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The BBC rewrites history regarding Sir Francis Drake

Tom Winnifrith
Thursday 12 January 2023

Some crackpot school in London has renamed itself as it does not wish to be linked to Sir Francis Drake because he was an evil slave trader. Except that he was not. The BBC is keen to whip up more fake history and has joined in the battle as you can see below.

Of course the school was named after Drake, as was one of the houses at my ghastly Prep School Warwick, because Sir Francis singed the King of Spain’s beard repeatedly and was a leading light in the English defeat of the Spanish Armada. Thanks to Drake we don’t speak Spanish, we are Protestant not Catholic and as such he is a guiding force in our history. That is why we celebrate him. The other houses at my Prep school were Nelson and Scott named after other significant figures in our history.

But was Drake a slave trader as well? Er not really. As a young man he served in a junior capacity on 4 ships captained by his cousin John Hawkins which, inter alia, engaged in some slave trading. But Drake was a very junior sailor. He did not make policy nor did he profit from slaves traded in a personal capacity.  His role is very junior. Perhaps less junior than that of Robbie Burns, Scotland’s national poet , who signed up to go and work on a plantation as its book-keeper.  Yet where are the schools named after Burns being re-named?

Drake was a junior officer on his cousin’s ships which did a bit of poaching of slaves from the Spanish which, at the time was – wrongly – not considered an act of evil. Thereafter he saved his country. To erase him from history is bad enough but for the BBC to describe him in terms of a small and relatively unimportant part of his life when he is widely remembered for other things which are critical to England’s history, is just appalling journalism. Journalism which you and I are forced to pay for.


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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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