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Thursday, February 9, 2023

Maritime Logistics Professional

Henry Hudson

Posted to Maritime Musings (by on November 22, 2011

Rising from obscurity, he commanded four historic voyages, the last ending in his death

Little is known of Henry Hudson prior to 1607, when he was hired by the Muscovy Company of the Kingdom of England to find a northern route to the Far East.  He and a crew of ten sailed on the 80-ton Hopewell.  They reached the east coast of Greenland and traveled north to the ice pack.  Turning east, they reached the Svalbard Archipelago, reporting the presence of many whales.  The Muscovy Company sent him out again the next year, this time to try the fabled Northeast Passage across the top of Russia.  He got as far as Novaya Zemlya before being forced back by heavy ice.  In 1609, he hired himself out to the Dutch East India Company, which provided him with the ship Halve Maen (Half Moon) to make another attempt through the Northeast Passage.  This attempt to proceed east was less successful than the year before, with the voyage being halted somewhat just east of Murmansk.  Rather than admit defeat, Hudson decided to try to reach Asia from the west.  He crossed the Atlantic south of Greenland and landed in Nova Scotia.  He sailed as far south as Chesapeake Bay before turning north.  He noted, but did not enter Delaware Bay.  On September 3, 1609, the Halve Maen entered New York Bay (discovered by Verrazzano in 1524).  Hudson discovered what he called the North River and sailed as far as present-day Albany.  During this exploration, a hostile encounter with the local inhabitants left one of his crew dead, with an arrow through the neck.  This voyage provided the basis for later Dutch claims to the area, with the establishment of a trading post in Albany in 1614 and the founding of New Amsterdam on Manhattan Island in 1625.  Hudson’s discoveries proved to be of sufficient value that his employers disregarded his disobedience of orders.  The next year (1610), Hudson went back to work for his English homeland.  He was hired by the Virginia Company and the British East India Company to search again for the Northwest Passage, this time in command of the ship Discovery.  After rounding the southern tip of Greenland, the ship entered what is now known as the Hudson Strait.  This led to a large body of water, now called Hudson Bay.  Exploring there and James Bay to the south, the ship was beset in the ice for the winter of 1610-1611.  As the ice broke up in the spring, Hudson insisted on continuing the search for a passage to Asia.  Most of the crew, though, were opposed.  Eventually, the crew mutinied.  Henry Hudson, his son, and several crew members were forced into a small open boat and the mutineers sailed away in the Discovery.  Hudson was never found.  Only eight of the crew survived the return to England, where they blamed the mutiny on several now-deceased mariners.  The survivors were charged with murder of Henry Hudson, his son, the abandoned crew members, but eventually acquitted.   The voyage, though, provided the foundation of British claims to what is now northern Canada.

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