The First Vanguard, 1586–1630

By David Cressy, published February 2024


he royal ship Vanguard, the first of many English warships to bear that name, served three sovereigns between its construction in 1586 and scrapping in 1630. This article examines Vanguard’s readiness, equipment, manning and deployment over 44 years, from the Armada battle of 1588 to the Cadiz campaign of 1596, from the 1620–1 expedition against the pirates of Algiers to the controversial French loan in 1625, and through phases of rest, refit and deterioration. Peacetime service saw Vanguard patrolling the Channel, hunting pirates and ferrying dignitaries as a much-used tool in England’s defence and diplomacy. Serving Elizabeth I, Vanguard’s talented captains included Sir William Wynter, Sir Martin Frobisher and Sir John Wingfield. Their Stuart successors included Sir William Monson, Sir Richard Hawkins and John Pennington. Administrative and financial records also identify some of the officers and ship’s company.

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Filed under: Tudors
Subjects include: Shipbuilding & Design | Strategy & Diplomacy

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