Hudson, Henry

  Henry Hudson, explorer (flourished 1607-11). Little is known of him before the famous voyages of his last 4 years. He searched twice (1607, 1608) for a polar route to Asia via Norway and Russia, and in the service of the Dutch East India Co ascended the Hudson River in 1609. English patrons financed his search for a NORTHWEST PASSAGE in 1610. He sailed in the DISCOVERY to Iceland and entered HUDSON STRAIT in early June, navigating his tiny vessel through fog and ice, passing through the narrow gap between Cape Wolstenholme and Cape Digges (named for his patrons). He descended the east shore into desolate JAMES BAY, tacking to and fro in a futile search for an opening to the Spice Islands. He beached the Discovery and spent a bleak winter, likely by the Rupert River.

Resentment among his crew broke into mutiny in the spring when Hudson announced his intention to continue the search. The leaders, Henry Greene, Robert Juet and William Wilson, forced Hudson, his son and 7 others into a shallop and cut it adrift in the open sea. Robert BYLOT piloted the Discovery home. Greene and Wilson were killed by natives at Cape Digges; Juet died of starvation. Four of the 9 survivors were tried for murder but acquitted - saved as much by mercantile interest in their knowledge of the Northwest as by the blame laid on the dead.

Nothing is known of Hudson's fate. He did not discover Hudson Strait - both M. FROBISHER and J. DAVIS had noted its entrance - but in navigating its treacherous course he far outdistanced his predecessors and discovered a route to the continent's interior of inestimable value to England. However, his favouritism and weak leadership vitiated his accomplishment. The quaint, contentious account by Abacuk Pricket, a survivor, is the sole record of the voyage and mutiny.