John Cabot is the English name of Giovanni Caboto. He was born in 1450 in Italy in Venice as his signed name 'Zuan Cabotto' holds a unique tone typical to the Venetian style. As a child, he loved the sea.
He travelled well across the Mediterranean and is recorded to have claimed that he had even visited Mecca besides Palestine, Syria and Lebanon. It seems Cabot got into financial trouble and moved from Venice to Seville and then to England in 1495 and became an English explorer and navigator. Like Christopher Columbus, Cabot was also sponsored by another country.
King Henry VII of England began to look for a route to the Americas around Africa and the Iberian peninsula and began attracting Italian and particularly Venetian talent. Cabot headed for Bristol to prepare for his sail. Bristol was then the second-largest port of England.
Henry VII asked Cabot to sail to Canada and the latter did so in 1497, in command of a small ship called Matthew. They touched shore near Labrador, Newfoundland or Cape Breton Island in the month of June of that very year. He was accompanied by one of his three sons, the explorer Sebastian Cabot. The pair claimed the land for England. Most of the information about his trips is from letters.
John Cabot took up the task of exploring the Canadian islands and capes and of naming them as well. The letters describe a huge variety of fish and marine plants. The aim of the voyage was to find and locate a Northwest passage across North America to Asia. On the way back home, Cabot mistakenly thought that he had reached north-eastern Asia but he was actually unsuccessful.
In 1498 John Cabot undertook a second and a larger expedition and King Henry aided him largely in this. A huge loan to support the expedition and a fleet of five ships were granted to Cabot by His Majesty. It is recorded that one of the ships was caught in a storm and was harboured in Ireland while the others carried on, but nothing came to be known about them.
It is presumed that they were lost at sea. Whether they ever reached America or not on these trips, is an uncertain matter. England owes Cabot and his expeditions its first claims on Canada. Though John Cabot was born in Italy, he served and died in England.