Spanish discoverer of Chesapeake Bay, and the first of those daring navigators who tried to find a northwest passage from Europe to Asia, date of birth uncertain; died 18 October, 1526. He was a member of the Superior Council in San Domingo. He sent an expedition to Florida under Francisco Gordillo, who, in June, 1521, landed in lat. 33 deg, 31', somewhere near Cape Fear in North Carolina. In quest of the Northwest passage, Ayllon came up from Hispaniola in 1524, and tried the James River and Chesapeake Bay. He received from Charles V a grant of the land he had discovered, and, in 1526, founded the settlement of San Miguel de Guandape, not far from the site of the city of Jamestown, built by the English fully eighty years later. The employment of negro slaves in this work is perhaps the first instance of negro slave-labour within the present territory of the United States. Ayllon died of ship fever, and of the colony of 600 souls he had brought with him only 150 survivors made their way back to Hispaniola.
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