William Baffin (c. 1584 – January 23, 1622) was an English navigator, explorer and cartographer. His efforts to discover a Northwest Passage would earn his fame, largely resulting from his discovery of the bay that bears his name. He is also known for having produced excellent surveys of the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf on behalf of the East India Company, and his collaboration on the most influential map of Northern India to be produced in the seventeenth century. Nothing is known of his early life. Samuel Purchas hailed Baffin as a 'learned-unlearned Mariner and Mathematician... wanting art of words,' conjuring a working sailor whose grasp of survey and drafting came of long experience and not education. He first appears in the historical record in 1612 as chief pilot on Captain James Hall's fourth expedition to Greenland; in the following two years he would serve as in the Muscovy Company whaling fleet around Spitzbergen. In 1615 he was hired by the Company of Merchants of London, Discoverers of the North-West Passage' and sailed as pilot under Captain Robert Bylot, who explored Hudson Strait in search of a Northwest Passage. Baffin's surveys were found to be accurate, confirmed by the explorer Parry in 1821. Returning to the Hudson Strait in 1616 he passed west of Greenland up the Davis Strait, discovering the large bay now known as Baffin's Bay and reaching the furthest point in North America explored by a European until the voyage of Inglefield in 1852. Following his efforts to find a Northwest Passage, he served the East India Company as master's mate aboard the ship Anne Royal. His travels to India between 1617 and 1619 would result in his vaunted surveys of the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, and his superb map of the Mughal Empire produced in collaboration with Ambassador Sir Thomas Roe. In 1620, he sailed east again, taking part in a naval battle with a combined Portuguese and Dutch fleet which would see his captain killed. Baffin was shot and killed in 1622, as part of a joint effort with Persia to take Portuguese fortresses on Qeshm and Hormuz.

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