Ever since Henry was a boy he served on various ships doing every job available in hopes of becoming a sea captain someday (apprenticeships were required back then versus attending school). It was recognized early on that he was a natural seaman especially when it came to navigating a ship and maneuvering it.
The reason having someone this young commanding his own ship was out of the norm is that a ship whose role is to explore is a high risk/high reward business. Captains in this role would go around from investor to investor trying to convince them it would be financially rewarding to back him on an expedition. These trips were typically looking for better trade routes for existing trade, more lucrative ones where the captain
discovers new trade opportunities (of course a discovery of gold was well
received), and land to be acquired like Britain and France did in North America.
Investing in expeditions was extremely risky because the investor had to provide all resources up front including a ship many of the times. The ships would often travel to places no one had ever been so it could be easily lost at sea which would be a huge financial hit for its investor. Then there are also those times when a captain would return home empty handed which meant the investor lost everything.
But Captain Hudson had a reputation for delivering results to the point where several countries sought him out for specific missions and a lot of companies like the East India Trade Company did the same. When he became a captain and started turning in amazing results he never had to grovel again for investment funds. As a bonus during one of Hudson’s voyages Britain gave him the ship he commanded and it was called the Discovery.
I can’t go into all the places he sailed as it would take up a lot of space but it did include a lot of cold places like Greenland and the Arctic Circle. As you can imagine these aren’t the kind of places most captains and crews were willing to go because they’re so do dangerous for a variety of reasons plus could you imagine working topside in
those cold conditions? Because of his expertise in these hazardous conditions he
was the most often called upon to do northern excursions including in Canada and
New Found Land where the Hudson Bay and Hudson Straight are located.
Just a guess on my part but I think one of the reasons Captain Hudson hasn’t gotten some of the historical coverage that explorers like Lewis and Clark did is because his missions were usually different. He was a money-maker so to speak. His missions were very clear and a big chunk of it was to create better trade routes so shipping could be efficient and effective. As you can imagine the faster and safer a trade route could be
meant a lot more revenues for those in the supply business. His primary job wasn’t to look for new lands but to get the most out of discovered lands as quickly and safely as possible.
I mentioned at the beginning of this piece the year of Captain Hudson’s death is unknown. Expeditions took a long time and it always took its toll on the crews who were away from their family and friends. They were at the base of the Hudson Bay when the weather became too difficult to continue sailing so they settled on shore for a few months until the weather improved. Once conditions were good Captain Hudson wanted to continue exploring since they already travelled thousands of miles to get there but most of his crew wanted to go home. While underway the crew committed
mutiny. They didn’t dislike the captain they just wanted to sail home. They gave
Hudson and four of his officers a small boat along with supplies so they could make it back to shore. Unfortunately this was the last time anyone saw them so his death couldn’t be confirmed.
As I’ve demonstrated several times there are some amazing stories that many of us don’t have a clue about. There are some amazing men and women throughout our history who get little to no credit in our history books. Captain Hudson is one of those men. He was a phenomenal captain who sailed on very dangerous seas on a ship that certainly wasn’t like the ones we have today. He was a winner in every sense of the word as he never had a shortage of business; as soon as he got back from one trip another trading company our country would send him on another excursion. Having such outstanding credibility in a very challenging and expensive industry is difficult as it is but for someone in his 20’s to be called on again and again is absolutely
amazing. Captain Hudson’s life was a short but he sure packed a lot in it; as
someone once said: “It’s not length of your life that counts but its