Biography of William Baffin (ca. 1584-1622)

Navigator and English Explorer, probably born in London, about the year 1584, and died in Kishm (or Qishm, Persia) 23 January 1622. It is the first map of the area of the Arctic Ocean, a region hitherto little known while the search for the Northwest Passage mobilized a large number of expeditions.

His name is mentioned for the first time in the expedition of Captain James Hall, whom he/she accompanied as a pilot in one of his trips in 1612. Later it became part of a whaling company of Moscow (which also included Henry Hudson), located in the Arctic archipelago of Spitzberg. Figure as a pilot on the journey across the Arctic Ocean from the English ship Discovery, captained by Robert Bylot, in search of a sea passage to China. Bylot orders, he/she journeyed through the Davis Strait, discovered by John Davis in 1585 for the first time. On this journey, reached the Strait of Smith, touching the Arctic island of Canada, named in his honour Baffin land and considered for some time as part of Greenland, when in reality it is the sea of Baffin Island, discovered by this, which separates it from Greenland. The existence of Baffin Bay was discredited until the year 1818, time in which another sailor, sir John Ross, confirmed all the discoveries carried out by this. Baffin Island, however, was very discouraged after arriving at Hudson Bay, where realized that the tides in the Bay came not Pacific, but the Atlantic: "I will summarize all the result of my trip in one sentence: there is no step even hope it n of the Davis Strait".

However, immediately realized the economic possibilities offered area:

"And now that you already know the worst, I must talk about the possibilities and perspectives profit there offered to able men: the whale fisheries." Is of absolute certainty that many whales there are in the Bay that the inhabitants of the Basque coast called "Gran Bahía de las Ballenas"; that these animals are also fished in the vicinity of Greenland and that, according to what I have seen, is extremely easy to capture them, because that is not accustomed to be persecuted and killed. Despite having spent one day in the Strait which takes its name from the large number of whales that holds and found asleep calmly, floating at the mercy of the waters and without showing any fear at our ship, have men and fishing instruments, effortlessly we would have captured as many as they can carry three boats after a fruitful trip. Nor should we get scared of these animals. In the free sea we find one dead that kept even all their beards. Great work we get 160 pieces and them would have brought all to not be because the next day a storm erupted. But the wind and current away the corpse of us and we had to renounce it."

Baffin, moreover, to the first map of this Arctic area, hitherto little explored, and unheralded. The name of Bay to the sea he/she discovered, is the idea that was considered as a Gulf where ended the Atlantic Ocean. On the way back of this discovery, he/she explored the area between the northern part of Greenland, Devon Island, the land of Ellesmere and North Baffin land. From 1617, he/she entered the service of the East India Company, traveling to the British India. He/She settled in Hormuz, at the entrance of the Persian Gulf, and there died fighting as an official observer of artillery in the ranks of British troops against the Muslims of Qishm Island, also called Tavila.


TREUE, W. The conquest of the Earth. Barcelona, Ed. work, 1948.