdeacon of Westminster, and in 1604 he was appointed chaplain, or attending priest, at the Hospital of the Savoy.

Hakluyt, a priest in the Anglican church, married for the first time in 1587, but his wife died the following year after giving birth to a son. In 1598 he married the widow of a London merchant.

Hakluyt's translation of the account of French explorer Rene Goulaine de Laudonniere's (1529–1582) expedition to Florida was published in 1587. This book described the explorer's attempt to establish a colony at Fort Caroline, near present-day Jacksonville. This colony encountered many difficulties, including hunger and rebellion, and it was finally destroyed by Spanish troops. Hakluyt dedicated the book to Walter Raleigh (1552–1618; see entry), an English explorer who was interested in building colonies in North America. Among other tales of exploration that Hakluyt translated and published were those of Hernando de Soto (1496–1542), a Spanish adventurer who explored South America and the southern regions of North America.

Published epic work

In 1589 Hakluyt published the first version of his most famous book, The Principal Navigations, Voyages, and Discoveries of the English Nation. This book described the whole history of English explorations, and it created great excitement among English readers. He went on to expand this book and published a new version of it, in three volumes, between 1598 and 1600. This enormous book, which included accounts of more recent explorations, contained 1.5 million words. "No reader who has ever delved seriously into this work," wrote Young, "would call it anything other than the prose epic of the English people." For many generations, Young explained, "Hakluyt's tales were … the only adventure reading young people had. His characters are as vital, as colourful, and as dynamic as those created by Shakespeare—and Hakluyt's characters were real."

Hakluyt's book described people, plants, and animals that most Europeans had never seen before. His account of John Winter's voyage around South America, for example, included this description of the people who inhabited the region near the southernmost part of the continent: "From our observation they are a people much given to jollity. They laugh easily and were entranced by the sound of our trumpets and the music of our viols [stringed instruments]. Too, they were amused beyond belief when Master Winter danced for them." The narrator continues, "They are a people of middle stature [height], well made, and brown-skinned. Some of them paint their faces in divers [various] colours; their clothing is made entirely from the skins of beasts while upon their heads they wear a certain kind of cap, or hat, with ends which hang down over their shoulders." The book also provides a fascinating description of penguins: "The third isle … had a numberless store of great fowls which cannot fly because their wings are so small they are of use only for swimming. In colour these birds are black on the back, while their underparts are speckled black and white. They do not even walk as do other fowls. Instead, they stand upright on their short legs so that, seen from afar, they might well be mistaken for little children."

But The Principal Navigations contained stories of hardship and danger as well. Pirates, sickness, starvation and thirst, storms, shipwrecks, and mutinies—revolts by the sailors against their captain—were common. Hakluyt's book described these things in exciting detail. The account of Martin Frobisher's (1535–1594) explorations, for example, showed the harsh weather he often encountered: "Ice came thick about the ships, some of it in such monstrous pieces that even the least of them could have shivered [broken] a ship into portions [pieces]." The story of Thomas Cavendish's voyage to South America told how he cruelly ordered sick crewmembers to be put ashore near the Strait of Magellan, where they died of hunger and exposure. (The Strait of Magellan is a body of water on the southern end of South America that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It is named after explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who discovered the passage.) Other accounts described battles between sailors and the regions' native peoples. Details about fights and raids on Spanish ships also added excitement to the narratives. In some cases sailors told of ships that returned to England after difficult voyages with only a handful of men still alive.

Hakluyt's ability to describe the personalities of the various men he interviewed played a major role in the book's popularity. As Richard David explained in the introduction to his edition of Hakluyt's Voyages, "The man with a story to tell may be officer or seaman, merchant, gentleman-adventurer, servant, or curious tripper. Each tells his story in his own style, which may be polished or semi-literate, jocular [joking] or pious, critical or naïve." Furthermore, these distinct voices often gave different points of view about a particular event or person. For example, captains or men of high rank often spoke of their journeys in ways that made their own behavior look intelligent and brave. The members of their crews, however, would sometimes complain about unfair treatment, poor food, and the stupidity of orders that placed them in danger of shipwreck or attack.

Supported exploration

In addition to recording and publishing these important stories, Hakluyt actively promoted England's continued exploration of the Americas. In 1584 he petitioned the queen to support Walter Raleigh's plan to build a colony in Virginia. In 1589 Hakluyt served as a director of the Virginia Company, a business organization that raised money to create English settlements on the eastern coast of North America. He was also a member of a second Virginia Company in 1606, and he was a charter member of the Northwest Passage Company. In addition he served as a consultant to the East India Company, which focused on exploration in Asia.

Hakluyt contributed to important advances in cartography, the science of making maps. In the second volume of the second edition of his Principal Navigations, published in 1599, he included a new map of the world, the Molineux-Wright world map. Based on the globe created by Emery Molineux (also spelled Molyneux) in 1592, it used Mercator's projection to create the most scientifically advanced map of that time. Historians believe that Hakluyt asked Molineux himself to draw the map, and that navigator John Davis (1550–1606) also worked on it. Unlike many earlier maps, the Molineux-Wright map did not contain fancy illustrations or drawings of places that Europeans had not yet explored. For example, sailors had heard about a place called Terra Australis but did not know its exact location. Traditional cartographers drew it on their maps anyway, guessing where to put it and what its shape might be. Hakluyt, though, wanted the new map to be scientifically accurate. It included only information that explorers had confirmed. Historians consider the Molineux-Wright map to be one of the best world maps of the sixteenth century.

Mercator's Projection

The earth is a sphere, but maps are flat. For this reason, no map can be completely accurate, and in the early 1500s maps were often badly distorted. Gerhard Mercator (1512–1594), a Belgian cartographer (mapmaker), created a more accurate map that was especially useful for ocean navigators. He imagined a globe of the earth inside a cylinder made of paper. Then he imagined the cylinder folding around the globe. On this paper he could then draw circles of latitude that would be parallel. (Latitude is a series of imaginary lines that run from east to west on the globe measuring the angular distance north or south from the Earth's equator, measured in degrees.) Mercator's projection distorted the size of land masses that were far away from the equator, but preserved their outlines fairly accurately. More important for navigators, it preserved the angles that they used to determine their location and plot their courses at sea. Nautical charts today are still based on the Mercator projection.

Hakluyt died in 1616 and was buried at Westminster Abbey in London. He has been honored for the contributions that he made to English literature and to the study of geography and cartography. The Hakluyt Society, which was inspired by his work, was founded 1846 and remains active today. This organization continues Hakluyt's work by publishing books about voyages of discovery and the history of maritime (sea) exploration.

For More Information


David, Richard, ed. Hakluyt's Voyages. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1981.

Parks, George Bruner. Richard Hakluyt and the English Voyages. Edited and with an introduction by James A. Williamson, 2nd ed. New York: Ungar, 1961.

Quinn, David B., ed. The Hakluyt Handbook. London: The Hakluyt Society, 1974.

Watson, Foster. Richard Hakluyt. London: The Sheldon Press; New York: Macmillan, 1924.

Young, Delbert A. According to Hakluyt: Tales of Adventure and Exploration. Toronto and Vancouver, Canada: Clark, Irwin & Company Limited, 1973.


"The New World In Maps: The First Hundred Years." The Newberry Library. http://www.newberry.org/smith/slidesets/ss09.html (accessed on July 11, 2006).

"Richard Hakluyt." The Galileo Project. http://galileo.rice.edu/Catalog/NewFiles/hakluyt.html (accessed on July 11, 2006).

"Richard Hakluyt." The Literacy Encyclopedia. http://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=1930 (accessed on July 11, 2006).

Hakluyt, Richard

views updated May 29 2018

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.


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

Hakluyt, Richard

views updated Jun 11 2018

Hakluyt, Richard

Richard Hakluyt (pronounced HACK-loot) was an English geographer, historian, editor, and a leading promoter of English colonial expansion in North America. He was known as "Richard Hakluyt of Oxford" to distinguish him from his older cousin, Richard Hakluyt of the Middle Temple, who was a lawyer and also an advocate of English colonization.

Richard Hakluyt of Oxford was born in London in 1552 and was educated at Christ Church, a college of Oxford University. He later taught at Oxford, was ordained as a priest in the Church of England, and pursued a career as both a scholar and clergyman. He was well connected to many of the leading political figures of Elizabethan and Jacobean England, including Sir Walter Raleigh (ca. 1554–1618).

Hakluyt's earliest writings on English overseas expansion included plans for establishing a colony on the Strait of Magellan at the southern tip of South America. He soon abandoned this plan, however, in favor of English settlement of the Atlantic coast of North America.

In 1584 Hakluyt completed one of his major works, titled Discourse of Western Planting, which was presented to Queen Elizabeth I (1533–1603) in manuscript but was not actually printed until almost three hundred years later. This text established English legal claims to North America (based in part on the writings of John Dee [1527–1608]) and discussed in depth the benefits of English settlement, including the commercial and strategic advantages that England stood to gain from colonizing the region. Although Elizabeth was in agreement with the sentiments of this manuscript, England was engaged in a rivalry with Spain and unable to finance the colonial project that Hakluyt proposed, though Hakluyt's writing probably had an influence on the formation of the unsuccessful colony established in 1585 on Roanoke Island, off the coast of present-day North Carolina.

Hakluyt's next great work, The Principal Navigations, Voyages, and Discoveries of the English Nation, published in 1589 (with later editions published under a slightly different title), was a compilation of reports and documents pertaining to English voyages of exploration to America, the Arctic, Russia, Asia, and Africa. Unlike earlier compilations of this kind, Hakluyt's text was based on original documents and explorers' reports, and on his own translations of foreign texts. The Principal Navigations narrates the history of English exploration, and also constitutes a kind of prose epic of the heroic exploits of the English. This work was hugely influential in stimulating English interest in establishing colonies in North America, especially because it was published only one year after England's defeat of the invading Spanish Armada in 1588. Spain's defeat gave the English a freer hand in exploring and colonizing North America north of Florida and allowed for the rise of English imperialism more generally.

Hakluyt died in 1616 and was buried in Westminster Abbey in London. Many of the unpublished documents he left at the time of his death were later edited and published by Samuel Purchas (ca. 1577–1626) in Purchas His Pilgrimes, which continued Hakluyt's project of documenting English exploration. The London-based Hakluyt Society, founded in the nineteenth century and named after him, continues to publish important documents in the history of exploration.

see also Empire, British; European Explorations in North America.


Hakluyt, Richard. Voyages and Discoveries: Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques, and Discoveries of the English Nation. Edited and abridged by Jack Beeching. London: Penguin, 1972.

Hakluyt, Richard. Discourse of Western Planting. London: Hakluyt Society, 1993.

Taylor, E. G. R. Late Tudor and Early Stuart Geography, 1583–1650. London: Methuen, 1934.

Richard Hakluyt

views updated May 21 2018

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). □

Hakluyt, Richard (1552–1616)

views updated May 17 2018

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

Hakluyt, Richard

views updated Jun 08 2018

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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