Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Best, George

BEST, GEORGE (d. 1584?), navigator, accompanied Martin Frobisher in the three voyages undertaken (in 1576, 1577, and 1578) to discover the North-west Passage and published, on the return from the third voyage in 1578, 'A Trve Discovrse of the late voyages of discouerie, for the finding of a passage to Cathaya, by the Northweast, vnder the conduct of Martin Frobisher, generall : deuided into three Bookes. In the first whereof is shewed his first voyage. Wherein also by the way is sette out a geographicall description of the worlde and what partes thereof haue bin discouered by the Nauigations of the Englishmen. Also there are annexed certayne reasons to prone all partes of the Worlde habitable, with a generall Mappe adioyned. In the second is set out his second voyage, with the aduentures and accidents thereof. In the thirde is declared the strange fortunes which hapned in the third, with a seuerall description of the Countrey and the people there inhabiting. With a particular Card therevnto adioyned of Meta incognita, so farre forth as the secretes of the voyage may permit. At London, Imprinted by Henry Bynnyman, seruant of the Right Honourable Sir Christopher Hatton, Vizchamberlain, Anno Domini 1578,' 4to, black letter. The book, which is of the highest rarity, is dedicated to Sir Christopher Hatton. In the third voyage the fleet consisted of seventeen ships. Best was captain of the Jane Anne. The adventures through which the voyagers passed are described graphically and quaintly. At the time of its publication the narrative attracted much attention. A French translation appeared in the same year, under the title of 'La Navigation du Cap. Martin Frobisher Anglois es regions de west et nordwest en 1'annee 1577. Pour Antoine Chuppen,' 8vo. In 1580 a Latin translation (from the French) of the account of the second voyage was published at Norenberg. Two years later an Italian version appeared at Naples. A second Latin translation (from the French) was issued nearly a century afterwards, in 1675, at Hamburg. Best's narrative was included in the third volume of Hakluyt's 'Voyages,' 1600, and was reprinted in 1867 by the Hakluyt Society. A George Best, servant to Sir Christopher Hatton, was killed in a duel, about March 1583-4, by Oliver St. John, afterwards Viscount Grandison. This person is doubtless to be identified with the writer of the 'Trve Discovrse.' Another George Best, fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge, was instituted to the vicarage of All Saints, Cambridge, in 1572, and to the rectory of St. Dunstan-in-the-East, London, in 1596. He died in November 1609. (see Athenæ Cantabrigienses, ii. 524, where it is wrongly stated that he was perhaps the author of 'Beware the Cat,' which certainly belongs to William Baldwin [q. v.]).

[A Trve Discovrse of the late Voyages of Discouerie, &c. edited by Rear-admiral Richard Collinson, Hakluyt Society's Publications, 1867; Nicolas's Hatton, 366; Herbert's Ames, 982.]

A. H. B.