Davis, John

John Davis

c.1550-1605. English navigator and explorer. In 1585, started his first expedition to search for a Northwest Passage around the top of North America to the Orient. On this and two subsequent voyages he explored both eastern and western Greenland, finally reaching Baffin Island to 73 degrees north. He explored south towards the Straits of Magellan and discovered the Falkland Islands in 1592. On his return, he wrote and published a practical book on navigation, The Seaman's Secrets, and published the invention of the backstaff called by seamen the Davis Quadrant. He then became a navigator for the British East India Company, and was killed by Japanese near Sumatra.