Seafarer Drake DID discover California
SIR Francis Drake has been credited with discovering California – and claiming it for Queen Elizabeth I.
The great Plymouth seafarer has been credited with landing in the state during one of his epic sea voyages.
A 433-year-old historical mystery of Drake's exploration had centred on exactly where he landed on America's Pacific Coast on June 17, 1579.
But now, after a five-year study in the United States, historians believe they have the answer.
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Drake, who went on to defeat the Spanish Armada, is said to have ordered his crew to nail a brass plate to a tree, claiming the land for England.
California would have become the jewel of the British Empire, if it had become a British Colony.
Vague descriptions of the natural harbour where his ship laid anchor had led some academics to claim he landed as far North as what is now Alaska, while others argued that the area he described was as far south as San Diego.
Twenty nine other points along America's Pacific coastline and even Canada's British Columbia have been suggested over the years by historians as his first point of entry into the New World.
The latest study, by experts from the California-based Drake Navigators Guild, has concluded that Drake landed on the Point Reyes Peninsula, North of San Francisco.
In its report to the US government, the Guild cited more than 50 historical facts to support its findings, including detailed 16th century reports that tally with the topography of the area.
John Dell'Osso, chief of interpretation at Point Reyes National Seashore and an avid Drake historian, said: "The Point Reyes claim simply had more evidence than any other possible site."
The new official Drake landing site has now been named by the US government as one of 27 sites that are national historic landmarks.
But no one will have to conjure up a new name for it.
"Those convinced in the past of his landing site had already named Drake's Cove, an inlet near the larger Drake's Bay as the unofficial precise landing site in Point Reyes," Mr Dell'Osso said. "That's very fortunate, because it's now official."
Drake, who was born in Tavistock in 1540, is considered one of Britain's greatest naval heroes.
He led the English fleet in victory over the Spanish Armada in 1588 as they prepared for an invasion of Britain.
He was also the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe.