John Cabot


John Cabot – Italian navigator and explorer


John Cabot claiming Newfoundland for Henry VII

John Cabot’s importance to Poole’s story is that he discovered Newfoundland and the abundant cod fishing, albeit by accident, as he was looking for a way to reach Asia and the lucrative spice market.

Briefly, according to the Editors of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, John Cabot was born Giovanni Caboto possibly in Genoa, Italy in 1450. Nothing much is known about his early life, but in 1461, he went to Venice and was employed by a Venetian merchant, on whose behalf he travelled the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, perfecting his navigational skills and visiting the great trading station that was Mecca.

In 1495, he went to England and lived, with his family, in Bristol. On March 5th 1496 Henry VII gave letters patent to Cabot and his sons. With this authority, Cabot was permitted to voyage in search of other lands, to return with any merchandise to the port of Bristol and to have the monopoly of any trade he might set up. He was able to secure support from the Bristol Merchants.

In May 1497, he set sail on the Matthew with 18 men, sailing round Ireland and then north and west. He came to land on June 24th 1497 and claimed it for Henry VII. His landing place was never established but he sailed the coastline features in the area he called Cabot Strait. He thought he had reached Asia and returned full of praise for the land, the climate and a sea so full of cod that English fishermen need no longer fish in Icelandic seas.


Map showing Cabot Strait and to the southwest of Newfoundland

The name Newfoundland is a translation of the Portuguese name Terra Nova. Henry VII named the new land ‘New Found Launde’. 



Sources :-     from an article by Susan Munroe