23 November 1616(1616-11-23) (aged 64) London, England
Author, editor and translator
Exploration; geography; travel
Richard Hakluyt (/ˈhæklʊt/, /ˈhæklət/, or /ˈhækəlwɪt/; 1553 – 23 November 1616) was an English writer. He is known for promoting the settlement of North America by the English through his works, notably Divers Voyages Touching the Discoverie of America (1582) and The Principal Navigations, Voiages, Traffiques and Discoueries of the English Nation (1589–1600).
While a Queen's Scholar at Westminster School, Hakluyt visited his guardian, whose conversation, illustrated by "certain bookes of cosmographie, an universall mappe, and the Bible", made Hakluyt resolve to "prosecute that knowledge, and kind of literature". Entering Christ Church, Oxford, in 1570 with financial support from the Skinners' Company, "his exercises of duty first performed", he set out to read all the printed or written voyages and discoveries that he could find. He took his Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) on 19 February 1574, and shortly after taking his Master of Arts (M.A.) on 27 June 1577, began giving public lectures in geography. He was the first to show "both the old imperfectly composed and the new lately reformed mappes, globes, spheares, and other instruments of this art". Hakluyt held on to his studentship at Christ Church between 1577 and 1586, although after 1583 he was no longer resident in Oxford.
The Norman chapter house of Bristol Cathedral (engraving 1882). Hakluyt was a member of the chapter.
Hakluyt's first publication was one that he wrote himself, Divers Voyages Touching the Discoverie of America and the Ilands Adjacent unto the Same, Made First of all by our Englishmen and Afterwards by the Frenchmen and Britons (1582).
Hakluyt's Voyages brought him to the notice of Lord Howard of Effingham, and Sir Edward Stafford, Lord Howard's brother-in-law. At the age of 30, being acquainted with "the chiefest captaines at sea, the greatest merchants, and the best mariners of our nation", he was selected as chaplain and secretary to accompany Stafford, now English ambassador at the French court, to Paris in 1583. In accordance with the instructions of Secretary Francis Walsingham, he occupied himself chiefly in collecting information of the Spanish and French movements, and "making diligent inquirie of such things as might yield any light unto our westerne discoverie in America". Although this was his only visit to the Continent in his life, he was angered to hear the limitations of the English in terms of travel being discussed in Paris.
A 1910 memorial tablet to Hakluyt in Bristol Cathedral
The first fruits of Hakluyt's labours in Paris were embodied in his important work entitled A Particuler Discourse Concerninge the Greate Necessitie and Manifolde Commodyties That Are Like to Growe to This Realme of Englande by the Westerne Discoueries Lately Attempted, Written in the Yere 1584, which Sir Walter Raleigh commissioned him to prepare. The manuscript, lost for almost 300 years, was published for the first time in 1877. Hakluyt revisited England in 1584, and laid a copy of the Discourse before Elizabeth I (to whom it had been dedicated) together with his analysis in Latin of Aristotle's Politicks. His objective was to recommend the enterprise of planting the English race in the unsettled parts of North America, and thus gain the Queen's support for Raleigh's expedition. In May 1585 when Hakluyt was in Paris with the English Embassy, the Queen granted to him the next prebendary at Bristol Cathedral that should become vacant, to which he was admitted in 1585 or 1586 and held with other preferments till his death.
Hakluyt's other works during his time in Paris consisted mainly of translations and compilations, with his own dedications and prefaces. These latter writings, together with a few letters, are the only extant material out of which a biography of him can be framed. Hakluyt interested himself in the publication of the manuscript journal of René de Laudonnière, the Histoire Notable de la Florida in Paris in 1586. The attention that the book excited in Paris encouraged Hakluyt to prepare an English translation and publish it in London under the title A Notable Historie Containing Foure Voyages Made by Certayne French Captaynes unto Florida (1587). The same year, his edition of Peter Martyr d'Anghiera's De Orbe Nouo Decades Octo saw the light at Paris. This work contains an exceedingly-rare copperplate map dedicated to Hakluyt and signed F.G. (supposed to be Francis Gualle); it is the first on which the name "Virginia" appears.
Return to England
The title page of the first edition of Hakluyt's The Principall Navigations, Voiages, and Discoveries of the English Nation (1589)
A manuscript signature of Hakluyt from the front flyleaf of the above work
In 1588 Hakluyt finally returned to England with Lady Stafford, after a residence in France of nearly five years. In 1589 he published the first edition of his chief work, The Principall Navigations, Voiages and Discoveries of the English Nation, using eyewitness accounts as far as possible. In the preface to this he announced the intended publication of the first terrestrial globe made in England by Emery Molyneux. Between 1598 and 1600 appeared the final, reconstructed and greatly enlarged edition of The Principal Navigations, Voiages, Traffiques and Discoueries of the English Nation in three volumes. In the dedication of the second volume (1599) to his patron, Sir Robert Cecil, Hakluyt strongly urged the minister as to the expediency of colonizing Virginia. A few copies of this monumental work contain a map of great rarity, the first on the Mercator projection made in England according to the true principles laid down by Edward Wright. Hakluyt's great collection has been called "the Prose Epic of the modern English nation" by historian James Anthony Froude.
On 20 April 1590 Hakluyt was instituted to the rectory of Wetheringsett-cum-Brockford, Suffolk, by Lady Stafford, who was dowager baroness Sheffield. He held this position until his death, and resided in Wetheringsett through the 1590s and frequently thereafter. In 1601 Hakluyt edited a translation from the Portuguese of Antonio Galvão's The Discoveries of the World. In the same year his name occurs as an adviser to the East India Company, in which capacity he supplied them with maps and informed them as to markets.
In the late 1590s Hakluyt became the client and personal chaplain of Sir Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, Lord Burghley's son, who was to be Hakluyt's most fruitful patron. Hakluyt dedicated to Cecil the second (1599) and third volumes (1600) of the expanded edition of Principal Navigations and also his edition of Galvão's Discoveries (1601). Cecil, who was the principal Secretary of State to Elizabeth I and James I, rewarded him by installing him as prebendary of Westminster Abbey on 4 May 1602. In the following year, he was elected archdeacon of the Abbey. These religious occupations have occasioned reconsideration of the role played by spiritual concerns in Hakluyt's writings on exploration, settlement, and England's relations with its Catholic rivals.
Hakluyt was married twice, once in or about 1594 and again in 1604. In the licence of Hakluyt's second marriage dated 30 March 1604, he is described as one of the chaplains of the Savoy Hospital; this position was also conferred on him by Cecil. His will refers to chambers occupied by him there up to the time of his death, and in another official document he is styled Doctor of Divinity (D.D.).
Hakluyt was also a leading adventurer of the Charter of the Virginia Company of London as a director thereof in 1589. In 1605 he secured the prospective living of Jamestown, the intended capital of the intended colony of Virginia. When the colony was at last established in 1607, he supplied this benefice with its chaplain, Robert Hunt. In 1606 he appears as the chief promoter of the petition to James I for letters patent to colonize Virginia, which were granted on 10 April 1606. His last publication was a translation of Hernando de Soto's discoveries in Florida, entitled Virginia Richly Valued, by the Description of the Maine Land of Florida, Her Next Neighbour (1609). This work was intended to encourage the young colony of Virginia; Scottish historian William Robertson wrote of Hakluyt, "England is more indebted for its American possessions than to any man of that age."
The seal of the Virginia Company of London
Hakluyt prepared an English translation of Dutch jurist Hugo Grotius' Mare Liberum (1609), a treatise that sought to demonstrate that the Dutch had the right to trade freely in the Indies contrary to Spanish and Portuguese claims of sovereignty over the seas, in the early 17th century. Helen Thornton has suggested that the translation was commissioned by Thomas Smythe who became treasurer of the Virginia Company in 1609 and was also Governor of the East India Company. In that year, Hakluyt was a consultant to the Company when it was renewing its charter. Grotius' arguments supported England's right to trade in the Indies. The translation may also have been part of the propaganda encouraging English people to settle in Virginia. In Mare Liberum, Grotius denied that the 1493 donation by Pope Alexander VI that had divided the oceans between Spain and Portugal entitled Spain to make territorial claims to North America. Instead, he stressed the importance of occupation, which was favourable to the English as they and not the Spanish had occupied Virginia. Grotius also argued that the seas should be freely navigable by all, which was useful since the England to Virginia route crossed seas which the Portuguese claimed. However, it is not clear why Hakluyt's translation was not published in his lifetime. George Bruner Parks has theorized that publication at that time would have been inconvenient to England because after England had successfully helped Holland and Spain to negotiate the Twelve Years' Truce during the Eighty Years' War, the work would have supported English claims for free seas against Spain, but not its claims for closed seas against Holland. Hakluyt's handwritten manuscript, MS Petyt 529, in Inner Temple Library in London was eventually published as The Free Sea for the first time in 2004.
In 1591, Hakluyt inherited family property upon the death of his elder brother Thomas; a year later, upon the death of his youngest brother Edmund, he inherited additional property which derived from his uncle. In 1612 Hakluyt became a charter member of the North-west Passage Company. By the time of his death, he had amassed a small fortune out of his various emoluments and preferments, of which the last was Gedney Rectory, Lincolnshire, presented to him by his younger brother Oliver in 1612. Unfortunately, his wealth was squandered by his only son.
Hakluyt died on 23 November 1616, probably in London, and was buried on 26 November in Westminster Abbey; by an error in the abbey register his burial is recorded under the year 1626. A number of his manuscripts, sufficient to form a fourth volume of his collections of 1598–1600, fell into the hands of Samuel Purchas, who inserted them in an abridged form in his Pilgrimes (1625–1626). Others, consisting chiefly of notes gathered from contemporary authors, are preserved at the University of Oxford.
Hakluyt is principally remembered for his efforts in promoting and supporting the settlement of North America by the English through his writings. These works were a fertile source of material for William Shakespeare and other authors. Hakluyt also encouraged the production of geographical and historical writings by others. It was at Hakluyt's suggestion that Robert Parke translated Juan Gonzalez de Mendoza's The History of the Great and Mighty Kingdom of China and the Situation Thereof (1588–1590),John Pory made his version of Leo Africanus's A Geographical Historie of Africa (1600), and P. Erondelle translated Marc Lescarbot's Nova Francia (1609).
The Hakluyt Society was founded in 1846 for printing rare and unpublished accounts of voyages and travels, and continues to publish volumes each year.
In May 2008, a major interdisciplinary conference called Richard Hakluyt 1552–1616: Life, Times, Legacy, examining the significance of Hakluyt's work, was jointly organized by the National Maritime Museum, the Centre for Travel Writing Studies, Nottingham Trent University and the National University of Ireland, Galway. A major aim of the conference was to lay the groundwork for and establish a network of scholars to prepare a new edition of Hakluyt's Principal Navigations. Those leading this group include Nigel Rigby, Will Ryan (President of the Hakluyt Society), and the project's editors Daniel Carey (NUI, Galway), Andrew Hadfield (University of Sussex) and Claire Jowitt (NTU).
Westminster School named a house after him as recognition of achievement of an Old Westminster.
The first page of volume 1 of the expanded edition of Hakluyt's The Principal Navigations, Voiages, Traffiques and Discoueries of the English Nation (1598)
Hakluyt, Richard (1582). Divers Voyages Touching the Discoverie of America and the Ilands Adjacent unto the Same, Made First of All by Our Englishmen and Afterwards by the Frenchmen and Britons: With Two Mappes Annexed Hereunto. London: [Thomas Dawson] for T. Woodcocke.Quarto. Reprint:
Hakluyt, Richard (1589). The Principall Navigations, Voiages, and Discoveries of the English Nation: Made by Sea or Over Land to the Most Remote and Farthest Distant Quarters of the Earth at Any Time within the Compasse of These 1500 Years: Divided into Three Several Parts According to the Positions of the Regions Whereunto They Were Directed; the First Containing the Personall Travels of the English unto Indæa, Syria, Arabia ... the Second, Comprehending the Worthy Discoveries of the English Towards the North and Northeast by Sea, as of Lapland ... the Third and Last, Including the English Valiant Attempts in Searching Almost all the Corners of the Vaste and New World of America ... Whereunto is Added the Last Most Renowned English Navigation Round About the Whole Globe of the Earth. London: Imprinted by George Bishop and Ralph Newberie, deputies to Christopher Barker, printer to the Queen's Most Excellent Majestie.Folio. Reprint:
Hakluyt, Richard (1965). The Principall Navigations Voiages and Discoveries of the English Nation ... Imprinted at London, 1589: A Photo-Lithographic Facsimile with an Introduction by David Beers Quinn and Raleigh Ashlin Skelton and with a New Index by Alison Quinn (Hakluyt Society; Extra Ser., nos. 39a & 39b). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press for Hakluyt Society & Peabody Museum of Salem. 2 vols.
Hakluyt, Richard (1598–1600). The Principal Navigations, Voiages, Traffiques and Discoueries of the English Nation, Made by Sea or Overland ... at Any Time Within the Compasse of these 1500  Yeeres, &c. London: G. Bishop, R. Newberie & R. Barker. 3 vols.; folio. Reprints:
Hakluyt, Richard (1903–1905). The Principal Navigations Voyages Traffiques & Discoveries of the English Nation, etc. (Hakluyt Society; Extra Ser., nos. 1–12). Glasgow: James MacLehose & Sons for the Hakluyt Society. 12 vols.
Edited and translated
[Cartier, Jacques (1580). A Shorte and Briefe Narration of the Two Nauigations and Discoueries to the Northwest Partes called Newe Fraunce, first Translated out of French into Italian by... Gio. Bapt. Ramutius, and now Turned into English by John Florio, etc. London: H[enry] Bynneman dvvelling in Thames streate, neere vnto Baynardes Castell.] It seems likely that this work was not by Hakluyt: see "At the English Embassy in Paris" above.
Laudonnière, René de; Richard Hakluyt (trans.) (1587). A Notable Historie Containing Foure Voyages made by Certaine French Captaynes unto Florida, wherein the Great Riches and Fruitefulnes of the Countrey, with the Maners of the People, hitherto Concealed, are Brought to Light ... Newly Translated Out of French into English by R. H. ... London: Thomas Dawson.Cite uses deprecated parameters (help) Quarto.
Anglerius, Petrus Martyr; Richard Hakluyt (ed.) (1587). De Orbe Nouo Petri Martyris Anglerii Mediolanensis Protonotarii et Caroli Quinti Senatoris Decades Octo, Diligenti Temporum Observatione et Utilissinis Annotationibus Illustratæ ... Paris: G. Auvray.Cite uses deprecated parameters (help)Octavo.
Galvão, Antonio; Richard Hakluyt (ed.) (1601). The Discoveries of the World from Their First Originall unto the Yeer ... 1555; Written in the Portugall Tongue by A. Galvano. London: G. Bishop.Cite uses deprecated parameters (help) Quarto. Reprint:
de Soto, Ferdinando; Richard Hakluyt (trans.) (1609). Virginia Richly Valued, by the Description of the Maine Land of Florida, Her Next Neighbour: Out of the Foure Yeeres Travell and Discoverie... of Don Ferdinando de Soto and Sixe Hundred Able Men in His Companie ... Written by a Portugall gentleman of Elvas, ... and Translated out of Portugese by Richard Hakluyt. London: F. Kyngston for M. Lownes.Cite uses deprecated parameters (help) Quarto.
^It has been claimed that the Hakluyts were given "Eaton Hall" (Yatton?) by Owain Glyndŵr when he invaded that part of Herefordshire in 1402: see "Richard Hakluyt 1552–1616". Notable Herefordians. 10 February 2006. Archived from the original on 5 January 2009. Retrieved 25 April 2007.
^See also Leland, Itinerary of John Leland, p. 75: "From Leonminster to Eyton a mile of by west northe west. One William Hakcluit that was with Kynge Henry the 5. at the batell of Egen Courte set up a house at this village, and purchasyd lands to it. ... Hakcluit now lyvyinge is the third in descent of the house of Eiton. ... There were 3. knyghts of the Hakcluiths about the tyme of Kynge Edward the 3. whereof one was namyd Edmund. It chauncid in Kynge Edward the 3. tyme that one of the Hakcluids toke parte with Llewelin, Prince of Walys, agayn Kynge Edward the 3. Whereupon his lands were attayntyd and devolvid to the Kynge or to Mortimer lord of Radenor, and never were restoryd. There was at that tyme one of the Hakcluiths that fledd into the mountains of Walis, and livyd as a banishid man, but he aftar was pardonyd, and havynge a knyght that tenderyd hym because he was his godsonne or kynesman, and had noe ysswe, he made hym his heire, and those lands yet remayn to the elder howse of the Hakcluiths."
^Hakluyt, Richard (1599). Goldsmid, Edmund, ed. The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation (1885 Fourth ed.). London and Aylesbury: Hazell, Watson & Viney Limited.
^ abcdeHakluyt's dedication to Sir Francis Walsingham of the work Hakluyt, Richard (1589). The Principall Navigations, Voiages, and Discoveries of the English Nation. London: Imprinted by George Bishop and Ralph Newberie, deputies to Christopher Barker, printer to the Queen's Most Excellent Majestie. The spelling has been modernized.
^The Galileo Project errs in identifying Hakluyt's first publication as A Shorte and Briefe Narration of the Two Nauigations and Discoueries to the Northwest Partes Called Newe Fraunce (1580), a translation of Bref Récit et Succincte Narration de la Navigation Faite en MDXXXV et MDXXXVI (Jacques Cartier (1863). Bref Recit et Succincte Narration de la Navigation Faite en 1535 et 1536, par ... J. Cartier, aux Iles de Canada, Hochelaga, Saguenay, et Autres. Réimpression, Figurée de l'édition Originale Rarissime de 1545, avec les Variantes des Manuscrits de la Bibliothèque Impériale. Paris: [s.n.]) by French navigatorJacques Cartier, which was a description of his second voyage to Canada in 1535–1536; however, the British Library's copy of this work indicates it was translated from an Italian version into English by John Florio. (Jacques Cartier (1580). A Shorte and Briefe Narration of the Two Nauigations and Discoueries to the Northwest Partes called Newe Fraunce, first Translated out of French into Italian by... Gio. Bapt. Ramutius, and now Turned into English by John Florio, etc. London: H[enry] Bynneman dvvelling in Thames streate, neere vnto Baynardes Castell.) Hakluyt did prepare his own translation of the Italian version of the work, but only published it in the third volume of the expanded edition of The Principal Navigations, Voiages, Traffiques and Discoueries of the English Nation (1600) (Henry S[weetser] Burrage (ed.) (1906). ... Early English and French Voyages, Chiefly from Hakluyt, 1534–1608: With Maps and a Facsimile Reproduction. New York, N.Y.: Scribner's. p. 36. ISBN978-1-4067-6405-5.).
^According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, above, the Queen granted Hakluyt the next vacant prebendal stall at Bristol Cathedral two days before his return to Paris.
^René de Laudonnière; Martin Basanier (ed.) (1586). L'histoire Notable de la Floride ... Contenant les Trois Voyages Faits en Icelle par Certains Capitaines ... François, [le Troisiesme Voyage, fait par ... J. Ribault,] Descrits par le Capitaine Laudonnière ... à Laquelle a esté Adjousté un Quatriesme Voyage fait par le Capitaine Gourgues. Paris: G. Auvray.Cite uses deprecated parameters (help)
^At Hakluyt's recommendation, the work was translated into English by Michael Lok and published as Petrus Martyr Anglerius (1612). De Nouo Orbe, or The Historie of the West Indies ... Comprised in Eight Decades ... Three ... Formerly Translated into English, by R. Eden ... the Other Fiue ... by ... M. Lok. London: for Thomas Adams.
^According to Jones's introduction to Hakluyt's Divers Voyages, above, Hakluyt succeeded Dr. Richard Webster as prebendary of Westminster Abbey about 1605.
^David Harris Sacks, "Richard Hakluyt's Navigations in Time: History, Epic, and Empire," Modern Language Quarterly 67 (2006): 31-62; David A. Boruchoff, "Piety, Patriotism and Empire: Lessons for England, Spain and the New World in the Works of Richard Hakluyt," Renaissance Quarterly 62, no.3 (2009): 809-58.
^Hugo Grotius (1609). Mare Liberum, sive de jure quod Batavis competit ad Indicana commercia dissertatio [The Free Sea, or, A Dissertation on the Right which Belongs to the Batavians to Take Part in the East Indian Trade]. Leiden: Ex officina Ludovici Elzevirij [From the office of Lodewijk Elzevir].
^ abThe exact date of the translation is unknown; all that can be said is that it must have been prepared between the publication of Grotius' book in 1609 and Hakluyt's death in 1616: see David Armitage, "Introduction", in Hugo Grotius; William Welwod; Richard Hakluyt (trans.); David Armitage (ed.) (2004). The Free Sea. Indianapolis, Ind.: Liberty Fund. xxii–xxiii. ISBN978-0-86597-431-9.Cite uses deprecated parameters (help)
^Armitage, "Introduction", The Free Sea: see Thornton, "The Free Sea [book review]".
^George Bruner Parks (1928). Richard Hakluyt and the English Voyages [Special Publication American Geographical Society; no. 10]. New York, N.Y.: American Geographical Society. p. 212.
^The burial register merely states that Hakluyt was buried "in the Abbey" without giving an exact location, and there is no monument or gravestone: personal e-mail communication on 10 May 2007 with Miss Christine Reynolds, Assistant Keeper of Muniments, Westminster Abbey Library.
^Samuel Purchas the Elder (1625). Purchas His Pilgrimes: In Five Bookes: The First, Contayning the Voyages ... Made by Ancient Kings, ... and Others, to and thorow the Remoter Parts of the Knowne World, etc. London: W. Stansby for H. Fetherstone. The work is also known as Hakluytus Posthumus, which was reprinted as Samuel Purchas (1905–1907). Hakluytus Posthumus: or, Purchas His Pilgrimes: Contayning a History of the World in Sea Voyages and Lande Travells by Englishmen and Others (Hakluyt Society; Extra Ser., nos. 14–33). Glasgow: James MacLehose & Sons for Hakluyt Society. 20 vols.
^Under the reference "Bib. Bod. manuscript Seld. B. 8".
^An edition was published by the Hakluyt Society in the 19th century as Juan Gonzalez de Mendoza (comp.); Robert Parke (trans.); G.T. Staunton (ed.) (1853–1854). The History of the Great and Mighty Kingdom of China and the Situation Thereof: Compiled by J. Gonzalez de Mendoza, and Now Reprinted from the Early Translation of R. Parke (Hakluyt Society; 1st Ser., no. 14). London: Hakluyt Society.Cite uses deprecated parameters (help)
^Johannes Leo Africanus; John Pory (trans. & comp.) (1600). A Geographical Historie of Africa, Written in Arabicke and Italian. ... Before which ... is Prefixed a Generall Description of Africa, and ... a Particular Treatise of All the ... Lands ... Undescribed by J. Leo ... Translated and Collected by J. Pory. London: George Bishop.Cite uses deprecated parameters (help)
^Marc Lescarbot; P. Erondelle (trans.) (1609). Nova Francia, or The Description of that Part of New France which is One Continent with Virginia: Described in the Three Late Voyages and Plantation made by Monsieur de Monts, Monsieur du Pont-Gravé, and Monsieur de Poutrincourt, into the Countries called by the French men La Cadie, lying to Southwest of Cape Breton: Together with an Excellent Severall Treatie of All the Commodities of the Said Countries, and Maners of the Naturall Inhabitants of the Same ... Translated out of French into English by P.E. London: George Bishop.Cite uses deprecated parameters (help)
Gray, Albert (1917). An Address on the Occasion of the Tercentenary of the Death of Richard Hakluyt, 23 November 1916: With a Note on the Hakluyt Family (OB4). London: Hakluyt Society.
Hakluyt, Richard; Frank Knight (1964). They Told Mr. Hakluyt: Being a Selection of Tales and Other Matter Taken from Richard Hakluyt's "The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffics and Discoveries of the English Nation", with Various Explanatory Notes by Frank Knight. London: Macmillan & Co.
Markham, Clements R[obert] (1896). Richard Hakluyt: His Life and Work: With a Short Account of the Aims and Achievements of the Hakluyt Society: An Address, etc. (OB1). London: Hakluyt Society.
Neville-Sington, P[amela] A.; Anthony Payne (1997). Richard Hakluyt and His Books: An Interim Census of Surviving Copies of Hakluyt's Divers Voyages and Principal Navigations. London: Hakluyt Society. ISBN978-0-904180-56-5.