On March 5, 1496, King Henry VII of England issued letters to Cabot authorizing him to voyage in search of unknown lands, to return his merchandise by the port of Bristol, and to enjoy a monopoly of any trade they might establish there.
In May 1497, he set sail from Bristol in the small ship Matthew, with a crew of 18 men. He sailed Ireland and then north and west, making landfall on the morning of June 24. The exact landing place has never been known its been believed to be in Cape Breton Island. The Cape Breton landfall may also be supported Sebastian Cabot' [John Cabot’s son] map made in 1544.
On going ashore, he noticed signs indicating that the area was inhabited but saw no people. He took possession of the land for King Henry the VII. He conducted explorations from the ship along the coastline, naming various features Cape Discovery, Island of St. John, St. George's Cape, the Trinity Islands, and England's Cape.
In the mistaken belief that he had reached the northeast coast of Asia, Cabot returned to Bristol on Aug. 6, 1497. He reported that the land was excellent, the climate temperate, and the sea covered with enough fish to feed England for a long time. In the midst of an excited welcome, he announced his plans to return to his landing place and from their sail westward until he came to Japan.
John Cabot was born in Genoa, Italy in 1455 according to old papers about his family. In about 1482 Cabot married a woman from Venetian named Mattea. They had three sons: Ludovico, Sabastiano, and Sancio. Cabot, a merchant like his father traded spices in ports along the eastern Mediterranean. This is how he became an expert mariner. In 1490 Cabot and his family moved to Valencia in Spain. In 1494 or 1495 Cabot and his family moved to England and settled in the port of Bristol. This is where he left
from when he went on his voyage to the new world.