Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
GOMEZ, Esteban, Spanish navigator, born in Cadiz, Spain, in 1478 (or, according to Barbosa Machado, in Oporto in 1474); died at sea in 1530 (or, according to Barbosa, in Toledo in 1534). He had served in the Portuguese East India fleet, acquired a reputation as a skilled pilot, and was pilot of the "San Antonio," commanded by Juan de Cartagena, on Magellan's expedition in 1519. Irritated by his failure to obtain the appointment of chief pilot of the expedition, he fomented an insurrection, in January, 1520, which was promptly suppressed by Magellan, but Gomez escaped execution with the other rebels, because his services as pilot were needed. He afterward incited the crew of the " San Antonio " to mutiny, and on his arrival in Portugal, 24 March, 1521, was imprisoned, but soon set at liberty. In 1524, when the difficulties between Spain and Portugal respecting the limits of their colonial discoveries arose, Gomez was one of the council of pilots appointed to decide this question, and proposed to the emperor to avoid these difficulties by seeking a western passage to the East Indies by the north of the new continent. His proposal was accepted, and, in command of a caravel, he left San Lucar in November, 1524. He reached the coast of Florida in January, 1525, and continued his voyage north, exploring every inlet in quest of the desired passage, including one in about 37° north latitude, probably Chesapeake bay. On arriving at latitude 42° N. without discovering any western passage, he resolved to return, but explored the country from the 42d to the 40th parallel, and filled his vessel with captured natives, which he sold as slaves on his return to San Lucar in August, 1521. On presenting himself at court, he was unfavorably received by the emperor, who, according to Gomara, reproached him with the capture of thin Indians, as he would thereby discredit future explorers. He now tried to interest some merchants in a new expedition of discovery, and sailed in 1530 with two vessels for another exploration, but was never heard of again. Barbosa Machado, in his "Biblioteca Lusitana," says that Gomez died in Toledo in 1534 in high favor at court. Gomez left a manuscript diary of his voyage, published in 1529 by the cosmographer Diego Ribera, with a map, in which the position of the present states of Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts is marked "Land of Esteban Gomez, discovered by him in 1525, by order of His Majesty; abundance of trees, game, salmon, turbot, and soles, but no gold is found."Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM