The Tudor Society

December 29 – Navigator and explorer John Davis

On this day in history, 29th (or 30th) December 1605, in the reign of King James I, 55-year-old John Davis died near Bintang, off the coast of Borneo, after being attacked by Japanese pirates.

Davis (also spelt Davys) was an Elizabethan navigator and explorer. He is known for his voyages, for being the first Englishman to document a sighting of the Falkland Islands, for his 1594 “The Seaman's Secrets” and 1595 “The World's Hydrographical Description", and for his invention, the Davis Quadrant, or the backstaff.

Find out more about him, his final voyage and death...

You can read more about Davis's voyages in "The voyages and works of John Davis, the navigator" (1853) edited by Albert Hastings Markham at

You can read more about the Davis Quadrant at and

The Seaman's Secrets can also be read online at and The World's Hydrographical Description can be read online at

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December 29 – Navigator and explorer John Davis