Sir James Lancaster
James Lancaster lived in the 16th century, he was a well known seaman and one of
Basingstoke's most popular men. He was born in Basingstoke and when he grew old
enough he became a soldier and traveled to Portugal, and later to the East
Indies where he was involved in some dangerous incidents on the West Indies
He returned to England in 1594 and in the autumn of that year he set out again
for the Portuguese mainland, where he had many skirmishes with foreign pirates.
In 1599 a group of London merchants wanted to set up trade routes with the East
Indies, and Captain James Lancaster was made General of the Fleet. In February
1600 the fleet set off and after three years, and many adventures too numerous
to mention here, the ships returned and the foundation of the trade route
between Britain and the East Indies were laid.
James Lancaster was knighted for his work and he continued in the company until
he died in June 1618. Sir James had a estate in Lincolnshire which, when he
died, he left to the Basingstoke Corporation. The farmhouse of the estate has a
plaque set into the wall informing visitors that the land belongs to Basingstoke. Lancaster's name is also commemorated for his voyages around the
North West of Canada, with a channel being called Lancaster Sound.