João Fernandes Lavrador

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João Fernandes Lavrador
Born 1453
Kingdom of Portugal
Died c. 1501
Nationality Portuguese
Occupation Explorer, navigator
Known for Explorer of the coasts of the Northeast of Northern America.

João Fernandes Lavrador (Portuguese pronunciation: [ʒuˈɐ̃w̃ fɨɾˈnɐ̃ðɨʃ lɐvɾɐˈðoɾ]) (not to be confused with earlier João Fernandes) was a Portuguese explorer of the late 15th century. He was the first modern explorer in the coasts of the Northeast of Northern America, including the Labrador peninsula, which bears his name.


His family name is Fernandes. As a landowner he was allowed to use the title lavrador "farmer - plower" (IPA: [lɐvɾɐˈðoɾ]).


Fernandes was granted a patent by King Manuel I in 1498 given him the right to explore the part of the Atlantic Ocean as set out in the Treaty of Tordesillas.[1]

Fernandes, together with Pêro de Barcelos, first sighted what is now known as Labrador in 1498. Fernandes charted also the coasts of Southwestern Greenland and of adjacent Northeastern North America around 1498 and gave notice of them in Europe. The areas are believed to have been named island of the Labrador and land of the Labrador (modern-day Labrador), respectively, after him.

On early sixteenth century maps, a landmass west of Greenland bears the title Terra Laurador, and Terra Laboratoris. Upon his return from Greenland he sailed to Bristol and received a patent from King Henry VII and in 1501 Fernandes set sail again in discovery of lands in the name of England. He was never heard from again.

Fernandes was granted title to much of the lands he had discovered and is considered the first European landowner in Labrador.


  1. ^ Kevin Major, As Near to Heaven by Sea: A History of Newfoundland and Labrador, 2001, ISBN 0-14-027864-8

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