Looking for Henry Hudson

Set adrift by mutineers during his expedition to find a Northwest Passage, the famous explorer was never heard from again. What was his fate?

In 1611, Henry Hudson was on his second trip to the New World, seeking a shortcut through North America to the riches of the Orient. After having wintered over in what is now known as James Bay, the southern pocket of the huge bay that would be named for Hudson, some of his crew had had enough. Low on food and tired of the quixotic rule of the autocratic master of the ship, they rebelled. Hudson and several scurvy-sick crew members were set adrift in a shallop and never seen again.

Apart from a fragment of Hudson's journal, only one eyewitness account of the fateful trip survives. It was written by Abacuk Prickett, a London haberdasher, servant of one of the expedition's sponsors and a surviving mutineer, and it may have been influenced by a need to defend his actions in court. Mutiny was a hangable offense.

And what of Hudson and his men? Stories have come down over the centuries to the inhabitants of the James Bay area telling of fair-skinned strangers on their shores. Could they have been the abandoned master and his crew?

Author Lawrence Millman weaves together the contemporary accounts of Hudson's voyages and visits James Bay to investigate the mysterious fate of one of England's greatest maritime explorers.

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