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John Davis: Master Navigator

Early Life

Little is known about the early life of John Davis. The son of a farmer, he was born near the town of Dartmouth, Devon, in England. As a young man, he was friendly with Sir Walter Raleigh, another great sea explorer. When he was 16 he started his seagoing career.

By 1583 he believed that the Northwest Passage over North America could be used as a shortcut from Europe to Asia. It took two years to get support for the voyage.

Portrait: Sir Walter Raleigh

Friends in High Places
It was with Sir Walter Raleigh's support that Davis was given the charter in 1584 to find a trade route to China.


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