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A few hundred years ago, the known physical world was a lot smaller. With the discovery of the 'new world' (and its gold deposits), many Europeans were emboldened to find out more about what was out there and wasted no time launching ships and staking claims. Here are many of the more successful.
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Alvaro de Saavedra Ceron

aka: Álvaro de Saavedra Cerón
bornactivedied
unknown1526-1529unknown
one of the Spanish explorers in the Pacific Ocean. It is unknown the exact date and place of his birth, but he was born in the late 15th century or early 16th century in Spain. Hernán Cortés was his relative, whom he accompanied to Mexico (New Spain) in 1526. Explored Papua New Guinea, the Caroline Islands, and the Marshall Islands
Links (1)


Cross-listed in AstronomersMilitaryScientists

Sir Edward Sabine

bornactivedied
1788, Oct 141818-18711883, Jun 26
an Irish astronomer, geophysicist, ornithologist, explorer, soldier and the 30th President of the Royal Society. Two branches of Sabine's work are notable: Determination of the length of the seconds pendulum, a simple pendulum whose time period on the surface of the Earth is two seconds, that is, one second in each direction; and his research on the Earth's ...
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Sacagawea

aka: Sakakawea, Sacajawea
borndied
17881812. Dec 20
a Lemhi Shoshone woman who helped the Lewis and Clark Expedition achieve each of its chartered mission objectives exploring the Louisiana Purchase. With the expedition, between 1804 and 1806, she traveled thousands of miles from North Dakota to the Pacific Ocean, established cultural contacts with Native American populations, and researched natural history.
Timeline (1)Links (1)


Alonso de Salazar

bornactivedied
unknown1520s1526, Sep 5
the Spaniard, born in Las Encartaciones who discovered the Marshall Islands on August 21, 1526. De Salazar was in command of Santa Maria de la Victoria but is not known to have landed. He is believed to have sighted the Bokak Atoll. His vessel was the last surviving ship from Fray García Jofre de Loaísa's expedition attempting to expand on the Magellan-Elc...
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Cross-listed in Scientists

Horace Benedict de Saussure

aka: Bénédict
borndied
1740, Feb 171799, Jan 22
a Swiss geologist, meteorologist, physicist, mountaineer and Alpine explorer, often called the founder of alpinism and modern meteorology, and considered to be the first person to build a successful solar oven. In 1767, he completed his first tour of Mont-Blanc, a trip that did much to reveal the topography of the snowy portions of the Alps of Savoy. He also...
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Timeline (1)Links (1)


Cross-listed in WritersScientists

Henry R. Schoolcraft

borndied
1793, Mar 281864, Dec 10
an American geographer, geologist, and ethnologist, noted for his early studies of Native American cultures, as well as for his 1832 expedition to the source of the Mississippi River. He is also noted for his major six-volume study of Native Americans in the 1850s. He served as a United States Indian agent for a period beginning in 1822 in Michigan, where he...
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Cross-listed in Writers

Willem Schouten

bornactivedied
1567 ca1615-16251625
a Dutch navigator for the Dutch East India Company. He was the first to sail the Cape Horn route to the Pacific Ocean. Explored the South Pacific (Cape Horn, Tonga Islands, Wallis and Futuna). Schouten described his travels in the Journal, published in a Dutch edition at Amsterdam in 1618 and soon translated into several other languages.
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Cross-listed in ScientistsCartographersCommerce

John Senex

borndied
16781740
an English cartographer, engraver and explorer. He was also an astrologer, geologist, and geographer to Queen Anne of Great Britain, editor and seller of antique maps and most importantly creator of the pocket-size map of the world.[citation needed] He owned a business on Fleet Street, where he sold maps. Senex is famous for his maps of the world, some of wh...
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Gomes de Sequeira

bornactivedied
unknown1525 caunknown
a Portuguese explorer in the early 16th century. It has been suggested by some historians that Gomes de Sequeira may have sailed to the northeast coast of Australia as part of his explorations, although this is disputed. Also said to have explored the Caroline Islands and the Pacific Ocean.
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Francisco Serrao

aka: Serrão
bornactivedied
unknown1511-15211521
a Portuguese explorer and a cousin of Ferdinand Magellan. His 1512 voyage was the first known European sailing east past Malacca through Indonesia and the Indies. He became a confidante of the Sultan Bayan Sirrullah, the ruler of Ternate, becoming his personal advisor. He remained in Ternate where he died around the same time Magellan died.
Links (1)


Cross-listed in PiratesWriters

Anthony Shirley

aka: Anthony Sherley
bornactivedied
15651590s-1600s1637
an English traveller, whose imprisonment in 1603 by King James I caused the English House of Commons to assert one of its privileges—freedom of its members from arrest—in a document known as The Form of Apology and Satisfaction. In 1596, he conducted a predatory expedition along the western coast of Africa and then across to Central America, but owing to...
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Links (3)Notes (1)


Cross-listed in WritersCartographers

Jedediah Smith

aka: Diah, Old Jed, Jed
borndied
1799, Jan 61831, May 27
a clerk, frontiersman, hunter, trapper, author, cartographer, and explorer of the Rocky Mountains, the North American West, and the Southwest during the early 19th century. After 75 years of obscurity following his death, Smith was rediscovered as the American whose explorations led to the use of the 20-mile (32 km)-wide South Pass as the dominant point of c...
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Timeline (3)Links (1)


Cross-listed in MilitaryNavalWriters

John Smith [2]

borndied
1580, Jan ca1631, Jun 21
an Admiral of New England, was an English soldier, explorer, and author. He was knighted for his services to Sigismund Bathory, Prince of Transylvania, and his friend Mózes Székely. He was considered to have played an important part in the establishment of Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in North America. He was a leader of the Virginia C...
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Timeline (3)Links (1)


William Smith

bornactivedied
17901811-18201847
the English captain born in Blyth, Northumberland, who discovered the South Shetland Islands, an archipelago off the Graham Land in Antarctica. His discovery was the first ever made south of 60° south latitude, in the present Antarctic Treaty area.
Links (1)


Martim Afonso de Sousa

bornactivedied
1500 ca1530-15451571, Jul 21
a Portuguese fidalgo, explorer and colonial administrator. Born in Vila Viçosa, he was commander of the first official Portuguese expedition into mainland of the colony of Brazil. Threatened by the presence of French and Dutch ships along the coast of Brazil, the Portuguese crown in December 1530 sent a fleet with 400 people led by Martim Afonso de Sousa to...
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Links (1)


Cross-listed in Military

John Hanning Speke

bornactivedied
1827, May 41844-18641864, Sep 15
an officer in the British Indian Army who made three exploratory expeditions to Africa and who is most associated with the search for the source of the Nile and was in fact the first European that reached Lake Victoria and as such is the "discoverer of the source of the Nile". He is also known for propounding the Hamitic hypothesis in 1863. In this hypothesi...
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Timeline (1)Links (1)


Cross-listed in Naval

Thomas Spert

aka: Pert
borndied
unknown1541, Dec
a mariner who reached the rank of vice admiral in service to King Henry VIII of England. He was sailing master of the flagships Mary Rose and Henry Grace a Dieu. He served as the first Master of Trinity House, the private corporation for maritime affairs in Londo...
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Timeline (1)Links (1)


Cross-listed in PhysiciansScientists

Jacob Spon

borndied
16471685, Dec 25
a French doctor and archaeologist, was a pioneer in the exploration of the monuments of Greece and a scholar of international reputation in the developing "Republic of Letters". Spon travelled to Italy, and then to Greece, to Constantinople and the Levant in 1675–1676 in the company of the English connoisseur and botanist Sir George Wheler (1650–1723), w...
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Links (1)


Cross-listed in Military

Hans Staden

bornactivedied
1525 ca1547-15551579 ca
a German soldier and explorer who voyaged to South America in the middle of the sixteenth century, where he was captured by the Tupinambá people of Brazil. He managed to survive and return safe to Europe. In his widely read account describing his travel and captivity, he claimed that the native people that held him captive practiced cannibalism.
Links (1)


Cross-listed in MilitaryGovernance

Myles Standish

aka: Miles
bornactivedied
1584 ca1603-16561656, Oct 3
an English military officer hired by the Pilgrims as military adviser for Plymouth Colony. He accompanied the Pilgrims on their journey on the Mayflower and subsequently Standish played a leading role in the administration and defense of Plymouth Colony from its inception. On February 17, 1621, the Plymouth Colony militia elected him as its first commander a...
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Timeline (1)Links (13)


Cross-listed in Writers

John Lloyd Stephens

bornactivedied
1805, Nov 281834-18521852, Oct 13
an American explorer, writer, and diplomat. He initially entered law practice in New York. After 8 years, he embarked on a journey through Europe in 1834, and went on to Egypt and the Levant, returning home in 1836. Stephens wrote several popular books about his travels and explorations. Stephens was a pivotal figure in the rediscovery of Maya civilization t...
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Pawel Strzelecki

bornactivedied
1797, Jun 241834-18431873, Oct 6
a Polish explorer and geologist who in 1845 also became a British subject. Strzelecki left Poland about 1829 and stayed some time in France, from where he travelled to Africa. In 1834 he sailed from Liverpool to New York. He travelled much in North and South America, Cuba, Tahiti and the South Sea Islands, and went to New Zealand probably about the beginning...
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Links (1)


John McDouall Stuart

bornactivedied
1815, Sep 71838-18621866, Jun 5
a Scottish explorer and one of the most accomplished of all Australia's inland explorers. Stuart led the first successful expedition to traverse the Australian mainland from south to north and return, through the centre of the continent. His experience and the care he showed for his team ensured he never lost a man, despite the harshness of the country he en...
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Links (1)


Charles Sturt

bornactivedied
1795, Apr 281828-18511869, Jun 16
a British explorer of Australia, and part of the European exploration of Australia. He led several expeditions into the interior of the continent, starting from both Sydney and later from Adelaide. His expeditions traced several of the westward-flowing rivers, establishing that they all merged into the Murray River. He was searching to determine if there was...
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Links (1)


William Sublette

aka: Sublett
borndied
1798, Sep 211845, Jul 23
a pioneer, frontiersman, trapper, fur trader, explorer, and mountain man, who, with his four brothers, after 1823, became an agent of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company and later, one of its co-owners, exploiting the riches of the Oregon Country, which helped settle and improve the best routes, along the Oregon Trail.
Timeline (1)Links (5)


Cross-listed in AstronomersClergy

Ignacije Szentmartony

bornactivedied
1718, Oct 281753-17561793, Apr 15
a Croatian Jesuit priest, missionary, mathematician, astronomer and explorer. After graduating from secondary school he entered the order of Jesuits in Vienna in 1735. By the year 1751, he was in Lisbon, Portugal where he obtained the title of royal mathematician and astronomer. With those credentials, he became a member of an expedition that worked on the r...
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