Hudson adrift

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 them.

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:

Cast adrift:
Henry Hudson Captain, Master, arms pinioned (tied) when put into boat.
John Hudson Ship's boy, Henry's son, called Jack. This was his third voyage with his father.*
John King (Henry King) Mate. Previously quartermaster, appointed by Hudson over Juet during the previous winter. King could neither read nor write. See note on Staffe.
Thomas Woodhouse (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.
Arnold Ludlow (Ladley, Ludlowe) Seaman *
Michael Butt (Bute, Buche) Seaman (sick), married
Adam Moore (Adrian or Adam Moore) Seaman (sick, apparently since the start of the voyage)
Syracke Fanner Seaman (sick), married, from Ipswich. Lame at the time of the mutiny.
Philip Staffe (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 onboard:
Robert Juet (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." *!+
William Wilson 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." !+
Robert Bylot (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.#
Edward Wilson Surgeon, 22 at the time of the mutiny.
Abacuck Prickett 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." #
Bennett Matheus (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 the crew.
Sylvanus Bond (Silvanus) Cooper, from London, spent most of his adult life before the mast.
John Thomas 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. +
Francis Clements (Clemence or Clemens) Seaman (former boatswain, displaced by Wm. Wilson), from Wapping.
Michael Perse (Michell Peerce or Pearce) Seaman. He was wounded by arrow from Eskimo, Digge's Island, and died two days later. *+
Nicholas Syms (Simms) Ship's boy, from Wapping.
Henry Greene 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." !+
Adrian Motter (Mutter, Mowter) Appointed boatswain's mate by Henry Hudson, from Middlesex. rated an able-bodied seaman, he carried letters of recommendation that were possibly forgeries.
Master Coleburne (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°.
John Williams 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.
(Mutter) Alternate spellings of names in parentheses.

Crew sleeping arrangements
on the Discovery

Bow at this end, port (larboard) to left

Juet Thomas Williams
Hold -
sleeping in pairs:
W. Wilson
E. Wilson
J. Hudson
Crew Butt
Steps Galley:
Main mast
Navigation deck
Tool room:
Henry Hudson
and sometimes












Arctic landscape



Miscellaneous notes:

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