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

An extract taken out of the map12 of Sebastian Cabot, cut by Clement Adams, concerning his discouery of the West Indies, which is to be seene in her Maiesties priuie gallerie at Westminster, and in many other ancient merchants houses.

Anno Domini 1497 Ioannes Cabotus Venetus, et Sebastianus illius filius eam terram fecerunt peruiam, quam nullus priùs adire ausus fuit, die 24 Junij, circiter horam quintam bene manè. Hanc autem appellauit Terram primùm visam, credo quod ex mari in eam partem primùm oculos iniecerat. Nam quæ ex aduerso sita est insula eam appellauit insulam Diui Ioannis, hac opinor ratione, quòd aperta fuit eo die qui est sacer Diuo Ioanni Baptistæ: Huius incolæ pelles animalium, exuuiasque ferarum pro indumentis habent, easque tanti faciunt, quanti nos vestes preciosissimas. Cùm bellum gerunt, vtuntur arcu, sagittis, hastis, spiculis, clauis ligneis et fundis. Tellus sterilis est, neque vllos fructus affert, ex quo fit, vt vrsis albo colore, et ceruis inusitatæ apud nos magnitudinis referta sit: piscibus abundat, ijsque sane magnis, quales sunt lupi marini, et quos salmones vulgus appellat; soleæ autem reperiuntur tam longæ, vt vlnæ mensuram excedant. Imprimis autem magna est copia eorum piscium, quos vulgari sermone vocant Bacallaos. Gignuntur in ea insula accipitres ita nigri, vt coruorum similitudinem mirum in modum exprimant, perdices autem et aquilæ sunt nigri coloris.

The same in English.

In the yeere of our Lord 1497 Iohn Cabot a Venetian, and his sonne Sebastian (with an English fleet set out from Bristoll) discouered that land which no man before that time had attempted, on the 24 of Iune,13 about fiue of the clocke early in the morning. This land he called Prima vista, that is to say, First seene, because as I suppose it was that part whereof they had the first sight from sea. That Island which lieth out before the land, he called the Island of S. Iohn vpon this occasion, as I thinke, because it was discouered vpon the day of Iohn the Baptist. The inhabitants of this Island vse to weare beasts skinnes, and haue them in as great estimation as we haue our finest garments. In their warres they vse bowes, arrowes, pikes, darts, woodden clubs, and slings. The soile is barren in some places, and yeeldeth litle fruit, but it is full of white beares, and stagges farre greater then ours. It yeeldeth plenty of fish, and those very great, as seales, and those which commonly we call salmons: there are soles also aboue a yard in length: but especially there is great abundance of that kinde of fish which the Sauages call baccalaos. In the same Island also there breed hauks, but they are so blacke that they are very like to rauens, as also their partridges, and egles, which are in like sort blacke.

12 In the National Library, Paris, is a large map of the world on the margin of which is written:

“Sebastian Caboto capitan, y piloto mayor de la S. c c. m. del Imperador don Carlos quinto deste nombre, y rey nuestro sennor hizo esta figura extensa en plano, anno del nasciem de nro saluador Jesu Christo de m.d. xliii. annos, tirada por grados de latitud y longitud con sus uientos como carta de marear, imitando en parte al Ptolomeo, y en parte alos modernos descobridores, asi Espannoles como Portugueses, y parte por su padre, y por el descubierto.”

I give a facsmile of part of this map. As will be seen the words “Prima tierra vista” are opposite a cape about the 48th parallel, which would be Cape Breton. In a letter written to the Duke of Milan by Raimondo di Soncino, his minister in London, and dated the 18th Dec. 1497, a very interesting account is given of Cabot’s voyage. Archives of Milan. Annuario scientifico, Milan, 1866 p 700.

13 Query, July.

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