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Estêvão Gomes, also known in the Spanish versions of his name as Estevan Gómez or Esteban Gómez, (Porto, Kingdom of Portugal, c. 1483 - Paraguay River, 1538), was a Portuguese cartographer and explorer. He sailed at the service of Spain in the fleet of Ferdinand Magellan, but deserted the expedition before reaching the Strait of Magellan, and returned to Spain in May 1521. In 1524 he explored present-day Nova Scotia sailing South along the Maine coast. While historical accounts vary, Gomes may have entered New York Harbor and saw the Hudson River. Because of his expedition, the 1529 Diogo Ribeiro world map outlines the East coast of North America almost perfectly.
Gomes was born in Porto, northern Portugal, and probably sailed in Portuguese ships during his youth. In 1518, he moved to Spain, where he was appointed a pilot in the Casa de Contratación in Seville.
In 1519, Gomes sailed with Magellan in the First Circumnavigation of Earth, as the captain of the San Antonio. Before reaching the Strait of Magellan, though, he deserted the expedition, returning to Spain in May 1521. He was immediately jailed, but when the remaining ship reached Spain, and the surviving crew related their terrible experience, he was freed.
Gomes was able to convince the Emperor Charles to finance a new expedition to find a northern passage to the Spice Islands, the fabled Northwest Passage. A 50-ton caravel, La Anunciada, was built for the purpose.
The expedition sailed on September 24, 1524 from A Coruña, with 29 men forming the crew. He arrived in Cuba and later sailed north. Gomes' expedition reached Cabot Strait and Cape Breton (in today's Nova Scotia province of Canada) in February 1525. As soon as he was able to renewed his search for the passage, and probably thinking that an even Northern passage would not present much better conditions than what he remembered from the Strait of Magellan, he decided to sail South. He passed through Maine, where he thought the estuary of the Penobscot River to be the passage. He entered New York Harbor and the Hudson River (which he named the "San Antonio River"). Gomes returned to Spain on August 21, 1525. During his voyage, Gomes abducted over 50 natives and took them back to Spain as evidence of a potentially lucrative slave trade. Charles V was reportedly horrified and set them free.
As a result of his expedition, the 1529 Diogo Ribeiro world map outlines the East coast of North America almost perfectly. For a long time, the Northern half of the current US coast was named on maps as Tierra de Esteban Gómez.
Falkland Islands discovery controversy
There are claims that Gomes landed on and discovered the Falkland Islands. However, none of the chroniclers aboard mentions any such discovery. All say the ship returned to Spain up the coast of South America, and there is not a shred of positive evidence to support the discovery of the Falklands. Though definite proof is lacking, there is evidence that the islands were first discovered by an unrecorded Portuguese expedition before Magellan set sail. The evidence is found in two early maps, one made by the Portuguese cartographer Pedro Reinel in about 1522, the very first map to show the Falklands, the other a French copy of a Portuguese map bought in Lisbon by André Thévet (1516-1590), a Franciscan friar and prolific writer on many subjects; this copy is now in the manuscript of a large unpublished work by Thevet in the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris. These two maps of Portuguese origin suggest that it was Portuguese navigators who first saw and mapped the Falklands. It is not unusual that no written record of their expedition survives; voyages of discovery in those days were often national or commercial secrets, and unless a journal survived, they are completely unknown today.
- "GOMES, ESTEVÃO - Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online". Retrieved 18 March 2012.
- Douglas Hunter (31 August 2010). Half Moon: Henry Hudson and the Voyage That Redrew the Map of the New World. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. p. 136. ISBN 978-1-60819-098-0. Retrieved 18 March 2012.