On this day in history : 22nd June 1611 – English navigator and explorer Henry Hudson is cast adrift, along with his son and seven others by his mutinous crew – into the bay which is later to be named after him….
Hudson is best known for his exploration of the area which is now known as Canada and the northeastern region of the United States…. In 1607 and 1608 he made two attempts to find a passage through to China which had been rumoured to exist….
In 1610 he got to have a third attempt after being commissioned by the British East India Company and the Virginia Company…. Setting off in his new ship ‘Discovery’ he and his crew had reached Iceland by the 11th of May and then the south of Greenland on the 4th of June…. They headed into what was to become known as the Hudson Straight, at the northern tip of Labrador, on the 25th of June and eventually sailed into Hudson Bay on the 2nd of August….
There was much excitement among the men as they believed they really may have found the passage…. However, after a few months of exploring and mapping no way through was found….
In the November the ship became trapped in the ice of the James Bay….and it was decided to move ashore to wait out winter…. Once the ice had melted in the spring of 1611 Hudson was ready to set off exploring again – but most of his crew, having had enough, wanted to return home…. Tensions began to rise until eventually matters came to a head….
Discovery’s navigator, Abacuk Pricket, kept a detailed account of what happened…. According to him the mutiny was led by two men, Henry Greene and Robert Juet…. Captain Hudson, his teenage son John and seven crew members – those sick, infirm or fiercely loyal to Hudson – were ordered into a shallop – an open boat about 30ft long, with oars and mast with one or two sails…. They were provided with clothing, food, an iron cooking pot, powder and shot, pikes and other necessities – and then cast adrift….
At first Hudson’s shallop attempted to keep up with Discovery – but finally the mutineers unfurled a couple more sails, enabling them to pick up speed – and they left the shallop behind, marooned in Hudson Bay…. Captain Hudson and his men were never seen again and it is unknown what became of them….
Only eight out of the thirteen mutineers survived the voyage back to England…. On arrival they were arrested and put on trial – but no punishment was brought against any of them…. Possibly their information on the New World was too valuable…. Or perhaps Pricket’s account gave them the benefit of the doubt – although it has often since been criticised for being biased….