Who Were John Cabot's Crew Members?

were-john-cabot-s-crew-members Credit: Graham Bell/Britain On View/Getty Images

The specific names of John Cabot's crew members aboard the Matthew are unknown. According to Visit Newfoundland, there were 18 to 20 crew members, including a Burgundian, a Genoese barber who also acted as a surgeon, two or three Bristol merchants, and a Bristol crew. Other required crew members were a sailmaker and ship's carpenter to make repairs, a boatswain, a cook, and a first and second mate.

Although specific names are highly speculative, likely candidates for Cabot's crew may have included entrepreneurs and businessmen such as Robert Thorne, William Thorne, Thomas Thorne, Hugh Elyot, Richard Warde, Thomas Asshehurst, John Thomas, John Lloyd, John Fernandez, Francis Fernandez, John Gonzales and others. Each was active in Bristol at the time and may have been lured by the new opportunity. The Letters Patent, which was the permission from King Henry VII issued to John Cabot to take the voyage, named Cabot and his sons, Lewis, Sebastian and Sancio, who were likely on the voyage.

The Matthew, which was the caravel-style ship used for Cabot's first voyage, first appeared in customs records between 1493 and 1496. It was likely named after Cabot's wife Mattea and may have been used in Cabot's first failed attempt at discovery in 1496. Customs records show the ship making trading voyages to Ireland and Bordeaux, France, as late as 1504.