Henry Hudson—born in England c. 1565, died in 1611 after June 22, probably in or near Hudson Bay—was an English explorer. A river, a strait, and a bay in North America are named in his honor.
Nothing is known of of Hudson's early life. Several Hudsons were associated with the Muscovy Company of London, but a generation before his own time. A 1585 voyage by the English navigator John Davis, who sailed to the Arctic to make the first attempt to find a Northwest Passage from Europe to Asia, was planned in the home of Thomas Hudson. Henry Hudson may have been present on that occasion, which could explain his lifelong interest in Arctic exploration. It is certain that he was well informed about Arctic geography and that his competence as a navigator was proved by the fact that several wealthy companies chose him to conduct hazardous explorations.
In 1609, Hudson was hired by the Dutch East India Company in order to make another attempt to discover the Northeast passage. He left Amsterdam in early April, but because of heavy ice in the Nova Zembla area he decided to go west and to try his luck at the Northwest passage. At the end of May he came near Nova Scotia and because of storms he went southward and in the beginning of September he arrived at the river that is now named after him.
In 1610, the English Virginia Company and the British East India Company employed Hudson to try his hand again at the Northwest passage. He and his crew reached Iceland early May and the south of Greenland a month later. On June 25, the explorers reached the Hudson Strait at the northern tip of Labrador. Following the southern coast of the strait in August, the ship entered Hudson Bay. Hudson spent the following months mapping and exploring its eastern shores. In November his ship was frozen in, and the crew wintered ashore. In June 1611 the ship came free from the ice and the crew, who wanted to go home, mutinied when Hudson announced that wanted to continue the exploration. The mutineers set Hudson and his teenage son John, and eight loyal crewmen adrift in a small open boat. Nothing has ever been heard of them again