Search For A Northwest Passage
Frobisher.—The unsuccessful attempts of the Muscovy Company to reach the East by a northeast passage led to the search for a northwestern route. The great exponent of the idea was Martin Frobisher. After vainly seeking many years for a patron who would furnish funds, in 1574 he received the support of Michael Lock, a member of the Muscovy Company, and the following year a royal license was granted to undertake the work.
In June, 1576, Frobisher sailed from England in command of three small vessels, only one of which reached America. The vessel passed along the Labrador coast, crossed the entrance of Hudson Strait, and coasted Baffin Land, entering the inlet now known as Frobisher's Bay. Upon his return to England, Frobisher took back a large stone, which an assayer claimed contained gold. In consequence the queen and many influential men subscribed liberally for another voyage. The Company of Cathay was formed which was to have a monopoly in all lands to the westward where Englishmen had not traded before. Expeditions in search of gold were sent out under Frobisher in 1577 and 1578, but the rocks which were brought back proved to be worthless.
Gilbert.—Among those interested in the search for a northwest passage was Raleigh's half-brother, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, who believed that a colony might be established on the American coast. In 1578 he obtained a six-year monopoly of discovery and settlement in America. A fleet was equipped, but being twice scattered by storms, the attempt was abandoned. In 1583 Gilbert made a second venture. Arriving at St. Johns, Newfoundland, Gilbert informed the crews of the fishing fleet of his commission, and took possession in the name of Elizabeth. On the return voyage the Squirrel with Gilbert and all on board was lost in a storm just north of the Azores.
Davis.—In 1584 John Davis, Walter Raleigh, and others were granted a charter to explore a route to China and to trade in lands which might be discovered. Command of an expedition was given to Davis, who sailed from Dartmouth in 1585. The southern coast of Greenland was explored and Davis Strait was crossed, but the illusive opening was not found. In 1586 and 1587 Davis sought the passage but without success.
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