Honestly, I had hoped that others would come forward with a narrative or timeline to which I could then make additions. In that absence, I have decided to do some heavy lifting myself.
I had already done the bulk of the research needed for this timeline. However, I had looked at the entire of British history, and was not so much concerned with England as a world power. So, this timeline starts around 1560. It focuses on developments beyond the formation of Great Britain as merely a combination of England, Scotland, Wales and North Ireland. There is a lot of very interesting history in that regard, well worth a separate thread in its own rights.
Because my initial research had a slightly different theme in mind, this timeline is very much a product of the sources I consulted. Had I made a different selection of sources, a very different timeline might have emerged. Major points in history would have probably been included. Interesting but relatively minor points might have been left out. Other interesting but relatively minor points might have been included. It is my hope that this timeline should be thought of as a good place to start, but not by any means a definitive statement on the subject.
This initial timeline focuses on England. Subsequent entries may look at this same time period from the perspective of other regions of the globe.
So, without further introduction:
Sir John Hawkins, using investments from Queen Elizabeth participates in shipping of slaves from West Africa across the Atlantic.
Tobacco smoking is introduced by Sir John Hawkins.[ii] 1565
John Hawkins commands a fleet of six ships, one captained by Francis Drake, that sails from Plymouth to the West Indies. In the six ships sail 408 men. [iii] October 1567 A.D.
A “Very Rich Lottery” is conducted in London to raise money to repair sea ports. It offers as its first prize ₤5,000 worth of tapestries and gilded plate.[iv] 1567 A.D.
The English establish the Cathay Company to trade with China by way of North America.[v] 1576 A.D.
Sir Francis Drake is knighted by Elizabeth I on the deck of the Golden Hind.[vi] 1580 A.D.
A fleet of vessels under the command of Sir Gilbert sail together from Caswand Bay, the outer part of Plymouth Sound, for North America.[vii] June 11, 1583 A.D.
The Hinde, a surviving ship of Humfry Gilbert’s fleet, reaches Falmouth, England. Gilbert himself has been lost at sea. September 22, 1583 A.D.
Sir Humfry Gilbert is “swallowed up of the sea.” Gilbert is 48 at the time of his death.[viii] [ix] September 9, 1583 A.D.
The Spanish Ambassador is expelled from London for complicity in a plot by Francis Throckmorton to replace Elizabeth I with Mary Stuart. 1584 A.D.
Sir Walter Raleigh is granted exclusive license to colonize North America.[x] 1584 A.D.
Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe command two ships that sail out of Plymouth.[xi] April 27, 1584 A.D.
The two ships commanded by Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe return to England after having explored the eastern coast of what is now the United States.[xii] September 15, 1584 A.D.
An expedition commanded by John Davis departs from Dartmouth to explore North America.[xiii] June 7, 1585 A.D.
Thomas Hariot has published his Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia.[xiv] 1585 A.D.
Following a break of diplomatic relations, Elizabeth I begins to issue letters of marque for plundering Spanish vessels.[xv] 1585 A.D.
Sir Richard Grenville arrives in Plymouth in the commandeered Santa Maria de San Vicente. Grenville is returning from a trip to North Carolina.[xvi] October 18, 1585 A.D.
The Treaty of Berwick sets England and Scotland on the same anti-Spanish course, and pays James VI a pension.[xvii] 1586 A.D.
A second expedition headed by John Davis departs for North America.[xviii] May 7, 1586 A.D.
The Sunneshine, originally a part of the expedition commanded by John Davis, returns to Dartmouth.[xix] October 4, 1586 A.D.
The Sunneshine, having sailed up the Thames, arrives at Radcliffe. October 4, 1586 A.D.
A small fleet of ships under the admiralty of Simon Ferdinando departs from Plymouth for North America.[xx] May 8, 1587 A.D.
The expedition of John Davis arrives back in Dartmouth.[xxi] September 15, 1587 A.D.
The vessel upon which John White is aboard makes landfall at the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland. White has returned from Virginia.[xxii] October 16, 1587 A.D.
John White, on a passage ship called Monkie, arrives at Marazion near Saint Michael’s Mount, Cornwall.[xxiii] November 5, 1587 A.D.
Thomas Hariot’s Briefe and True Report concerning Virginia[xxiv] is dated February 1588 A.D.
Defeat of the Spanish Armada by the British. The English fleet sailed from Plymouth.[xxv] 1588 A.D.
Richard Hakluyt has published The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques, and Discoveries of the English Nation introducing to the English public recent expeditions of Frobisher, Gilbert, and Raleigh.[xxvi] 1589 A.D.
John White sails with a Virginia relief expedition from Plymouth.[xxvii] March 20, 1590 A.D.
John White on board the Hopewell arrives at Plymouth. [xxviii] October 24, 1590 A.D.
British capture the Madre de Deus, a Portuguese caravel, off the Azores as it returns from the East Indies. The caravel is laden with pepper, clove, nutmeg, ebony, tapestries, silks, textiles, pearls and precious metal. The haul from this single ship, which was towed into harbor at Dartmouth, was estimated to be worth half of England’s regular annual imports. Woolley notes that Christopher Newport helped in the capture. [xxix] circa 1592 A.D.
Sir Martin Frobisher and Sir John Norris lead an assault against Fort Crozon near Brest. Frobisher receives a bullet wound to his leg.[xxx] November 7, 1594 A.D.
Richard Hakluyt’s three volume The Principall Navigations, Voiages and Discoveries of the English Nation appears This was noted earlier in the timeline, but there seems to be some uncertainty as to when it was actually published.[xxxi] 1598 – 1600 A.D.
The Earl of Essex is imprisoned for his attempts to rouse the government to a war against the “tyranny” of Catholic Spain.[xxxii] 1599 A.D.
The East India Company is founded by Sir Thomas Smythe.[xxxiii] December 31, 1600 A.D.
A body of 4,000 Spaniards land at Kinsale in Ireland. They are defeated by the forces of Charles Blount, Lord Baron of Mountjoy and his officers.[xxxiv] 1601 A.D.
John Davis becomes flag pilot for the first fleet that under the English East India Company sent to the Far East. This voyage, under Captain James Lancaster in Sea Dragon[xxxv], lasts from 1601 to 1603 A.D.
Bartholomew Gosnold sails for Maine from England.[xxxvi] March 1602 A.D.
Martin Pring sails in the Speedwell for Maine.[xxxvii] 1603 A.D.
James I is crowned King of England, Ireland, and France at Westminster Abbey.[xxxviii] July 25, 1603 A.D.
James I establishes a peace with Spain. In The European Discovery of America, Morison notes that one result of the peace was that “England began supplying a large part of the Spanish market with codfish.” [xxxix] 1604 A.D.
James I pens a “Counterblast to Tobacco” in which he condemns the “manifold abuses of this vile custom.”[xl] 1604 A.D.
A group of wealthy English gentlemen form a company for exploring North Virginia (what is now New England). Ferdinando Gorges and Thomas Arundel were members of that company. It is that company that sponsors the Weymouth expedition. [xli] 1605 A.D.
An expedition to explore North America under the command of George Weymouth sets sail from Ratcliffe, England.[xlii] March 5, 1605 A.D.
The Gunpowder Plot to blow up Parliament while it is in session is foiled. Conspirators are arrested and later executed. This is important for purposes of this timeline because many who were implicated in the plot subsequently turn up in more imperial adventures.[xliii] November 5, 1605 A.D.
A great joint stock company is formed with two branches – the Virginia or London Company and the North Virginia or Plymouth Company (also referred to as the New England Company after the voyage of Captain Smith).[xliv] April 10, 1606 A.D.
A Plymouth Company ship sets sail under Henry Challons on August 12, 1606. It is captured by the Spanish.[xlv]
The Susan Constant, the Godspeed, and the Discovery set sail for Virginia.[xlvi] December 20, 1606 A.D.
King Phillip III of Spain’s ambassador to London, Don Pedro de Zuñiga receives garbled information of the English venture to Virginia and writes an urgent dispatch to his king.[xlvii] January 24, 1607 A.D.
Don Pedro de Zuñiga receives a response to his communication to Phillip III indicating an intent to prevent the English from further progress in establishing a settlement in Virginia.[xlviii] February 26, 1607 A.D.
The Gift of God and the Mary and John sail with 1210 colonists for the Kennebec region in the State of Maine.[xlix] May 31, 1607 A.D.
The Susan Constant arrives in Plymouth, completing a round trip voyage to Virginia and back. On board the ship are sassafras, clapboard timber, and a barrel of soil to test for metals such as gold and silver. The test results come out negative. [l] July 29, 1607 A.D.
The Susan Constant arrives in London.[li] August 12, 1607 A.D.
Hugh O’Neil takes a ship at Rathmullan in Lough Swilly, and sails into voluntary exile.[lii] September 3, 1607 A.D.
Ambassador Pedro de Zuñiga of Spain meets with James I. Zuñiga expresses objections to the settlement at Jamestown, Virginia including expressions of belief that the intent was for use of the community to launch piracy operations. Other matters discussed include Irish affairs and the indiscipline of the English Parliament.[liii] September 27, 1607 A.D.
The John & Francis and the Phoenix sail from the port of Gravesend, east of London, for a voyage to Virginia.[liv] October 8, 1607 AD.
The English form an alliance with the United Provinces (the Netherlands) against Spain.[lv] 1608 A.D.
A fleet sets off for Virginia. Included are provisions and many recruited as settlers. The fleet includes the Sea Venture, the Diamond, the Falcon, the Blessing, the Unity, the Lion, the Swallow, and the Virginia.[lvi] June 1609 A.D.
Taking on water and to avoid sinking, the Sea Venture is driven onto Bermuda’s reefs. Before the hull splits, the crew manages to ferry the passengers and some possessions ashore by boat.[lvii] July 28, 1609 A.D.
A True and Sincere declaration of the purpose and ends of the Planatation begun in Virginia is published.[lviii] December 1609 A.D.
Having constructed the Deliverance and the Patience during the time of being stranded on Bermuda, the two ships set sail for Virginia with almost all who had been aboard the shipwrecked Sea Venture.[lix] May 10, 1610 A.D.
The King James Version of the Bible is published.[lx] 1611 A.D.
William Shakespeare’s The Tempest opens in London. The play is thought to have been inspired by an account of the shipwreck of the Sea Venture at Bermuda by William Strachey. [lxi] 1611 A.D.
A note concerning sources:
I don’t quite follow the conventional mode of citing sources. Rather, I list the name of the author or initials of the authors. I hate “Ibid” and "Op Cit” so I find this a much easier way to proceed. There are cases in which I use more than one source of the quoted author, in which case I also use the book title. For this particular thread, there may be only one actual source used of the author in question, but for other timelines I may have used more than one of their works, so here I also include the title of the source. I have also made no additional effort to list hyperlink sources as those can be traced by the usual method.
So, the full name and title of the sources quoted are as follows.
Webster's New Geographical Dictionary, A Merriam-Webster
Islands of Maine – Where America Really Began, Bill Caldwell
Maine’s Hall of Fame – Volume 1, John E. Cayford
The Isles – A History, Norman Davies
Fox’s Book of Martyrs, John Foxe (Foxe)
Silk Roads – A New History of the World, Peter Frankopan
The National Experience – A History of the United States, published by Harcourt, Brace & World (Harcourt)
Old Dominion, New Commonwealth, Ronald L. Heinemann, John G. Kolp, Anthony S. Parent, Jr., William G. Shade. (HKP&S)
The Chronicle of World History, Konecky & Konecky (K&K)
The Story of English, Robert McCrum, Willam Cran, and Robert MacNeil (M, C & M)
The European Discovery of America, Morison
The People’s Chronology, James Trager
Savage Kingdom, Benjamin Woolley
[ii] The European Discovery of America, Morison
[iii] The European Discovery of America, Morison.
[v] Harcourt. See also The European Discovery of America, Morison
[vi] The European Discovery of America, Morison
[vii] The European Discovery of America, Morison
[viii] The European Discovery of America, Morison.
[ix] The European Discovery of America, Morison. See also HKP&S.
[xi] The European Discovery of America, Morison
[xii] The European Discovery of America, Morison
[xiii] The European Discovery of America, Morison
[xiv] The European Discovery of America, Morison
[xv] The European Discovery of America, Morison
[xvi] The European Discovery of America, Morison.
[xviii] The European Discovery of America, Morison
[xix] The European Discovery of America, Morison
[xx] The European Discovery of America, Morison.
[xxi] The European Discovery of America, Morison.
[xxii] The European Discovery of America, Morison.
[xxiii] The European Discovery of America, Morison.
[xxiv] The European Discovery of America, Morison.
[xxv] Lowne. See also Frankopan.Webster notes that English fleet sailed from Plymouth.
[xxvii] The European Discovery of America, Morison
[xxviii] The European Discovery of America, Morison
[xxx] The European Discovery of America, Morison
[xxxi] The European Discovery of America, Morison
[xxxv] The European Discovery of America, Morison
[xxxix] Harcourt. In The European Discovery of America, Morison notes that one result of the peace was that “England began supplying a large part of the Spanish market with codfish.” See also Woolley.
[xl] Woolley. See also Trager.
[xliii] K&K. Foxe. See also Davies, Trager, and Woolley.
[xliv] Cayford. See also Woolley and HKP&S .
[xlvi] Woolley. See also Trager.
[l] Woolley. The test results come out negative.
[lix] Woolley. See also Trager.
[lx] M, C and M. See also K&K and Trager.
[lxi] K&K. The play is thought to have been inspired by an account of the shipwreck of the Sea Venture at Bermuda by William Strachey.