18th Century Explorers

Find out more about the greatest 18th Century Explorers, including James Cook, Daniel Boone, Sacagawea, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark.

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

Vote for Your Favourite 18th Century Explorers

 1 James Cook

James Cook
13
Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: November 7, 1728
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Marton, England
Died: February 14, 1779

British explorer, navigator, and cartographer James Cook, who had also served the merchant navy and Royal Navy, was the first to complete an expedition around New Zealand. He explored areas in the South Pacific, such as eastern Australia and Hawaii. He was killed while trying to kidnap a Hawaiian king.

 2 Daniel Boone

Daniel Boone
12
Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: November 2, 1734
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Pennsylvania, United States
Died: September 26, 1820

Daniel Boone was an American pioneer, woodsman, explorer, and frontiersman. His exploits as an American frontier made him one of the earliest folk heroes of the US. Widely regarded as the founder of Kentucky, Daniel Boone is popular for his exploration and settlement of Kentucky. His life and work have inspired several movies, such as the 1936 movie Daniel Boone.

 3 Sacagawea

Sacagawea
11
Famous As: Interpreter
Birthdate: 1788 AD
Birthplace: Salmon
Died: 1812 AD
Sacagawea, a Lemhi Shoshone woman, became a significant part of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, helping its members connect with the Native Americans along the trail. The National American Woman Suffrage Association later honored her by erecting several statues in her memory. She finds mention in many books and films.
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 4 Hugh Glass

Hugh Glass
9
Famous As: Hunter
Birthdate: 1783 AD
Birthplace: Scranton, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: 1833 AD

Fur-trader and explorer Hugh Glass is part of local folklore now. After being left battered by a grizzly bear on the legendary 1823 expedition of General Ashley that was supposed to explore parts of Missouri, Glass was left to die by his teammates, but ended up surviving by treating his own wounds.

 5 Meriwether Lewis

Meriwether Lewis
7
Famous As: Explorer, Politician
Birthdate: August 18, 1774
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Ivy, Colony of Virginia
Died: October 11, 1809

Best known for his exploration of the Pacific Northwest and Oregon, Meriwether Lewis led the legendary Lewis and Clark Expedition. He had also been the governor of Louisiana. His mysterious death at age 35, due to gunshot wounds, sparked a huge debate on whether it was a murder or a suicide.

 6 John Franklin

John Franklin
6
Famous As: Explorer, Royal Navy officer
Birthdate: April 16, 1786
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Spilsby, England
Died: June 11, 1847

 7 William Clark

William Clark
6
Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: August 1, 1770
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Caroline County
Died: September 1, 1838

Frontiersman William Clark is remembered for his iconic expedition to the Pacific Northwest along with Meriwether Lewis, in what is known as the Lewis and Clark Expedition. He had also been a US Army soldier and the governor of Missouri Territory. He named his first-born after Lewis.

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 8 Matthew Flinders

Matthew Flinders
4
Famous As: Voyager
Birthdate: March 16, 1774
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Donington
Died: July 19, 1814

 9 Zebulon Pike

Zebulon Pike
3
Famous As: Explorer, Military personnel
Birthdate: January 5, 1779
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lamberton, New Jersey
Died: April 27, 1813

American army officer Zebulon Pike is best remembered for his exploration of areas around the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains. While traversing through the southern Colorado region, he was detained by Spanish colonial authorities. He lent his name to the famed Pikes Peak in Colorado.

 10 Mungo Park

Mungo Park
3
Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: September 11, 1771
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Selkirkshire, Scotland
Died: July 19, 1806

 11 George Vancouver

George Vancouver
4
Famous As: Explorer, Officer
Birthdate: June 22, 1757
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: King's Lynn
Died: May 10, 1798

English navigator and Royal Navy officer George Vancouver was the first to explore the Pacific coast of North America. His explored territories included the Canada’s British Columbia, the US’s Alaska, and Australia’s southwest coast. His 3-volume treatise on his journeys, with a collection of maps, was published posthumously.

 12 Vitus Bering

Vitus Bering
3
Famous As: Former explorer known as a leader of two Russian expeditions, namely the First Kamchatka Expedition and the Great Northern Expedition
Birthdate: August 5, 1681
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Horsens, Denmark
Died: December 19, 1741

 13 Jim Beckwourth

Jim Beckwourth
3
Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: April 6, 1798
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Frederick County, Virginia, United States
Died: October 29, 1866

Born to a white man and a mulatto slave woman, Jim Beckwourth was practically born into slavery. While he looked like an American Indian, he was known as a “free Negro” after being released. Known as Bloody Arm, he is credited with exploring the Beckwourth Pass.

 14 Alexander Mackenzie

Alexander Mackenzie
6
Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: 1764 AD
Birthplace: Stornoway, Lewis, Scotland
Died: March 12, 1820

 15 David Thompson

David Thompson
3
Famous As: Fur trader
Birthdate: April 30, 1770
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Westminster, England
Died: February 10, 1857

David Thompson was a British-Canadian explorer, fur trader, and surveyor. He was known to some native peoples as Koo-Koo-Sint or "the Stargazer". He traveled over 90,000 kilometers (56,000 mi) across North America over the course of his career and established a successful fur trade. He was married to a Metis woman and had numerous children. 

 16 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

 17 Giovanni Battista Belzoni

Giovanni Battista Belzoni
3
Famous As: Explorer, Antiquarian, Egyptologist, Archaeologist, Novelist, Travel writer
Birthdate: November 5, 1778
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Padua
Died: December 3, 1823

Giovanni Battista Belzoni was an Italian explorer and archaeologist of Egyptian antiquities. A pioneer in the field of Egyptian archaeology, Belzoni was the first person to enter the famous Pyramid of Khafre. Belzoni is also credited with unblocking the entrance of the temple at Abu Simbel and discovering the tomb of Seti I, which is referred to as Belzoni's Tomb. 

 18 John Colter

John Colter
3
Famous As: Military Person
Birthdate: 1774 AD
Birthplace: Stuarts Draft, Virginia, United States
Died: November 22, 1813

Trapper-explorer John Colter, who was part of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, is remembered as the first white man to visit and describe the Yellowstone National Park. He had a brush with death on three occasions, when he came face-to-face with Indian tribes. He later settled in a Missouri farm.

 19 Charles Sturt

Charles Sturt
3
Famous As: British explorer
Birthdate: April 28, 1795
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bengal
Died: June 16, 1869

 20 Louis Antoine de Bougainville

Louis Antoine de Bougainville
3
Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: November 12, 1729
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: August 31, 1811

 21 Piet Retief

Piet Retief
3
Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: November 12, 1780
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Wellington
Died: February 6, 1838

 22 Andries Pretorius

Andries Pretorius
3
Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: November 27, 1798
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Graaff-Reinet
Died: July 23, 1853

Boer leader Andries Pretorius was a chief force behind the creation of the South African Republic. He not only led the Great Trek from British-occupied Cape Colony but also defeated thousands of Zulus in the Battle of Blood. His negotiations with the British led to the Sand River Convention.

 23 Hans Egede

Hans Egede
3
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

 24 Johann Ludwig Burckhardt

Johann Ludwig Burckhardt
3
Famous As: Explorer, Writer, Art historian, Archaeologist
Birthdate: November 24, 1784
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Lausanne
Died: October 15, 1817

 25 George Bass

George Bass
3
Famous As: Former Explorer, Surgeon known as one of the first people to explore the interior of Australia
Birthdate: January 30, 1771
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Sleaford, Lincolnshire, England, United Kingdom
Died: 1803 AD

British naval surgeon George Bass is best remembered for his exploratory voyage to Australia, aboard the Reliance. He explored areas such as the Sydney coastline, Tasmania, and New South Wales. However, he was declared lost at sea after disappearing on a commercial voyage to South America.

 26 John Ross

John Ross
2
Famous As: Navy Officer
Birthdate: June 24, 1777
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Balsarroch, Scotland
Died: August 30, 1856

 27 Charles Wilkes

Charles Wilkes
3
Famous As: Naval Officer
Birthdate: April 3, 1798
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: February 8, 1877

 28 Pierre-Esprit Radisson

Pierre-Esprit Radisson
2
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. 

 29 Jules Dumont d'Urville

Jules Dumont d'Urville
2
Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: May 23, 1790
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Condé-sur-Noireau, France
Died: May 8, 1842

 30 James Bruce

James Bruce
2
Famous As: Explorer, Archaeologist, Film editor, Botanist
Birthdate: December 14, 1730
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Stirling
Died: April 27, 1794

Scottish explorer James Bruce is best known for his treatises of travel and his discovery of the source of the Blue Nile. Initially a wine merchant, he later became a British consul in Algiers and decided to explore North Africa. He traveled to places such as Syria, Ethiopia, and Egypt.

 31 Francis Light

Francis Light
2
Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: 1740 AD
Birthplace: Dallinghoo, England
Died: October 25, 1794

 32 George Anson, Baron Anson

George Anson, Baron Anson
2
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.

 33 John Oxley

John Oxley
4
Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: 1784 AD
Birthplace: Westow, England, United Kingdom
Died: May 25, 1828

 34 Samuel Hearne

Samuel Hearne
2
Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: January 31, 1745
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: London, England
Died: October 31, 1792

 35 Herman of Alaska

Herman of Alaska
2
Famous As: Monk
Birthdate: 1750 AD
Birthplace: Serpukhov, Russia
Died: November 15, 1836

 36 William Bartram

William Bartram
2
Famous As: First Naturalist Who Penetrated the Dense Tropical Forests of Florida
Birthdate: April 20, 1739
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: July 22, 1823

 37 Mike Fink

Mike Fink
3
Famous As: Frontiersman
Birthdate: 1770 AD
Birthplace: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: 1823 AD

 38 Robert Moffat

Robert Moffat
2
Famous As: British missionary
Birthdate: December 21, 1795
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Ormiston, Scotland
Died: August 9, 1883

 39 Peter Skene Ogden

Peter Skene Ogden
2
Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: February 12, 1790
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Quebec City, Canada
Died: September 27, 1854

 40 Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville

Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville
2
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.

 41 Robert Gray

Robert Gray
3
Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: May 10, 1755
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Tiverton, Rhode Island, United States
Died: June 30, 1806

 42 Antonio de Ulloa

Antonio de Ulloa
2
Famous As: Astronomer, Explorer, Meteorologist
Birthdate: January 12, 1716
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Seville
Died: July 3, 1795

Spanish mariner Antonio de Ulloa was sent by the government to explore America and ended up being captured by the British while returning. His scientific zeal made him a Fellow of the Royal Society there. He is remembered for his metallurgical, astronomical, and geographical discoveries and treatises.

 43 Georg Wilhelm Steller

Georg Wilhelm Steller
2
Famous As: Botanist
Birthdate: March 10, 1709
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Bad Windsheim, Germany
Died: November 14, 1746

German-born zoologist and botanist Georg Wilhelm Steller traveled to Russia on a troop ship. He was later part of the Great Northern Expedition, aboard the St. Peter, aimed at locating a sea route from Russia to North America. The Steller’s sea cow, discovered by him, went extinct later.

 44 John Bartram

John Bartram
2
Famous As: Botanist
Birthdate: March 23, 1699
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Darby, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: September 22, 1777

 45 Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de La Vérendrye

Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de La Vérendrye
1
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. 

 46 Engelbert Kaempfer

Engelbert Kaempfer
2
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.

 47 Henry Kelsey

Henry Kelsey
2
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.

 48 Benjamin Bonneville

Benjamin Bonneville
2
Famous As: Officer
Birthdate: April 14, 1796
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: June 12, 1878

 49 Adam Johann von Krusenstern

Adam Johann von Krusenstern
2
Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: October 10, 1770
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Hagudi, Estonia
Died: August 24, 1846

 50 Edward John Trelawny

Edward John Trelawny
2
Famous As: Biographer
Birthdate: November 13, 1792
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: London, England
Died: August 13, 1881

Edward John Trelawny was a British biographer, novelist and adventurer. He is famous for his friendship with Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron. Handsome and dashing, he joined the Royal Navy at the age of thirteen, later writing about his experiences in Adventures of a Younger Son. His other well-known work is Recollections of the Last Days of Shelley and Byron.