How a Search for China Led to the Naming of the Hudson River

By Phineas Upham

Henry Hudson was born around 1570, and not much is known about his early life or his parents. He was thought to have been a cabin boy during the early years of his life, which gave him a foothold to work himself into a Captain’s position.

He became an explorer and skilled navigator of some fame throughout the 17th century, and was hired by the English on two separate occasions to find the fabled Northwest Passage that would open up trade to China. Hudson would eventually wind up in modern day New York after being hired by the Dutch East India Company to find a Western route to Asia.

The bay known as Hudson is double the size of the Baltic Sea, and included many estuaries large enough for boats to pass through. Every ship that pursued the Northwest Passage coming from the Atlantic side crossed through Hudson Strait, and Hudson himself has inspired tales of fiction because of his mysterious fate. Discovery of Hudson Bay gave the Hudson’s Bay Company substantial power in the region, with influence that literally shaped the boundaries of Western North America.

Many landmarks in New York and New Jersey bear his name, including the Henry Hudson Bridge, Parkway, Hudson County, New Jersey, Hudson, New York and the Hudson River he’d explored.

During a mutiny, Hudson was left adrift at sea on a skiff with his sons and a few sick. Surviving members, who escaped on Discovery, watched as Henry Hudson’s boat struggled to keep up and he was never seen again.


Phineas Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Phineas Upham website or Twitter page.

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