Henry Hudson, Explorer and Adventurer

Part 1 of 6

Henry HudsonThis is a collection of data about, and a chronology of the life and voyages of English explorer, mariner and adventurer, Henry Hudson, as well as some additional notes on his times, contemporaries and his crew.

Not much is known for certain about Hudson's life or any of his voyages before 1607. He must have learned his craft and skills by travelling with contemporary seafarers, probably British mariners (possibly even sailing with John Davis on one his voyages to the Arctic) because by the time of his first recorded voyage, he was a captain. His contributions to the exploration of the world as it was then known have generally been understated by modern sources, and overshadowed by greater exploits of his contemporaries. No contemporary painting or portrait of Henry Hudson has ever been found and even the oldest we have were painted after his death by people who probably based their artwork solely on a description.

Hudson was the architect of his own fateful tragedy that led to the mutiny in 1611. Obsessed by the vision of a northwest passage, he often ignored everything around him in his quest to find it. That included his crew. Almost every voyage indicated some form of crew uprising or mutiny. Hudson appeared weak and vacillated between appeasement and force when dealing with crew, seldom disciplining them when or as required, often showing favouritism to some members at the expense of the others (and of his own authority). When he did attempt to exercise his authority, it came out in petty, small ways and created a greater divide between himself and his crew. His attempt to show leniency to mutinous crew in Ungava Bay only led to further abuses and ultimately his demise. He appeared unable to manage his men in times of stress.

Hudson today is mostly known for a few place names in the atlas which indicate where he travelled. But his voyage of 1607 cast him in the role of the father of the whaling industry in the 17th century. His reports led to the wholesale slaughter of these gentle mammals over the next four centuries. The same fate was in store for the walrus he reported on journeys north. A more enlightened present may look on whaling and hunting walrus as ignoble and savage, but in Hudson's day they were important industries.

Note: Spelling in the 17th century was seldom consistent. Alternate spellings of names and places are given in parentheses.

Personal data:

Hudson's life:

Family data:

His wife, Katherine:

His children:

Father, grandfather and other family:

Hudson's brothers:

Hudson's friends and sources:

Contemporary history before 1607:

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