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Bartholomew Gosnold

From Academic Kids

Bartholomew Gosnold (1572 - August 22, 1607) was an English lawyer, explorer, and privateer. He was instrumental in founding the Virginia Company of London, and also Jamestown, Virginia, and is considered by the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (APVA) to be the "prime mover of the colonization of Virginia." He was the first non-indigenous person to visit Cape Cod, on May 15, 1602.

He was born in Grundisburgh in Suffolk, England in 1572. His parents were Anthony Gosnold and Dorothy Bacon. He graduated from the University of Cambridge and studied law at Middle Temple.

He was friend of Richard Hakluyt and sailed with Walter Raleigh. He obtained backing to attempt a colony in the New World and sailed in 1602 to establish a colony.

He pioneered a direct route due west from the Azores to New England arriving in May 1602 Cape Elizabeth in Maine (Lat 43 degrees). He skirted the coastline for several days before anchoring in York Harbor, Maine on May 14, 1602.

The next day, he sailed to Cape Cod, a place he is credited with naming. Following the coastline for several days, he discovered Martha's Vineyard and named it after his daughter. He established a small post on Elizabeth's Island, which is now called Cuttyhunk Island and is part of the town of Gosnold. The post was abandoned when the crew voted to return to England rather than attempt to winter over.

He spent several years after his return to England promoting a more ambitious attempt; he obtained from King James I an exclusive charter for a Virginia Company to settle Virginia. To form the core of what would become the Jamestown colony, he recruited his cousin-by-marriage Edward M. Wingfield, as well as John Smith, his brother and a cousin, in addition to members of his 1602 expedition. Gosnold himself served as vice-admiral of the expedition, and captain of the Godspeed (one of the three ships of the expedition).

He was popular among the colonists and opposed the location of the colony; he also helped design the fort that held the initial colony. He died of dysentery and scurvy only four months after they landed, on August 22, 1607.

By all accounts, he was greatly missed, and his loss marked the beginnings of the discord which tore apart the colony its first several years.

Possible discovery of his grave

In 2005, the APVA announced that they believed their archaeological dig at Jamestown had found his grave, and started an attempt to verify that using genetic fingerprinting.

By June, researchers had received the approval of the Church of England to take DNA samples from bodies in two churches in an attempt to establish whether a skeleton found by the APVA is that of Gosnold. It is believed that this approval is the first ever granted by the Church for such purposes. Church officials allowed it because they regarded the investigation as being historically significant.

The DNA analysis will be conducted by the Smithsonian Institution.

External links

Further reading

  • David A. Price, Love and Hate in Jamestown (Alfred A. Knopf, 2003: ISBN 0375415416)
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