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Adventurer put Trimley on the map

PUBLISHED: 20:00 02 November 2001 | UPDATED: 15:19 03 March 2010

PIRATE and explorer Thomas Cavendish is Trimley's most famous son.

A man who lived a storybook life of adventure on the high seas, a patriot, a buccaneer, fierce, arrogant, brave, but a man who in the end died in mysterious circumstances, possibly murdered by a mutinous crew.

PIRATE and explorer Thomas Cavendish is Trimley's most famous son.

A man who lived a storybook life of adventure on the high seas, a patriot, a buccaneer, fierce, arrogant, brave, but a man who in the end died in mysterious circumstances, possibly murdered by a mutinous crew.

He is remembered in the village today both on the village sign, and also in the name of one of its pubs – The Three Mariners.

Legend has it that the pub was known by another name originally, but was renamed to celebrate Cavendish's exploits when he returned to Trimley after his round-the-world voyage in 1588.

The Three Mariners were his three ships – the Desire, the Content, and the Hugh Gallant.

Cavendish was the second Englishman – and third person ever – to circumnavigate the globe.

He was baptised in Trimley St Martin Church on September 19, 1560, and was dead in his early thirties. He was the only person from Trimley ever to be mentioned in the National Dictionary of Biography.

The family hailed from Cavendish originally but had been in Trimley since 1365, and its coat or arms is over the west door of St Mary's Church.

Cavendish, who lived at Grimston Hall, was educated at Cambridge and then took legal training in London.

He joined a colonising and trading voyage to Virginia in 1585 and commanded his own ship, returning home in 1586.

That year he planned his own voyage, mortgaging all his lands to raise £10,000 to sail the world with the aim of making discoveries for his home country.

With his three ships, the Desire, the largest at 120 tons, and the Content and the Hugh Gallant, both 40 tons each, he was following in the footsteps of Sir Francis Drake.

He set sail from Harwich on July 21, 1586, on his round the world voyage with his three ships and 123 people aboard to man them.

It was to be an adventure in which his men at varying times, fought, starved, plundered and terrorised the people of the places they "discovered".

In one letter home, he wrote: "I burnt and sunk 19 sails of ships small and great. All the villages and towns that ever I landed at, I have burned and spoiled."

In one battle in Quintero, in 1587, he lost 12 men and had to sink the Hugh Gallant because he did not have enough men to sail her.

In another incident he captured a 700-ton vessel called the St Anne and its 190 sailors, and stole its cargo of gold, silks, satins and musks.

Later he lost the ship the Content when its crew mutinied, but he did make it home to England, arriving at Plymouth on September 9, 1588 – his prize to dine with the Queen.

He then came home to Trimley and a great feast was provided in his honour. His crew though got out of hand and tore through the village, terrifying the local people out of their wits.

Among his crew were three other local men, preacher John Way, pilot Thomas Fuller, of Ipswich, and Francis Petty, of Eyke, who wrote a history of their voyage.

Cavendish died in mysterious circumstances in 1591 on another trip after parting company with his crew at St Helena. It is not known whether he died of illness, committed suicide – or whether his crew murdered him.

WEBLINK: www.nps.gov/fora/cavendish.htm

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