The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Frobisher, Martin

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The Encyclopedia Americana
Frobisher, Martin
Edition of 1920. See also Martin Frobisher on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

FROBISHER, Sir Martin, English navigator: b. Altofts, Yorkshire, about 1530 or 1540; d. Plymouth, 22 Nov. 1594. He was sent to school in London and in 1544 was placed on board a ship sailing to Guinea. He was later in the public service at sea off the coast of Ireland. About 1560 he formed a resolution to undertake a voyage in search of a northwest passage to India, and by his efforts he gave the enterprise a national character. Finally he was put in charge of an expedition, consisting of two barks of 20 and 25 tons, and a pinnace of 10 tons, and an aggregate crew of 35. He set sail on 7 June 1576 by way of the Shetland Islands. Stormy weather resulted in the loss of the pinnace, and soon after one of the vessels, the Michael, deserted. Frobisher continued the voyage alone in the Gabriel and on 28 July sighted the coast of Labrador in latitude 62° 2' N. Some days afterward he reached the mouth of Frobisher Bay, which he deemed to be a strait. He explored the coast and Butcher's Island until 18 August, and then he returned homewards, reaching London by 9 October. He brought back with him some “black earth” and a rumor soon got abroad that this was really a lump of gold ore. The story aroused great enthusiasm and in the following year a much more important expedition was fitted out, with Frobisher in command. He sailed in May 1577, with three ships and 120 men and reached Hall's Island at the mouth of Frobisher Bay on 17 July. Several weeks were spent in prospecting for gold, but little was done in the way of discovery beyond going over the ground visited on the occasion of the first voyage. A third expedition of 15 vessels was sent out in 1578 and this time Frobisher sailed up a new strait, afterward explored by Henry Hudson (Hudson Strait). In 1580 he became a captain of one of the queen's ships and in 1585 was vice-admiral under Drake in his expedition to the West Indies. He was knighted for his distinguished services in the dispersal of the Spanish Armada in 1588. He continued to cruise in the Channel until 1590, when he was sent in command of a small fleet to Spain. In 1592 Sir Walter Raleigh sent him with a squadron against the Spanish coast, from which he returned with a rich prize. In 1594 he was engaged in the siege and relief of Brest, when he received the wound from which he died later at Plymouth. He was one of the ablest seamen of his time and ranks among the greatest of England's naval heroes. Consult Corbett, Julian, ‘Drake and the Tudor Navy’ (London 1898); Jones, F., ‘Life of Frobisher’ (ib. 1878); Hakluyt's ‘Voyages,’ and the Hakluyt Societies ‘Three Voyages of Frobisher’ (1867).