Courtier, navigator, and writer, born in Hayes Barton, Devon, England, UK. He studied at Oxford, and became prime favourite of Elizabeth I. He was knighted in 1584, and that year sent the first of three expeditions to America. After the arrival of the Earl of Essex at court, he lost influence, and spent some years in Ireland. On his return, Elizabeth discovered his love affair with Bessy Throckmorton, one of her maids-of-honour, and he was committed to the Tower. On his release, he married Bessy, and lived at Sherborne. He took little part in the intrigues at the close of Elizabeth's reign, but his enemies turned James I against him, and he was imprisoned (1603), his death sentence being commuted to life imprisonment.
While in the Tower, he wrote his History of the World (1614) and several other works. Released in 1616, he made an expedition to the Orinoco in search of a gold-mine, which was a failure. His death sentence was invoked, and he was executed.