Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.

Davis John

Davis, John, one of the greatest of English navigators, was born at Sandridge, near Dartmouth, about the year 1550, and was in youth the friend of Humphrey Gilbert and Walter Raleigh. He very early went to sea., and was by 1579 a captain of considerable reputation. In 1585, with the Sunshine, 50 tons, and Moonshine, 35 tons, he sailed from Dartmouth, hoping to discover a north-west passage to India and China. In this voyage he explored much of the south coast of Greenland, and then, crossing what is now Davis Strait, discovered Mount Raleigh and Totnes Road in what is now Baffin Land. In 1586 he made a second voyage with the Mermaid, 120 tons, Sunshine, Moonshine, and North Star, 10 tons, and got as far north as Rommel's Fiord, on the east coast of Baffin's Bay, part of the flotilla returning by Cumberland Gulf and the Labrador Coast. A third voyage, begun in May, 1587, was continued as far north as Sanderson's Hope. In 1588 Davis, as captain of the hired vessel Black Dog, 20 tons, served against the Armada, and it was in memory of this that he afterwards dedicated his manual of navigation, entitled The Seaman's Secrets, to Lord Howard of Effingham. In 1589 he joined Cumberland's expedition to the Azores. In 1591, with Cavendish, he embarked on the unfortunate voyage to the Strait of Magellan, a full account of which, by John Janes, is in the Hakluyt collection. In this expedition he discovered the Falkland Islands. His subsequent voyages, three in number, were to the East Indies. In the last of them he was killed, off the coast of Pahang, by some Japanese pirates, on Dec. 27, 1605. The Seaman's Secrets was first published in 1594. At about the same time this great seaman invented the "back staff" or "Davis' quadrant," an instrument which superseded the "cross staff" for observing latitude, and remained in general use until 1731.