Studies in English Commerce and Exploration in the Reign of Elizabeth

By Albert Lindsay Rowland; George Born Manhart | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
THE SEARCH BY DAVIS

1. The Gilberts, Raleigh and Davis.

Shortly after Frobisher had sailed on his third voyage, and twelve years after Gilbert had first petitioned for the privilege of exploring the northern regions, a patent was finally granted by the Queen to Sir Humphrey Gilbert, June 11, 1578. While this gave him the right to "discover, finde, search out and view such remote, heathen and barbarous lands, countreys and territories not actually possessed of any Christian prince or people," it seems to have been primarily "for the inhabiting and planting of our people in America."1 Gilbert soon assembled a fleet of seven vessels and a company of 365 gentlemen, soldiers and mariners. This expedition left Plymouth November 19, 1578, and after a voyage that "began, continued and ended adversely" returned in the following May.2 John Dee understood that the voyage was to be directed toward Hochelega,3 but just what was its objective, and how the six months that it was away from England were spent are not matters of record. In view of the great interest which Gilbert had displayed in the northwest passage a few years earlier and the fact that his patent of 1578 allowed him to attempt the northwest regions, one feels like assuming

____________________
1
Hakluyt, viii, 17-23.
2
Slafter, 25-28, and various State Papers, quoted, 177-80, 253- 6, 293.
3
Dee, Diary, 4.

-99-

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