Martin Frobisher
Overview
 
Sir Martin Frobisher was an English seaman who made three voyages to the New World
New World
The New World is one of the names used for the Western Hemisphere, specifically America and sometimes Oceania . The term originated in the late 15th century, when America had been recently discovered by European explorers, expanding the geographical horizon of the people of the European middle...

 to look for the Northwest Passage
Northwest Passage
The Northwest Passage is a sea route through the Arctic Ocean, along the northern coast of North America via waterways amidst the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans...

. All landed in northeastern Canada, around today's Resolution Island
Resolution Island (Nunavut)
Resolution Island is one of the many uninhabited Canadian Arctic islands in Qikiqtaaluk Region, Nunavut. It is a Baffin Island offshore island located in Hudson Strait. It has an area of...

 and Frobisher Bay
Frobisher Bay
Frobisher Bay is a relatively large inlet of the Labrador Sea in the Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut, Canada. It is located in the southeastern corner of Baffin Island...

.
On his second voyage, Frobisher found what he thought was gold ore and carried 200 tons of it home on three ships, where initial assaying determined it to be worth a profit of £5.1 per ton. Encouraged, Frobisher returned to Canada with an even larger fleet and dug several mines around Frobisher Bay
Frobisher Bay
Frobisher Bay is a relatively large inlet of the Labrador Sea in the Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut, Canada. It is located in the southeastern corner of Baffin Island...

.
Encyclopedia
Sir Martin Frobisher was an English seaman who made three voyages to the New World
New World
The New World is one of the names used for the Western Hemisphere, specifically America and sometimes Oceania . The term originated in the late 15th century, when America had been recently discovered by European explorers, expanding the geographical horizon of the people of the European middle...

 to look for the Northwest Passage
Northwest Passage
The Northwest Passage is a sea route through the Arctic Ocean, along the northern coast of North America via waterways amidst the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans...

. All landed in northeastern Canada, around today's Resolution Island
Resolution Island (Nunavut)
Resolution Island is one of the many uninhabited Canadian Arctic islands in Qikiqtaaluk Region, Nunavut. It is a Baffin Island offshore island located in Hudson Strait. It has an area of...

 and Frobisher Bay
Frobisher Bay
Frobisher Bay is a relatively large inlet of the Labrador Sea in the Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut, Canada. It is located in the southeastern corner of Baffin Island...

.
On his second voyage, Frobisher found what he thought was gold ore and carried 200 tons of it home on three ships, where initial assaying determined it to be worth a profit of £5.1 per ton. Encouraged, Frobisher returned to Canada with an even larger fleet and dug several mines around Frobisher Bay
Frobisher Bay
Frobisher Bay is a relatively large inlet of the Labrador Sea in the Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut, Canada. It is located in the southeastern corner of Baffin Island...

. He carted 1,350 tons of the ore back where, after years of smelting, it was realized that both that batch of ore and the earlier one he had taken were worthless iron pyrite. As an English privateer
Privateer
A privateer is a private person or ship authorized by a government by letters of marque to attack foreign shipping during wartime. Privateering was a way of mobilizing armed ships and sailors without having to spend public money or commit naval officers...

/pirate, he collected riches from French ships. He was later knighted for his service in repelling the Spanish Armada
Spanish Armada
This article refers to the Battle of Gravelines, for the modern navy of Spain, see Spanish NavyThe Spanish Armada was the Spanish fleet that sailed against England under the command of the Duke of Medina Sidonia in 1588, with the intention of overthrowing Elizabeth I of England to stop English...

 in 1588.

First voyage

As early as 1560 or 1561, Frobisher had formed a resolution to undertake a voyage in search of a Northwest Passage as a trade route to India and China (referred to at that time as Cathay
Cathay
Cathay is the Anglicized version of "Catai" and an alternative name for China in English. It originates from the word Khitan, the name of a nomadic people who founded the Liao Dynasty which ruled much of Northern China from 907 to 1125, and who had a state of their own centered around today's...

).

It took him 5 years to gain necessary funding for his project. In 1576, Frobisher managed to convince the Muscovy Company
Muscovy Company
The Muscovy Company , was a trading company chartered in 1555. It was the first major chartered joint stock company, the precursor of the type of business that would soon flourish in England, and became closely associated with such famous names as Henry Hudson and William Baffin...

, an English merchant consortium which had previously sent out several parties searching for the Northeast Passage, to license his expedition. With the help of Michael Lok
Michael Lok
Michael Lok was an English merchant and traveller, the main backer of Martin Frobisher.-Life:He was a younger son of the mercer Sir William Lok. He was kept at school until 1545, when he was thirteen. His father then sent him to Flanders and France...

, the Muscovy Company's director, Frobisher was able to raise enough capital for three barks
Barque
A barque, barc, or bark is a type of sailing vessel with three or more masts.- History of the term :The word barque appears to have come from the Greek word baris, a term for an Egyptian boat. This entered Latin as barca, which gave rise to the Italian barca, Spanish barco, and the French barge and...

: the Gabriel and Michael, of about 20-25 tons each and a pinnace of ten tons, with a total crew of 35.

He weighed anchor at Blackwall
Blackwall, London
Blackwall is an area of the East End of London, situated in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets on the north bank of the River Thames.The district around Blackwall Stairs was known as Blackwall by at least the 14th century. This presumably derives from the colour of the river wall, constructed in...

, and, after having received a good word from Queen Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

 at Greenwich
Greenwich
Greenwich is a district of south London, England, located in the London Borough of Greenwich.Greenwich is best known for its maritime history and for giving its name to the Greenwich Meridian and Greenwich Mean Time...

, set sail on 7 June 1576, by way of the Shetland Islands
Shetland Islands
Shetland is a subarctic archipelago of Scotland that lies north and east of mainland Great Britain. The islands lie some to the northeast of Orkney and southeast of the Faroe Islands and form part of the division between the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the North Sea to the east. The total...

.

In a storm, the pinnace was lost, and the Michael was abandoned, but on 28 July, the Gabriel sighted the coast of Labrador
Labrador
Labrador is the distinct, northerly region of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It comprises the mainland portion of the province, separated from the island of Newfoundland by the Strait of Belle Isle...

.

A few days later, the mouth of Frobisher Bay
Frobisher Bay
Frobisher Bay is a relatively large inlet of the Labrador Sea in the Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut, Canada. It is located in the southeastern corner of Baffin Island...

 was reached, and because ice and wind prevented further travel north, Frobisher determined to sail westward up this passage (which he conceived to be a strait) to see "whether he might carry himself through the same into some open sea on the back side."

Baffin Island
Baffin Island
Baffin Island in the Canadian territory of Nunavut is the largest island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, the largest island in Canada and the fifth largest island in the world. Its area is and its population is about 11,000...

 was reached on the 18 August 1576, where the expedition met some of the local natives. Having made arrangements with one of the natives to guide them through the region, Frobisher sent five of his men in a ship's boat to return the native to shore, but instructing them to avoid getting too close to any of the other natives. The boat's crew disobeyed, however, and were apparently taken captive by the Inuit
Inuit
The Inuit are a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic regions of Canada , Denmark , Russia and the United States . Inuit means “the people” in the Inuktitut language...

. After days of searching Frobisher could not recover them, and eventually took hostage the man who had agreed to guide them to see if an exchange for the missing boat's crew could be arranged. The effort was fruitless, and the men were never seen again, but Inuit legend tells that the men lived among them for a few years until they died attempting to leave Baffin Island
Baffin Island
Baffin Island in the Canadian territory of Nunavut is the largest island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, the largest island in Canada and the fifth largest island in the world. Its area is and its population is about 11,000...

 in a self-made boat. Frobisher turned homewards, and reached London on 9 October. Among the things which had been hastily brought away by the men was a "piece of a black stone,". There assayers were unimpressed with the ore. Only one out of four experts consulted believed the ore to be gold-bearing, and he admitted he "knew how to flatter nature". Nevertheless, Frobisher's backers, led by Michael Lok
Michael Lok
Michael Lok was an English merchant and traveller, the main backer of Martin Frobisher.-Life:He was a younger son of the mercer Sir William Lok. He was kept at school until 1545, when he was thirteen. His father then sent him to Flanders and France...

 and the Muscovy Company used this assessment to lobby for investment for another voyage.

Second voyage

The next year, a much bigger expedition than the former was fitted out. The Queen sold the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 ship Ayde
HMS Aid (1562)
Aid or AydeThe 'HMS' prefix was not used until the middle of the Eighteenth Century, but is sometimes applied retrospectively was an 18-gun ship of the Royal Navy. She was built at Deptford Dockyard, being launched on 6 October 1562. She was rebuilt in 1580 and was broken up in 1599...

to the Company of Cathay and provided £
Pound sign
The pound sign is the symbol for the pound sterling—the currency of the United Kingdom . The same symbol is used for similarly named currencies in some other countries and territories, such as the Irish pound, Gibraltar pound, Australian pound and the Italian lira...

1000 towards the expenses of the expedition. The Company of Cathay was granted a charter from the crown, giving the company the sole right of sailing in every direction but the east. Frobisher was appointed high admiral of all lands and waters that might be discovered by him.

On 27 May 1577, the expedition, consisting, besides the Ayde, of the ships Gabriel and Michael, with an aggregate complement of 150 men, including miners, refiners, gentlemen, and soldiers, left Blackwall
Blackwall, London
Blackwall is an area of the East End of London, situated in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets on the north bank of the River Thames.The district around Blackwall Stairs was known as Blackwall by at least the 14th century. This presumably derives from the colour of the river wall, constructed in...

, and sailing by the north of Scotland reached Hall's Island at the mouth of Frobisher Bay on 17 July. A few days later, the country
British Arctic Territories
British Arctic Territories were territories claimed by Britain in North America, consisting of the islands of what is now known in Canada as the High Arctic....

 and the south side of the bay was solemnly taken possession of in the queen's name.

Several weeks were now spent in collecting ore, but very little was done in the way of discovery, Frobisher being specially directed by his commission to "defer the further discovery of the passage until another time." There was much parleying and some skirmishing with the natives, and earnest but futile attempts were made to recover the men captured the previous year.

The return was begun on 23 August, and the Ayde reached Milford Haven
Milford Haven
Milford Haven is a town and community in Pembrokeshire, Wales. It is situated on the north side of the Milford Haven Waterway, a natural harbour used as a port since the Middle Ages. The town was founded in 1790 on the north side of the Waterway, from which it takes its name...

 on 23 September. The Gabriel and Michael later arrived separately at Bristol
Bristol
Bristol is a city, unitary authority area and ceremonial county in South West England, with an estimated population of 433,100 for the unitary authority in 2009, and a surrounding Larger Urban Zone with an estimated 1,070,000 residents in 2007...

 and Yarmouth
Yarmouth, Isle of Wight
Yarmouth is a port and civil parish in the western part of the Isle of Wight, off the southern coast of mainland England. The town is named for its location at the mouth of the small Western Yar river...

.

Frobisher was received and thanked by the queen at Windsor
Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle is a medieval castle and royal residence in Windsor in the English county of Berkshire, notable for its long association with the British royal family and its architecture. The original castle was built after the Norman invasion by William the Conqueror. Since the time of Henry I it...

. Great preparations were made and considerable expense incurred for the assaying of the great quantity of "ore" (about 200 tons) brought home. This took up much time, and led to considerable dispute among the various parties interested.

Third voyage

Meanwhile, the faith of the queen and others remained strong in the productiveness of the newly discovered territory, which she herself named Meta Incognita, and it was resolved to send out a larger expedition than ever, with all necessaries for the establishment of a colony of 100 men. Frobisher was again received by the queen, and her Majesty threw a fine chain of gold around his neck.

On 3 June 1578, the expedition, consisting in all of fifteen vessels, left Plymouth
Plymouth
Plymouth is a city and unitary authority area on the coast of Devon, England, about south-west of London. It is built between the mouths of the rivers Plym to the east and Tamar to the west, where they join Plymouth Sound...

, and sailing by the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

 on 20 June reached the south of Greenland
Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

, where Frobisher and some of his men managed to land. On 2 July, the foreland of Frobisher Bay
Frobisher Bay
Frobisher Bay is a relatively large inlet of the Labrador Sea in the Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut, Canada. It is located in the southeastern corner of Baffin Island...

 was sighted. Stormy weather and dangerous ice prevented the rendezvous from being gained, and, besides causing the wreck of the barque
Barque
A barque, barc, or bark is a type of sailing vessel with three or more masts.- History of the term :The word barque appears to have come from the Greek word baris, a term for an Egyptian boat. This entered Latin as barca, which gave rise to the Italian barca, Spanish barco, and the French barge and...

 Dennis of 100 tons, drove the fleet unwittingly up a new strait (Hudson). After proceeding about sixty miles up this "mistaken strait," Frobisher with apparent reluctance turned back, and after many buffetings and separations, the fleet at last came to anchor in Frobisher Bay.

Some attempt was made at founding a settlement, and a large quantity of ore was shipped. Too much dissension and discontent prevented a successful settlement. On the last day of August, the fleet set out on its return to England, which was reached in the beginning of October. The ore was taken to a specially constructed smelting plant at Powder Mill Lane in Dartford
Dartford
Dartford is the principal town in the borough of Dartford. It is situated in the northwest corner of Kent, England, east south-east of central London....

.
However, it proved to be valueless Iron Pyrite and was eventually salvaged for road metalling
Construction Aggregate
Construction aggregate, or simply "aggregate", is a broad category of coarse particulate material used in construction, including sand, gravel, crushed stone, slag, recycled concrete and geosynthetic aggregates. Aggregates are the most mined material in the world...

.

Later life

In 1591, he visited his native Altofts, and there married his second wife, Dorothy Wentworth (1543- 3 January 1601), a daughter of Thomas, 1st Baron Wentworth
Thomas Wentworth, 1st Baron Wentworth
Thomas Wentworth, 1st Baron Wentworth and de jure 6th Baron le Despencer, PC was an English peer and courtier during the Tudor dynasty....

, becoming at the same time a landed proprietor in Yorkshire
Yorkshire
Yorkshire is a historic county of northern England and the largest in the United Kingdom. Because of its great size in comparison to other English counties, functions have been increasingly undertaken over time by its subdivisions, which have also been subject to periodic reform...

 and Notts
Nottinghamshire
Nottinghamshire is a county in the East Midlands of England, bordering South Yorkshire to the north-west, Lincolnshire to the east, Leicestershire to the south, and Derbyshire to the west...

. He found, however, little leisure for a country life, and the following year took charge of the fleet fitted out by Sir Walter Raleigh
Walter Raleigh
Sir Walter Raleigh was an English aristocrat, writer, poet, soldier, courtier, spy, and explorer. He is also well known for popularising tobacco in England....

 to the Spanish coast, returning with a rich prize.

In November 1594, he was engaged with a squadron in the siege and relief of Brest
Brest, France
Brest is a city in the Finistère department in Brittany in northwestern France. Located in a sheltered position not far from the western tip of the Breton peninsula, and the western extremity of metropolitan France, Brest is an important harbour and the second French military port after Toulon...

, where he received a gunshot wound during the Siege of Fort Crozon
Siege of Fort Crozon
The Siege of Fort Crozon was conducted by English and French troops against a Spanish fort constructed on the Crozon Peninsula near Brest in October and November 1594, late in the French wars of religion...

, a Spanish-held fortress. Poor medical treatment resulted in his death days later at Plymouth
Plymouth
Plymouth is a city and unitary authority area on the coast of Devon, England, about south-west of London. It is built between the mouths of the rivers Plym to the east and Tamar to the west, where they join Plymouth Sound...

 on 15 November. His soft organs were buried at St Andrew's Church, Plymouth on 22 November. His body was then taken to London and buried at St Giles-without-Cripplegate
St Giles-without-Cripplegate
St Giles-without-Cripplegate is a Church of England church in the City of London, located within the modern Barbican complex. When built it stood without the city wall, near the Cripplegate. The church is dedicated to St Giles, patron saint of beggars and cripples...


Legacy

The Royal Navy Hawkins-class heavy cruiser
Hawkins class cruiser
The Hawkins class was a class of five heavy cruisers of the Royal Navy designed in 1915 and constructed throughout the First World War. All ships were named after Elizabethan sea captains...

 HMS Frobisher
HMS Frobisher (D81)
HMS Frobisher was a Hawkins-class heavy cruiser of the Royal Navy. She was built at Devonport Dockyard and launched on 20 March 1920.-Interwar career:...

 was named after him.

Frobisher Bay
Frobisher Bay
Frobisher Bay is a relatively large inlet of the Labrador Sea in the Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut, Canada. It is located in the southeastern corner of Baffin Island...

, in the Canadian Territory of Nunavut
Nunavut
Nunavut is the largest and newest federal territory of Canada; it was separated officially from the Northwest Territories on April 1, 1999, via the Nunavut Act and the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act, though the actual boundaries had been established in 1993...

, is named after him. It was also the former name of Nunavut's capital, Iqaluit, until 1987.

An early version of Thanksgiving was celebrated after safe landing of Frobisher's fleet in Newfoundland after an unsuccessful attempt to find the Northwest Passage. (Hogan. 2011)

Frobisher Crescent, part of the Barbican Estate
Barbican Estate
The Barbican Estate is a residential estate built during the 1960s and the 1970s in the City of London, in an area once devastated by World War II bombings and today densely populated by financial institutions...

 in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, is named after Frobisher.

External links

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