Pinzon, the name of a family of wealthy and daring navigators, of the port of Palos de Moguer in Andalusia, three members of which were intimately associated with Columbus in his discovery of America.
Martin Alonso, the head of the family at that time, offered to afford the means for Columbus to renew his application to the court. When the latter had obtained the royal order to fit out three vessels for the voyage, it was principally through the influence of the Pinzons that crews could be collected for them. Martin Alonso commanded the Pinta on this voyage. In the subsequent cruising in search of the imaginary island of Babeque, he deserted Columbus in the latter part of November, 1492, and went in search of it himself. He stopped at a river in Hispaniola (Hayti), now called Porto Oaballo, but which for a long time was designated as the river of Martin Alonso. From here he carried off four men and two girls with the intention of selling them in Spain as slaves, but was afterward forced to restore them to their home by Columbus, with whom he fell in during the following January, attributing his parting company with the admiral to stress of weather. On the return voyage they were again separated by a storm, and Pinzon was driven into the port of Bayonne. Not doubting that 'Columbus had perished in the tempest, he wrote to the sovereigns, giving information of the discovery, and asking permission to come to court and deliver his account in person.
He arrived in Palos on the evening of the same day with the admiral, 'and found that the latter had had a triumphant reception. He landed in private, and received not long after a letter from his sovereign forbidding him to appear at court. Soon after he died.
Vicente Yafiez, who had commanded the Nina in the first expedition of Columbus, in consequence of the general license given by the Spanish sovereigns to make voyages of discovery, fitted out an armament of four caravels, manned principally by his friends and relatives, and on Nov. 13, 1499, sailed S. W. from Palos. After going about 700 leagues, he crossed the equinoctial line and lost sight of the north star. On Jan. 28, 1500, land was descried; it was Cape St. Augustine. Pinzon was thus the first European to cross the equator in the western ocean, and the first discoverer of Brazil. He took formal possession of the country for the Castilian crown; but being resolutely met by warlike natives, he sailed N. W., and reached the mouth of the Amazon. Pursuing his course, he passed the mouth of the Orinoco, and in the latter part of June reached Hispaniola. In July two of the caravels were sunk with their crews in a terrific hurricane. Pinzon arrived in Palos about the end of September, after a disastrous voyage, which had swallowed up all his fortune. On Sept. 5, 1501, royal permission was given him to colonize and govern all the country he had discovered from Cape St. Augustine to a little north of the Amazon, but he never availed himself of the grant.
In 1506, and again in 1508, he started jointly with Juan Diaz de So-lis on voyages to discover a passage from the Atlantic to a southern ocean, discovering Yucatan in the former, voyage, and advancing as far as the 40th degree of S. latitude in the latter.