Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation, by Richard Hakluyt

The English voyages, navigations, and discoueries (intended for the finding of a northwest passage) to the north parts of America, to meta incogita, and the backeside of Gronland, as farre as 72 degrees and 12 minuts: performed first by Sebastian Cabota, and since by Sir Martin Frobisher, and M. John Dauis, with the patents, discourses, and aduertisements thereto belonging.

The Letters patents of King Henry the seuenth granted vnto Iohn Cabot and his three sonnes, Lewis, Sebastian, and Sancius for the discouerie of new and vnknowen lands.

Henricus Dei gratia rex Angliæ, et Franciæ, et Dominus Hiberniæ, omnibus, ad quos præsentes literæ nostræ peruenerint, salutem.

Notum sit et manifestum, quòd dedimus et concessimus, ac per præsentes damus et concedimus pro nobis et hæredibus nostris, dilectis nobis Ioanni Caboto ciui Venetiarum, Lodouico, Sebastiano, et Sancio, filijs dicti Ioannis, et eorum ac cuiuslibet eorum hæredibus et deputatis, plenam ac liberam authoritatem, facultatem, et potestatem nauigandi ad omnes partes, regiones, et sinus maris orientalis, occidentalis, et septentrionalis, sub banneris, vexillis, et insignijs nostris, cum quinque nauibus siue nauigijs, cuiuscúnque portituræ et qualitatis existant, et cum tot et tantis nautis et hominibus, quot et quantos in dictis nauibus secum ducere voluerint, suis et eorum proprijs sumptibus et expensis, ad inueniendum, discooperiendum, et inuestigandum quascunque insulas, patrias, regiones siue prouincias gentilium et infidelium quorumcunque, in quacunque parte mundi positas, quæ Christianis omnibus ante hæc tempora fuerint incognitæ. Concessimus etiam eisdem et eorum cuilibet, eorumque et cuiuslibet eorum hæredibus et deputatis, ac licentiam dedimus ad affigendum prædictas banneras nostras et insignia in quacunque villa, oppido, castro, insula seu terra firma à se nouiter inuentis. Et quòd prænominatus Ioannes, et filij eiusdem, seu hæredes et eorum deputati, quascunque huiusmodi villas, castra, oppida, et insulas à se inuentas, quæ subiugari, occupari, possideri possint, subiugare, occupare, possidere valeant tanquam vasalli nostri, et gubernatores, locatenentes, et deputati eorundem, dominium, titulum et iurisdictionem earundem villarum, castrorum, oppidorum, insularum, ac terræ firmæ sic inuentorum nobis acquirendo. Ita tamen, vt ex omnibus fructibus, proficuis, emolumentis, commodis, lucris, et obuintionibus ex huiusmodi nauigatione prouenientibus, præfatus Iohannes, et filij ac hæredes, et eorum deputati, teneanter et sint obligati nobis pro omni viagio suo, toties quoties ad portum nostrum Bristolliæ applicuerint (ad quem omnino applicare teneantur et sint astricti) deductis omnibus sumptibus et impensis necessarijs per eosdem factis, quintam partem capitalis lucri facti, siue in mercibus, siue in pecunijs persoluere: Dantes nos et concedentes eisdem suisque hæredibus et deputatis, vt ab omni solutione custumarum omnium et singulorum honorum et mercium, quas secum reportarint ab illis locis sic nouiter inuentis, liberi sint et immunes. Et insuper dedimus et concessimus eisdem ac suis hæredibus et deputatis, quod terræ omnes firmæ, insulæ, villæ, oppida, castra, et loca quæcunque a se inuenta, quotquot ab eis inueniri contigerit, non possint ab alijs quibusuis nostris subditis frequentari seu visitari, absque licentia prædictorum Ioannis et eius filiorum, suorumque deputatoram, sub poena amissionis tam nauium quàm bonorum omnium quorumcunque ad ea loca sic inuenta nauigare præsumentium. Volentes et strictissimè mandantes omnibus et singulis nostris subditis, tam in terra quàm in mari constitutis, vt præfato Ioanni et eius filijs ac deputatis, bonam assistentiam faciant, et tam in armandis nauibus seu nauigijs, quàm in prouisione commeatus et victualium pro sua pecunia emendorum, atque aliarum omnium rerum sibi prouidendarum pro dicta nauigatione sumenda suos omnes fauore set auxilia impertiant. In cuius rei testimonium has literas nostras fieri fecimus patentes. Ann. Dom. 1495. Teste meipso apud Westmonasterium quinto die Martij anno regni nostri vndecimo.

The same in English.

Henry by the grace of God, king of England and France, and lord of Ireland, to all to whom these presents shall come, Greeting.

Be it knowen that we haue giuen and granted, and by these presents do giue and grant for vs and our heires, to our welbeloued Iohn Cabot citizen of Venice,9 to Lewis, Sebastian, and Santius, sonnes of the said Iohn, and to the heires of them, and euery of them, and their deputies, full and free authority, leaue, and power to saile to all parts, countreys, and seas of the East, of the West, and of the North, under our banners and ensignes, with fiue ships of what burthen or quality soeuer they be, and as many mariners or men as they will haue with them in the sayd ships, vpon their owne proper costs and charges, to seeke out, discouer, and finde whatsoeuer isles, countreys, regions or prouinces of the heathen and infidels whatsoeuer they be, and in what part of the world soeuer they be, which before this time haue bene vnknowen to all Christians; we haue granted to them, and also to euery of them, the heires of them, and their deputies, and haue giuen them licence to set vp our banners and ensignes in euery village, towne, castle, isle, or maine land of them newly found. And that the aforesayd Iohn and his sonnes, or their heires and assignes may subdue, occupy and possesse all such townes, cities, castles and isles of them found, which they can subdue, occupy and possesse, as our vassals, and lieutenants, getting vnto vs the rule, title, and iurisdiction of the same villages, townes, castles, and firme land so found. Bristol thought the meetest port for Westerne discoueries. Yet so that the aforesayd Iohn, and his sonnes and heires, and their deputies, be holden and bounden of all the fruits, profits, gaines, and commodities growing of such nauigation, for euery their voyage, as often as they shall arriue at our port of Bristoll (at the which port they shall be bound and holden onely to arriue) all maner of necessary costs and charges by them made, being deducted, to pay vnto vs in wares or money the fift part of the capitall gaine so gotten. Freedome from custome. We giuing and granting vnto them and to their heires and deputies, that they shall be free from all paying of customes of all and singular such merchandize as they shall bring with them from those places so newly found. And moreouer, we haue giuen and granted to them, their heires and deputies, that all the firme lands, isles, villages, townes, castles and places whatsoeuer they be that they shall chance to finde, may not of any other of our subiects be frequented or visited without the licence of the foresayd Iohn and his sonnes, and their deputies, vnder paine of forfeiture aswell of their shippes as of all and singuler goods of all them that shall presume to saile to those places so found. Willing, and most straightly commanding all and singuler our subiects aswell on land as on sea, to giue good assistance to the aforesayd Iohn and his sonnes and deputies, and that as well in arming and furnishing their ships or vessels, as in prouision of food, and in buying of victuals for their money, and all other things by them to be prouided necessary for the sayd nauigation, they do giue them all their helpe and fauour. In witnesse whereof we haue caused to be made these our Letters patents. Witnesse our selfe at Westminister the fift day of March, in the eleuenth yeere of our reigne.10

9 Nothing is known of Cabot’s early years. In the Archives of Venice is the record of his naturalization, dated 28 March 1476, which shows he had lived there fifteen years. (Archives of Venice: Senato Terra, 1473–1477. Vol vii p. 109.)

10 This patent was granted in reply to the following application by John Cabot:

“To the Kyng our Souvereigne lord,

“Please it your highnes of your moste noble and haboundant grace to graunt vnto Iohn Cabotto, citezen of Venes, Lewes, Sebestyan and Sancto his sonneys your gracious lettres patentes vnder youir grete seale in due forme to be made accordying to the tenour hereafter ensuying. And they shall during their lyves pray to God for the prosperous continuance of your moste noble and royale astate long to enduer.” (Public Records, Bill number 51.) Consult also Rymer’s Foedera; London, 1727, folios 595–6.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:55