The Company of Merchant Adventurers (in full: The Mystery, Company, and Fellowship of Merchant Adventurers for the Discovery of Regions, Dominions, Islands, and Places Unknown) was founded in London, possibly in 1551 by Richard Chancellor, Sebastian Cabot and Sir Hugh Willoughby. Some 240 adventurers purchased shares at 25 Pounds each and they received a royal charter for their company from King Edward in 1553, with Sebastian Cabot appointed its Governor. The purpose of the Company was to seek a new, northern trade route to Cathay (China) and the Spice Islands (the Moluccas, now part of Indonesia).
The first expedition of the Company was led by Willoughby seeking the Northeast Passage to China. Three ships were outfitted and crewed for the expedition, which departed London's Deptford Docks on 11 May 1553. Willoughby was aboard the Bona Esperanza (120 tons), with Richard Chancellor in command of the Edward Bonaventure (60 tons) and Bona Confidentia (90 tons). The ships became separated in a storm in the North Sea: the Bona Confidentia and Bona Esperanza rejoined, rounded North Cape and sailed east to Novaya Zemlya. The Edward Bonaventure likewise sailed around North Cape and along the Kola Peninsula, entering the White Sea in August. On 24 August... Read More