Henry Hudson






Henry Hudson
1570(?) -1611(?)

Court documents from the Admiralty trial against the mutineers who conspired to overthrow Henry Hudson, 1616

Last updated:
December 28, 2006
Written & researched
by Ian Chadwick,

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Trinity House MS. Transactions. 1609-1625.
(24 _October_ 1611)
The 9 men turned out of the ship:
Henry Hudson, master.
John Hudson, his son.
Arnold Ladley.
John King, quarter master.
Michael Butt, married.
Thomas Woodhoase, a mathematician, put away in great distress.
Adame Moore.
Philip Staff, carpenter.
Syracke Fanner, married.

John Williams, died on 9 October.
--Ivet [Juet], died coming home.

Henry Greene.
William Wilson.
John Thomas.
Michell Peerce.

Men that came home:
Robart Billet, master.
Abecocke Prickett, a land man put in by the Adventurers.
Edward Wilson, surgeon.
Francis Clemens, boteson.
Adrian Motter.
Bennet Mathues, a land man.
Nicholas Syms, boy.
Silvanus Bond, couper.

After Hudson was put out, the company elected Billet as master.

Abacuck Pricket, sworn, says the ship began to return about 12th June, and about the 22d or 23d, they put away the master. Greene and Wilson were employed to fish for the company, and being at sea combined to steal away the shallope, but at last resolved to take away the ship, and put the master and other important men into the shallope.

He clears the now master of any foreknowledge of this complot, but they relied on Ivett's judgment and skill.

Edward Wilson, surgeon, knew nothing of the putting of the master out of the ship, till he saw him pinioned down before his cabin door.

Francis Clemens, Adrian Motter and Bennet Mathues say the master was put out of the ship by the consent of all that were in health, in regard that their victualls were much wasted by him; some of those that were put away were directly against the master, and yet for safety of the rest put away with him, and all by those men that were slain principally.

They all charge the master with wasting the victuals by a scuttle made out of his cabin into the hold, and it appears that he fed his favourites, as the surgeon, etc., and kept others at only ordinary allowance. All say that, to save some from starving, they were content to put away so many, and that to most of them it was utterly unknown who should go, or who tarry, but as affection or rage did guide them in that fury that were authors and executors of that plot.

Instance & Prize Records. (High Court of Admiralty). Examinations,
&c. Series I. Vol. 42. 1611-12 to 1614.
Die Sabbto XXV'to _January_ 1611.

EDWARD WILLSON, of Portesmouth Surgion aged xxij yeares sworne and examined before the Right Wor'll M'r [Master] Doctor Trevor Judge of His Matyes High Court of the Admiltye concerninge his late beinge at sea in the Discovery of London whereof Henry Hudson was M'r for the Northwest discovery sayth as followeth.

Being demaunded whether he was one of the companie of the Discovery wherof Henry Hudson was M'r for the Northwest passage saythe by vertue of his oathe that he was Surgion of the said Shipp the said voyadge.

Beinge asked further whether there was not a mutynie in the said Shipp the said voyadge by some of the companie of the said Shipp against the M'r, and of the manner and occasion thereof and by whome say the that their victualls were soe scante that they had but two quartes of meale allowed to serve xxij men for a day, and that the M'r had bread and cheese and aquavite in his cabon and called some of the companie whome he favoured to eate and drinke with him in his cabon whereuppon those that had nothinge did grudge and mutynye both against the M'r and those that he gave bread and drinke unto, the begynning whereof was thus viz't. One William Willson then Boateswayne of the said shipp but since slayne by the salvages went up to Phillipp Staffe the M'rs Mate and asked him the reason why the M'r should soe favour to give meate to some of the companie, and not the rest whoe aunswered that it was necessary that some of them should be kepte upp Whereuppon Willson went downe agayne and told one Henry Greene what the said Phillipp Staffe had said to the said Willson Whereuppon they with others consented together and agreed to pynion him the said M'r and one John Kinge whoe was Quarter M'r and put them into a shallopp and Phillipp Staffe mighte have stayed still in the shipp but he would voluntarilie goe into the said shallopp for love of the M'r uppon condition that they would give him his clothes (which he had) there was allso six more besides the other three putt into the said shallopp whoe thinkeinge that they were onely put into the shallopp to keepe the said Hudson the M'r and Kinge till the victuals were a sharinge went out willinglie but afterwards findinge that the companie in the shipp would not suffer them to come agayne into the shipp they desyred that they mighte have their cloathes and soe pte of them was delivered them, and the rest of their apparell was soulde at the mayne mast to them that would give most for them and an inventory of every mans pticuler goodes was made and their money was paid by Mr Allin Cary to their friendes heere in England and deducted out of their wages that soe boughte them when they came into England.

Beinge asked whoe were the pties that consented to this mutynie saythe he knoweth not otherwise then before he hath deposed savinge he saythe by vertue of his oathe that this exăet never knewe thereof till the M'r was brought downe pynioned and sett downe before this eăxtes cabon and then this examinate looked out and asked him what he ayled and he said that he was pynioned and then this exăte would have come out of his cabon to have gotten some victualls amongest them and they that had bounde the M'r said to this exăte that yf he were well he should keepe himselfe soe and further saythe that neither did Silvanus Bond Nicholas Simmes and Frances Clements consente to this practize against the M'r of this exactes knowledge.

Beinge demaunded whether he knoweth that the Hollanders have an intent to goe forthe uppon a discovery to the said Northwest passadge and whether they have anie card [chart] delivered them concerninge the said discovery saythe that this exăte for his parte never gave them anie card or knowledge of the said discovery but he hath heard saye that they intend such a voyadge and more he cannot saye savinge that some gentlemen and merchants of London that are interessed in this discovery have shewed divers cardes abroad w'ch happelie might come to some of their knowledge.

Beinge asked further whither there bee a passadge throughe there he saythe that by all likeliehood there is by reason of the tyde of flood came out of the westerne ptes and the tyde of ebbe out of the easterne which may bee easely discovered yf such may bee imployed as have beene acquainted with the voyadge and knoweth the manner of the ice but in cominge backe agayne they keepinge the northerne most land aboard found little or noe ice in the passadge.

Beinge asked what became of the said Hudson the M'r and the rest of the companie that were put into the shallopp saythe that they put out sayle and followed after them that were in the shipp the space of halfe an houre and when they sawe the shipp put one [on] more sayle and that they could not followe them then they putt in for the shoare and soe they lost sighte of them and never heard of them since And more he cannot depose.

* * * * *
Admiralty Court. Oyer and Terminer. 6.

No. 77. True Bill found for the trial of Robert Bileth alias Blythe, late of the precinct of St. Katherine next the Tower of London, co. Middlesex, mariner, Abacucke Prickett, late of the city of London, haberdasher, Edward Wilson of the same, barber-surgeon, Adrian Matter, late of Ratcliffe, Middlesex, mariner; Silvanus Bonde, of London, cooper, and Nicholas Sims, late of Wapping, sailor, to be indicted for having, on 22 June 9 James I, in a certain ship called The Discovery of the port of London, then being on the high sea near Hudson's Straits in the parts of America, pinioned the arms of Henry Hudson, late of the said precinct of St. Katherine, mariner, then master of the said ship The Discovery, and putting him thus bound, together with John Hudson, his son, Arnold Ladley, John Kinge, Michael Butt, Thomas Woodhouse, Philip Staffe, Adam Moore and Sidrach Fanner, mariners of the said ship, into a shallop, without food, drink, fire, clothing or any necessaries, and then maliciously abandoning them, so that they came thereby to their death and miserably perished. [Latin. Not dated.]

* * * * *

Admiralty. Oyer and Terminer. 41.
Friday 7 _February_, 1616 [O.S.]

Abacucke Prickett, of London, haberdasher, examined, says that Henry Hudson, John Hudson, Thomas Widowes, Philip Staffe, John Kinge, Michael Burte, Sidrach Fanner, Adrian Moore and John Ladley, mariners of the Discovery in the voyage for finding out the N.W. passage, about 6 years past, were put out of the ship by force into the Shallop in the strait called Hudson's Strait in America, by Henry Grene, John Thomas, John Wilson, Michael Pearce, and others, by reason they were sick and victuals wanted, "under account" [i.e., if rations from the existing scant store were served out equally] they should starve for want of food if all the company should return home in the ship. Philip Staffe went out of the ship of his own accord, for the love he bare to the said Hudson, who was thrust out of the ship. Grene, with 11 or 12 more of the company, sailed away with the Discovery, leaving Hudson and the rest in the shallop in the month of June in the ice. What became of them he knows not. He was lame in his legs at the time, and unable to stand. He greatly lamented the deed, and had no hand in it. Hudson and Staffe were the best friends he had in the ship.

About five weeks after the said ship came to Sir Dudley Digges Island. Here Grene, Wilson, Thomas, Pearse and Adrian Mouter would needs go ashore to trade with the savages, and were betrayed and set upon by the savages, and all of them sore wounded, yet recovered the boat before they died. Grene, coming into the boat, died presently. Wilson, Thomas and Pearse were taken into the ship, and died a few hours afterwards, two of them having had their bowels cut out. The blood upon the clothes brought home was the blood of these persons so wounded and slain by the savages, and no other.

There was falling out between Grene and Hudson the master, and between Wilson the surgeon and Hudson, and between Staffe and Hudson, but no mutiny was in question, until of a sudden the said Grene and his consorts forced the said Hudson and the rest into the shallop, and left them in the ice.

The chests of Hudson and the rest were opened, and their clothes, and such things as they had, inventoried and sold by Grene and the others, and some of the clothes were worn.

Thomas Widowes was thrust out of the ship into the shallop, but whether he willed them take his keys and share his goods, to save his life, this examinate knoweth not.

At the putting out of the men, the ship's carpenter [Staffe] asked the company if they would be [wished to be] hanged, when they came to England.

He does not know whether the carpenter is dead or alive, for he never saw him since he was put out into the shallop.

No shot was made at Hudson or any of them nor any hurt done them, that he knows.

He did not see Hudson bound, but heard that Wilson pinioned his arms, when he was put into the shallop. But, when he was in the shallop, this examinate saw him in a motley gown at liberty, and they spoke together, Hudson saying: It is that villain Ivott [Juet], that hath undone us; and he answered: No, it is Grene that hath done all this villainy.

It is true that Grene, Wilson and Thomas had consultation together to turn pirates, and so he thinks they would have done, had they not been slain.

There was no watchword given, but Grene, Wilson, Thomas and Bennett watched the master, when he came out of his cabin, and forced him over board into the shallop, and then they put out the rest, being sick men.

He told Sir Thomas Smith the truth, as to how Hudson and the rest were turned out of the ship.

He told the masters of the Trinity-house the truth of the business, but never knew or heard that the masters said they deserved to be hanged for the same.

They were not victualled with rabbits or partridges before Hudson and the rest were turned into the shallop, nor after.

There was no mutiny otherwise than as aforesaid, they were turned out only for want of victuals, as far as he knows.

He does not know the handwriting of Thomas Widowes. He, for his part, made no means to hinder any proceedings that might have been taken against them.


[On the same day]

Robert Bilett, of St. Katherine's, mariner, examined, saith that, upon a discontent amongst the company of the ship the Discovery in the finding out of the N.W. passage, by occasion of the want of victualls, Henry Grene, being the principal, together with John Thomas, William Wilson, Robert Ivett [Juet] and Michael Pearse, determined to shift the company, and thereupon Henry Hudson, the master, was by force put into the shallop, and 8 or 9 more were commanded to go into the shallop to the master, which they did, this examinate thinking this course was taken only to search the master's cabin and the ship for victualls, which the said Grene and others thought the master concealed from the company to serve his own turn. But, when they were in the shallop, Grene and the rest would not suffer them to come any more on board the ship, so Hudson and the rest in the shallop went away to the southward, and the ship came to the eastward, and the one never saw the other since.

What is otherwise become of them be knoweth not.

He says that the men went ashore (as above) to get victuals; and from their wounds the cabins, beds and clothes were made bloody.

There was discontent amongst the company, but no mutiny to his knowledge, until the said Grene and his associates turned the master and the rest into the shallop.

He heard of no mutiny "till overnight that Hudson and the rest were [to be] put into the shallop the next day," and this examinate and M'r. Prickett persuaded the crew to the contrary, and Grene answered the master was resolved to overtrowe all, and therefore he and his friends would shift for themselves.

Such clothes as were left behind in the ship by Hudson and his associates were sold, and worn by some of the company that wanted clothes.

The ship's carpenter never used such speeches, to his knowledge. [This seems to refer to Staffe's question, "Would they be hanged when they came to England?"]

Philip Staffe, the carpenter, went into the shallop of his own accord, without any compulsion; whether he be dead or alive, or what has become of him, he knoweth not.

No man, either drunk or sober, can report that Hudson and his associates were shot at after they were in the shallop, for there was no such thing done.

He was under the deck, when Henry Hudson was put out of the ship, so that he saw it not, nor knoweth whether he were bound or not, but saith he heard he was pinioned.

Henry Grene, and two or three others, made a motion to turn pirates, and he believes they would have done, if they had lived.

He denieth that he took any ringe out of Hudson's pocket, neither ever saw it except on his finger, nor knoweth what became of it.

Such beds and clothes as were left in the ship, and not taken by Hudson and the rest into the shallop, were brought into England, because they left them behind in the ship.

There was no watchword given, but Grene and the others commanded the said Hudson and the rest into the shallop, and upon that command they went.

He told Sir Thomas Smith the manner how Hudson and the rest went from them, but what Sir Thomas said to their wives he knoweth not.

There was no mutiny, but some discontent, amongst the company; they were not victualled with any abundance of rabbits and partridges all the voyage. He doth not know the handwriting of Widowes, nor hath he seen what he put down in writing.


* * * * *

Admiralty. Oyer and Terminer. 41.
13 _May_, 1617.

Frances Clemence, of Wapping, mariner, aged 40, says that Henry Hudson, the master, and 8 persons more were put out of the Discovery into the shallop about 20 leagues from the place where they wintered, about 22d of June shall be 6 years in June next, as he heard from the rest of the company, for this examinate had his nails frozen off, and was very sick at the time.

Henry Grene, William Wilson, John Thomas and Michael Pearse were slain on shore by the savages at Sir Dudley Digges Island, and Robert Ivett [Juet] died at sea after they were slain.

Philip Staffe, the ship's carpenter, was one of them who were put into the shallop with the master and the rest; whether he is dead or not, he knows not.

The master displaced some of the crew, and put others in their room, but there was no mutiny that he knew of.

Henry Hudson was pinioned, when he was put into the shallop. (With other answers as in the previous examinations.)

Reproduced from Thos. Janvier's Henry Hudson, 1909, available in its entirety from the Gutenberg Project: www.gutenberg.org/etext/13442. Other reference documents are reproduced on hudson_quotes.htm