The Tudor Society
  • Richard Chancellor (d.1556)

    Richard Chancellor is a Tudor explorer famous for his interactions with Russia. His origins and childhood are mostly unknown, and as such, there is a lot of speculation. We believe he was born in 1521 and lived near Bristol. It is claimed that he was raised by Sir Henry Sidney, Lord Deputy of Ireland.

    In the 1550s, Chancellor sailed with Roger Bodenham as an apprentice pilot in the voyage of the Bark Aucher to the Levant. This trip was intended to provide English mariners with the experience of longer voyages, something that they were less experienced in than their French and Spanish counterparts. By 1553, English markets were becoming more diverse, and there was increased demand for cloth from the Far East. As such, merchants, courtiers, and noblemen funded an expedition to the East, which consisted of three ships – the Bona Esperanza, Edward Bonaventure, and the Bona Confidentia. Richard Chancellor was appointed as the pilot general of the voyage and as captain of the Edward Bonaventure, the largest ship in the expedition. The voyage departed on 22nd May 1553 but was delayed for several weeks in Harwich due to faulty casking. Eventually, they set sail on 23rd June, and the ships progressed towards the Norwegian coast. The leaders of the expedition agreed to meet at Vardö should they become separated; however, they were all scattered by a vicious storm. Chancellor arrived at the town and waited seven days for the others to come, but no one did. Richard set sail from Vardö and arrived at the Russian port town of St Nicholas towards the end of August 1553.

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  • Stephen Borough

    Explorer, navigator and naval administrator Stephen Borough (Burrough) was born at Borough House, Northam Burrows, Northam in Devon, to Walter Borough and his wife Mary Dough on 25th September 1525.

    In his childhood, Borough was influenced by his uncle, the seaman John Borough, and probably helped him with his first measured coastal surveys of south Devon and Cornwall in 1538. His uncle taught him navigational skills, sailing skills, Spanish and Portuguese.

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  • Sir Martin Frobisher (d. 1594)

    On this day in history, 31st May 1578, Sir Martin Frobisher set sail with his fleet from Harwich, England, to Frobisher Bay, Canada. By 31st August 1578, Frobisher and his men had mined 1370 tons of ore, which was loaded onto the ships to take back to England. Unfortunately, no gold or other precious metal was found in the ore.

    But who was Sir Martin Frobisher?

    Sir Martin Frobisher was a privateer, explorer and naval commander who was born around 1535. He was born in Altofts, near Normanton, West Yorkshire, and was the son of Bernard Frobisher and Margaret Yorke. After his mother’s death he was sent to live with Sir John Yorke, a relative of his mother’s, in London. Yorke was a merchant adventurer.

    Frobisher took part in a voyage to Guinea in 1553 which Yorke had invested in and which was led by Thomas Wyndham. He acted as assistant to John Beryn, Yorke’s factor. A fever wiped out over two-thirds of the crew, including Wyndham, but Beryn and Frobisher survived. In 1554, Frobisher took part in a voyage to Guinea led by John Lok and ended up being taken into custody by the Portuguese and being held by them for 2-3 years.

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  • Tudor Explorers Quiz

    How much do you know about Tudor explorers? Grab your favourite beverage and get those little grey cells working with this fun quiz.

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  • 15th and 16th century Explorers and Navigators Quiz

    How much do you know about 15th and 16th century explorers and navigators? Test your knowledge with this fun quiz.

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