Bartholomew Gosnold


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GOSNOLD BARTHOLOMEW, navigator; born in England; date unknown; became a stanch friend of Sir Walter Raleigh. Because of Raleigh's failure, he did not lose faith. The long routes of the vessels by way of the West Indies seemed to him unnecessary, and he advocated the feasibility of a more direct course across the Atlantic. He was offered the command of an expedition by the Earl of Southampton, to make a small settlement in the more northerly part of America ; and on April 26, 1602, Gosnold sailed from Falmouth, England, in a small vessel, with twenty colonists and eight mariners (See the PLYMOUTH COMPANY). He took the proposed shorter route, and touched the continent near Nahant, Mass., it is supposed, eighteen days after his departure from England. Finding no good harbor there, he sailed southward, discovered and named Cape Cod, and landed there. This was the first time the shorter (present) route from England to New York and Boston had been traversed; and it was the first time an Englishman set foot on New England soil. Gosnold passed around the cape, and entered Buzzard's Bay, where he found an attractive group of Islands, and he named the westernmost Elizabeth, in honor of his Queen. The whole group bear that name. He and his followers landed on Elizabeth Island, and were charmed with the luxuriance of vegetation, the abundance of small fruits, and the general aspect of nature.

Gosnold determined to plant his colony there, and on a small rocky island, in the bosom of a great pond, he built a fort; and, had the courage of the colonists held out, Gosnold would have had the immortal honor of making the first permanent English settlement in America. Afraid of the Indians, fearing starvation, wondering what the winter would be, and disagreeing about the division of profits, they were seized with a depressing home-sickness. So, loading the vessel with sassafras-root (then esteemed in Europe for its medicinal qualities), furs gathered from the natives, and other products, they abandoned the little paradise of beauty, and in less than four months after their departure from England they had returned ; and, speaking in glowing terms of the land they had discovered, Raleigh advised the planting of settlements in that region, and British merchants after-wards undertook it. Elizabeth Island now bears its original name of Cottyunk. Gosnold soon afterwards organized a company for colonization in Virginia. A charter was granted him and his associates by James I., dated April 10, 1606, the first under which the English were settled in America. He sailed Dec. 19, 1606, with three small vessels and 105 adventurers, of whom only twelve were laborers ; and, passing between Capes Henry and Charles, went up the James River in April, 1607, and landed where they built Jamestown afterwards. The place was an unhealthful one, and Gosnold remonstrated against founding the settlement there, but in vain. Sickness and other causes destroyed nearly half the number before autumn. Among the victims was Gosnold, who died Aug. 22, 1607.



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