Henry Hudson






Henry Hudson
1570(?) -1611(?)

Henry Hudson's Fourth Voyage
1610: The Northwest Passage

Last updated:
January 20, 2007
Written & researched
by Ian Chadwick,

Text & design copyright
Ian Chadwick 1992-2007
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Was Hudson really on a voyage to look for the Northwest Passage, or was he really searching for gold and other minerals to help rebuild England's depleted treasury? Was the idea of searching for a passage just meant to confuse rival countries and companies while the mission had another, secret goal?

Fourth Voyage 1610 - click for larger imageDespite his recent arrest for sailing under another nation's flag, Henry Hudson managed to get support from English backers for another voyage, this time in search of a Northwest Passage, one he had wanted to pursue almost since the start of his voyages. The main sponsor this time was Sir Thomas Smythe - governor and treasurer of the Virginia Company, and also of the English East India Company. Smythe desperately needed to recoup his losses after a disaster that saw his last fleet to Virginia scattered, with hundreds of men lost. He may not have paid Hudson for his services - rather, it may have been Hudson's payment for Smythe getting Hudson out of house arrest. Click image for a map of this voyage.

For the third time, Hudson decided to include Robert Juet in the crew, a decision that would eventually cost him his ship and his life. His ship this time was the Discovery, formerly sailed by Captain Weymouth. Smythe only provided eight months of provisions for the crew.

The voyage started inauspiciously with a company man put off the ship and a another man brought aboard - Henry Greene, a gambler who would prove a partner in trouble with Juet. According to the journal of Abacuck Prickett, Hudson promised to make Greene a member of the Prince's Guard on their return, which speaks to the personal influence Hudson must have had with Henry, Prince of Wales.

Almost from the start there was trouble with the crew. Hudson's ability to manage his crew appears even weaker than in previous voyages. There were fights and almost a mutiny within the first few months, before they even reached the area Hudson intended to explore.

Discovery ended up sailing through the treacherous Arctic waters north of modern Quebec - the Furious Overfall - known today as Hudson's Strait although he did not discover it - and into a large body of water now known as Hudson Bay. The currents in the strait are rapid and turbulent, treacherous to the small ships of Hudson's day. Water from the bay rushes eastward along the south side, while water from the Greenland current and Davis Bay rushes west along the north. Ice is torn into large dangerous chunks that whirl around in the current (see map). Careful navigation and a steady hand is required: it is easy to be turned around in the conflicting currents, and the small, high ships of Hudson's day could overturn and capsize in rough waters.

By the fall of the year the crew was stuck hundreds of miles south, unable to go further or to get home. They had to endure a harsh winter in that hostile land, during which one crewman died and most others were sickened by scurvy or lack of food. Again, Hudson's showed his inability to deal with the natives and his own crew during the cold months they spent ashore.

By late next spring, the ship was ready to sail again. Hudson wanted to continue his explorations, but the crew only wanted to head home. Fights broke out over food and Hudson accused some crew members of hoarding. They in turn accused him of the same. Eventually a large number of crew members, led by Juet and Greene, decided to mutiny. They put the captain, his son and others they didn't like into a small shallop and set it adrift while the Discovery sailed away. None of the abandoned crew were ever seen again.

Discovery (British Library)On the way back to England, the ship was piloted by Robert Bylot. Many of the crew, including the lead mutineers, died on the return voyage, some from fights with the natives, others of starvation. When the survivors returned home they were arrested for mutiny, but would all be cleared later.

Bylot would return to the bay several more times over the next years to explore and ostensibly search for survivors. Hudson's successes in both navigation and exploration of this northern area have been overshadowed by the mutiny and his death. Many others would come in the following centuries, searching for the elusive Northwest Passage.

The British explorer, Samuel Hearne, travelled overland as far west as the Coppermine River in 1771–72, but only discovered there was no easy, straight waterway across the top of Canada. The existence of a Northwest Passage was finally proven in the late 19th century. In his expedition (1850–54), Robert J. Le M. McClure travelled from the west along the northern coast of the continent, and by a land expedition reached Viscount Melville Sound. This had previously been reached from the east by Sir William Edward Parry (1819–20). The actual passage zigzags through the maze of straits and islands in Canada's north and is difficult and dangerous to navigate. No one actually made the complete journey until the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen made the trek in 1903–6.

Was Hudson really on a voyage to look for the Northwest Passage, or was he really searching for gold and other minerals to help rebuild England's depleted treasury? Was the idea of searching for a passage just meant to confuse rival countries and companies while the mission had another, secret goal? No one knows, but by turning into the bay instead of continuing northwest, Hudson would have been more able to explore the land and search for areas that might prove valuable. His meandering in James Bay looks like a survey, with sounding swaths made systematically along his route. It may be that he was looking for a suitable harbour where his backers could set up a port for mining operations in the mineral-rich Canadian shield. See www.historysociety.ca/english/thebeaver/features/aug99/hudson_1.html

  • It had been five months since his last voyage. Although only a portion of Hudson's journal of the 1610 voyage survived, a record of the voyage was made by Abacuck (Habbacuck) Prickett, one of the survivors who returned to England, and there are depositions from the survivors as to the events. However, some of the dates after August 3, when Hudson's log ends, may be inaccurate. Prickett's geography is also confused and sometimes wrong. A note by another of the crew, Thomas Widowes (Woodhouse), was found in his desk after the Discovery returned home. Widowes documented Juet's early disposition to mutiny.
  • Sir Thomas SmithHis fourth voyage was financed by the merchant Sir Thomas Smythe (Smith) of the East India Company, Sir Dudley Digges (a rich landowner and son of famed navigator Sir Thomas Digges) and John Wolstenholme (a Yorkshire landowner and collector of customs for the port of London). They were backed by Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales. Smith is shown in this contemporary portrait.
  • A total of five noblemen and 13 merchants were involved in a new venture called The Company of Gentlemen. The British East India Company also contributed 300 pounds to the venture. Several of the backers were or had been directors of the Muscovy Company, which financed Hudson's first two expeditions.
  • At the urging of the three backers, Prince Henry agreed to receive Hudson in a private audience. The prince later accompanied Hudson to a public audience at Whitehall in mid-April. This would garner Hudson credibility, and show official favour after he had apparently lost it by sailing for the Dutch the previous year. Hudson would later promise passenger Henry Greene a place in Prince Henry's regiment of guards, when he returned home for the voyage.
  • A new company (syndicate; The Company of Gentlemen) was formed with the three, plus Prince Henry, as directors, plus the Earl of Northampton, the Admiral of England and others. But other investors still tried to get involved, sensing riches might be made.
  • Capt. Weymouth's (Waymouth) old ship, Discovery (sometimes called Discoverer); was purchased by the new company. She was a stout-hulled barke or flie (vlie -"fly-boates", 65 feet long, 55 tons (some reports say 70 and even 80 tons), and was refitted for the voyage. She was larger than either of Hudson's previous ships. Discovery drew 10 feet of water. Discovery made six voyages in quest of the Northwest Passage. Her explorations started in 1602 when she and the Godspeed travelled together under George Weymouth, with a combined crew of35 and enough provisions to last 18 months. They were commissioned by the by "the right Worshipfull Merchants of the Moscovie and Turkie Companies" to hunt for a Northwest Passage.
  • Hudson boasted he hoped to see Bantam (Java) by Candlemas (2 Feb), which would be brought back against him by Juet, when Hudson was lost in the bay.
  • Hudson had chart of Davis Strait based on Weymouth's earlier (1602) exploration. But neither Davis nor Weymouth went into the strait any great distance, probably fearful of surviving the 30-60-foot tides in it.
  • Hudson was guided to Greenland by mid-14th century sailing directions from Greenlander Ivar Bardarsen (provided by eminent publisher, Jodocus Hondius, and lent to Hudson for the voyage). These charts were also used by Norwegian skippers. Hondius had already credited Hudson with the discovery of the ice barrier between Greenland and Spitzbergen in one of his maps. Hudson had other maps with him, too, many obtained from the Dutch when he met with the UDEIC cartographers before 1609. But there were already maps that indicated what he might find in the northwest: a 1540 map by Sebastian Munster showed the bay that now bears Hudson's name. A 1544 map by French cartographer Oronce Fine also indicated four river systems that flow into the bay. Dutch cartographer Petrus Plancius and Portuguese cartographer Bartolomeo Lasso both published maps from 1590-early 1600s that showed the bay. In 1611 Hessel Gerritz, Plancius' successor, published a map with more details from the bay, and a 1612 map of Canada by Samuel de Champlain had great detail about the area. No one can say for sure where these map makers got their knowledge, but some of the sources may have been ancient Greek or Roman cartographers. However, it's hard to understand with all these maps available how Hudson might have thought a passage would be found by heading south a passage would be found.


  • 17: Discovery sets sailShortly after dawn, Discovery set sail from St Katherine's Pool, below the Tower of London. On board were 23 men and two ship's "boys": Henry Hudson, captain; John Hudson, ship's boy; John King, quartermaster; Thomas Woodhouse (passenger, recommended by Sir Dudley); Arnold Ludlow; Michael Butt; Adam Moore; Syracke Fanner; Philip Staffe, carpenter; Robert Juet, mate; William Wilson: boatswain; Robert Bylot, leading seaman; Edward Wilson, surgeon; Abacuck Prickett (former manservant to Sir Dudley Digges and likely an agent of the company); Bennett Matheus, cook; Sylvanus Bond; John Thomas; Francis Clements; Michael Perse; Nicholas Syms: ship's boy; Adrian Motter; Master Coleburne and John Williams, gunner. This was the largest crew Hudson had managed to date.
  • Henry Greene would be picked up in Gravesend when Coleburne was dropped off.
  •  Crew who had served under Hudson before are Robert Juet, Phillip Staffe, Arnold Ludlow, John Hudson and Michael Perse.
  • Only eight of the 23 aboard would ever see England again. For the full crew list and their fates, see the Aftermath page.
  • Several literate crew members were included in the company aside from Hudson, including Juet, Prickett and Woodhouse.
  • The guests who assembled to see the Discovery off included Prince Henry, Richard Hakluyt, Sir Thomas Smith, Sir Dudley Digges. The Prince and Sir Thomas toasted Hudson in his cabin before leaving.
  • Hakluyt, skeptical of the grand sendoff and hoped-for results, was later to write, "It would be a boon to all mankind if there were such a passage, but Nature is seldom that kind."
  • 22: Coleburne - former mate on Waymouth's voage in the Discovery - was put off the ship before it cleared English waters. He had been put in crew by the London merchants as 'advisor', possibly to oversee their investment and act as assistant to Hudson. His knowledge of the voyage and of the ship might have made Hudson see him as a rival. Hudson put him ashore with a letter to the company, containing his reasons. In his journal, Hudson wrote simply, "I caused Master Coleburne to be put into a pinke bound for London." That letter was never made public and the reasons are still shrouded in mystery. A pinke or pinkie was a small ship, usually a coastal fishing vessel. Henry Greene, listed as a passenger, was picked up at this time.
  • Captain Lake Fox later wrote, “In the road of Lee, in the river Thames, he [Hudson] caused Master Coalbrand to be set in a pinke to be carried back againe to London. This Coalbrand was in every way held to be a better man than himselfe, being put in by the adventurers as his assistant, who envying the same (he having the command in his own hands) devised this course, to send himselfe the same way, though in a farre worse place, as hereafter followeth.” Abacuck Prickett was less forthcoming and simply wrote, “Thwart of Sheppey, our Master sent Master Colbert back to the owners with his letter.” Coleburne disappears from the records.
  • Henry Greene was brought onboard at Gravesend without the knowledge of the ship's owners. Greene had a bad reputation in London as a troublemaker, gambler and roustabout, but he had stayed as a guest in Hudson's London house.
  • Prickett would later write of Green (Greene), "You shall understand that our master kept in his house in London, a young man named Henrie Greene, borne in Kent, of worshipfull parents, but by his lewd life and conversation hee lost the good will of all his friends, and spent all that hee had. This man our master (Hudson) would have to sea with him, because hee could write well: our master gave him meate, and drinke and lodgeing, and by means of one Master Venson, with much ado got four pounds of his mother to buy him clothes, wherewith Master Venson would not trust him, but saw it laid out himself. This Henry Greene was not set down in the owners' bookes, nor any wages made for him."


  • 2: Athwart of Flamborough Head, Yorkshire coast.
  • 5: At the Orkney Islands.
  • 6 at 5522', at north end of Scotland.
  • 8 Off Faeroe (Farro) Islands.
  • 11: Sighted Iceland.
  • 15 Off Iceland. Because of heavy fog, they sheltered in a safe harbour until bad weather ended.
  • Mount Hekla (Hecla), an active volcano, erupted as Discovery passed. "A sign of foul weather in short time," wrote Prickett.
  • They stopped in another bay they called "English Louise" or sometimes "Lousy Bay." The crew fared well, bathed in hot springs, ate well, shot lots of fowl and caught many fish. They stayed there until the end of the month.
  • Greene and surgeon Wilson got into a fist fight. Hudson intervened and Hudson defended Greene, while the crew supported Wilson. Hudson wrote of the surgeon he "had a tongue that would wrong his best friend."
  • Juet said Hudson had brought in Greene to "crack his credit" with the crew (act as a spy and report to Hudson on the crew). Hudson heard this and wanted to turn around and put Juet ashore at "Lousy Bay" to catch a fishing boat home, but was persuaded otherwise and he did nothing about Juet's insubordination.
  • Prickett wrote, "So Henry Greene stood upright and very inward with the master, and was a serviceable man every way for manhood: but for religion, he would say he was cleane paper whereon he might write what hee would."


  • Furious Overfall1: Hudson started for Greenland from the west end of Iceland.
  • 3: Sighted ice at 6530'N.
  • 4: Greenland sighted but encumbered by ice, the ship can't get close. The ship tacked back and forth without luck.
  • 9: Off Frobisher Strait, wind northerly, Discovery plied southwest until the 15th.
  • 15: Headed northwest until the 20th, and arrived off land called Desolation by John Davis. Prickett mentioned seeing many whales in these waters.
  • Hudson noted an error in earlier geographies at 5927'N.
  • 21-23: Off Cape Elizabeth, Labrador "in sight of much ice."
  • 24: Sighted Resolution Island to the north (off the southeastern tip of Baffin Island) , but soon lost sight of it. Discovery continued to sail west.
  • 25: Hudson tried to enter the Furious Overfall (now Hudson's Strait). He noted "mountaynes of ice" passing. The strait is 450 miles long and dangerous until mid-July, when it is navigable until late September, but Hudson did not know this at the time.
  • Both Davis and Frobisher had sailed to at least the mouth of the strait before Hudson's voyage. But long before them, Portuguese explorers had found it, and possibly even sailed through it into the bay.


  • In his journal, Prickett noted "some of our men fell sick" and said there were "signs of trouble" among the men. Winds pushed Discovery south.
  • 5: Working along the south shore of Resolution Island, ice blocked them from going further west. Hudson lamented in his journal his fear the ship "should never have gotten out of this ice but there have perished." Yet he continued on, and finally reached the calmer waters of the bay.
  • Discovery turned to head south into Ungava Bay to 5916'. Hudson sighted land along the eastern shore of the bay. Continuing in the bay, Hudson sighted an island north by northwest, and called it Desire Provoketh (Akpatok Island, Inuit for "Place Where Auk Birds Are Caught"). He wrote it was a "champagne land."
  • Ungava Bay is shallow, and stirred by the currents rushing eastward from Hudson Bay through the Hudson Strait. Ungava is also the home of high tides; Leaf Basin on the southwest shore has tides as high as 16.8 m (53 feet), making it the equal of Fundy Bay, in the south. Hudson had no knowledge of the tides or currents when he sailed into Ungava. Small ships could easily be tossed about in these waters and left stranded on rocks when the tide departed.
  • 6,7: Angry crewA mutiny almost broke out. The ship was caught in ice, the crew and captain despaired of being stuck (Hudson wrote he was "in despair" he would perish in the ice). One crew member swore if he had a 100 pounds, he would give back 90 just to be in England. But Staffe retorted if he had 100 pounds, "he'd not give ten pounds on such a condition, but would think of it to be as good money as he ever had, and to bring it as well home."
  • The crew (except Staffe) wanted desperately to go home. Hudson brought out his map and boasted they had gone 100 leagues (300 miles) further than any Englishman and should continue. This indicated Hudson had a chart of the strait with him, possibly based on Weymouth's 1602 exploration. The crew was still unsure, but moral was boosted and they finally agreed; they got out to clear the ship of ice. Hudson continued northwest. Leaving the decision to the crew whether or not to continue probably further eroded Hudson's authority with them.
  • Prickett wrote that Hudson was eager to press on against the crew's misgivings: prevailed: “After many words to no purpose, to worke we must on all hands, to get ourselves out and to cleere our ship.”
  • 8: Along the east coast of the island he called Desire Provoketh, Hudson skirted the mouth of Ungava Bay.
  • 11: Continuing west, Discovery anchored from a storm near three rocky islands he called Isles of God's Mercies (now the Saddleback Islands). Hudson noted a tide rise of 24 feet.
  • 16: Hudson finally realized he was in a bay, and headed northwest to get out of it.
  • Trapped in Ungava Bay by ice and current for three weeks, Hudson worked his way slowly west and northwest, until he finally left the bay around the 19th. He headed northwest.
  • 19: In the north part of Ungava Bay near the west shore he sighted a cape and called it Hold with Hope.
  • Named islands as he sailed west: Prince Henry's Foreland, King James his Cape and Queen Anne's Cape.
  • 26: Reached 6240'.
  • 28: Back in the Furious Overfall, he headed west at 6320'.
  • 31: At 6250'.


  • 1: Sighted a northern shore (Charles Island). Named land to the south Cape Charles.
  • 2: Called a headland (island) to the north Salisburie's Foreland (Salisbury Island). The Discovery headed southwest and "suddenly came into a great and whirling sea." The ship turned south into the clear water of what is today called Hudson Bay. Purchas called it "a spacious sea wherein he sayled above a hundred leagues south, confidently proud that he had won the passage."
  • Foggy morn: vessel driven by the tide into an inlet flowing from the northwest. The depth of water and playing forward of the ice roused Hudson to believe it would prove to be the passage he sought. Hudson apparently never lost his faculty of hoping.
  • 3: Travelled six miles. Hudson sighted and named two headlands. South: Cape Wolstenholme, north: Digges' Island. These headlands are tall, basaltic cliffs, 2,000' high, guarding the entrance to the bay. Hudson reported "a sea to the westwards."
  • Hudson's diary ends here with this last entry at 6120'. All other notes that follow are from the journal of Abacuck Prickett or statements made to the Admiralty Court after the survivors returned to England. Inuit
  • The crew explored Digges' Island: they commented that it had grass like in England, scurvy grass (sorrel), deer, a great waterfall, (an overshot mill), and flocks of fowl. They found Eskimo cairns (the crew thought at first they were the work of Christians) with birds hanging inside to cure and store.
  • Hudson called the crew back to the ship by firing its guns. The crew (Prickett) begged to stay longer on the island and replenish their depleted food stock, but Hudson, confident in his quest, pushed on before his crew could plunder the cairns and gather the birds there.
  • 4: to Oct 31 - Discovery travelled down the east coast of Hudson Bay, sailing in a "labyrinth without end." After 100 leagues they found themselves in a shallow bay (now James Bay), and the ship turned north again looking for an exit along the western shore, but not for long.


  • Discovery was still in James Bay.
  • Hudson clashed with the crew as to which direction to take. His wandering through the bay look today like a systematic survey of the water's depths. He made four voyages up and down the coast in the shallow bay, methodically using a sounding line to test the depths and making sweeps of rough 16 miles each.
  • 10: After Juet jeered sarcastically at the master's (Hudson's) vain "hope to see Bantam (Java) by Candlemas," Hudson's frayed nerves snapped and he ordered a trial of Juet for mutiny. Hudson recalled Juet's perfidy in Ungava Bay to the crew and made an issue of it. He demoted Juet, and replaced him with Bylot. Juet's higher wages went to Bylot, and the boatswain's 'overplus' wages were divided equally between Wm. Wilson (made boatswain, replacing Clements) and King ("one of the Quarter Masters, who had very well carryed themselves to the furtherance of the businesse," wrote Prickett). Motter was also made b o'sun's (boatson's) mate.
  • Prickett noted Wilson was unpopular with the crew: "William Wilson, a man thought more fit, preferred to his place. This man had basely carried himselfe to our Master and the action."
  • Angry crew againThomas Woodhouse wrote of the event in a journal discovered later in his desk on Discovery after the return:
    "The tenth day of September, after dinner, our master called all the company together to hear and bear witness of the abuse of some of the company... after the master examined and heard with equity what (Juet) would say for himself, there were proved so many and great abuses, and mutinous matters against the master... that there was danger to have suffered them longer: and it was fit time to punish and cut off farther occasions of the like mutinies.
    "It was proved to (Juet's) face, first with Bennet Matthews, upon our first sight of Iceland, and he confessed that he supposed that in the action would be manslaughter, and prove bloody to some.
    "Secondly, at our coming from Iceland, in hearing of the company, he did threaten to turn the head of the ship home from the action, which at that time was by our master widely pacified.
    "Thirdly, it was deposed by Philip Staffe, our carpenter, and Arnold Ludlow, to his face upon the Holy Bible, that he persuaded them to keep muskets charged and swords ready in their cabins, for they should be charged with shot ere the voyage was over.
    "Fourthly, we being pestered in the ice, he had used words tending to mutiny, discouragement and slander of the action, which easily took effect in those that were timorous; and had not the master in time prevented, it might easily have overthrown the voyage: and now lately being imbayed in a deep bay, which the master had desire to see, for some reasons to himself known, his word tended altogether to put the company into a fray of extremity, by wintering in the cold."
  • Despite the damning evidence against the potential mutineers, Hudson must have recognized he could not continue on without them. He offered them pardon if they behaved themselves henceforth. Woodhouse wrote: "If the offenders yet behaved themselves henceforth honestly, he (Hudson) would be a means for their good, and that he would forget injuries." But he now had a severely divided and generally hostile crew on his ship.
  • Hudson's acts shows he was capable of being a stern and strong leader, and of taking command when necessary. But if he gained respect from the crew, he soon lost it over the following seven weeks, as he meandered in James Bay, seemingly without purpose. Prickett would later cast doubts on Hudson's seamanship and soon the resentment had grown back among the crew.


  • Michaelmasse - the ship reached a bay Henry Hudson called Michaelmasse Bay (now Hannah Bay at the very southern end of James Bay). They lost their anchor in the rocks and would have lost the cable too, except Staffe acted quickly and cut it before it was torn away.
  • The crew went ashore hunting for food. They found human footprints on the snowy rocks, plus a good wood store, which they brought back to the ship. Hudson continued sailing.
  • Staffe warned Hudson to be ware of dangerous rocks in the water, but Hudson ignored him and Discovery became wedged on some for 12 hours. They get off, but the ship's bow was damaged and so was Hudson's standing among the crew. James Bay is very shallow, seldom exceeding 45 feet, and usually less than 10 feet deep within 15 miles of the shore. The Discovery drew 10 feet and would have been pressed to dodge large boulders (glacial 'erratics') that are randomly scattered along the bottom.
  • Hudson seemed to meander in the Bay, going northwest, north, then south again and finally east. Was he lost? Or just discouraged? Or conducting a survey, looking for landmarks on ancient maps - landmarks that had long since disappeared? In all, Hudson made four sweeps/surveys of the bay, using a sounding line to test the water.
  • At the end of October, realizing they would not get out, Hudson sent Prickett and Staffe ashore to find a suitable place for winter quarters.


  • 1: The crew hauled the ship aground at the bottom of the bay (the southeast corner, today called Waskaganish).
  • 3: to June 18 The crew wintered near the mouth of the Nottaway River, (Rupert Bay) or the mouth of the Rupert River (James Bay). "To speak of all our trouble would be too tedious," wrote Prickett of the miserable winter they endured.
  • 10: The bay - and the unlucky crew - were frozen in, somewhere around 51 degrees north latitude in the subarctic bleakness of James Bay.
  • In London, Shakespeare's play, Winter's Tale was staged for the first time this month.
  • Hudson offered a reward to any crew member who killed any "beast, fish or fowl" for food.
  • Middle Nov.: John Williams (gunner) died of exposure and was buried in a shallow grave dug out of the hard, frozen soil. Prickett suggests there was some "uncharitable dealing" by Hudson of the gunner, but did not give many details. ("About the middle of this moneth of November dyed John Williams our Gunner. God pardon the Masters uncharitable dealing with this man. Now for that I am come to speake of him, out of whose ashes (as it were) that unhappie deed grew which brought a scandall upon all that are returned home, and upon the action itself, the multitude (like the dog) running after the stone, but not at the caster; therefore, not to wronge the living nor slander the dead, I will (by the leave of God) deliver the truth as neere as I can.”)
  • Greene envied the dead William's heavy grey cloak and Hudson said he could have it, although traditionally, clothes and other belongings were usually auctioned to crew at the main mast when a sailor died. The proceeds went to the sailor's next of kin when the ship returned to port. Hudson's arbitrary gift angered the crew and broke with naval traditions. Prickett wrote scathingly of Greene and his "lewd life and conversation."
  • Hudson demanded Staffe build a house onshore, although he should have ordered it built earlier when the conditions were better. The carpenter said no, "He neither could nor would go in hand with such work," wrote Prickett, and Staffe protested he was not a "house carpenter" and that he knew "what belonged to his place" better than Hudson did.
  • An angry Hudson went to the cabin and found Staffe. Hudson struck Staffe and threatened to hang him, although some sources say he later apologized for his outburst of temper. After arguing with Hudson, Staffe agreed, and built the house, but is out of favour with Henry Hudson.
  • Next day, Greene got Staffe and they went out hunting together. Seeing Greene go out with the man he had fought with so recently enraged Hudson so much that in a fit of pique he gave the cloak Greene wanted to Robert Bylot instead. Greene challenged Hudson to keep his promise, but Hudson railed at Greene with "so many words of disgrace," saying his friends would not trust him (Greene) with 20 shillings.
  • Hudson reminded Greene that he had no wages except by Hudson's tolerance (threatening the loss of his entire wages unless he behaved. Because Greene was not on the crew manifest, he would not have been paid by the Company, so any wages would have come from Hudson himself. Greene thus became Hudson's enemy from this point on. Prickett wrote "He did the master what mischief he could in seeking to discredit him."
  • Lots of fowl were shot at first, about "100 dozen" in the first three months, but the birds left the area by spring. Many fish were also caught at first. After the first few months, the food became scarce. The crew scoured the woods for food, and was reduced to eating moss and frogs to survive.

December-May 1611

  • The crew suffered from scurvy, a debilitating disease that robs its victim's strength and will. They drank an antiscorbutic medicine made of boiled pine tree or tamarack buds ("full of a turpentine substance") that Thomas Woodhouse brought back from one trip. Prickett wrote this helps the crew: "I received great and present ease of my pain."
  • Winter temperatures in the region were bitterly cold, and the unprepared crew probably endured days when the thermometer would have dropped to -45C, while deep snow piled high around them.
  • Towards the end of their winter, when the ice had just begun to break up in the bay, an Indian came to the ship (called a "savage," the native first they'd seen on this voyage).
  • Hudson treated the native well, and "promises unto himself great matters by his means." Hudson asked the crew for all of their knives and hatchets, but only King, Prickett and Staffe gave him theirs. Hudson gave the Indian a knife, a looking glass and some buttons. The Indian thanked him and made signs that he would come again, which he did the next day.
  • The native arrived with two deer skins and two beaver skins, but not food (Powys says he came with "some meat"). He gave Hudson one beaver skin for the goods he got the day before. Hudson offered him a hatchet. The Indian wanted to give him one deer skin in return, but Hudson wanted both. After bargaining, Hudson got both, but unwillingly.
  • The Indian signed that there were many people to the north and south and that after several sleeps he would be back. He never returned, possibly put off by Hudson's greed.
  • Wm. Wilson, Greene, Perse, Thomas, Motter, Mathews, and Ludlow went fishing together and caught 500 small fish, the size of herrings or trout. At first relieved because their food shortage appeared over, the men's confidence proved premature. Although they tried, they never caught so many fish again.
  • Greene, Wilson and some others plotted to take the shallop and leave to fend for themselves, but their plans were upset. Hudson unexpectedly took it for himself (with the net - the seine - and 8 or 9 days' victuals - possibly taking King and others with him). Hudson and went south and southwest looking for food and Indians. The natives saw him coming and set the woods on fire before him, rather than let him approach, so he came back worse for wear. During his absence, the crew gathered water, wood and ballast, getting ready to leave.
  • Hudson's faceBefore the ship left, Hudson took out all the remaining bread and distributed it, weeping, with his promise to return to England. The ration came to a pound/man. Soon Wm. Wilson and Greene had eaten all of their bread rations. The boat was sent out Friday morning and stayed out until Sunday noon, fishing, but only brought back four score (80) small fish. The crew only had about 14 days' worth of food in store.



  • 12: Finally ready to depart, the ship weighed anchor and went to the mouth of the bay where Hudson distributed the remaining cheeses from the stores. There were only five, although the company said there should have been nine. Each member got three and a half pounds of cheese. Hudson again wept as he doled out the rations. But, as with their bread ration, several men ate all their food too soon, including Greene and Wm. Wilson. They then accused Hudson of holding back some of the cheese (at the trial, the mutineers said they discovered 200 biscuits, a peck of meal, cheeses, a keg of beer and aqua vitae brandy in a secret scuttle in his cabin). Hudson, however, told the men the rest were spoilt and showed the remaining pieces to the crew.
  • 18: Monday? (Prickett's narrative says 18th Monday but 21st is Saturday). The ship departed, but was caught that night in ice until the following Sunday. The crew despaired of ever leaving the area.
  • 20: Hudson ordered the ship to sail west, apparently intent again on finding his passage (he may have also been trying to skirt the ice flows heading northeast into the strait). But the crew only wanted to return home. With food so short, Hudson demanded the crew's chests be opened by Syms in search of hoarded bread (although this should have been the rightful property of the men, bread put away for hungry days ahead). Syms delivered 30 cakes in a bag to the Master. The ship was becalmed and Hudson, in his despair had suggested leaving some of the men on shore.
  • If Hudson was really looking for a Northwest Passage, why did he want to continue to explore the coast of James Bay - a shallow body of water any experienced mariner would recognize as a bay and not a major waterway to another ocean? He may have been looking for islands indicated on later maps by Gerritz and Champlain - islands that Hudson expected to be near a harbour on his maps.
  • 21: The conspiracy started while the ship was moored in the ice.
  • William Wilson and Greene came to Prickett's cabin, who was lying in his bed with a lame leg. They said there was only a 14-day supply of food left. They told Prickett about their plan to commandeer the ship, asking him to join them. Prickett tried to argue them out of it, asking for a delay of several days in their mutiny, but the two were adamant. They finally agreed to wait until morning.
  • Juet came into Prickett's cabin  after Wilson and Greene left. He had also joined the mutiny, saying to Prickett he would justify his deed when he returned home. Then John Thomas and Michael Perse ("birds of a feather") came in, and finally Motter and Bennet. Set adrift
  • 22: Somewhere in the middle of James Bay (not far from the Cape Hope Islands? or perhaps Pebble Island?), the mutineers acted.
  • King was the first on deck, and was grabbed. He was shoved into the hold. When Hudson appeared, he was taken by Matthews and Thomas and had his arms pinned, then tied behind his back. Meanwhile, several sick crew members were also rounded up and taken prisoner.
  • Juet went into the hold to fetch King, but King had found a sword there and attacked Juet. Juet's cries brought help; King was outnumbered and overpowered. Ludlow and Butte were also captured, as was Hudson's son, John. Prickett recorded it thus, "The master called to mee, who came out of my cabbin as well as I could to the hatch waye to speak to him: where on my knees, I besought them for the love of God to remember them- selves, and to doe as they would be done unto. They bade me keepe myselfe well, and get me into my cab- bin, not suffering the master to speake to me. But when I came into my cabbin, againe he called to me at the horne that gave light into my cabbin, and told me that Juet would overthrow us all. Nay, says I, it is that villaine Henry Greene, and I spake it not softly."
  • Hudson and the eight others the mutineers had taken were put in the ship's boat.
  • Prickett's journal: "Now were all the poore men in the shallop, whose names are as followeth: Henrie Hudson, John Hudson, Arnold Lodlo, Sidrach Faner, Phillip Staffe, Thomas Woodhouse, (or Wydhouse,) Adam Moore, Henrie King, and Michael Bute. The carpenter got of them a peece, and powder and shot, and some pikes, an iron pot, with some meale and other things. They stood out of the ice, the shallop being fast to the sterne of the shippe, and so when they were nigh out, for I cannot say they were cleane out, they cut her head fast from the sterne of the ship, then out with theire topsayles, and towards the east they stood in a cleare sea." For the full list see: crew.
  • Matthews and Thomas begged Greene not to put their friends, Francis Clements and Sylvanus Bond, in the boat. Greene reluctantly agreed.
  • Although he had not be taken by the mutineers, Staffe insisted he be put in the boat. The mutineers asked him to stay aboard with them. Staffe declined, and then asked Prickett to leave some token at the Capes (Digges & Wolstenholme), near where the fowls bred, so the abandoned crew would know they had been there (obviously believing they would also find their way out).
  • After the boat had been put into the water, Hudson called out to Prickett, warning him to beware of Juet. Prickett shouted back that Greene was the leader of the mutiny, not Juet.
  • The abandoned crew took clothes and bedding into the shallop, according to Bylot.
  • The mutineers cut the rope that held the boat to the ship, but the men in the boat continued rowing to pursue the ship. The mutineers put up Discovery's top sails, and the ship sailed away. Looking back, they saw the shallop still in sight and growing closer, so they lowered the mainsail and finally rushed out of sight, never seeing the others again. For the list of remaining crew, see: mutineers.
  • In a frenzy, the mutineers ransacked the ship and the Captain's cabin. The captain's and abandoned crew's clothes were sold among the remaining crew (the money allegedly paid to the relatives of the owners, when the crew returned to England). Although they had expected to find a secret hoard, the remaining food they found only came to a box and a half of meal, two small tubs of butter, 27 pieces of pork, half a bushel of peas, a barrel of beer and about 200 biscuits - a small amount for the remaining nine crew.
  • The survivors would later testify to the Admiralty that Henry Hudson his abandoned crew were not shot at by crew on Discovery as they sailed away.
  • 23: The ship anchored off a small island where the crew went hunting, but only returned with two birds and "cocklegrass," similar to rye, which they also ate.


  • Although unqualified, Greene took over as the captain, probably using his position and gentle birth to claim the right to lead. He accused Prickett of stealing and hoarding 30 cakes of bread. Prickett said he was accused of things Greene had done himself. When the crew voiced fears for their safety - as mutineers they faced hanging when they returned - Greene promised he would not land anywhere until "he had the king's majesty's hand and seal to show for his safety."
  • Greene snubbed Juet and replaced him as pilot with Bylot. Juet and Bylot subsequently argued over navigation. Bylot's advice, which Greene took, to head northeast ended up with Discovery locked in the ice for 14 days, but they eventually got free. Juet had wanted to head northwest, which would have led them away from England.
  • Greene had intended to abandon Prickett with the others, but now seeing he might prove useful later, put Prickett in Hudson's cabin, and gave him Hudson's journals and log. He told Prickett to write an account of the voyage that was favourable to the mutineers.
  • 25: The mutineers reached Digges' Island after a long month of travel, during much of which they wandered lost in Hudson Bay.
  • 27: They sent the boats out to get fowl they had encountered on their first stop here, but could not find the place where the fowl bred again. They shot 30 gulls before returning to the ship. The Discovery ran aground, but was freed shortly.
  • Many Inuit approach28: The crew sent boats out to Digges Island again (called Digges Cape by Prickett). While ashore, they were discovered by seven boats of 40-50 Eskimo (Inuit - including men, women and children), who offered the strangers food, and showed them how to snare birds. The Inuit took the crew back to their camp and hosted a banquet, with displays of dancing and leaping. Greene was so convinced of the Inuit's peaceful intentions, that he wouldn't post a guard that night.
  • Eskimo29: The crew sent the boat out again, this time going out of sight of the ship. Greene and five men, unarmed and confident, found the Inuit again and tried to barter for more food. But according to Prickett, unprovoked, the Eskimo attacked the crew instead. Two also tried to attack the boat where only Prickett stood guard alone. Greene bravely tried to defend his retreating crew mates with a broken pike.
  • Back at the boat, Prickett managed to kill one attacker, the other of the two was knocked unconscious in the boat. Thomas, Wilson, Greene and Perse were seriously wounded, but made their way back to the boat.
  • Motter, unharmed, swam from shore to the boat as they left. Greene and Motter were killed by arrows from the natives onshore. Prickett was hit in the back by an arrow as they rowed back to the ship. Wilson and Thomas died later that day on Discovery, Perse (Pearce) lived only two more days.
  • Pricket described the incident this way: "Now when they had rowed a good way from the shore, Michael Pearce fainted and could row no more. Then was Andrew Moter driven to stand in the boat's head and waft to the ship, which at the first saw us not, and when they did, they could not tell what to make of us; but in the end they stood for us, and so took us up. Henry Greene was thrown out of the boat into the sea, and the rest were had on board. But they died all three that day, William Wilson swearing and cursing in the most fearful manner. Michael Pearce lived two days after and then died. Thus you have heard the tragicale of Henry Greene and his mates, whom they called the captaine, these four being the only lustie men in all the ship."
  • Only Prickett and Motter survived the attack. There is no record of what happened to the Inuit on the boat. Conveniently for the others, most of the major conspirators had apparently all died in this attack and could never be called to account.
  • 30: The next day, remaining crew went out and, with no natives in sight, gathered about 200 fowl, then they left the island and headed home for England, piloted by Bylot.


  • Favourable winds helped them along the way. Juet tried to convince the crew to find refuge in Newfoundland, possibly to become pirates sailing from there.
  • After a while, they ran out of food onboard. The crew was forced to eat sea gulls. Then finally eat they ate birds' bones fried in candle grease - each man received a pound of candles ration/week.
  • Juet assured the crew they had only 200 miles left to get home, but they really had 600 to reach the Irish coast.
  • Not long before they sighted land, Prickett wrote that Juet died of hunger - "mere want." The last ringleader was gone and the survivors could blame the dead for their troubles without having anyone contradict them.


  • 6: The ship reached Bantry Bay, off the southeast coast of Ireland, and the eight remaining crew were brought in by a fishing boat. They were starving, described by witnesses as "more dead than alive."
  • The crew sold their cable and anchor to John Weymouth, to buy food in Ireland while they prepared for their last leg home.
  • The ship sailed to Plymouth, then Gravesend, and finally London.
  • Total time since leaving: 1 year 4 months 3 weeks.


  • 20: Discovery returned to London. Bylot reported to Sir Thomas, and the directors interrogated the other survivors: Syms, Edward Wilson, Prickett, Matheus, Bond, Clements and Motter.
  • The crew was questioned, and a recommendation made that they be hanged. However, the trial did not take place until 1618, after several had died of other causes. Then, perhaps not wanting to expose a secret reason for the fateful voyage, the Admiralty court found the surviving mutineers not guilty and freed them. But this was not be the last voyage some of them made in Discovery, nor the last time Discovery sailed the Arctic waters. Both Bylot and Prickett would soon head back to those fateful waters. See the Aftermath file for more details.