Grenville, Sir Richard

Grenville, Sir Richard, 1542?–1591, English naval hero. His cousin, Sir Walter Raleigh, gave him command of the fleet of seven vessels carrying the first colonists to Roanoke Island in 1585. In 1591, Grenville was second in command, under Lord Thomas Howard, of the fleet sent to capture the Spanish treasure ships off the Azores. When Lord Thomas withdrew on finding the odds against him too heavy, Grenville's ship, the Revenge, became separated from the rest of the fleet, and Grenville tried to break through the Spanish line. He fought 15 Spanish ships all one evening and night, was mortally wounded, and died in Spanish captivity. His exploit is celebrated in Tennyson's poem “The Revenge.”

See biography (1937, repr. 1963) and study (1957) by A. L. Rowse.

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