DENYS, JEAN, a captain from Honfleur in Normandy; made a fishing trip to the coasts of America in 1506 with the pilot Gamard.
Denys is the first French sailor whose name is known to us after the expeditions to the New World made by unnamed Bretons as early as 1504. It is likely that he subsequently stopped over on occasion in Newfoundland, one of the ports of which bore the name “Le Hâvre de Jean Denys” (Jean Denys’s Harbour); called Rognoust by the Basques, its name has now become Renews. It has been claimed that he made maps of the American coasts; indeed, a map entitled “Mouth of the St. Lawrence” is attributed to him. It can confidently be stated that this is a wrong attribution; the outline includes 17th-century names. Furthermore, French cartography had not yet come into existence in Denys’s time.
JR (Thwaites), III, 21–283, IV, 7–117, Father Biard’s Relation of 1616. Memorials of the English and French commissaries, I, 104. G. B. Ramusio, Terzo volume delle navigationi et viaggi . . . (1st ed., Venetia, 1556). Anthiaume, Cartes marines. Henry Harrisse, Découverte et évolution cartographique de Terre-Neuve et des pays circonvoisins, 1497, 1501, 1769 (Paris, 1900). Louis Legendre, Vie du cardinal d’Amboise (Rouen, 1724). Sixteenth-century maps relating to Canada: a check-list and bibliography, ed. T. E. Layng (PAC pub., 1956).