This section is from the book "Elizabethan Sea Dogs", by Gerhard R. Lomer and Charles W. Jefferys. Also available from Amazon: Elizabethan Sea Dogs.
So here were the three rivals overlapping again — the annexing Spaniards, the would-be colonizing French, and the persistently trading English. There were, however, no Spaniards about at that time. This was the second Huguenot colony in Florida. Rene de Laudonniere had founded it in 1564. The first one, founded two years earlier by Jean Ribaut, had failed and Ribaut's men had deserted the place. They had started for home in 1563, had suffered terrible hardships, had been picked up by an English vessel, and taken, some to France and some to England, where the court was all agog about the wealth of Florida. People said there were mines so bright with jewels that they had to be approached at night lest the flashing light should strike men blind. Florida became proverbial; and Elizabethan wits made endless fun of it. Stolida, or the land of fools, and Sordida, or the land of muck-worms, were some of their jeux d'esprit. Everyone was 'bound for Florida,' whether he meant to go there or not, despite Spanish spheres of influence, the native cannibals, and pirates by the way.
Hawkins, on the contrary, did not profess to be bound for Florida. Nevertheless he arrived there, and probably had intended to do so from the first, for he took with him a Frenchman who had been in Ribaut's colony two years before, and Sparke significantly says that 'the land is more than any [one] king Christian is able to inhabit.' However this may be, Hawkins found the second French colony as well as 'a French ship of fourscore ton, and two pinnaces of fifteen ton apiece by her . . . and a fort, in which their captain Monsieur Laudonniere was, with certain soldiers therein.' The colony had not been a success. Nor is this to be wondered at when we remember that most of the 'certain soldiers' were ex-pirates, who wanted gold, and 'who would not take the pains so much as to fish in the river before their doors, but would have all things put in their mouths.' Eighty of the original two hundred 'went a-roving' to the West Indies, 'where they spoiled the Spaniards . . . and were of such haughty stomachs that they thought their force to be such that no man durst meddle with them. . . . But God . . . did indurate their hearts in such sort that they lingered so long that a [Spanish] ship and galliasse being made out of St. Domingo . . . took twenty of them, whereof the most part were hanged . . . and twenty-five escaped ... to Florida, where . . . they were put into prison [by Laudonniere, against whom they had mutinied] and . . . four of the chiefest being condemned, at the request of the soldiers did pass the arquebusers, and then were hanged upon a gibbet.' Sparke got the delightful expression 'at the request of the soldiers did pass the arquebusers' from a 'very polite' Frenchman. Could any one tell you more politely, in mistranslated language, how to stand up and be shot?
Sparke was greatly taken with the unknown art of smoking. 'The Floridians . . . have an herb dried, who, with a cane and an earthen cup in the end, with fire and the dried herbs put together, do suck through the cane the smoke thereof, which smoke satisfieth their hunger, and therewith they live four or five days without meat or drink. And this all the Frenchmen used for this purpose; yet do they hold opinion withal that it causeth water and steam to void from their stomachs.' The other 'commodities of the land' were 'more than are yet known to any man.' But Hawkins was bent on trade, not colonizing. He sold the Tiger, a barque of fifty tons, to Lau-donniere for seven hundred crowns and sailed north on the first voyage ever made along the coast of the United States by an all-English crew. Turning east off Newfoundland 'with a good large wind, the 20 September  we came to Padstow, in Cornwall, God be thanked! in safety, with the loss of twenty persons in all the voyage, and with great profit to the venturers, as also to the whole realm, in bringing home both gold, silver, pearls, and other jewels great store. His name, therefore, be praised for evermore. Amen.'
Hawkins was now a rich man, a favorite at court, and quite the rage in London. The Queen was very gracious and granted him the well-known coat of arms with the crest of 'a demi-Moor, bound and captive' in honor of the great new English slave trade. The Spanish ambassador met him at court and asked him to dinner, where, over the wine, Hawkins assured him that he was going out again next year. Meanwhile, however, the famous Captain-General of the Indian trade, Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles, the best naval officer that Spain perhaps has ever had, swooped down on the French in Florida, killed them all, and built the fort of St. Augustine to guard the 'Mountains of Bright Stones' somewhere in the hinterland. News of this slaughter soon arrived at Madrid, whence orders presently went out to have an eye on Hawkins, whom Spanish officials thenceforth regarded as the leading interloper in New Spain.
Nevertheless Hawkins set out on his third and very 'troublesome' voyage in 1567, backed by all his old and many new supporters, and with a flotilla of six vessels, the Jesus, the Minion (which then meant darling), the William and John, the Judith, the Angel, and the Swallow. This was the voyage that began those twenty years of sea-dog fighting which rose to their zenith in the battle against the Armada; and with this voyage Drake himself steps on to the stage as captain of the Judith.
There had been a hitch in 1566, for the Spanish ambassador had reported Hawkins's after-dinner speech to his king. Philip had protested to Elizabeth, and Elizabeth had consulted with Cecil, afterwards 'the great Lord Burleigh,' ancestor of the Marquis of Salisbury, British Prime Minister during the Spanish-American War of 1898. The result was that orders went down to Plymouth stopping Hawkins and binding him over, in a bond of five hundred pounds, to keep the peace with Her Majesty's right good friend King Philip of Spain. But in 1567 times had changed again, and Hawkins sailed with colors flying, for Elizabeth was now as ready to hurt Philip as he was to hurt her, provided always that open war was carefully avoided.