The first British slave ship to reach the Americas, referred to as “The Good Ship Jesus” was, in fact, named the “Jesus of Lubeck,” a 700-ton ship sailing between 1562 and 1567.
Britain’s very first slave trader, John Hawkins, profited so greatly from the slave trade, that he caught the Queen’s attention. She donated the Jesus of Lubeck and another ship called the Minion, as an investment into Hawkins’ enterprise.
Hawkins had a reputation for being a religious man who required his crew to “serve God daily” and to love one another.
Sir Francis Drake accompanied Hawkins on this voyage and subsequent others. Drake, was himself, devoutly religious. Services were held on board twice a day.
Hawkins captured 300-500 slaves, mostly by plundering Portuguese ships, but also through violence and subterfuge promising Africans free land and riches in the new world.
He returned home with a profit and ships laden with ivory, hides, and sugar. Hawkins’ lucrative business in profiting from human atrocities was abruptly ended in 1567 when his fleet was confronted by Spanish conquistadors in the Gulf of Mexico.
Hawkins suffered a heavy loss of 325 men. His casualties are dwarfed by the number of African lives lost within the five years of Hawkins’ fiendish operation and the lives destroyed through brutal oppression of surviving enslaved Africans and the many generations to follow.