Monday, 27 January 2014

Henry Hudson

Henry Hudson (?-1611?), English navigator, famous for four great voyages of discovery; a river and a bay in North America are named for him. Nothing is known of Hudson's life before 1607, the year in which he undertook his first expedition for the English Muscovy Company. Commanding a single ship, the Hopewell, Hudson touched the shores of Greenland and the Svalbard islands, and sailed as far north as 80°23’ in an attempt to find a northeast passage by way of the Arctic Ocean to East Asia. During the following year he sailed in the same ship under the auspices of the same company, and again attempted unsuccessfully to find a passage, this time by way of the islands of Novaya Zemlya in the Barents Sea. Upon his return, the Muscovy Co. withdrew their support, and Hudson turned to the Dutch East India Co. for new funds and a ship to carry on his work. In that company's employ he sailed from the Dutch island of Texel, on his third voyage in 1609, in the Half Moon, a vessel of about 73 metric tons, with a mixed Dutch and English crew of 18 or 20 men. He again began his exploration off Novaya Zemlya, intending to try a passage through the ice, but his crew, having endured extremely cold and harsh weather, mutinied, and Hudson headed west and south past Nova Scotia and down the North American coast, in the belief that the Atlantic Ocean was separated from the Pacific Ocean only by a narrow isthmus. In September 1609 he first entered New York Bay, and he spent the following month exploring the Hudson River to a point about 240 km (about 150 mi) from its mouth, at about the present site of the city of Albany. Before the end of the year Hudson and his men returned to England, where they and their ship were seized by the government. Hudson was commanded from that time on to serve only the country of his birth.
In 1610 Hudson set out on his final voyage under the patronage of a newly formed company of English gentlemen. In his new ship, the Discovery, he decided from the start to search for a northwest passage; he reached the Hudson Strait by the middle of the year, and passed into Hudson Bay beyond it, where he spent three months exploring the eastern islands and shores. By November his ship was frozen in, and a winter of extreme privation and cold led to dissension among the crew. A part of the crew mutinied in June 1611 and put Hudson, his son, and seven others of the company adrift in a small boat. A few survivors from the mutinous crew reached England, where they were imprisoned, but Hudson and the others were never seen again.

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