Contemporary illustration of multiple ships in the English channel
Ships in the English Channel

Library of Congress

Quick Facts

Significance:
Portuguese sailor who worked for both the Spanish and English
Place of Birth:
Terceira, the Azores
Date of Birth:
C. 1538
Place of Death:
Unknown
Date of Death:
C. 1590
Place of Burial:
Unknown

Born Simão Fernandes (Fernandez) in the Azores, this Portuguese ship’s pilot worked for the Spanish charting the American coastline until 1577 when he defected with his maps to England. His new-found hatred for Spain led Fernando to pirate Spanish shipping on numerous occasions.  

His knowledge of the coastline greatly aided the second expedition to the Roanoke area in 1585. However, as primary pilot of the 1587 fleet to Roanoke Island, Fernando refused to take the 117 colonists to their intended destination at the Cheaspeake Bay, citing the approach of fall and a desire to plunder Spanish shipping. This refusal led to the "lost colony" being abandoned on Roanoke Island.