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probable as, in the memorable year of 1588, we find Lord Thomas in command of the Golden Lion, and highly spoken of for his activity and gallantry in chasing, attacking, and dispersing the Spanish Armada. On the occasion of the accident, by which the large ship of Biscay, 800 tons, under the Admiral De Oquendo, had taken fire, and was so much damaged that the Spanish Admiral, after the officers, men, and treasure had been removed, ordered her to be set adrift, Lord Thomas Howard and Captain Hawkins went in a skiff on board her, and reported her as follows :“Her decks had fallen in, her steerage ruined, the stern blown out, and about fifty poor wretches burnt in a most miserable manner : the stench horrible.” They, however, took possession of her, and she was towed into Weymouth.
Three of the great Spanish galliasses, in attempting to rescue a large Portuguese galleon, that had been captured by Hawkins, were so warmly engaged by the Lord High Admiral in the Ark, and Lord Thomas Howard in the Golden Lion, that they were disabled, and their boats were put out to take possession of them, when the whole Spanish fleet, observing this, came down to their rescue, and to carry them off; but it is said, however, that none of these galliasses ventured to engage our ships ever after.
After a general fight on the 25th of July, being
nearly the last of that kind, which occurred on the following day, the Lord High Admiral bestowed the honour of knighthood on Lord Thomas Howard and four or five others, in consideration of their gallant behaviour. The Admiral indeed appears to have been highly satisfied with the conduct of the English commanders not only those of the royal navy, but with several of those furnished by the merchants-who on various occasions showed great resolution and bravery, and many are stated to have signalized themselves in a remarkable manner.
The next occasion on which we find Lord Thomas Howard employed was in the year 1591, when he was sent out with a squadron of six ships of war and some small vessels, with the view of intercepting the Spanish plate-ships on their return from the West Indies. The ships employed on this occasion were the Defiance, Lord T. Howard, Admiral; the Revenge, Sir Richard Greenvil, Vice-Admiral; the Nonpareil, Sir Edward Donnie; the Bonaventure, Captain Cross; the Lion, Captain Fenner; Foresight, Captain Vavasor; and Crane, Captain Duffield.
This squadron proceeded to the Azores, and remained about six months at Flores, expecting the return of the Spanish ships. The King of Spain, however, having received information of this squadron, sent out a fleet of fifty-three ships, under the command of Admiral Don Alphonso Bassano, to protect and convoy home the plate-ships. They were fallen in with by the little squadron of the Earl of Cumberland, who very promptly despatched one of his ships, the Moonshine, to watch their proceedings and ascertain their force, and then to make for the Azores and apprize Lord Thomas Howard of such information as he should have been able to collect.
Scarcely, however, had the Moonshine arrived, with intelligence for Lord Thomas, when the Spanish fleet itself hove in sight; and so unexpectedly, that the Admiral had little time to get his sick on board, which were numerous, to weigh anchor, and to work to windward of the enemy. He had now only five ships with him, the Revenge not getting out with the rest; but with these five he determined to engage the fifty-three, of which the Spanish fleet consisted ; and did actually attack them ; but, the night coming on, they parted. The crew, however, headed by their officers, came up to the Admiral, representing to him their vast inferiority, and entreated him not to think of renewing the action in the morning, which could only terminate in the loss of their little fleet and the destruction of their crews; Captain Vavasor, of the Foresight, being, as is said, the only commander that persisted in resuming the engagement by daylight.
The Vice-Admiral, Sir Richard Greenvil, in the
Revenge, on account of many of his men straggling on shore, and of his endeavours in getting them off, was hemmed in between the Spanish fleet and the shore. He might perhaps have got over this difficulty, but, Camden says, that, from a rash piece of bravery, he would not suffer his pilot to carry the ship out, and by so doing turn his back
enemy He therefore resolutely attempted to break through them; and, notwithstanding he had ninety sick on board, he maintained a gallant but unequal fight, with the largest of the Spanish ships, for fifteen hours. In the commencement of the action the George Noble, of London, one of the victuallers, after receiving some shot, fell under the lee of the Revenge, and asked Sir Richard if he had any commands for him; but Sir Richard desired him to shift for himself, and leave him to his fortune. The Spanish Admiral, named the St. Philip, got to windward of him, and plied him so on one side, while three more attacked him on the other, that a great number of his men were either killed or wounded.
The enemy now attempted to board the Revenge, and were as often beaten off, and thrown overboard ; others succeeded, and the fighting continued all night, the enemy constantly bringing up fresh recruits from their fleet. In this conflict the Spaniards lost a vast number of their men. The Revenge now began to be in want of powder; besides which their pikes were broken; all the bravest men either killed or wounded; their masts split and rigging damaged; the ship battered with not fewer than eight hundred great shot; and, to complete their misfortune, Sir Richard Greenvil was himself severely. wounded, and, whilst the wound was dressing by the surgeon, he received a second shot in the head, and the surgeon was killed by his side. • By break of day," says Camden, “the hatches appeared all over blood, and the vast shoal of carcasses and men half dead that lay scattered up and down, presented a very lamentable spectacle to those who were left alive.”*
After this prolonged fight, Greenvil being now past all hopes of life, and seeing that nothing but utter destruction awaited the few surviving crew, he ordered the ship to be sunk; but the master countermanded it, and, by consent of the greater part of the crew, got into the boats and yielded themselves to the Spanish Admiral, on compounding for their lives and liberties. The brave Greenvil, being now almost at the last extremity, was conveyed into the Spanish Admiral's ship, and died within two days, amid high commendations, even from his enemies, of his conduct and bravery. As he had lived, so he died, with the feelings of a brave man and a hero. Perceiving the hour of death approach, he is said to have uttered or dictated these words :-" Here die I, Richard Greenvil, with a joyful and quiet mind,