Sir Richard Grenville, Vice Admiral, of the Revenge Sir Richard Grenville, Vice Admiral, of the <I>Revenge</I>

Sir Richard Grenville,


An excellent summary of the life of Grenville, and his role in the final action of the Revenge is to be found in the Dictionary of National Biography, published by Oxford University Press.

Permission is being sought from the Publishers, for the reproduction of this article on this page in full. [March 1996].


to quote from the article:

‘Grenville or Greynvile, Sir Richard (1541? - 1591), naval commander, of an old Cornish family..... in early youth Greynvile is said to have served in Hungary under Emperor Maximilian against the Turks, and to have won special distinction'

After a period in Parliament, during which he received his knighthood, perhaps around 1573-4, he was ‘interesting himself, in company with Sir Humphrey Gilbert, in ['an enterprise for the discovery of sundry rich and unknown lands',]but it does not appear that he himself undertook any such voyage till in May 1585 he had command of a fleet of seven ships which sailed from England for the colonisation of Virginia, acting in this, it would seem, as the representative of his cousin, Sir Walter Raleigh'.

The article then goes on to describe the circumstances of the fatal, lone engagement of the Revenge with the 53 Spanish ships, as romantically portrayed in Tennyson's poem.

An objective evaluation of the merits of Grenville's action and a realistic appraisal of the known facts is given with reference to contemporary sources.


The Dictionary of National Biography is available in most UK public Libraries.

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