His Highness being convinced of how much importance the discovery of a North-West passage, formerly attempted in vain, would be, and being now resolved to employ for that purpose Captain Thomas Button, who had been employed in 1601, at the siege of Kinsale in Ireland, and was now in the Prince’s service, an able seaman, and eminent in other branches of knowledge; Mr Pett was ordered to assist that Captain in the choice of a proper ship for the undertaking. The Captain accordingly set sail in April 1612 with two vessels, one called the Resolution, in which he sailed himself and the other the Discovery commanded by Captain Ingram; being both victualled for eighteen months. They wintered on board the ships, and did not return till after the Prince’s death, which prevented Captain Button making another voyage for the purpose of the discovery. But from the observations, which he made, especially of the tides, he came home perfectly satisfied, that a North-West passage might be found… Birch / 265
A Condensation, Not Ripe For His SickleThe aftermath of Hudson's Voyages
The Attempt of Captain Thomas Button to Discover the Northwest Passage
- Discovery and Resolution, with a crew of 160 men, were sent out by Prince Henry (the Prince of Wales) and the directors of the Muscovy Company, under command of Capt. Thomas Button (a gentleman of Prince Henry's Household). They set out to search for the Northwest Passage, and search for any survivors. Three former members of Hudson's crew, Abacuck Prickett, the Welshman Robert Bylot (as pilot) and Edward Wilson, were aboard. Prince Henry gave specific instructions to Button on how to govern his crew to avoid another mutiny. Five of his men died on Digges Island attempting to commandeer some canoes from the Inuit. The Resolution was crushed by ice and sank.
- Expecting to find a passage to Cathay, Button carried a letter from King James addressed to the emperor of Japan. Button crossed Hudson Bay to the west side around 61° N, then sailed south exploring the bay. The ships stopped and and wintered at the mouth of the Nelson River. Port Nelson, where they wintered-over, was named after one of the mates who was buried there.
- Next spring, the ships headed back north along the coast, until shallow water convinced him he had found a sound (now Roe's Welcome Sound), not a passage west. The Resolution was crushed by the ice and sank. Discovery sailed north to what was called Sir Thomas Roe's Welcome, between Southampton Island and the east coast of America, before turning for England. A considerable length of coastline was charted on this expedition. It was also determined that no westward passage from Hudson Bay existed. Button headed east and returned home to England, 16 months after his departure.