John Cabot was born around 1450, most likely in Genoa, Italy. His Father was Guilo Caboto, a spice merchant. Cabot was known in his youth as Giovani Caboto. By 1471 Cabot moved to Venice, where he became a member of the religious fraternity of St. John the Evangelist. He later became engaged in trade. In 1484 he married a Venetian woman named Mattea. They had three children.
Cabot moved from Venice in 1488, probably after getting into financial difficulties. He found his way to Seville. There he tried to gain support for a voyage across the North Atlantic. When he failed to get support he needed, Cabot moved to England in 1495. Cabot received some financial backing from Italians living in England. That support translated into a commission from King Henry VII to explore.
Cabot’s first voyage ended in failure. He ran in to bad weather and was forced to return to England. His second voyage was more successful. He left England on the “Mathew”, a small ship. Over the course of his second journey Cabot explored the Northern Coast of North America– between Maine and New Foundland.
The exact locations of Cabot’s exploration remain in doubt. After exploring the area and landing once, Cabot claimed the land for England. Then he returned to England. He returned to England as a minor hero, receiving a modest prize from the King.
Two years later, in February 1498, the King commissioned him to explore once again. This time Cabot left with a fleet of five ships in May 1498. One of the ships was forced to return to Ireland, but the other four ships continued on their way. Nothing was ever heard from the fleet again. The fate of Cabot and his shipmates remains one of the mysteries of history.