17th Century Explorers

Find out more about the greatest 17th Century Explorers, including John Rolfe, Henry Hudson, Samuel de Champlain, René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle and Abel Tasman.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Walter Raleigh

Walter Raleigh
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Famous As: Politician, Writer, Explorer
Birthdate: 1552 AD
Birthplace: Hayes Barton, England
Died: October 29, 1618
English explorer Walter Raleigh is best remembered for his involvement in the Siege of Smerwick and for colonizing North America. He made smoking tobacco popular in England. His accounts of his first voyage to South America led to the legend of El Dorado. He was executed to please the Spanish.

 2 Henry Hudson

Henry Hudson
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Famous As: Navigator and Explorer
Birthdate: 1565 AD
Birthplace: England, United Kingdom
Died: 1611 AD

Henry Hudson was an English navigator and sea explorer best remembered for his explorations of modern-day Canada and the northeastern United States. He is credited with laying the foundation for the Dutch colonization near the Hudson River, which is named in his honor. During his final expedition, he became the first European to witness the Hudson Bay and Hudson Strait.

 3 Samuel de Champlain

Samuel de Champlain
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Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: August 13, 1574
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Hiers-Brouage, Marennes-Hiers-Brouage, France
Died: December 25, 1635

Samuel de Champlain was a French colonist, navigator, draftsman, soldier, and explorer who made between 21 and 29 trips across the Atlantic Ocean. He founded Quebec and New France and is considered an important figure in Canadian history. He is also referred to as the "Father of New France." As a businessman, he founded many trading companies.

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 4 John Smith

John Smith
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Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: January 6, 1580
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lincolnshire, England
Died: June 21, 1631

John Smith was an English explorer, soldier, colonial governor, author, and Admiral of New England. In the early-17th century, Smith played a major role in the establishment of the first indissoluble English settlement in America, which came to be known as the English colony at Jamestown. Apart from helping Jamestown survive various challenges, Smith's leadership also helped the colony flourish.

 5 Abel Tasman

Abel Tasman
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Famous As: Navigator
Birthdate: 1603 AD
Birthplace: Lutjegast
Died: October 10, 1659

Dutch explorer and Dutch East India Company merchant Abel Tasman was the first European to reach the shores of Tonga, New Zealand, Fiji, and Van Diemen's Land, the last of which was named Tasmania in his honor. His circumnavigation of Australia proved that it was a separate continent.

 6 John Rolfe

John Rolfe
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Famous As: English settlers of North America
Birthdate: May 6, 1585
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Heacham, United Kingdom
Died: 1622 AD

British colonial official John Rolfe was one of the first English settlers in North America. He not only gained fame as a tobacco planter in Virginia, but also married Pocahontas, the daughter of Native American chief Powhatan. He died in the infamous Jamestown massacre of 1622.

 7 William Adams

William Adams
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Famous As: Navigator
Birthdate: September 24, 1564
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Gillingham, England
Died: May 16, 1620

One of the first-known Westerner to gain the title of samurai, William Adams, also known as Anjin Miura, was an English navigator who explored uncharted territories for his country. Apart from being the first Englishman to travel to Thailand and Japan, he was also the third from his country to travel to Vietnam.

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 8 Juan de Oñate

Juan de Oñate
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Famous As: 1st Spanish Governor of New Mexico
Birthdate: 1550 AD
Birthplace: Zacatecas, Mexico
Died: June 4, 1626

 9 Jacques Marquette

Jacques Marquette
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Famous As: Missionary
Birthdate: June 1, 1637
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Laon, France
Died: May 18, 1675

Jesuit missionary explorer Jacques Marquette is best remembered for his journey to the Mississippi River with Louis Jolliet, which led to the first accurate documentation of the course. While attempting a communication with the Illinois Indians, he died at the mouth of Père Marquette at age 37.

 10 Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac

Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac
3
Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: March 5, 1658
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Saint-Nicolas-de-la-Grave, France
Died: October 16, 1730

 11 Willem Janszoon

Willem Janszoon
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Famous As: Navigator
Birthdate: 1570 AD
Birthplace: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Died: 1630 AD

Willem Janszoon was a Dutch colonial governor and navigator who served in the Dutch East Indies in the early 1600s. He is best remembered for captaining the first recorded European landing on Australia in 1606.

 12 René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle

René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle
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Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: November 22, 1643
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Rouen, Normandy, France
Died: March 19, 1687

 13 William Dampier

William Dampier
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Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: September 5, 1651
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: East Coker, Somerset, England
Died: February 29, 2017

 14 Christopher Newport

Christopher Newport
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Famous As: explorer
Birthdate: November 30, 1561
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Limehouse
Died: 1617 AD

 15 Louis Joliet

Louis Joliet
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Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: September 21, 1645
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Quebec City, Canada
Died: April 30, 1700

Louis Joliet was a French-Canadian explorer who lived during the 17th century. He is known for making several discoveries in North America. Along with Jesuit Father Jacques Marquette, a Catholic priest and missionary, he became one of the first non-Natives to map the Upper Mississippi River. He disappeared during an expedition to Anticosti Island in 1700. 

 16 Richard Hakluyt

Richard Hakluyt
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: 1553 AD
Birthplace: London, England
Died: November 23, 1616

English geographer Richard Hakluyt is remembered for his marked political influence and his continuous support of the British colonization of North America. A priest, he was associated with the Westminster Abbey. He also penned reports such as Discourse of Western Planting, which was appreciated by Queen Elizabeth I.

 17 Evliya Çelebi

Evliya Çelebi
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Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Istanbul

 18 Étienne Brûlé

Étienne Brûlé
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Famous As: First European Explorer to Journey Beyond the St. Lawrence River Into What Is Now Known as Canada
Birthdate: 1592 AD
Birthplace: France
Died: May 31, 1633

 19 Robert Dudley

Robert Dudley
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Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: August 7, 1574
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Richmond Palace, Surrey, England
Died: September 6, 1649

 20 Hans Egede

Hans Egede
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Famous As: Former missionary who launched mission efforts to Greenland, which led him to be styled the Apostle of Greenland, founded Greenland's capital Godthåb, now known as Nuuk
Birthdate: January 31, 1686
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Harstad, Norway
Died: November 5, 1758

 21 Constantine Phaulkon

Constantine Phaulkon
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Famous As: Adventurer
Birthdate: 1647 AD
Birthplace: Cephalonia, Greece
Died: June 5, 1688

 22 Nathaniel Bacon

Nathaniel Bacon
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Famous As: Colonist
Birthdate: January 2, 1647
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Suffolk, England
Died: October 26, 1676

 23 Pierre-Esprit Radisson

Pierre-Esprit Radisson
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Famous As: Fur Trader
Birthdate: 1636 AD
Birthplace: Avignon, France
Died: 1710 AD

Pierre-Esprit Radisson was a French fur trader and explorer who undertook many adventures with his brother-in-law Médard des Groseilliers. As a young man, he was captured and tortured by the Iroquois though he later managed to escape. He eventually became a successful fur trader and also embarked on several missionary expeditions. The town of Radisson, Quebec is named after him. 

 24 Avvakum Petrovich

Avvakum Petrovich
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Famous As: Priest
Birthdate: December 5, 1620
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Grigorovo, Russia
Died: April 14, 1682

 25 Jean Nicolet

Jean Nicolet
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Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: 1598 AD
Birthplace: Cherbourg, France
Died: September 30, 1642

 26 George Anson, Baron Anson

George Anson, Baron Anson
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Famous As: First Lord of the Admiralty
Birthdate: April 23, 1697
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Staffordshire, United Kingdom
Died: June 6, 1762

British admiral George Anson, or Baron Anson, is remembered for his exploits as an able naval administrator, especially during the War of Jenkins' Ear and the Seven Years’ War. His warship the Centurion was the first British warship to have entered Chinese territory. He also reformed the navy to a great extent.

 27 Luís Vaz de Torres

Luís Vaz de Torres
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Birthdate: 0000 AD

 28 Bartholomew Gosnold

Bartholomew Gosnold
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Birthdate: 0000 AD

 29 Jacob Roggeveen

Jacob Roggeveen
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Famous As: Explorer who discovered Easter Island
Birthdate: February 1, 1659
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Middelburg
Died: January 31, 1729

Jacob Roggeveen was a Dutch explorer who is credited with discovering Easter Island, Samoa, Maupiti, and Bora Bora. Interestingly, he found Easter Island by accident as he was initially sent to find Terra Australis. He is also remembered for publishing his work De val van 's werelds afgod.

 30 Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville

Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville
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Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: February 23, 1680
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Montreal, Canada
Died: March 7, 1767

Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville was a French explorer and colonial administrator in New France. The younger brother of Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville, Bienville joined his brother on several expeditions, including the one to establish the colony of Louisiana. Bienville succeeded in his expedition and is now referred to as the Father of Louisiana.

 31 John Bartram

John Bartram
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Famous As: Botanist
Birthdate: March 23, 1699
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Darby, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: September 22, 1777

 32 Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de La Vérendrye

Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de La Vérendrye
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Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: November 17, 1685
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Trois-Rivières, Canada
Died: December 5, 1749

Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de La Vérendrye was a French Canadian military officer and fur trader. Along with his four sons, he explored the area west of Lake Superior and established trading posts there. The family also helped in the process of adding Western Canada to the original New France territory.  He was awarded the Order of Saint Louis. 

 33 Ralph Fitch

Ralph Fitch
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Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: 1550 AD
Birthplace: Derby, United Kingdom
Died: 1611 AD

 34 Engelbert Kaempfer

Engelbert Kaempfer
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Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: September 16, 1651
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Lemgo, Germany
Died: November 2, 1716

Seventeenth-century German physician and traveler Engelbert Kaempfer had been on trade missions across the world, including places such as Russia, Iran, Java, and Japan. His written experiences about his stay in Japan became a valuable source of information on the flora and fauna of the country.

 35 Anthony van Diemen

Anthony van Diemen
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Famous As: Colonial administrator
Birthdate: 1593 AD
Birthplace: Culemborg, Netherlands
Died: April 19, 1645

Anthony van Diemen was a Dutch colonial governor. His nine-year period as Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies proved to be important for the success of the Dutch East India Company. Anthony van Diemen expanded the power of the Dutch East India Company throughout South-East Asia and helped establish the Dutch power in Ceylon via Trincomalee.  

 36 Henry Kelsey

Henry Kelsey
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Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: 1667 AD
Birthplace: Greenwich, England
Died: November 1, 1724

Henry Kelsey was an English fur trader and explorer. He played an important role in establishing the Hudson's Bay Company in Canada. Born in England, he moved to Canada as a young man and began his exploration adventures in the winter of 1688–89. He undertook many journeys across the Atlantic Ocean and eventually returned to England.

 37 Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Lhut

Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Lhut
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Famous As: Soldier
Birthdate: 1639 AD
Birthplace: Saint-Germain-Laval, France
Died: February 25, 1710

 38 Jean Chardin

Jean Chardin
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Famous As: Former Jeweller and Traveller to the Middle East Became One of the Best Contemporary Accounts of the Region
Birthdate: November 16, 1643
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: January 5, 1713

 39 Henri de Tonti

Henri de Tonti
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Famous As: Soldier
Birthdate: 1649 AD
Birthplace: Gaeta, Italy
Died: September 1, 1704

The son of Neapolitan financier Lorenzo de Tonti, Henri de Tonti was a fearless officer of the French army but lost his right hand in battle. He is also remembered as a passionate explorer who helped in the North American colonization campaigns, sailing along Illinois and Mississippi.

 40 Semyon Dezhnev

Semyon Dezhnev
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Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: March 7, 1605
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Reka Pinega, Russia
Died: 1673 AD

 41 Pietro della Valle

Pietro della Valle
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: April 2, 1586
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: April 21, 1652

Italian traveler Pietro della Valle, known for his voyages to India and Persia, was also a talented musicologist and composer. In Baghdad, he married a Syrian Christian woman, who died in Persia. He later also touched Surat and Calicut in India. His three-volume treatise on his travels focuses on Turkey, Persia, and India.

 42 Willem Schouten

Willem Schouten
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Famous As: Dutch Navigator
Birthdate: 1567 AD
Birthplace: Hoorn, Netherlands
Died: 1625 AD

Willem Schouten was a Dutch navigator who worked for the Dutch East India Company. Schouten was the first person to sail to the Pacific Ocean via the Cape Horn route. He later described his expeditions in the Journal, which has since been translated into many languages.

 43 Theodore of Corsica

Theodore of Corsica
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Famous As: King of Corsica
Birthdate: August 25, 1694
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Cologne, Germany
Died: December 11, 1756

 44 Nicolas Perrot

Nicolas Perrot
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Famous As: Traveler
Birthdate: 1644 AD
Birthplace: France
Died: 1717 AD

 45 Thomas Warner

Thomas Warner
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Famous As: Captain in the guards of James I of England who became an explorer in the Caribbean
Birthdate: 1580 AD
Birthplace: England
Died: March 10, 1649

 46 Louis Juchereau de Saint-Denis

Louis Juchereau de Saint-Denis
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Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: September 17, 1676
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Beauport, Canada
Died: June 11, 1744

 47 Louis-Armand de Lom d'Arce de Lahontan, Baron de Lahontan

Louis-Armand de Lom d'Arce de Lahontan, Baron de Lahontan
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Famous As: Military officer
Birthdate: June 9, 1666
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: France
Died: April 21, 1716

 48 Thomas Button

Thomas Button
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Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: 1575 AD
Birthplace: Saint Lythans,Wales
Died: March 31, 1634

Thomas Button was a Welsh officer of the Royal Navy who was also a prominent explorer. In 1612–13, he commanded an expedition that unsuccessfully attempted to locate lost explorer Henry Hudson. During his travels, he discovered and named Mansel Island. Later on,  he was appointed Admiral of the Irish Coasts and was knighted by the Lord Deputy of Ireland. 

 49 Antoinette Bourignon

Antoinette Bourignon
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Famous As: Mystic
Birthdate: January 13, 1616
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lille, France
Died: October 30, 1680

 50 Claude-Jean Allouez

Claude-Jean Allouez
1
Famous As: Missionary
Birthdate: June 6, 1622
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Saint-Didier, France
Died: August 28, 1689