ECHEVETE, MATIAS DE, reputed to be the first Spaniard to reach Newfoundland; b. c. 1525; d. 1599, aged 74.
According to the testimony of his son early in the 17th century, Matias was in Newfoundland when he was 15 years old, serving as carpenter on a French ship from Saint-Jean-de-Luz. The date given in the testimony is 1545; but it must be an error, since Echevete was then 20 years old and not 15. We know moreover that in 1541–42 several Spanish vessels went to Newfoundland, since some of the crew members, upon their return, gave information to the Spanish authorities on the whereabouts of Cartier and Jean-François La Rocque de Roberval. It also seems unlikely that Matias de Echevete was the first Spaniard to reach Newfoundland, for as early as 1527 Spanish fishing vessels were found in Newfoundland waters by the John Rut expedition. According to his son’s testimony, Matias de Echevete made 28 voyages to Newfoundland as carpenter and as pilot.