1602 - Searching for the "Lost Colony"

Trading with the Wampanoags
March 1602 - Captain Samuel Mace leaves the port of Weymouth bound for Virginia. He is sent by Sir Walter Raleigh to find traces of the Roanoke colony.

Mace was an experienced navigator. He had previously sailed twice to Virginia. For his part, Sir Walter Raleigh hoped to find live settlers and extend the validity of his chart, come to an end.

March 26, 1602 - Bartholomew Gosnold leaves Falmouth (Devon) to the American continent aboard the Concord. He intends to found a lasting settlement in North Virginia (name given at time to New England) and takes with him 8 crewmen and 24 "gentlemen" bound for adventure.

Despite limited means, his plan was rather ambitious. He hoped to find the famous refuge discovered by Giovanni da Verazzano in 1524 (Narragansett Bay) and found a colony, or at least, a trading post. But he had to bring back from the New World enough convertible goods to compensate his expenses and amortize the expedition cost. Two things interested him actually pelts and sassafras roots. The latter were quite popular in Europe for their medicinal properties and allowed its suppliers to reap huge profits. The sassafras, however, only grew in America. Apart from the project's funding, Gosnold had to solve another problem; his father was imprisoned for debts and it was his reponsibility to pay them off.

Some historians have argued that Gosnold hired captain Bartholomew Gilbert's services due to his links with Lord Cobham, owner of an old license granted to Edward Hayes by Sir Walter Raleigh. Lord Cobham was indeed the brother-in-law of Sir Robert Cecil, Secretary of State of Queen Elizabeth but this hypothesis was not confirmed.

We also worried about the small quantity of supplies shipped but Gosnold had decided to be the first navigator to achieve in direct line the ocean crossing. It was about a particularly audacious strategy because, with its 30 tons, the Concord was a rather modest ship, added to the fact that it was originally designed to follow the trade winds to the Caribbean and up the North American coast pushed by southwest winds. Gosnold knew that from the Azores, it would certainly save a considerable distance, but he would have to tack unabated.

Among people who accompanied him were his friend Gabriel Archer and chaplainJohn Bereton, both  responsible to the account of the expedition; William Street, one of the owners of the ConcordRobert Salterne and John Angell, who went on one year later to accompany Martin Pring in the Great Sassafras Hunts ; Robert Meriton, a botanist-pharmacist who knew well the plants curative properties.

Bartholomew Gosnold (Grundisburgh (Suffolk) 1572 - Jamestown (VA)  August 22, 1607) - Both lawyer, privateer and explorer, he played a leading role in the founding of theVirginia Company of London and the Jamestown colony. He was born in a family of the landed gentry which gravitated in the wake of the Earl of Essex. He spent his early years in the family manor at Otley Hall before leaving to follow studies at Jesus College, Cambridge. After graduation, he came to London to study law at Middle Temple where he met Richard Hakluyt, the famous geographer of the queen with whom he befriended. The latter conveyed his interest in the colonization of the New World, quite as Sir Thomas Smythe, the rich cousin of his wife and founder of he East India CompanyGosnold apprenticed for adventure on a first trip to the Azores in 1597 and accompanied the Earl of Esssex Robert Devereux, in a campaign of piracy off the coast of the Spain. He began to develop his project to colonize Virginia following the publication by Hakluyt of "Principal Navigations of the English Nation", a campaigning book for merchants. He lost however in 1601 his two main financial supports: Essex first, convinced of treason and beheaded, and Sir Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, disgraced and imprisoned in the Tower of London. He had therefore to assume virtually alone achieving his ambitions.

Robert Salterne - () native of Bristol, he was the son (or the grandson) of William, deputy of the " traders-adventurers " of the city. Richard Hakluyt had consulted him in 1583, at the request of Secretary of State Sir Francis Walsingham, to obtain his support for hatching an expedition in America, supervised by Sir Humphrey Gilbert. It is likely thatRichard Hakluyt was not foreign to the fact that the young Robert had been at firs toriented towards an ecclesiastical career.

John Bereton (1572-1619?) -  born in a family of wealthy drapers from Norwich, he attended Cambridge University  where he  was graduated in 1596. He chose then the priesthood and was ordained two years later to be assigned to Lawsall parish. This is where he met cousins of Bartholomew Gosnold and began to acquire the taste of adventures. It was he who made the "Relation" of the journey of 1602, referring in great detail the explored coasts, vegetation and wildlife, bartering furs with the Indians and the first sowing experiences of an exceptionally fertile soil. He never tired to be impressed by the quantity of fish found in these waters, up to whale skeletons seen on Martha's Vineyard’s beaches. His work was, in fact, a plea, liable to encourage all English merchants and potential migrants to settle in North America.

Gabriel Archer (1575 - Jamestown 1609) - Native of Essex, he studied at Cambridge and Gray Inn and worked at first as lawyer. He had known Bartholomew Gilbert at University and it was due to their friendship that this one appointed him in 1602 second captain on theConcord.

Bartholomew Gilbert (Plymouth - 1603) - The second captain of the Concord had previously been involved in a swindle affair with precious stones of which Queen Elizabeth had been victim. This man seemed associated in a number of financial embezzlements and it is difficult to understand why Bartholomew Gosnold had chosen him for the trip to America, except perhaps the fact that he owned shares in the ship or was a distant cousin. He had been in charge of the boat supply but, disturbing effect of chance, foods quickly proved insufficient, undermining the purpose of the colonization project. Had Gilbert diverted a part from it in his profit? It is, however, certain that on the return of the expedition, he arranged with Sir Walter Raleigh and gave him some valuable information about the importance of the sassafra cargo loaded on the Concord.

May, 1602 - Bartholomew Gosnold reaches Cape Elizabeth, Maine, after only 18 days at sea. Not finding an anchoring place, he decides to follow the coast southwards.

Cape Elizabeth

His ship was approached by eight Indians whose boat looked strangely like those of Biscay fishermen, letting believe that the Basques attended this place. The Natives were invited aboard the Concord and seemed quite understand English, mixing with their comments diverse Christian words. Then they sketched with a chalk the outlines of the coast of the area and placed even Newfoundland. The Indians proved very hospitable and suggested to Gosnold to make a short stopover but he declined politely their offer.

May 14, 1602 - Bartholomew Gosnold stops at the mouth of York River in South Maine.

May 15, 1602 Bartholomew Gosnold reaches a strip of land which he names Cape Cod ans casts anchor in Milford Haven bay (today Princetown).

May, 1602 - Having set sail southward, Gosnold by-passes an island that he names Nomans land (Nomans coming certainly from Tequenoman, the name of the local Indian leader) before approaching the large nearby island which seems rather hospitable and which he calls Martha's Vineyard.

Martha's Vineyard

This island that he had so called up because of the abundance of his wild vineyards and to honor the memory of his daughter Martha, gone to an early grave, was full of woods and fruit shrubs among which gooseberries, raspberries, dog roses and of all kinds of game. Navigator Giovanni da Verazzano had visited it in 1524 and included it on his map as Luisa Island. It was lived by the Wampanoag Indians who formed a powerful Algonquian speaking federation dominating in the time southern New England. They had given it the name of Noepe, meaning " land amid the currents ".  TheWampanaoags welcomed these newcomers with a watchy curiosity and Gosnold took advantage of this hospitality by exchanging with them fancy goods against pelts and sassafras.

According to some sources, the name originally given to the island was not Martha but Martin's Vineyard, in reference to captain John Martin, one of Gosnold's seconds.

Albert Bierstadt - Gosnold at Cuttyhunk (1858)
May 24, 1602 - Gosnold lands on the small island of Cuttyhunk that he names Elizabeth in honor of the queen, a name given afterward to the archipelago to which it belongs. He chooses this place to establish his colony and decides to build a fort and a house.
This islet was rich in plants of all kinds (oaks, cedars, sassafrases, cherry trees, vineyards, gooseberries, hawthorns, honeysuckle, locust trees) and was not apparently inhabited. The soil proved, on the other hand, extremely fertile and plants grew at an amazing pace. The settlers took advantage of it to sow wheat, barley and peas.

Barttholomew Gosnold at Smoking Rocks
May 31, 1602 - Bartholomew Gosnold  lands, during a reconnaissance mission, on the coast a few miles North of Cuttyhunk in a place that he names Smoking Rocks (today New Bedford, MA). He takes notice of the presence of an important Indian population. 

June, 1602 - Gosnold's men are making their picking of sassafras when they are approached by about fifty Indians Wampanoag armed with bows and arrows. These show however courteous and dispaly their want to barter.

Bartholomew Gosnold offered their leader a straw hat and a pair of knives the sharpening quality of  which made on him a strong impression on him.

June 13, 1602 - Some of the men anticipated to remain at Cuttyhunk inform Gosnold that they prefer to return to England, by fear of Indians, winter harshness and lack of reserves.

June 17, 1602 - the Concord leaves Cuttyhunk with onboard all the members of the expedition.

July 23, 1602 - Bartholomew Gosnold is back to Exmouth. He brings with him an important shipcargo of sassafras and cedar wood, the best price of which he hopes to get.

He considered however his journey as a failure. He had sailed with the naive ambition to found a long-lasting settlement in North America and returned three months later with all his crew, without either having discovered the large bay described by Verazzano.
Known for their curative virtues, sassafras roots used to make drinks supposed to keep youthful and healthy, were at the time very appreciated by the English. They were especially supposed to guard against syphilis. Gosnold hoped, thereby, to make a good profit. It was however without relying on the legalistic acumens of Sir Walter Raleigh, who had hired captain Martin Pring  for equivalent purposes and argued on this occasion the privileges which had granted him Queen Elizabeth.
Raleigh was previously hardly concerned with rights that could be levied on goods from America but the sassafras loading brought back by Gosnold caused such a collapse in prices that he did not hesitate to react. He thus accused Gosnold of having encroached on lands located between the 34 and the 45th parallels that he regarded as his own and made seize all the shipment.

Despite the poor result of this expedition, Barthomew Gosnold was convinced of all the interest which represented the American continent, because of the nature of its climate and the fertility of its soils. He felt having never seen such a nice place, with its orchards, meadows and brooks, up to the Wampanoag Indians who had appeared to him as peaceful people.

September, 1602 - having left Weymouth in May, Samuel Mace returns to London without having collected information on the Roanoke colony.

He had preferred to stop near Cape Fear to stock up an important shipment of sassafras and actually engaged no serious research. Mace found as excuse that bad weather had prevented him.

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