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Bartholomew Gosnold

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Spouse(s)  Mary Goldinge
Name  Bartholomew Gosnold

Role  Lawyer
Bartholomew Gosnold image2findagravecomphotos250photos201126941

Born  1571 (age 35–36) Grundisburgh, Suffolk, England
Known for  Founder of the Virginia Company of London
Parent(s)  Anthony Gosnold and Dorothy Bacon

Education  University of Cambridge

Died   22 August 1607 (aged 35–36) Jamestown, Virginia

Similar  Henry Gosnold, Francis Bacon, Richard Hakluyt

Bartholomew Gosnold (1571 – 22 August 1607) was an English lawyer, explorer, and privateer who was instrumental in founding the Virginia Company of London, and Jamestown in colonial America. He led the first recorded European expedition to Cape Cod. He is considered by Preservation Virginia (formerly known as the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities) to be the "prime mover of the colonization of Virginia".


5 European Explorers

Early life and family

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Gosnold was born in Grundisburgh in Suffolk, England in 1571, and his family seat was at Otley, Suffolk. His parents were Anthony Gosnold of Grundisburgh and Dorothy Bacon of Hessett. Henry Gosnold, the judge and friend of Francis Bacon, was his cousin. Bartholomew had a younger brother, born sometime between 1573 and 1578, who, according to tradition, accompanied him to Virginia. In 1578, the will of Bartholomew's great-grandmother Ann Doggett (Bacon) Gosnold shows five sisters to Bartholomew and Anthony.

Gosnold graduated from the University of Cambridge and studied law at Middle Temple. He was a friend of Richard Hakluyt and sailed with Walter Raleigh. He married Mary Goldinge, daughter of Robert Goldinge of Bury St Edmunds and his wife Martha Judd, at Latton, Essex in 1595. Mary's mother, Martha, was daughter of Sir Andrew Judd a wealthy London merchant who, among other offices, was Lord Mayor of London, 1550–51. More importantly for Gosnold's story, Sir Andrew Judd was also grandfather to Thomas Smith, one of the founders of the Virginia Company. "Bartholomew's marriage, which has the appearance of one arranged with foresight, brought together a young man of high standing among the landed gentry and a young lady whose antecedents were found chiefly among the wealthier merchants of the city of London." Together, Bartholomew and Mary Gosnold had seven children, six of whom were baptized at Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, between 1597 and 1607. Daughter Mary married Richard Pepys, kinsman of the diarist Samuel Pepys.

Early maritime career

Bartholomew Gosnold Bartholomew Gosnold b 1572 Suffolk England d 22 Aug 1607

There is no record of Gosnold's early maritime experiences, but given that he was entrusted with a ship to attempt a colonizing project in southern New England in 1602, he must have had significant experience. His biographer has suggested, based on circumstantial evidence, that in 1597–98 he served under the Earl of Essex on his Azores voyages. Many of those involved in that voyage afterwards became involved in the colonization of Virginia.

Organizing a colonial enterprise

Bartholomew Gosnold Bartholomew Gosnold English explorer Britannicacom

Gosnold early became a principal proponents of English New World settlement, and John Smith attested to it in 1612:

Bartholomew Gosnold Bartholomew Gosnold

Captaine Bartholomew Gosnold, the first mover of this plantation, having many years solicited his friends, but found small assistants; at last prevailed with some Genrtlemen, as Maister Edward Maria Wingfield, Captain John Smith, and diverse others …"

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The quote refers to Gosnold's efforts in connection with his second voyage, to Virginia (or Southern Virginia, since all of the area the English claimed in North America was called "Virginia"). But it could as easily describe Gosnold's effort to interest his "friends" in a colonizing effort at the beginning of the 17th century. In the Elizabethan (and later Stuart) ages, exploration and colonization was a private endeavor. While the crown did not defray any of the expenses of these enterprises, it granted monopolizes to an individual or corporation to exploit a particular area that the crown claimed. This made the efforts profit-drive, much like privateering. So a would-be colonizer, like Gosnold, had to raise the capital for the expedition among private sources. As these ventures became more common great corporations would arise, much like the corporations which exploited the trading routes (which the crown also granted monopolies on). Substantial obstacles stood in the way of organizing a commercial colonizing venture to the New World. In the first place, Ireland beckoned as an alternate prospect for colonization, one that was less expensive, at least with respect to shipping expenses. Most of the venture capitalists who were considering New World ventures were also involved in Irish ventures. Thomas Smith's son, for example, was involved in the first substantial effort to colonize Ulster (although he was killed early in the endeavor)> There was also the substantial financial risk involved in colonizing projects. Sir Walter Raleigh had lost 40 thousand pounds in founding Roanoke colony, and he pledged still more to attempt to find and rescue the lost settlers. The loss of that colony as well as colonial failures elsewhere seems to have prevented commercial efforts to colonize Virginia from the time of the failure of the Roanoke colony. There was a legal impediment as well; Raleigh technically held the patent on all Virginia.

There was, however, a new colonial plan that seemed to have garnered general acceptance since it was written in the mid-1590s. It was in the report written by Edward Hayes to Lord Burghley setting forth the rationale and procedure for settlement. The argument was that colonization efforts should begin in northern Virginia (New England) because, compared with the locations tried in the lower latitudes the area's climate better comported with English comfort and produced agriculture much like England's. The coast of New England also produced a wealth of fish prized in Europe which could support a small foothold establishment and produce a profit with growth provided when more settlers were gradually added later. Gosnold's 1602 voyage was tailored to the concepts outline in this report. If there were any question who should be credited with the expedition's conception, it would be dispelled when that report was appended to the printed report of the voyage written by John Brereton and published soon after the return. In any event, Gosnold somehow obtained the backing of the Earl of Southampton, who would also become interested in the Virginia Company, but today is probably best known as the friend of Shakespeare. As for Raleigh's patent, Raleigh's influence with the Queen seems ot have been waning, and in any event her only interest was in the revenue produced to her, and Raleigh was no producing any. So in the Spring of 1602 Gosnold fitted out an expedition and set out for Northern Virginia.

The 1602 expedition to Cape Cod and environs

Gosnold obtained backing to attempt to found an English colony in the New World and in 1602 he sailed from Falmouth, Cornwall in a small Dartmouth bark, the Concord, with thirty-two on board. They intended to establish a colony in New England. Gosnold pioneered a direct sailing route due west from the Azores to what later became New England, arriving in May 1602 at Cape Elizabeth in Maine (Lat. 43 degrees).

The next day, he sailed into Provincetown Harbor, where he is credited with naming Cape Cod. Following the coastline for several days, he discovered Martha's Vineyard and named it after his deceased daughter, Martha, and the wild grapes that covered much of the land. Gosnold established a small post on Cuttyhunk Island, one of the Elizabeth Islands, near Gosnold, now in Massachusetts. The post was abandoned when settlers decided to return on the ship to England since they feared they had insufficient provisions to carry them through the winter.

A notable account of the voyage, written by John Brereton, one of the gentlemen adventurers, was published in 1602, and this helped in popularising subsequent voyages of exploration and colonisation of the northeast seaboard of America.

Virginia Company, Jamestown

Gosnold 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 Virginia Colony at Jamestown, he recruited his brother Anthony, a cousin, his cousin-by-marriage Edward Maria Wingfield, as well as John Smith, 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; the other two being the Susan Constant, under Captain Christopher Newport, and the Discovery, under Captain John Ratcliffe).

Gosnold also solicited the support of Matthew Scrivener, cousin of Edward Maria Wingfield. Scrivener became Acting Governor of the new Colony, but drowned in an accident in 1609 along with Anthony Gosnold, Bartholomew's brother, while trying to cross to Hog Island in a storm. (Scrivener's brother Nicholas had also drowned while a student at Eton).

Gosnold was popular among the colonists and opposed the location of the colony at Jamestown Island due to what he perceived as its unhealthy location; he also helped design the fort that held the initial colony. He died only four months after they landed, on 22 August 1607. George Percy's 'Discourse' that was printed in the fourth volume of Purchas His Pilgrimes (1625) records Gosnold's death "...Captain Bartholomew Gosnold one of Councile, he was buryed thereupon having all the ordinance in the Fourt shote offwith manye vollyes of small shot..."

Discovery of Gosnold's possible grave

In 2003 Preservation Virginia announced that its archaeological dig at Jamestown had discovered the likely location of Gosnold's grave. It was also believed that he was buried outside the James day fort. The skeleton is currently on display at the Voorhees Archaearium at Historic Jamestowne.

Preservation Virginia began genetic fingerprinting, hoping to verify Gosnold's identity in time for the Jamestown quadricentennial. By June 2005 researchers and The Discovery Channel sought permission to take DNA samples from the remains of his sister, Elizabeth Tilney, located in the Church of All Saints, Shelley, near Hadleigh, and they were granted the first faculty for such purposes from the English Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich. Although they removed bone fragments from the church, they had difficulty in identifying the correct remains, and they were not able to conclude anything from their analysis. In November 2005 Preservation Virginia announced that, while they remained confident Tilney's remains were somewhere beneath the church floor, the tests they performed had not confirmed the link.


Bartholomew Gosnold Wikipedia