The Story of Cornelis Drebbel

Use Thy Gifts Rightly

Born and raised in Alkmaar, Holland in 1572, Cornelis Drebbel was considered as the “Edison of his time“. Dutch renaissance engineer, inventor, painter, alchemist and explorer, he was the builder of the first navigable submarine in 1620. Having a basic education, he was finally the pupil of the painter and engraver Hendrick Goltzius. Increasingly interested in inventions, he catches the eye of the Royal Court of James 1st of England β€” who consequently invited Cornelis Drebbel to England in 1604.

Mostly known for his Perpetual Motion Machine, which told the time, date, and season, it was at around this time that Cornelis Drebbel started making his submarine. Between 1620 and 1624, Cornelis Drebbel successfully built and tested three submarines. The final model was demonstrated to the King James I and several thousand Londoners. Submerged for three hours, it could travel from Westminster to Greenwich and back, cruising at a depth between 12 and 15 feet (4 to 5 metres).

A Legacy that lives on

Cornelis Drebbel story



Drebbel was born and raised in Alkmaar, in an Anabaptist family in 1572.


Haarlem Academy

Cornelis Drebbel started as a pupil at the Harlem Academy with the painter Hendrick Goltzius.

Cornelis Drebbel story


Royal invitation

Drebbel was invited at the Royal Court by James 1st of England and accommodated at the Eltham Palace.

1620 β€” 1624

The Drebbel

During this period, Cornelis Drebbel successfully demonstrated his 3rd submarine to the King

Cornelis Drebbel story


Fall of the King

After James 1st died, Drebbel was employed by the Office of Ordnance making secret weapons for the new King.


End of Life

Towards the end of his life, Drebbel lived in near-poverty in England. He died in London.

Born as a man and dead as one of the greatest inventors of his time, Cornelis Drebbel’s legacy definitely lives on and on over time.

It was as a contribution to his great inventions that Drebbel Gin has been naturally created in 2019.