|Death Date:||Between c. 1498 and 1501|
|Birth Place:||Castiglione Chiavarese, Republic of Genoa, Italy|
As per our current Database, John Cabot died on Between c. 1498 and 1501.
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For centuries, no other records were found (or at least published) that relate to this expedition; it was long believed that Cabot and his fleet were lost at sea. But at least one of the men scheduled to accompany the expedition, Lancelot Thirkill, is recorded as living in London in 1501.
King Henry VII continued to support exploration from Bristol. The king granted Hugh Eliot, Robert Thorne and his son a bounty of £20 in January 1502 for purchasing the Gabriel, a ship for an expedition voyage that summer. Later in 1502 or early 1503, he paid Eliot a reward of £100 for a voyage, or voyages, in "2 ships to the Isle of new finding," as Newfoundland was called. This amount was larger than any previously accounted for in royal support of the explorations. Around this time the Bristol-based explorers established a formal company, backed by Letters Patent, called the Company Adventurers to the New Found Land. This conducted further expeditions in 1503 and 1504.
Sebastian Cabot, one of John's sons, also became an explorer, later making at least one voyage to North America. In 1508 he was searching for the Northwest Passage. Nearly two decades later, he sailed to South America for Spain to repeat Ferdinand Magellan's voyage around the world. He became diverted by searching for silver along the Río de la Plata (1525–1528) in Argentina.
In 1508–09, Sebastian Cabot undertook a final voyage to North America from Bristol. According to Peter Martyr's 1516 account this expedition explored a section of the coast from the Hudson Bay to about Chesapeake Bay. Following his return to England in 1509, Sebastian found that his sponsor, Henry VII, had died and that the new king, Henry VIII, had little interest in westward exploration.
Information about the 1497 voyage comes mostly from four short letters and an entry in a 1565 chronicle of the city of Bristol (then often spelt Bristow). The chronicle entry for 1496–97 says in full:
For the 500th-anniversary celebrations, the governments of Canada and the United Kingdom designated Cape Bonavista in Newfoundland as the "official" landing place. Here in 1997, Queen Elizabeth II along with members of the Italian and Canadian governments greeted the replica Matthew of Bristol, following her celebratory crossing of the Atlantic.
In the late 20th century, British historian Alwyn Ruddock found documentation that Cabot went first to London, where he received some financial backing from its Italian community. She suggested one patron was Father Giovanni Antonio de Carbonariis, an Augustinian friar who was also the deputy to Adriano Castellesi, the papal tax collector. Ruddock also suggested that Carbonariis accompanied Cabot's 1498 expedition. She further suggested that the friar, on good terms with the King, introduced the explorer to King Henry VII. Beyond this, Ruddock stated that Cabot received a loan from an Italian banking house in London. As Ruddock ordered the destruction of all her research notes on her death in 2005, scholars have had to duplicate her research and rediscover documents. The Cabot Project was formed at the University of Bristol in 2009 to research Cabot and the Bristol expeditions. Francesco Guidi Bruscoli, of the University of Florence, found some of Ruddock's documentation, confirming that Cabot received money in March 1496 from the Bardi family banking firm of Florence. The bankers located in London provided fifty nobles (£16 13s. 4d.) to support Cabot's expedition to "go and find the new land". This payment from the Florentine merchants would have represented a substantial contribution, although it was not enough to completely finance the expedition.
It is likely that two ranking Bristol merchants were part of the expedition. One was William Weston, who had not been identified as part of Cabot's expedition before the discovery of a new document in the late 20th century by historian Margaret Condon. In 2009, historian Evan Jones published this document: a letter from Henry VII ordering the suspension of legal proceedings against Weston because it was the King's intent that Weston would shortly undertake a voyage for the King to the 'new founde land'. This was probably the voyage under Cabot's patent, making William Weston the first Englishman to lead an expedition to North America. In 2018, Condon and Jones published a further article that showed that Weston and Cabot had been jointly rewarded by the king in January 1498, suggesting that the explorers were working together before the start of the second voyage. The same article revealed that Weston received a £30 reward after he returned from his successful 1499 voyage.
The Cabot Project at the University of Bristol was organized in 2009 to search for the evidence on which Ruddock's claims rest, as well as to undertake related studies of Cabot and his expeditions. The lead researchers on the project, Evan Jones and Margaret Condon, claim to have found further evidence to support aspects of Ruddock's case, including some of the information she intended to use to argue for a successful return of the 1498 expedition to Bristol. These appear to place John Cabot in London by May 1500, albeit Jones and Condon have yet to publish their documentation.
Ruddock claimed that William Weston of Bristol, a supporter of Cabot, undertook an independent expedition to North America in 1499, sailing north from Newfoundland up to the Hudson Strait. If correct, this was probably the first North West Passage expedition. In 2009, Jones confirmed that William Weston (who was not previously known to have been involved) led an expedition from Bristol [with royal support] to the "new found land" in 1499 or 1500, making him the first Englishman to lead exploration of North America. This find has changed the understanding of English roles in exploration of that continent. In 2018, Condon and Jones published a further article about William Weston. This revealed that Weston and Cabot had received rewards from King Henry VII in January 1498, following a royal audience, thereby confirming that the two explorers were involved by this stage. Condon and Jones also revealed that in 1500 the King rewarded Weston £30 for 'his expenses about the finding of the new land'.