Author: Mary Fuller

a professor of literature at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is the author of Voyages in Print (1995) and Remembering the Early Modern Voyage (1996)

Richard Hakluyt (1552–1616)

Richard Hakluyt, better known as Richard Hakluyt (the younger) or Richard Hakluyt (the minister) to distinguish him from his elder cousin of the same name, was an editor, geographer, and Anglican minister. With his cousin, he acted as one of the chief propagandists of English colonization in North America. In 1582, he published Divers Voyages Touching the Discoverie of America, and the Ilands Adjacent, probably in support of Sir Humphrey Gilbert’s plan to settle North America. And when Gilbert’s half brother Walter Raleigh inherited Gilbert’s patent for colonization, Hakluyt wrote and presented to Queen Elizabeth a Discourse on Western Planting (1584), forcefully arguing for colonization predicated on Protestant proselytizing and economic expansion, both of which, he insisted, would help undermine Spain. Five years later he published Principall Navigations, Voiages and Discoveries of the English Nation, a remarkable collection of documents whose final section focused on English activities in the Americas. Hakluyt also played a key role in producing a book that brought England’s first American colony to the attention of a wide and lasting audience: the first volume of Flemish engraver Theodor de Bry‘s multilingual America series, an edition of Thomas Hariot‘s narrative with John White‘s images and maps of the settlement at Roanoke Island. In later years, Hakluyt advised the East India Company; his was one of eight names on the original charter of the Virginia Company of London and he was listed as an investor in the second charter. An official for many years at Westminster Abbey, he died in 1616.


Richard Hakluyt (ca. 1530–1591)

Richard Hakluyt, better known as Richard Hakluyt (the elder) or Richard Hakluyt (the lawyer) to distinguish him from his younger cousin of the same name, was an active propagandist of English colonization of North America. Although his cousin, the editor of Principall Navigations, Voiages and Discoveries of the English Nation (1589), was better known and more influential, Hakluyt had been his guardian and introduced him to the study of geography. Elected to Parliament in 1558, he corresponded over several decades with cosmographers, merchants, fishermen, and other travelers, gathering information on the new regions they contacted and providing advice and instructions for the pursuit of trade, colonization, diplomacy, and exploration. Hakluyt’s arguments that colonization of the Americas would be a boon to English commerce and an opportunity to Christianize the Virginia Indians likely influenced the views of his cousin, who gave them wider currency. In 1585, concurrent with Walter Raleigh‘s proposed settlement in the Outer Banks of present-day North Carolina, he authored two pamphlets in favor of colonial ventures, but he died in 1591, before the permanent colony, at Jamestown, could be established.