Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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GRENVILLE, Sir Richard, English navigator, born in Cornwall, England, in 1540; died at sea in 1591. At the age of sixteen he served in the German imperial army as a volunteer against the Turks. On his return he was appointed to a command in Ireland, and was made a sheriff of Cork. He represented Cornwall in parliament in 1571, and afterward was made high sheriff of that country, and knighted by Queen Elizabeth. He entered actively into the colonization schemes of Sir Walter Raleigh, who was his cousin, and on 9 April, 1585, sailed from Plymouth in command of seven vessels bearing 108 colonists, which were despatched to Carolina by Raleigh. The fleet touched the West Indies, where it captured two Spanish frigates, and on 20 June reached the mainland of Carolina, or Florida, as it was then called. They encountered a storm, and narrowly escaped being wrecked on the cape, which Grenville named in consequence Cape Fear. They anchored at Wocoken on 26 June, and passing through the Ocracoke inlet made their way to Roanoke island. Grenville and his party explored the country for eight days, and in revenge for the theft of a silver cup burned an Indian village and destroyed the Indian maize around it. Grenville left the colony under the government of Robert Lane, and returned to England with his ships, capturing a Spanish galleon on his way. On his second visit to the colony he found it deserted, as the colonists had returned to England with Sir Francis Drake, owing to trouble with the Indians. In order to keep possession of the country he left fifteen men there and sailed for England. He was made a member of the council that was created in 1588 to devise means of defense against the Spanish armada, and in 1591 he was raised to the rank of vice-admiral and sent in conjunction with Lord Howard to cruise against the Spaniards in the West Indies. He encountered off the Azores a Spanish fleet consisting of fifty-two ships. With only five ships he attacked the enemy, and fought from 3 p. M. until daybreak. During the action four of the Spanish ships were sunk and a thousand men killed. Grenville was wounded early in the engagement, and was finally shot through the body and carried into the cabin. Upon this the rest of the crew surrendered. When the vessel was about to sink he was carried on board a Spanish ship, where he died three days afterward. His name is written Grenville, Greenville, and Granville. The voyage of Sir Richard Grenville in 1585 was related by one of the persons who accompanied him, and an account after their arrival was written probably by Ralph Lane. See Hakluyt's "Voyages."
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