William Baffin, explorer (b probably at London? 1584?; d 1622). One of the most proficient navigators of his time, he was chief pilot with Captain James Hall on his ill-fated voyage to Greenland in 1612.
William Baffin, explorer (b probably at London? 1584?; d 1622). One of the most proficient navigators of his time, he was chief pilot with Captain James Hall on his ill-fated voyage to Greenland in 1612. He was pilot on 2 expeditions to the Spitsbergen region in 1613 and 1614 and made his next voyage under Robert BYLOT aboard the DISCOVERY in 1615 in search of the NORTHWEST PASSAGE. They examined the entrance to Hudson Strait, and turned back, because of ice conditions, in sight of land later named Baffin Island by W.E. PARRY. On this voyage Baffin obtained the first longitude ever figured at sea by observing an occultation of a star by the moon.
Bylot and Baffin undertook another expedition to the Northwest, departing March 1616. They sailed north to 77° 45´ - the farthest north reached for the next 236 years - mapped Baffin Bay and discovered LANCASTER SOUND, not recognizing it as the entrance to the Northwest Passage.
Baffin was killed in action against the Portuguese in the Gulf of Oman. He had been asked to make observations on the castle walls but "received a shot from the Castle into his belly, wherewith he gave three leaps, and died immediately." Baffin was the most skilled navigator who observed Canada's Arctic in the 17th century, although his great discovery of Lancaster Sound was soon forgotten.