The aftermath of Hudson's voyages
and related notes
Part 6 of 6
No one knows what happened to Henry Hudson and his shipmates after the crew aboard
Discovery lost sight of them on that cold morning in June, 1611. They were never found by
subsequent rescue missions, nor was any trace found to identify them as having survived in
that harsh land.
Possibly they died in that boat on the water, of cold and hunger. Several were already
sick when they were abandoned. Possibly they made their way to the shore, to set up camp
and await the rescuers they knew would be sent from England to find them. In 1631, Capt.
Thomas James found the remains of what may have been a shelter erected on Danby Island.
During the expedition of 1668-70, Capt. Zachariah Gillian found similar remains supposedly
left from an English crew 60 years earlier. But the evidence however tantalizing is
inconclusive. Hudson and his abandoned crew vanished from history.
They had few tools and were ill-equipped to survive another winter in that land. They
may have met with natives and traded for necessary supplies and food. They might have even
been allowed to join a band and could survive today in the genes of modern natives. But
Hudson had not shown any qualities that would have endeared him to the natives in the
past, and there is little to suggest the natives would have felt any sympathy for any of
However, two legends survive that may cast some light on their fate. One story tells of
an Inuit band which found a small boat on the water, filled with dead white men, and a
single survivor, a white boy - John Hudson? The Inuit didn't know what to do with the boy,
so they tied him outside their huts, with their dogs. No more is known about his fate.
Crew of the Discovery:
||Captain, Master, arms pinioned (tied) when put into boat.
||Ship's boy, Henry's son, called Jack. This was his third voyage with
||(Henry King) Mate. Previously quartermaster, appointed by Hudson
over Juet during the previous winter. King could neither read nor write. See note on
||(Wydowse) Scholar & mathematician, recommended by Sir Dudley.
When thrust out of the ship, he begged the mutineers to take his keys and share his
belongings to save his life. he was possibly son of Richard Widowes, goldsmith, named in
the second charter of the Virginia Company. Sick at the time of the mutiny. He was
"put away in great distress" according to Prickett.
||(Ladley, Ludlowe) Seaman *
||(Bute, Buche) Seaman (sick), married
||(Adrian or Adam Moore) Seaman (sick, apparently since the start of
||Seaman (sick), married, from Ipswich. Lame at the time of the
||(Stacie) A carpenter from Ipswich. He chose to accompany Hudson in
the shallop. He took his chest with him, plus fowling piece, powder & shot, pikes
& iron pot. Prickett said Greene wanted to put Staffe in the boat because "the
master loved him and made him his mate," but he probably meant John King.*
|Those who remained
||(Ivett) Mate, Hudson's "evil genius." He dies of
"mere want" on the voyage (the only one to die of starvation). He had threatened
earlier to turn the head of the ship home and persuades the crew at that time to keep
muskets charged and swords ready in their cabins in an early attempt at mutiny. Described
by Llewellyn Powys as "an elderly man, cynical, skeptical and dangerous." *!+
||Boatswain, used "ugly words and worse actions." He was
wounded in bowels by Eskimo on Digge's Island, and died that day "cursing and
swearing in a most fearful manner." Wilson pinioned Henry Hudson's arms behind him
and "basely carried himself to our Master and the action." !+
||(Robart Billet, Blythe) Leading seaman, and a trained and competent
navigator from the Precinct of St Katherine's. He replaced Juet as navigator on the
return. He joined the mutiny because he "honestly respected the good of the
action." He would later serve or lead three more expeditions to the Arctic, in two as
captain of the Discovery.#
||Surgeon, 22 at the time of the mutiny.
||Landsman, servant or valet of Sir Dudley Digges, and former
haberdasher. Captain Luke Foxe, who met Prickett, wrote of him, "I am in great doubt
of thy fidelity to master Hudson." #
||(Mathews or Matthews) Cook and Landsman. In the employ of Lady Smith
before the voyage and vouched for by Sir Thomas. He jumped on Hudson during the mutiny.
Called "our trumpet" by Prickett because he called out the captain's orders to
||(Silvanus) Cooper, from London, spent most of his adult life before
||Seaman. Wounded in the bowels by Eskimo on Digge's Island, he died
that day. He was described by Prickett with Perse as "birds of a feather." He
jumped on Henry Hudson in the mutiny. +
||(Clemence or Clemens) Seaman (former boatswain, displaced by Wm.
Wilson), from Wapping.
||(Michell Peerce or Pearce) Seaman. He was wounded by arrow from
Eskimo, Digge's Island, and died two days later. *+
||(Simms) Ship's boy, from Wapping.
||Picked up in Gravesend (when Colebourne was let off with a letter).
He had family in Kent, and was the son of a gentleman farmer. He stayed at Hudson's London
home before the voyage. He was a gambler and troublemaker, but had been promised a post
with Prince Henry's guard when he returned to England. He was a firebrand who, with Juet,
stirred up the crew to mutiny. He (or possibly Bylot) took a ring out of Henry Hudson's
pocket before putting him in the boat. Greene took over as captain on the voyage home. He
was killed by an Eskimo arrow while fleeing Digge's Island, and his body dropped into the
sea. Bylot testified Greene and "two or three others" wanted to turn pirate,
which Bylot said be believed they "would have done if they had lived." !+
||(Mutter, Mowter) Appointed boatswain's mate by Henry Hudson, from
Middlesex. rated an able-bodied seaman, he carried letters of recommendation that were
||(Colebert or Coolbrand): Served under Weymouth previously. Placed in
ship's company by the adventurers (merchants) as Hudson's 'advisor.' On April 22, 1610
Hudson wrote: "I caused Master Coleburne to be put into a pinke bound for
London" with no record of reason. In 1631, Luke 'North West' Foxe wrote
"Coleburne was a better man than Hudson" and made the unlikely claim it was
Coleburne's idea to hunt for a passage at 61°.
||Gunner, died during the winter in James Bay. ++
||Sailed with Hudson previously.
||Listed as one of 288 (88?) members of the "Discoverers of the
Northwest Passage" trading company after they returned.
||Main conspirators in the mutiny.
||Died on the way home, 1611.
||Died before the mutiny in 1611.
||Alternate spellings of names in parentheses.
Crew sleeping arrangements
on the Discovery
Bow at this end, port (larboard) to left
sleeping in pairs:
- Only the surgeon, Edward Wilson's. deposition is taken by the Admiralty. The rest will
wait until 1616 or 1617 before their statements are taken.
- Hudson's chart arouses excitement in London. It showed only the eastern shore of the
Bay, with only an unterminated peninsula to the west. Merchants were convinced the
Northwest Passage had been found.
- Nicolas de Vignau, an adventurer with Samuel de Champlain in New France, volunteered to
join the Indians (Algonquin) on their homeward journey north, and winter among them. He
left in the Algonquin canoes, passed up the Ottawa River, and was not seen again for
- First British envoy to the Great Moghul.
- James Hall and William Baffin, in the Patience and Heart's Ease, explore the west coast
of Greenland in search of the Northwest Passage.
- July 26: King James I provides a charter to some merchants to establish a trade
route by the northwest passage.
- England colonizes Bermuda.
- Nicolas de Vignau returned to Paris, bringing a tale of wonders. Champlain said,
"he was the most impudent liar that has been seen for many a day." Vignau swore
that at the sources of the Ottawa River, he had found a great lake; that he had crossed
it, and discovered a river flowing northward. He said he had descended this river, and
reached the shores of the sea; that here he had seen the wreck of an English ship, whose
crew, escaping to land, had been killed by the Indians; and that this sea was distant from
Montreal only seventeen days by canoe. The clearness, consistency, and apparent simplicity
of his story deceived Champlain, who had heard of a voyage of the English to the northern
seas, coupled with rumors of wreck and disaster (Hudson's voyage). He believed Vignau's
story, as did many prominent French nobles and merchants. The Maréchal de Brissac, the
President Jeannin, and other persons of eminence about the court urged Champlain to follow
up without delay.Champlain, with the Pacific, Japan, China, the Spice Islands, and India
stretching in flattering vista before his fancy, entered with eagerness on the chase of
this illusion. (Reported in Compare Jérmie, Relation, in Recueil de Voyages au Nord, VI)
- Dutch historian Hessel Gerritz writes that many in Holland believed Hudson
"purposely missed the correct route to the western passage" in 1609 because he
was "unwilling to benefit Holland and the directors... by such a discovery."
- A journal is published, supposedly written by Henry Hudson, chronicling his voyage in
1587 as mate with John Davis. Many contemporaries think his son, Oliver, wrote it.
Hakluyt's reprint of the log was written by John Jones, and notes John Churchyard as pilot
and a Master Bruton.
- May: Discovery and Resolution, with a crew of 160 men, were sent
out by the Prince of Wales and directors of the Muscovy Company, under command of Capt.
Thomas Button (a gentleman of Prince Henry's Household), set out to search for the
Northwest Passage, and search for any survivors. Three former members of Hudson's crew,
Prickett, Bylot and Edward Wilson, were aboard. Button crosses Hudson Bay and winters at
the mouth of the Nelson River. Five men died on Digges Island. Expecting to find a
passage, Button carried a letter from King James addressed to the emperor of Japan. Some
sources (Johnson) put this voyage in the spring of 1613. The Bay was first named
"Button's Bay" after Capt. Button, but later officially named Hudson (not
Hudson's) Bay. Nothing in the log of that voyage shows the ship ever searched for
Hudson or the abandoned crew at the bottom of the bay.
- Prince Henry dies at age 18.
- Benjamin Joseph and William Baffin, with seven ships, search for the Northeast Passage.
- Early in the spring, Champlain crossed the Atlantic, and sailed up the St. Lawrence. On
May 27, he Montreal with four Frenchmen, one of whom was Nicolas de Vignau, and one
Indian, in two small canoes, searching for Vignau's "sea.". They passed the
swift current at St. Ann's, crossed the Lake of Two Mountains, and advanced up the Ottawa
till the rapids of Carillon and the Long Saut (Sault?) checked their course.
- British settlement permitted at Surat, India.
- Benjamin Joseph and William Baffin, with a fleet of thirteen ships, search for the
- William Gibbons, in the Discovery, intends to search for the Northwest Passage through
Hudson Bay, but is blocked by ice.
- Dutch historian Emmanuel Van Meteran's book, Historie der Nederlanden wrote that
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.
- Katherine Hudson, Henry's widow, applies to the East India Company for employment for
Richard, one of her remaining sons.
- William Baffin sets out to explore a northwest passage on Discovery. This time
Robert Bylot serves as captain. Baffin explores the entrance to Hudson Strait.
- The Dutch settle on Manhattan Island.
- Bylot, now captain of the Discovery, finds and explores Baffin Bay. He names it after
his first mate, William Baffin, because his disgrace with being part of the mutiny won't
allow him the honour of having his name used in a discovery. Discovery explores Smith
Sound, Jones Sound and Lancaster Sound.
- Bylot made four voyages to the Arctic, Discovery was used in a total of six.
- The Admiralty takes statements from Prickett and Bylot.
- The Half Moon was last heard of from off the Island of Sumatra. She was wrecked this
year on the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean while on a voyage to the Dutch East
Indies, although other sources say she was burned with other Dutch ships off Jakarta in
- Richard Hakluyt dies.
- The Admiralty takes a statement from Clements.
- Baffin ended the speculation about a possible northwest passage, writing "There is
no hope of a passage to the east from Hudson Bay."
- July 23,24: Abacuck Prickett, Edward Wilson, Bennet Matheus (Matthews) and Francis
Clements appeared in Southwark to stand trial for their piracy. Nicolas Simms was excused
because he was a minor at the time of the mutiny. Three other survivors had died in the
- According to Admiralty documents, the mutineers claimed Wilson and Greene first only
wanted at first to take the shallop and flee, taking care of themselves. But later they
resolved to take the entire ship.
- Edward Wilson said the mutineers first put the others in the shallop only while they
found and divided the 'hidden' food, but later "would not suffer them to come back
again into the ship."
- Clements charged Hudson was hoarding food and giving it to his favourites in his cabin,
including Edward Wilson.
- The jury gave the conspirators "not guilty" on charges of "the ejection
of Henry Hudson and John Hudson and others from the ship Discovery in a boat without food
or drink and other necessities and the murder of the same" and "fleeing from
justice" or for putting Henry Hudson, Master of the Discovery "out of the same
ship with eight more of his company into a shallop in the Isle of America without meat,
drink, or other provision; whereby they died."
- Greene got most of the blame, along with Juet and William Wilson - all conveniently
- Two Danish ships, the Unicorn and Lamprey, manned with a crew of 68 (65?)
attempt to find a northwest passage. They over-winter at the mouth of the Churchill River.
All but three of the two crews die of cold and scurvy (although trichinosis from
poorly-cooked pork has also been blamed). Danish pathfinder Jens Munk, was among them and
survived, helping return Lamprey home, a voyage of 3,500 miles. His journal was published
- William Hawkridge, with two ships, enters Hudson Strait to search for the Northwest
- Juet's journal of the 1609 voyage was published in Purchas His Pilgrims. Portions
of Hudson's journal of the same voyage were published in John De Laet's history, Nieuwe
- Two independent captains, Luke 'Northwest' Foxe and Thomas James (backed by Bristol
merchants), set out from England to make another effort to find the passage. They meet by
coincidence in Hudson Bay.
- Foxe, aboard the Charles, was returning home, disillusioned, having explored Hudson Bay.
- James, aboard the Henrietta Maria, was just starting to explore. He was carrying a
letter from King Charles I to the emperor of Japan. He over-wintered on Charles Island in
James Bay and also returned home without finding a route.
- During the winter, James found a row of sharpened stakes on Danby Island, possibly
remnants from Staffe's house or from the efforts of the abandoned crew later.
- A voyage funded by the Hudson's Bay Company sets out with the Nonsuch and Eaglet.
- Capt Zachariah Gillian, master of the ketch Nonsuch, constructs Fort Charles, a trading
site, on the shore of James Bay, near the mouth of the Rupert River, on the ruins of a
house supposedly built there 60 years before by the English, widely believed to be the
remains of one built by Staffe for the wintering in 1610-11, or possibly made after the
abandoned crew made landfall.
- Pierre-Esprit Radisson and Medard Chouart Sieur de Groseillers - Courier
de Bois - were aboard the ships, Radisson sailing with Capt. William Stannard aboard the
Eaglet, Groseillers aboard the Nonsuch. The Eaglet was forced to turn back by a violent
storm, and the Nonsuch went on into James Bay.
- After wintering over, the Nonsuch returned home the next year, with many pelts.
- James Knight, with the ships Albany and Discovery (Hudson's former ship), attempts to
take refuge on Marble Island in Hudson Bay when the ships are damaged. After two winters,
there are no survivors. Presumably, they all starved.
- Hudson's logs from his third voyage (1609) were probably among the property of the Dutch
East and West India Companies, sold at auction by the Dutch government in 1821. The New
York State Legislature attempted to find them in 1841. Their agent, John Romeyn Brodhead,
wrote, " ... the papers of the West India Company relating to New Netherlands ... are
now irrecoverably lost." One excerpt was published in 1625. In it, Hudson wrote about
the area, "It is as pleasant a land as one can tread upon."
- Bantam was a common name for Java.
- Boys served on ships as cabin boys until age 16, paid only in food. After that they
serve as apprentices for sevem years to learn the art of sailing and, eventually become
ranked as a 'seaman'.
- 1607: Captain John Smith first encounters Iroquois in Chesapeake Bay.
- 1608: Champlain founds the first permanent European settlement in the New World:
Quebec. Jamestown is founded, the first permanent English colony in New World.
- Scurvy: gums swell and turn black, teeth loosen and fall out, rheumatism, lethargy sets
- Ship's watch was changed every 4 hours.
- Ship's punishments: flogging, hanging, 3 knocks on head by bo'sun's club (for swearing).
- Daily rations: 1lb biscuit/man. Four days/week: 1 lb salt beef or salt pork plus handful
of peas. Two days/week: salt cod instead of meat. Friday: 1/2 lb cheese, sometimes small
portion of butter or spoonful of olive oil. Food was eaten uncooked if no galley fire was
lit (due to bad weather).
- Midday: captain checks ship's location with astrolabe, if sun visible, calculates
latitude with help of tables. Observations are checked by mate using ship's cross staff
(less accurate). Speed is checked with knotted rope and log thrown out behind ship, for
duration of upturned sand-glass.
- The Dutch returned to the area of Hudson's discoveries in what is now New York
and established a colony a few years after the 1609 voyage. In 1621, a West India Company
was formed to trade in the New World. In 1626, Peter Minuit purchased the island of
Manhattan from the natives and made it the capital of the company's properties. In 1647,
Peter Stuyvesant arrived there as Director-General and laid the foundations for New
Amsterdam, now New York.
- Ungava means "Faraway"
- Cree: contraction of Kristinaux, French form of Kenistenoag. Young men shave hair
except small spot on crown. Bury dead in shallow grave covered by stones, rarely on
platform. line grave with branches & articles of the deceased. Men wear tight leggings
to hip, breechcloth one foot wide, five foot long, wrapped, with belt, vest or shirt worn
long to hips, sometimes a cap, moccasins, mittens in winter. Women wear skirt to knees,
arms covered to wrists, same leggings & shirt as man but shirt longer. Men have sweat
house ceremonies. Use double headed drum and rattle for ceremonies. Expert canoe men. They
call Iroquois "Iri akhoiw." Live all along west side of Hudson & James Bay.
- Eskimo (Inuit) live along east shore, not quite to south end of James Bay, all
around the north shore of Quebec.
- Algonkin (Algonquin) to the south.
- Ojibwa to the southwest.
- Chippewa is from Cree "Chippwayanawok" from Chipwa "pointed" and
weyanaw "skin" - northern Athabascan tribes.
- Hudson Strait is a 450-mile bottleneck, a boiling maelstrom of currents and
pulverizing ice pans.
- Shakespeare played in Gray's Inn, London, in the early 1600s. Possibly one of his
plays was seen by Hudson. The Globe Theatre was built outside London in 1599 and the first
play produced there was Julius Caesar. "The prince of darkness is a gentleman" -
Shakespeare in King Lear. A suitable comment for either Greene or Juet.
- Greenland was originally believed to be in two parts: south was Desolation, north
- In 1725, Vitus Bering began his quest to discover whether Asia and North America
were joined. He discovered the strait that now bears his name. Extensive Russian
exploration of the northern Siberian coastline began in 1733. In 1741, Bering claimed
Alaska for his (now) homeland Russia. He died that year of scurvy on a remote island off
the east coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula.
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