Names of Members of the Frobisher Voyages, 1576-1578

by Mari ingen Briain meic Donnchada (Kathleen M. O'Brien)


Martin Frobisher headed three voyages (1576, 1577, & 1578) from England. The purpose of the first voyage was to search for the fabled Northwest passage to Cathay. Their voyage took them to the southeastern end of Baffin Island, in what is today Canada's Northwest Territory. The purposes of the second and third voyages were to gather ore from that area and bring it back to England.

Appendix 1 of Archeology of the Frobisher Voyages contains a list of all the known members of the voyages (compiled from pay lists & other documents). Regarding the spelling in these names, the authors state, ""In appendix 1, surnames are recorded in the most commonly appearing form but, where spellings differ appreciably, two (or even three) entries have been made." (p. 15)

This article focuses on the distribution of name variants, not on the distribution of the names within the population in general. The frequency counts are drawn from the number of times a name appears, instead of the number of times a person appears. One reason for choosing this method is that according to the authors, "Eight officers and men from the first voyage signed for the second, sixty-two from the second voyage signed for the third, and six signed for all three voyages." (p. 16) Often these men are listed under different spellings of their surname from one voyage to the next.

Future Directions

I am currently considering what directions future versions of this article should explore. Areas I am considering adding include:

I am also taking votes on whether it is useful to continue having the surnames available both alphabetically and by frequency.

I would be glad to hear recommendations on what areas I should work on in the next draft of this article. Currently, I am concentrating on finishing first drafts of several other name articles that I have in progress.

© 1999 by Kathleen M. O'Brien. All rights reserved.
Version 1.2, updated 09 September 1999

Table of Contents

Structure of the Names

Given Names:



Fitzhugh, William W. and Jacqueline S. Olin, editors, Archeology of the Frobisher Voyages (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1993).

Medieval Scotland | Medieval Names Archive | Names in Chesham, 1538-1600/1

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