Henry Hudson - Discovery of Hudson Bay and Hudson River

Henry Hudson explorer

Henry Hudson was one of the most famous English explorers of early 17th century, whose exploits left a notable mark on our history. During his long naval career he tried several times unsuccessfully to discover naval route to distant India, with discovery of Hudson Bay and Hudson River being his only two legacies.

The exact date of Henry Hudson’s birth is not known today, with many historians claiming that it must have been in 1560s or 1570s. He spent early years of his life sailing with Muscovy Company, which he helped to form. After he rose through ranks and gathered enough experience on sea, he finally gathered funds for several exploratory missions. In 1607 he tried to fight western passage to India by traveling to Greenland and exploring much of its coast. In next year he got orders to try to find a way to India by sailing above Russia, trough narrow space of water that were freed from ice during few short summer months. In both journeys he returned home without any significant discoveries.

1609 was the year in which Dutch East India Company chose Henry Hudson to lead small expedition in hope of finding passage to Asia. After he saw that passage above Russia was blocked by ice, he turned Dutch ship “Halve Maen” under his own accord and traveled to North America where he found entrance of Hudson River and managed to encounter several native tribes who had information about northern water passage that led toward the west. With hopes that this may be the fabled passage to Asia, he returned home determined to find funds for another mission.

Funding for his last mission came fromtrade companies British East India and Virginia. With his ship Discovery he traveled from Iceland to Greenland, until he reached his long sought passage which he named Hudson Strait. He explored the coast of this newfound entrance into North America continent determined in his great discovery, not knowing that he only found entrance into enclosed Hudson Bay. In spring of 1611 dissatisfaction of his small crew finally reached critical point with open mutiny, which left Hudson, his son and seven of his crewmates abandoned in small open shallop. As remainder of his crew pointed the large Discovery back toward the England, they saw small shallop trying unsuccessfully to catch them. This was the last time anyone saw Henry Hudson alive, as his ultimate fate remained unknown.

Modern historians are not convicted that the tale of Hudson’s demise is accurate, but eight surviving sailors claimed that their account of the failed expedition is true. As soon as they returned home they faced murder charges, but were eventually freed and sent on new exploratory missions because of their valuable knowledge about conditions and lands on the west.

Today, Henry Hudson remains remembered by the names of the all major landmarks that he discovered (Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait, Hudson River) and countless bridges and public objects in North America.