The Matthew of Bristol

Bristol, United Kingdom

The Matthew of Bristol


Matthew was a caravel sailed by John Cabot in 1497 from Bristol to Newfoundland, North America. There are two modern replicas – one in Bristol, England (built 1994–1996) and one in Bonavista, Newfoundland (built 1997–1998).

The captain of the Matthew was an Italian explorer named Giovanni Caboto who is better known as John Cabot. After a voyage which had got no further than Iceland, Cabot left again with only one vessel, the Matthew, a small ship (50 tons), but fast and able. The crew consisted of only 18 men. The Matthew departed 2 May 1497. He sailed to Dursey Head (latitude 51°36N), Ireland, from where he sailed due west, expecting to reach Asia. However, landfall was reached in North America on 24 June 1497. His precise landing place is a matter of much controversy, with Cape Bonavista or St. John's in Newfoundland the most likely sites. There is a statue of John Cabot located on the Cape of Bonavista, Newfoundland in his honour.

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