Friday, December 3, 2010

Sir Richard Grenville

Article by Andy Powell 
Mention the name Sir Richard Grenville to anyone, and chances are that apart from a vague recollection that he had something to do with Bideford and died fighting a losing battle in the Azores, few will be able to add more detail, yet add more detail we must, for Grenville’s life had far more influence in Elizabethan history than he has ever been given credit for.
Grenville’s date of birth is a mystery in itself, with various sources quoting anything from 1540 to 1543. The truth lies in a portrait painting hanging in the National Gallery, a later copy of which hangs in Bideford’s Town Hall. Upon this painting is an inscription that tells us the painting was produced in 1571 “in the year of his life 29”, meaning Grenville was 29 in 1571 and thus was born in 1542. Where he was born remains a mystery though, as does much of his early life, but there is evidence that he was raised at Clifton House near St. Germans in Cornwall as a Ward of Court. Why a Ward of Court? Few people realize his father was Captain of the Mary Rose which sank so catastrophically off Portsmouth when our Grenville was only 3 years of age.

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