Reign of Elizabeth - from A.D. 1558 to A.D. 1603.

When Elizabeth came to the throne, she, without loss of time, took measures to restore the navy, which had been allowed to fall into decay during the reign of her wretched sister Mary. Timber was stored up for building, numerous pieces of brass cannon cast, and gunpowder, which had hitherto been brought from abroad, was manufactured at home. She raised the wages of seamen, increased the number of naval officers, and augmented their salaries, giving also encouragement to foreigners skilled in shipbuilding to repair to her ports and construct strong ships, both for war and commerce. The fortresses in the Isle of Wight and other parts were increased, and scarcely had she governed four days when Vice-Admiral Malyn was ordered to sail, with as many ships as were fit for sea, to protect trade and to defend the channel.

She, of course, took these steps by the advice of Cecil, who likewise directed Sir Thomas Gresham to send over coin from Holland, and to purchase arms and munitions of war. Cecil was thoroughly cognisant of the designs of the Spaniards, and he had soon a proof of their perfidious intentions. A squadron under the command of Sir John Hawkins had been driven into the port of Saint Juan d’Ulloa in the Bay of Mexico, and was suddenly attacked by a Spanish fleet, the commander of which had just before been professing his friendly intentions. Sir John suspected treachery in consequence of observing that the Spaniards were shifting arms from one ship to another, planting and levelling their cannon from their ships towards an island on which some of the English had landed. The master of one of the ships being sent to the Spanish admiral, he was seized; and, causing the trumpet to be sounded, the Spaniards set on the English on all sides. The men on shore being dismayed at the unexpected onset, fled, and endeavoured to recover their ships, but the Spaniards, landing in great numbers, slew most of them without quarter. Several of the English ships were destroyed—the Minion and Judith, with a small bark of fifty tons, alone escaping. The crews underwent incredible hardships, though they at length found their way to England. The English captured on the island by the Spaniards were afterwards thrown into the Inquisition, where they remained shut up asunder in dungeons for a year and a-half. Three were afterwards burnt; others were condemned to receive two and three hundred blows on horseback with long whips, and to serve in the galleys for many years; and others were confined in monasteries, dressed in the S. Benito or fool’s coats. One of them, Job Hartob, after enduring captivity for twenty-three years, escaped, and reached England. So enraged were the nation at this treachery of the Spaniards, that it was with difficulty they could be restrained from breaking the peace with that perfidious nation.