, a navigator of great eminence? and abilities, was born at Bristol
, a navigator of great eminence? and abilities, was born at Bristol about the year 1477. He was son of John Cabot, a Venetian pilot, who resided much in England, and particularly in the city of Bristol; and who was greatly celebrated Cor his skill in navigation. Young Cabot was early instructed by his father in arithmetic, geometry, geography, and those branches of knowledge which were best calculated to form an able and skilful seaman; and by the time he was seventeen years of age, he had already made several trips to sea, in order to add to the theoretical knowledge which he had acquired, a competent skill in the practical part of navigation. The first voyage of any importance in which he was engaged, appears to have been that made by his father, for the discovery of unknown lands; and also, as it is said, of a northwest passage to the East Indies. John Cabot was encouraged to this attempt by the discoveries of Columbus. It was in 1493 that Columbus returned from his first expedition; and in 1495, John Cabot obtained from king Henry VII. letters patent, empowering him and his three sons, Lewis, Sebastian, and Sanctius, to discover unknown lands, and to conquer and settle them, for which they were to be admitted to many privileges the king reserving to himself one- fifth part of the neat profits; and with this single restraint, that the ships they fitted O ut should be obliged to return to the port of Bristol. It was not till the year after these letters patent were granted, that any preparations were made for fitting out vessels for the intended voyage; and then John Cabot had a permission from his majesty, to take six English ships in any haven of the realm, of the burden of two hundred tons and under, with as many mariners as should be willing to go with him. Accordingly, one ship was equipped at Bristol, at the king’s expence; and to this the merchants of that city, and of London, added three or four small vessels, freighted with proper commodities.