John Cabot was born in Genoa, Italy, became a merchant and mariner in Venice, then finally settled in Bristol, England. His success in commerce induced Henry VII to sponsor Cabot as the leader of a voyage to search for a northwest passage. In 1497, Cabot sailed westward and eventually spotted what he thought was the northern coast of China, then returned to England to report his discovery. His description of the abundance of cod probably marked the location of the Grand Banks.
In 1498, Cabot undertook a second voyage, this time to seek Japan. He cruised along the North American coast and perhaps got as far as Chesapeake Bay.
Cabot's voyages are important for having established the English claim to North America.