17th Century Explorers

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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.
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 1 
Walter Raleigh
(Politician, Writer, Explorer)
Walter Raleigh
15
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
(Navigator and Explorer)
Henry Hudson
9
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
10
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
(Explorer)
John Smith
11
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
(Navigator)
Abel Tasman
6
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
(English settlers of North America)
John Rolfe
8
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
(Navigator, Merchant-Adventurer and the First Englishman to Reach Japan)
William Adams
4
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.

 8 
Juan de Oñate
(1st Spanish Governor of New Mexico)
Juan de Oñate
3
Birthdate: 1550 AD
Birthplace: Zacatecas, Mexico
Died: June 4, 1626
 9 
Jacques Marquette
(French Jesuit Missionary Who Founded Michigan’s First European Settlement)
Jacques Marquette
3
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
(French Adventurer and Explorer Credited With Founding the City of Detroit)
Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac
3
Birthdate: March 5, 1658
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Saint-Nicolas-de-la-Grave, France
Died: October 16, 1730

Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac was a French adventurer and explorer. He is credited with founding Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit, which later became the famous city of Detroit. The famous car brand Cadillac was named in Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac's honor.

 11 
Willem Janszoon
(Navigator)
Willem Janszoon
5
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.

René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle
103
Birthdate: November 22, 1643
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Rouen, Normandy, France
Died: March 19, 1687
 13 
William Dampier
(Explorer)
William Dampier
4
Birthdate: September 5, 1651
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: East Coker, Somerset, England
Died: February 29, 2017
 14 
Louis Joliet
(Explorer)
Louis Joliet
3
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. 

 15 
Christopher Newport
4
Birthdate: 1561
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Limehouse
Died: 1617 AD
Evliya Çelebi
3
Birthplace: Istanbul
 17 
Robert Dudley
(Explorer)
Robert Dudley
3
Birthdate: August 7, 1574
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Richmond Palace, Surrey, England
Died: September 6, 1649
 18 
Étienne Brûlé
(First European Explorer to Journey Beyond the St. Lawrence River Into What Is Now Known as Canada)
Étienne Brûlé
3
Birthdate: 1592 AD
Birthplace: France
Died: May 31, 1633
 19 
Hans Egede
(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)
Hans Egede
3
Birthdate: January 31, 1686
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Harstad, Norway
Died: November 5, 1758
 20 
Constantine Phaulkon
2
Birthdate: 1647 AD
Birthplace: Cephalonia, Greece
Died: June 5, 1688
 21 
Nathaniel Bacon
(Colonist)
Nathaniel Bacon
4
Birthdate: January 2, 1647
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Suffolk, England
Died: October 26, 1676
 22 
Pierre-Esprit Radisson
2
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. 

 23 
Catalina de Erauso
(Spanish Nun Known for Travelling Around Spanish America Under Male Identities)
Catalina de Erauso
2
Birthdate: February 10, 1592
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Donostia-San Sebastian, Spain
Died: 1650 AD

Catalina de Erauso was a Spanish nun who fled from the convent and travelled around Spain and Spanish America. She did several odd jobs disguised as a man and also served as a soldier of fortune in Bolivia, Chile, Perú, and Argentina before returning to Spain where she supposedly visited the Pope. She became a muleteer in her later life.

 24 
Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville
(French Explorer and Soldier)
Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville
2
Birthdate: July 16, 1661
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Montreal, Canada
Died: July 9, 1706

Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville was a soldier and ship captain. Also a daredevil explorer, he led the Hudson Bay expedition in 1686 and played a pivotal part in the capture of the fort at Moose Factory. He founded the French colony of Louisiana in New France. As a member of Compagnies Franches de la Marine, he fought in many wars. 

 25 
Avvakum Petrovich
2
Birthdate: December 5, 1620
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Grigorovo, Russia
Died: April 14, 1682
 26 
Jean Nicolet
(The First European to Explore the Present-Day Wisconsin)
Jean Nicolet
3
Birthdate: 1598 AD
Birthplace: Cherbourg, France
Died: September 30, 1642

Jean Nicolet was a French trader best remembered for exploring Green Bay, Mackinac Island, and Lake Michigan. He was the first European to explore the present-day Wisconsin. Many public places in Wisconsin and Quebec are named in his honor.

Luís Vaz de Torres
2
Bartholomew Gosnold
2
 29 
Jacob Roggeveen
(Explorer who discovered Easter Island)
Jacob Roggeveen
2
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.

Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de La Vérendrye
1
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. 

 31 
Engelbert Kaempfer
(Naturalist)
Engelbert Kaempfer
2
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.

 32 
Ralph Fitch
(Explorer)
Ralph Fitch
2
Birthdate: 1550 AD
Birthplace: Derby, United Kingdom
Died: 1611 AD
 33 
Henry Kelsey
(British Explorer Best Known for His Two-Year Journey From Hudson Bay to the Western Interior)
Henry Kelsey
2
Birthdate: 1664 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.

 34 
Richard Hawkins
(Explorer)
Richard Hawkins
2
Birthdate: 1562 AD
Birthplace: Plymouth, England
Died: April 17, 1622
Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Lhut
3
Birthdate: 1639 AD
Birthplace: Saint-Germain-Laval, France
Died: February 25, 1710
 36 
Jean Chardin
(French Traveller Whose Ten-Volume Book is Regarded as one of the Finest Works of Early Western Scholarship on Safavid Iran)
Jean Chardin
3
Birthdate: November 16, 1643
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: January 5, 1713
 37 
Henri de Tonti
(French Military Officer, Explorer and Co-Founder of Fort St. Louis, Illinois Country)
Henri de Tonti
3
Birthdate: 1649 AD
Birthplace: Gaeta, Italy
Died: August 31, 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.

 38 
Semyon Dezhnev
(Explorer)
Semyon Dezhnev
2
Birthdate: March 7, 1605
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Reka Pinega, Russia
Died: 1673 AD
 39 
Pietro della Valle
(Italian Composer and Musicologist of the Renaissance Period)
Pietro della Valle
1
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.

 40 
Willem Schouten
(Dutch Navigator)
Willem Schouten
2
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.

 41 
Theodore of Corsica
(King of Corsica)
Theodore of Corsica
1
Birthdate: August 25, 1694
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Cologne, Germany
Died: December 11, 1756
Louis Juchereau de Saint-Denis
1
Birthdate: September 17, 1676
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Beauport, Canada
Died: June 11, 1744
 43 
Nicolas Perrot
(Traveler)
Nicolas Perrot
1
Birthdate: 1644 AD
Birthplace: France
Died: 1717 AD
 44 
Thomas Warner
(Captain in the guards of James I of England who became an explorer in the Caribbean)
Thomas Warner
0
Birthdate: 1580 AD
Birthplace: England
Died: March 10, 1649
Louis-Armand de Lom d'Arce de Lahontan, Baron de Lahontan
1
Birthdate: June 9, 1666
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: France
Died: April 21, 1716
 46 
Antoinette Bourignon
1
Birthdate: January 13, 1616
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lille, France
Died: October 30, 1680
 47 
Thomas Button
(Welsh-British Explorer and Naval Officer)
Thomas Button
1
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. 

 48 
Claude-Jean Allouez
1
Birthdate: June 6, 1622
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Saint-Didier, France
Died: August 28, 1689
 49 
Pedro Páez
(Missionary)
Pedro Páez
1
Birthdate: 1564 AD
Birthplace: Olmeda de las Fuentes, Spain
Died: May 22, 1622
 50 
Isabel Godin des Odonais
1
Birthdate: January 16, 1728
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Riobamba, Ecuador
Died: September 28, 1792