Henry Hudson's third voyage, 1609
The New World
Part 4 of 6
his second failure to find a passage, no English company is interested in
his continued quest. Hudson is miserable with his failure. Rev. Samuel
Purchas wrote he met with Hudson in the fall and found the explorer "sunk
into the lowest depths of the Humour of Melancholy, from which no man could
rouse him. It mattered not that his Perseverance and Industry had made
England the richer by his maps of the North. I told him he had created Fame
that would endure for all time, but he would not listen to me."
- Sometime in the autumn, Hudson is visited by Emmanuel van Meteran, former
Dutch Consul in London and English representative of the Dutch East India
Company. He also invited Hudson to dinner at the Dutch Consulate.
- September: (?) Hudson attends the christening of his granddaughter,
Alice (Oliver's daughter), at the church of St. Mary Aldermary, in London.
- November: The Consul presents Hudson with a letter indicating the
directors of the Dutch East India Company would like to meet him and would
pay his expenses to get to Holland. The Company which had a monopoly on
trade with the Orient but wanted to shorten the lengthy and expensive voyage
around the Cape of Good Hope.
- At first, the 17 Company directors were impressed by Hudson, but a few were
skeptical that he could find a passage. It had been more than 12 years since
a Dutch vessel attempted to find a passage through the northeast. The
powerful director de Moucheron wrote "Master Hudson's plans are not a
good investment for the Dutch East India Company." The skeptics managed
to get the others to agree to hold a full meeting of the board on March 25
to vote on the issue, but that would be too late for Hudson to outfit a
ship. So they paid Hudson for his trip to Amsterdam and dismissed him.
- Hudson turned to Dutch geographer Peter Plancius, and convinced him a
passage could be found to the northwest. Plancius favoured the northeast
route as more likely and they debated the merits of both many times,
becoming friends. Hudson drew freehand maps of his voyages for Plancius to
- In Holland, Hudson also met with Jodocus Hondius, an engraver. Hudson
helped Hondius create his famous map of the Far North. Hudson stayed at
Hondius' home in The Hague. According to Chamberlain, Hondius may have
warned Hudson that there was no passage to the northwest beacuse a relative
had explored the bay and found no exit.
- King Henry IV (Henry of Navarre) of France met with James Lemaire, a Dutch
navigator who was residing in Paris. Lemaire apparently knew Hudson and told
Henry he was the best man to lead France's northern voyages.
- Pierre Jeannin, French ambassador, was instructed by King Henry IV to meet
with Hudson in a secret interview. Hudson told him his needs, and in January
Jeannin reported back to his king in a letter, recommending France should
hire Hudson and search for a northwest passage. He wrote, "With regard
to the northern passage, your majesty might undertake the search openly, and
in your majesty's name, as a glorious enterprise."
- December 29: When they learned of Hudson's meeting with their
rivals, the French, the Company directors relented before the French could
make an offer. They decided to hire Hudson to look for a passage, but only
along the way of his last voyage (northeast).
- The DEIC sends Hudson a letter in The Hague, and requests him to return to
Amsterdam. Hudson replied he would do so after he celebrated the New Year.
- January 8: Hudson and the Dutch United East India Company sign
their contract for Hudson to search for a northeast passage. He will receive
800 guilders for leading the expedition; his wife will get 200 guilders,
more if he fails to return in a year. The Company also agreed to pay the
expenses of his family living in Amsterdam, during his absence, and
stipulates they must live in Holland without working for anyone but the Dutch
East India Company. It is unlikely Hudson intended to fulfill the terms of the
- Only two of the 17 directors signed the contract, which may have been done
to excuse the company of legal liability later, should Hudson fail. Or it
may have been done simply to prevent Hudson from entering another employ.
- Hudson spends the next three months outfitting the ship and working out
routes with Plancius. Since neither speaks the other's language, they
converse in Latin, an indication Hudson had some higher education.
- During this time, Hudson received a letter and a set of maps from his
friend Captain John Smith, of the English settlement of Jamestown in the
colony of Virginia. Smith has heard the Indians tell of a river - possibly a
sea - that opened to the west, possibly to the north in Canada, but he
didn't have the resources to explore it. Both Hudson and Plancius are
intrigued. Plancius gives Hudson George Weymouth's journal of his 1602
voyage, which had taken him 300 miles (100 leagues) into what Davis called the
- Possibly sensing Hudson's potential duplicity, just before he sailed, the
DEI Company amends the contract to define Hudson's goal: "To think of
discovering no other route or passage, except the route around the north or
northeast above Nova Zembla."
- It's been seven months since Hudson's last voyage. He had in his possession
a translation of a book written in 1560 by Greenlander Iver Boty, later
reprinted by Purchas in 1625. Richard Hakluyt also translated and published
the travels of Ferdinand de Soto in 1609.
- Hudson signed Robert Juet on again, as one of the mates (another was Dutch,
as was the b o'sun). Juet's journal survived and was published in 1625,
although it has several significant gaps in it.
- Hudson's son John is aboard again, on the manifest as a passenger. John
Coleman (Colman), mate on Hudson's first voyage, is also part of the crew,
as second mate.
- There was a crew of 20 selected, a mix of English and Dutch sailors, most
of whom don't speak the other's language. Hudson himself did not speak
Dutch. The Dutch crew are more used to sailing temperate and warm waters. In
a letter to his wife before the voyage, Coleman wrote of the Dutch sailors,
"I hope that these square-faced men know the sea. Looking at their fat
bellies, I fear they think more highly of eating than of sailing." Also
critical, Juet wrote, "They are an ugly lot."
- The director of the DEIC, Dirk Van Os, balked at paying Hudson's high crew
wages, but the contract is ambiguous as to who has the authority to hire and
set wages, so the directors capitulate. Director Isaac Le Maire, who had
supported Hudson, wrote to Van Os, asking, "If he rebels here, under
our eyes, what will he do when he is fairly away from us?"
- Juet will later claim the directors decided since Hudson exceeded their
budget, they would only give him an old, inferior ship rather than a new
one. The ship they select is the Half Moon, a cramped, ungainly 60-ton ship
that rode high in the water. La Maire, who complained of the choice, wrote "she
will prove difficult to handle in foul weather." When Hudson tried to
get another ship, the Van Os wrote to him "The Half Moon is the only
ship at the disposal of the Dutch East India Company... We can give you no
other ship. If you do not want the Half Moon, the Company will be obliged to
find another Captain to carry out this assignment."
- March: The directors write to Hudson, instructing him to sail "no
later than the fifteenth day of March." But yet Hudson delayed.
- 6: The Half Moon (Halve Maen in Dutch), an 80-ton ship, is
commissioned for the Dutch East India Company and sets sail. (Some accounts
suggest April 1). Since Hudson's logs were returned to Holland with the ship
after its return, the identity of the crew is not fully known. A few
fragments from Hudson's logs were published in 1625. The main record comes from
Juet's journal, published in England in 1625. Juet started his journal using
the Julian calendar (March 25 by 'the old account') but quickly switched to
the Gregorian calendar ('stilo novo') for May 5. England did not accept the
Gregorian calendar until 1752, at which point the new calendar added 14 days
to the Julian date.
- 8: Two days after they set sail, Half Moon clears the island of
Texel, and leaves all Dutch land behind. Hondius wrote to Plancius on this
day, saying, "I have heard that Hudson began his adventure two days
ago." Obviously Hudson's friends were not at the dock when he left, so
the start may have been inauspicious, without any of the usual ceremony and
- 5: Thirty miles off the North Cape.
- Mid-late May: The ship is blocked by bad weather and icy waters
along the north coast of Europe, near Norway. The crew is quarrelsome and
fights break out often between English and Dutch sailors.
- After contending for more than a fortnight with head winds, continual fogs,
and ice, Hudson finds it impossible to reach even the coast of Novaya
Zemlya, where he had been before.
mutiny or outbreak of the crew, possibly lead by Juet, breaks out. It may
also be led by the Dutch who are not used to sailing in the cold, stormy
Arctic waters and want to turn around.
- Hudson decided to change course and go to the New World. He shows the crew
the maps of John Smith and the crew agrees to head west towards North
America for warmer sailing. Hudson then sailed across Atlantic, but he
probably planned to look for a northwest passage all along, and may have
told some of the crew this when they rebelled.
- 19: The Half Moon doubled the North Cape again, and in a few days
saw a part of the western coast of Norway, in the latitude of 68 degrees. A
violent snowy storm blows them west for a few days, about 200 miles. From
this point Hudson sailed for the Faroe Islands, where he wanted to get fresh
water and supplies.
- 19: During stormy weather, Juet reports the sun "having a
slake," which some writers suggest meant he saw a sunspot. However,
this is unlikely without a telescope (a working telescope was not even made
until 1609, when Galileo built the first one), and he probably meant a
'slackening' or lowering of intensity due to cloud cover. The first sunspot
would not be reported until 1610, when Thomas Hariot recorded one on December 8.
- 26: Another violent storm, the worst of the voyage, rocks the ship.
- 29: Stop at the Faroe Islands for water. Hudson barters with local
natives for food.
- 2: Juet wrote the Half Moon sailed southwest to look for Busse
Island, discovered in 1578 by one of Frobisher's ships. But they never find
it - nor does anyone else. The island was never seen again and may have been
a mirage, a myth or a mistaken reading of the ship's position.
- 15: More storms beset the ship on her western passage. Her foremast
was swept overboard and her deck damaged.
- 19: A temporary mast and foresail are erected during a calm.
- 25: The crew spot another ship and attempt to catch her, chasing
her most of the day, probably hoping to capture her for booty. But the other
ship managed to outrun the clumsy Half Moon.
- 27: Another storm forces the ship south.
- 2: The Half Moon sounds the Grand Banks off Newfoundland.
- 3: They move south, where they spot a fleet of French fishing
vessels, but don't speak with them. The crew took soundings and caught
- 8: The Half Moon reaches Newfoundland and sails west-southwest.
- 12: Hudson sights the coast of North America, a "low white
- 13: Off Cape Sable, Nova Scotia.
- 14: Off Penobscot Bay, Maine. For three days the ship is trapped in
a deep fog, which lifts on the fourth day. The crew is able to go ashore
where they meet and trade with natives who offer them no harm.
- 17: The crew go ashore again to trade and meet the natives.
- 18: Anchor in George's Harbour. Hudson goes ashore, his first
landing in the New World.
- 19: Crew trade with natives. Juet wrote: "The people coming
aboard showed us great friendship, but we could not trust them." He
remained suspicious of the natives, despite no effort to do them harm. The
crew continued to trade with the natives for several days while they
remained at anchor, fixing their mast. They caught and cooked 31 lobster.
Hudson ate with his men at this feast, providing two jugs of wine from his
- 21-22: The crew cuts several spare masts and stores them in the
hold. On July 21, the ship's cat went crazy, upsetting the superstitious
crew. It "ran crying from one side of the ship to the other, looking
overboard. This made us wonder, but we saw nothing."
- 24: Juet wrote: "We kept a good watch for fear of being
betrayed by the people, and noticed where they kept their shallops."
The crew catch 20 "great cods and a great halibut" in nearby
- 25: Juet takes an armed crew of six men to the native village and
wrote in his journal "In the morning we manned our scute with four
muskets and six men, and took one of their shallops and brought it aboard.
Then we manned our boat and scute with twelve men and muskets, and two stone
pieces, or murderers, and drave the salvages from their houses, and took the
spoil of them, as they would have done us."
- The crew stole a boat that morning, then later in the evening, 12 armed
crew went back and drove the Indians away from their encampment, stealing
everything they can, on the pretense the natives would have done the same to
them. No one is punished for this act.
- 26: Fearful of an Indian counterattack, Hudson sails away at 5 a.m.
- 3: Hudson passes Cape Cod which he names "New Holland,"
until he realizes it is the land discovered by Capt. Gosnold in 1602. He
sails on and discovers Delaware Bay. The crew go ashore. Inexplicable events
such as the self-destruction of the native boat being towed behind the ship
convince the superstitious crew that the voyage is doomed to failure. The
men become surly and angry again.
- 4: The crew go ashore to trade with the "savages."
- Mid-August: After fair, hot weather for weeks, the Half Moon sails
south, not far from Jamestown, but Hudson makes no effort to visit his
- 17: Attempt to enter Chesapeake Bay but winds and rain keep the
ship out. They arrive at the mouth of the King's River, which leads to
- 19: The Half Moon heads north again, hugging the shoreline.
- 21: A severe storm tears the sails, but no other damage is
- 28: The lookout reports sighting a large bay, (Delaware Bay).
Hudson tries to navigate it, and sails about nine miles, but it becomes too
shallow and full of shoals. After a day, he gives up, goes back and heads
- 2: The lookout saw a "great fire" ashore on the highlands
of Navesink. Hudson anchors near what is now Sandy Hook.
- 3: He lifts anchor and sails into the bay, passing Staten and Coney
Islands by 3 p.m. He reached the mouth of a wide river (now Hudson River)
and decides to sail up it, hoping it will widen into a passage. This river
had been noted before by earlier explorers and was indicated on French maps
sent to Hudson earlier by Capt. John Smith as the "Grande River."
- An Italian, Giovanni da Verranzano, was the first recorded European to
discover the mouth of the river when he was sailing for the French in 1524.
He wrote, "We found a very pleasant situation amongst some steep hills
... ," but did not continue exploring what he called, "The River
of the Steep Hills" and the "Grand River." A Portuguese
explorer, Estevan Gomez, also arrived at the mouth of the river a few months
later in 1524. Gomez called it the Rio de San Antonio.
- Hudson claimed the area along the river for the Dutch, who had employed
him, and opened the land for settlers who would follow. His voyage came 10
years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock.
- Natives greet Hudson and give him his first taste of American corn, which
Hudson called 'Turkish wheat.'
- 5: Most of the crew go ashore. Natives give Hudson gifts of
tobacco. Hudson gives them knives and beads in return. He wrote they were "very
civil" but Juet wrote: "Though we rode quietly at anchor, we did
not trust them."
- 6: Hudson sends John Colman (Coleman) and four others to sound
another river, about 12 miles away. During the exploration along the journey
north, some of the crew were assaulted by natives in two canoes; one
contained twelve and the other fourteen. Colman, who had accompanied Hudson
on his first voyage, was killed by an arrow shot into his throat, and two
more were seriously wounded.
- 7: The dead were buried ashore the next day at a place they named
Colman's Point. The ship remained at anchor that night "keeping a
- 8: Trade with natives onboard Half Moon again. Juet records they
kept a careful watch to "see if they would show any sign of the death
of our man, which they did not."
- 9: Two "great canoes" full of natives come on board. Juet
writes: "in an attempt to deceive us, pretended interest in buying
knives. But we were aware of their intent and took two of them prisoners"
as insurance against further attack. The natives are dressed in red coats
from the crew's wardrobes.
- According to Vail, Hudson wrote, "Had they indicated by a cunning
light in their eyes that they had knowledge of the foul murder (of Sept. 6),
I was prepared to order my company to exterminate all without delay."
Another pair of natives were grabbed later, one was held captive, and the
other released. But the second one jumped overboard and escaped.
- 10: Hudson sets sail up the river.
- 11: Hudson sailed through the Narrows and anchored in New York Bay.
The first night he anchored off the northern tip of Manhattan.
- 12: A flotilla of 28 canoes, filled with men, women and children approach,
but, Juet wrote, "we saw the intent of their treachery and would not
allow any of them to come aboard." However, the crew bought food from
them. Hudson noted the natives used copper in their pipes and inferred there
was a natural source nearby.
- 13: After the crew traded for oysters with Native Americans, the
ship was near Yonkers.
- 14: Hudson thought he may have found the long-sought passage when
he saw the wide Tappan Zee, but when he reached the shallower area near
Albany, he realized his mistake. Juet wrote, "the 14th, in the morning,
being very fair weather, the wind southeast, we sailed up the river 12
leagues ... The river is full of fish."
- 15: The captive natives escape and swim ashore where they taunt the
crew. At night the crew find another native village with "a very loving
people and very old men and we were well taken care of."
- 17: The Half Moon runs aground, but is soon pulled free.
- 18: Hudson accepts an invitation from a chief to eat with him and
goes ashore. The natives "killed a fat dog and skinned it in great
haste" for dinner. Hudson is invited to stay overnight. Sensing his
discomfort, the natives break their arrows and throw them into the fire to
indicate their good intentions. But Hudson returns to the ship. He wrote, "The
land is the finest for cultivation that I ever in my life set foot upon."
- 19: Anchored near present-day Albany, where they trade with
- 20: The mate and four others took the ship's boat upriver to sound
for depth. They returned at night, with measurements of two fathoms about
six miles further, which deepened to six and seven past that.
- 21: The crew gets some natives drunk on wine and Aqua Vitae -"hooch"
from the Indian word "hoochenoo" for the hard liquor Hudson and
his crew plied them with. One passes out and sleeps aboard the ship. The
natives return the next day and are relieved to find him unharmed.
- 22: Another row boat sent out returns with the bad news: the river
gets shallower further ahead. They travelled about 24-27 miles and found the
water only seven feet deep. After sailing 240 km (150 miles) from the mouth
of the river, Hudson decides he must turn back.
- 23: Half Moon heads six miles back down river.
- 24: After wasting a day stranded on a shoal, the Half Moon gets
free and starts down river.
- 27: Half Moon runs aground again.
- Hudson called the river the "River of Mountains" although the
Native Americans, with whom the skipper and crew met, called it "Muhheakunnuk"
(great waters constantly in motion).
- 1: Near Peekskill, the ship stops and trades with natives. One
sneaks into Juet's cabin and steals some clothes and a pillow. The Dutch
mate discovers the theft and shoots the Indian, killing him. Another is
killed by the cook as he attempted to climb aboard. The other natives jump
overboard and flee, pursued by some of the crew. The Half Moon lifts anchor
and sails 6 miles before stopping for the night.
- 2: Twenty miles further, as the "Half Moon" neared
Manhattan (the river "Manna-hata"), about 100 natives ambushed the
Half Moon and chased it in their canoes. Both sides trade shots. Hudson
ordered guns to be fired at them. Several natives were killed, and the event
was remembered 15 years later when the Dutch came to settle in Manhattan in
- 4: Hudson returns to the mouth and leaves for Old World.
- The Dutch mate suggests they winter over in Newfoundland and continue to
explore for a passage the next year, but Hudson says no.
- 7: The Half Moon returns to Dartmouth after being away 7 1/2
months. Juet recorded in his journal, "by the grace of God we safely
arrived in the range of Dartmouth, in Devonshire."
- 8: less than 24 hours after landing, Hudson wrote to the directors
of the East India Company, recommending a trip to find a northwest passage
could begin around March 1, 1610. However, he wanted to rplace six or
seven of his crew for more tractable and docile members - giving his
employers onlyt the barest hint of the problems he had faced. The letter
took weeks to arrive, and while he waited, Hudson and the crew continued to
live aboard the Half Moon.
- When they received Hudson's letter, the directors sent for Hudson to bring
the Half Moon to Amsterdam immediately.
- Hudson, however, couldn't leave. An Order in Council censures Hudson for
'voyaging to the detriment of his country' and forbids him to undertake any
foreign service, and forbids correspondence with the East India Company.
This is unusual, because many mariners worked for countries other than their
own. Jealous English merchants may have been behind Hudson's arrest.
- In mid-December, the adventurers are escorted to London to appear before
the King, who was angry at Hudson. A guard is placed on Hudson's house and
he is under a form of house arrest.
- Hudson and the English members of his crew never returned to Amsterdam.
- July:After an exchange of notes between England and Holland, the
remaining Dutch crew sailed the Half Moon to Holland, with Hudson's charts
and logbooks. Vail says this was in mid-December, 1609 but that was too soon
for the exchange of mail in those days. She was put back into service the
following spring under the command of Laurens Reael, but sank in 1616 or
1618. A replica was built in Holland in 1909 but was destroyed by fire in
1934. Another was built in Albany, in 1989.
- Dutch historian Hessel Gerritz wrote that many in Holland believed Hudson
"purposely missed the correct route to the western passage" because
he was "unwilling to benefit Holland and the directors... by such a
discovery." Some historians believe Hudson was secretly working for the
English, to get the information at the cost of the Dutch, but his treatment
by the court on his return suggests otherwise.
- Dutch historian Emmanuel Van Meteran's book, Historie der Nederlanden
says a mutiny took place on Hudson's 1609 voyage, originating in quarrels
between Dutch and English sailors. Van Meteran was the Dutch counsel in
London when Hudson returned, and had access to Hudson's journals, charts and
logbooks at the time.
- Juet's journal of the voyage was published in Purchas His Pilgrims.
Portions of Hudson's journal of the voyage were published in John De Laet's
history, Nieuwe Werelt.
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