Henry Hudson



Occupation 1


Occupation 2



New York City


NA/Mid-Atlantic region


Europe's Reconnaissance (1351-1640)






Robert a. McCaughey


An explorer and navigator about whom little is known except for his four recorded voyages between 1607 and 1611. Presumed to be of English birth, most likely of the Bristol region of western England. Engaged by the England-based Muscovy Company in 1607 to find a open-water route to China by sailing over the top of Greenland. A second expedition in 1608 sought a northeast passage over the top of Russia to China. Like the first, this failed because the passage was blocked by ice.

In 1609 Hudson was approached by the Dutch East India Company to make a third attempt at a Northeast Passage voyage, this time by the Strait of Viagach above Norway. When ice blocked his way, he turned the 70-foot Half-Moon about and sailed westward and then to the south in the direction of Virginia, as per John Smith's recently drafted map of the North American east coast. He was particularly interested in exploring the possibility of a passage to the Indies, first proposed by Verrazzano, as somewhere between the already explored Virginia to the south and Newfoundland to the north. This side venture was on his own initiative and was not authorized by his Dutch employers.

Hudson made his North American landfall at about 50� N on Labrador, then worked down the coast to the Chesapeake Bay, which he entered briefly, before turning around and returning up the coast. He took note of the Delaware Bay and its inflowing ("South," later 'Delaware") river, but did not enter due to shoaling. He then proceeded further up the coast until he entered New York Harbor. This time, it now being early September, he decided to explore the ("North," later, "Hudson")River at the top of the Bay, in hopes of finding a pasage through to the Indies.

During his 150-mile sail up the Hudson (his advance boat encountered shoaling just above the present site of Albany) he came upon Indians friendly and hostile, but who, on balance, demonstrated potential as trading partners, especially in furs.

Hudson's return voyage back across the Atlantic did not take him directly back to his employers in Amsterdam but rather to Dartmouth, England, a fact that led some Dutch to suspect Hudson of being a spy for the English. These suspicions aside, the subsequent Dutch claim to the region between the Delaware and the Hudson River, which was acted upon with a trading settlement at Fort Orange (Albany) in 1620 and three years later at New Amsterdam (New York City) was derived from Hudson's 1609 exploration of the region.

Hudson's fourth -- and fatal -- voyage was sponsored by a group of London merchants and was yet another effort to find a Northwest Passage across the top of Canada. Hudson and his crew managed to get as far as what later became known as Hudson's Bay before ice blocked them for the winter. His crew then mutinied, dispatching Hudson and his son, along with seven others, on the ship's shallop to fend for themselves. They were never heard from again. The details of his demise are from the diary of Robert Juet, who accompanied Hudson on all four of his exploring expeditions and may well have been among those who participated in the mutiny. Thus, Hudson's precise date of death, like that of his birth, is unknown.


Related Images

external image head2_henry_hudson_1609.jpg
Date: 1609
Image Id: 324

Related Vessels

__Half Moon__ (1609),

Related Locations

New York City,

Related Water Bodies

Delaware Bay, New York Harbor,

Related Source

Charting the Sea of Darkness: The Four Voyages of Henry Hudson (1993)

External Links

Robert Juet, The Third Voyage of Henry Hudson, 1609

Related Documents

Log of Henry Hudson Voyage (1609)

Record ID: 270