Sir Martin Frobisher

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Martin Frobisher
Sir Martin Frobisher - Privateer & Explorer (c1535 - 1594)

Sir Martin Frobisher was an explorer and Privateer for Queen Elizabeth I. He was well known for his expeditions to Canada where he discovered the bay that would later be given his name, and found ore which he believed to be gold. He played an instrumental role in the fleet that defeated the Spanish Armada, for which he received a knighthood.

This page details facts about Sir Martin Frobisher's life and the events that shaped his history.

Sir Martin Frobisher the Privateer & Explorer - Fun Facts for Kids !
Sir Martin Frobisher Fact   1: Martin Frobisher was born the son of a merchant in Yorkshire circa 1535. Following the death of his mother he was sent to London where he stayed with a relative, Sir John York. Not much is known of his early life, however Martin Frobisher was schooled in London before going to sea.
Sir Martin Frobisher Fact   2: Martin Frobisher sailed to the African coast of Guinea as part of Thomas Wyndham’s 1553 expedition, and in 1554 he returned there as part of a trading expedition. Around this time he was imprisoned by the Portuguese, however he managed to escape and returned to England.
Sir Martin Frobisher Fact   3: Between 1555 and 1575 Martin Frobisher sailed as an Elizabethan privateer under a Letter of Marque issued by the English Crown, and in 1569/70 he fought for England in the Irish War.
Sir Martin Frobisher Fact   4:

Martin Frobisher married twice. His first marriage, on 30 may 1559, was to Isabel Richard; his second to Dorothy Wentworth in 1591.

Sir Martin Frobisher Fact   5:

As with many explorers of the day, Martin Frobisher became fascinated with the idea of finding the fabled North West Passage joining the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. He had gained inspiration from reading ‘A discourse of a discouerie for a new passage to Cataia’ written by Sir Humphrey Gilbert as a thesis on the subject.

Sir Martin Frobisher Fact   6:

Martin Frobisher managed to secure backing from a consortium of English merchants, known as the Muscovy Company, and set off on his first expedition in June 1576.


Picture of Sir Humphrey Gilbert

Sir Martin Frobisher Fact   7: The expedition sighted what is now known as Resolution Island, near Labrador, at the end of July 1576. Martin Frobisher then sailed west where he discovered the bay which would be named after him (Frobisher Bay), on the south of what is now known as Baffin Island. While there, he lost five of his men. They were kidnapped by the local Inuit and never seen again.
Sir Martin Frobisher Fact   8: When Martin Frobisher returned to England he brought a large black stone with him. Following examination by several experts, the stone was believed, by one of them, to contain gold. This evidence was sufficient for him to obtain backing to launch another expedition.
Sir Martin Frobisher Fact   9: Toward the end of spring 1577, he set off on his second expedition. By the middle of July he had arrived at Baffin Island and, putting his search for the North West Passage on hold, began collecting ore. He also made several unsuccessful attempts to find the five men he had lost during the first expedition.
Sir Martin Frobisher Fact 10:

Martin Frobisher arrived back in England in September 1577, along with 200 tons of ore and 3 Inuit that had been captured. Soon after returning, all 3 Inuit died. Queen Elizabeth I thanked him and, with other backers, resolved to launch a larger expedition which would also aim to establish a settlement.

Sir Martin Frobisher Fact 11:

In late spring 1578 Martin Frobisher set off on his third expedition with a fleet of fifteen ships. The expedition arrived at Frobisher Bay in July 1578 and sailed 60 miles up the ‘Mistaken Strait’. The Mistaken Strait later became known as the Hudson Strait.

Picture of Queen Elizabeth I

Sir Martin Frobisher Fact 12: Martin Frobisher returned to Frobisher Bay and made an unsuccessful attempt to establish a settlement. He loaded over 1,000 tons of ore onto the ships and, at the end of August 1578, he began his return journey to England.
Sir Martin Frobisher Fact 13:

He arrived in October and the ore was taken to some smelting furnaces that had been built at Dartford to process it. The ore turned out to be iron pyrites, also known as ‘Fools Gold’. This worthless cargo left Martin Frobisher out of favour, so he returned to being a privateer.

Sir Martin Frobisher Fact 14:

In 1585 Martin Frobisher joined Sir Francis Drake on an expedition to the West Indies to raid Spanish ports and ships, and in 1588, along with John Hawkins and Drake, took part in the battle which saw the destruction of the Spanish Armada. He received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth I for his brave service in the battle.


Picture of Sir Francis Drake

Sir Martin Frobisher Fact 15: In 1590 Sir Martin Frobisher once again resumed his role as a privateer. He attacked mainly Spanish ships and the Spanish coastline. In 1594 he took part in an attack, by sea, on the Spanish held Fort Crozon. During the attack on the Fort, near Brest in France, he was mortally wounded.
Sir Martin Frobisher Fact 16: Sir Martin Frobisher died from his wounds on 22 November 1594.
Sir Martin Frobisher the Privateer & Explorer (c1535 - 1594) Fun Facts Info for Kids !

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