John Rastell’s Voyage of the Year 1517

By Arthur W. Read, published May 1923


In the summer of 1517, John Rastell, lawyer, printer and dramatist, attempted a voyage to the New Found Lands, the failure of which is explained with graphic detail in his own words in the Court of Requests proceedings. Rastell, who was one of the most interesting members of the More circle, was a man of many activities and interests, and he had a considerable reputation in his day as a mathematician and cosmographer. The date of the legal proceedings appears from the endorsement, ” xv. die novembr a0 XI (1519). The issue of the suit seems to have been in Rastell’s favour. Gentlemen-venturers probably learnt a lesson from Rastell’s experience, for when his son John succeeded in reaching Labrador in the voyage of 1536, recorded by Hakluyt, the mariners were kept in hand by the gentlemen of the Inns of Court.

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Filed under: Atlantic | English Channel | Other (Early Modern) | Mutiny & Discipline | Pirates
Subjects include: Science & Exploration

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