Willem Cornelisz Schouten

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Willem Cornelisz Schouten (fl. 1590-1618) was a Dutch East India Company captain who is credited with naming Cape Horn, the most southerly point of the continent of South America.[1]

In 1615 he sailed as pilot under Jacob la Maire in an expedition to find an easier sea-route between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans than through the tortuous and treacherous Strait of Magellan. (Usually the Dutch had used the west-to-east route from Europe to the Indies). In January 1616 they sailed south of the eastern end of the Strait, and around the island of Tierra Del Fuego,. The passage between eastern Tierra del Fuego and what is now the island of los Estados (then named Staten Is.) was named after la Maire, and the cape at the southernmost tip of the islands below Tierra del Fuego was named after Schouten’s home city of Hoorn.[1]

The expedition continued to the East Indies, discovering very little to add to existing knowledge of the Pacific. Little else is known of Schouten except that he had sailed three times to the Indies, was an experienced and capable commander and a well known and well thought of navigator and successful merchant.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "The Oxford Encyclopedia of Maritime History", Vol 1.