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Henry Hudson

Hudson, Henry, fl. 1607–11, English navigator and explorer. He was hired (1607) by the English Muscovy Company to find the Northeast Passage to Asia. He failed, and another attempt (1608) to find a new route was also fruitless. Engaged (1609) for the same purpose by the Dutch East India Company, he sailed in the Half Moon to Spitsbergen, where extreme ice and cold brought his crew near mutiny. Hudson, determined not to lose his reputation as an explorer, disregarded his instructions and sailed westward hoping to find the Northwest Passage. He entered Chesapeake Bay, Delaware Bay, and later New York Bay. He was the first European to ascend (1609) the Hudson River (named for him), nearly to present-day Albany. His voyage gave the Dutch their claim to the region. His fourth expedition (1610), financed by English adventurers, started from England. Again he sailed westward, hoping to find the Northwest Passage. Between Greenland and Labrador he entered Hudson Strait and by it reached Hudson Bay. After weeks of exploration, he was forced by ice to winter there. By the next summer (1611) his starved and diseased crew mutinied and set Hudson, with his son and seven men, adrift in a small boat, without food or water. He was never seen again. His discoveries, however, gave England its claim to the Hudson Bay region.

See R. O'Connell, Hudson's Fourth Voyage (1978); D. Hunter, Half Moon: Henry Hudson and the Voyage that Redrew the Map of the New World (2009); P. C. Marshall, Fatal Journey: The Final Expedition of Henry Hudson (2009).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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