Davis or Davys, John, 1550?–1605, English navigator. He made his first voyage in search of the Northwest Passage in 1585, continuing the work of Martin Frobisher. On this voyage he discovered Cumberland Sound of Baffin Island and made explorations that prepared the way for his later voyages in 1586 and 1587. On the third exploration he sailed through Davis Strait into Baffin Bay and coasted down Baffin Island and across the east end of Hudson Strait. He clarified much of the confusion over the geography of that region. In 1591, Davis sailed S for the Straits of Magellan, and in 1592 he sighted the Falkland Islands. He later made voyages to the East Indies and was killed in a fight with Japanese pirates. A type of quadrant he invented was used for more than a century, and he wrote a manual, The Seaman's Secrets (1594).
See The Voyages and Works of John Davis, ed. by A. H. Markham (1880, repr. 1970); biography by Sir Clements Markham (1889, repr. 1970).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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