Sir Humphrey Gilbert

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Gilbert, Sir Humphrey,

1537?–1583, English soldier, navigator, and explorer; half-brother of Sir Walter RaleighRaleigh or Ralegh, Sir Walter
, 1554?–1618, English soldier, explorer, courtier, and man of letters. Early Life

As a youth Raleigh served (1569) as a volunteer in the Huguenot army in France.
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. Knighted (1570) for his service in the campaigns in Ireland, he later (1572) served in the Netherlands. Convinced of the existence of a Northwest PassageNorthwest Passage,
water routes through the Arctic Archipelago, N Canada, and along the northern coast of Alaska between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Even though the explorers of the 16th cent.
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, he explained his theories in his famous Discourse (ed., with some additions, by George Gascoigne in 1576), which inspired the voyages of Martin FrobisherFrobisher, Sir Martin
, 1535?–1594, English mariner. He went to sea as a boy, and spent much of his youth in the African trade. He later gained the friendship of Sir Humphrey Gilbert, through whom he became interested in the Northwest Passage.
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 and John DavisDavis or Davys, John,
1550?–1605, English navigator. He made his first voyage in search of the Northwest Passage in 1585, continuing the work of Martin Frobisher.
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 and for many years motivated English exploration in the northern regions. In 1578, Gilbert was granted a patent by Queen Elizabeth I to found colonies in America and other lands. His first expedition, undertaken the same year, failed completely, but on his second voyage (1583) he reached Newfoundland. Entering the harbor of present-day St. John's, he took possession of the region in the name of the queen and assumed authority as governor over the colony of fishermen there. Still in search of the Northwest Passage, he explored to the southwest. After losing one ship, among other disasters, he decided to return to England; however, the small vessel carrying Gilbert was lost in a storm in the Azores. The narrative of Gilbert's voyage by Edward Hayes is included with other documents in Sir Humfrey Gylberte and His Enterprise (ed. by Carlos Slafter, 1903, repr. 1967).