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Document Number: AJ-029
Author: Hakluyt, Richard
Title: Voyage of M. Hore
Source: Burrage, Henry S. (editor). Early English and French Voyages, Chiefly from Hakluyt, 1534-1608. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1906). Pages 105-110.
Pages/Illustrations: 8 / 0
Citable URL: www.americanjourneys.org/aj-029/

Author Note

Publisher Richard Hakluyt (1552-1616) wrote this description of the “Voyage of M. Hore and Diverse Other Gentlemen, to Newfoundland, and Cape Briton, in the yeere 1536....” Hakluyt developed the narrative mostly from eyewitness accounts by Sir William Buts of Norfolke and Oliver Dawbeny.

The Voyage of Robert Hore, 1536

Perhaps inspired by reports of Cartier’s successful voyages (see AJ-026 and AJ-027), Robert Hore, thirty “gentlemen,” and two crews totaling ninety sailors embarked in two vessels from Gravesend in April 1536. They were to experience a far different fate than the French navigator. After a difficult voyage of two months that carried them far enough north to see icebergs, they finally reached Cape Breton in Canada. Already low on supplies, they replenished their stock from islands of seabirds in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. While one ship sailed off to fish, the other attempted to find a hospitable landing point on the Labrador Coast. Unfortunately, their initial encounters with the local peoples were unpromising; attempts to find a village simply drove the Indian inhabitants into hiding. The crew failed to find even enough food to sustain themselves, and as their food supply dwindled they scavenged for “herbs” and roots on the mainland. A small party who went ashore to look for food returned only one survivor. He confessed that the group had been reduced to killing and eating their comrades, and as the sole survivor he persuaded other starving crewmembers to follow his example. The captain admonished the sailor, but cannibalism appeared to be the only solution to their problem. The crew had already drawn lots to see who would be murdered and eaten to prevent the others from starving when a French ship arrived in sight. The English seized it and set sail for home, arriving at Cornwall in October 1536.

Document Note

This account by Hakluyt was the product of painstaking investigation to get crew members to confess to the grim details of this tragic voyage. Hakluyt, with the aid of his cousin, Richard Hakluyt of Middle Temple, compiled this account of Hore’s 1536 voyage from survivor’s stories, including an interview with Thomas Buts, son of Sir William Buts, physician to Henry VIII. It was first printed in Hakluyt’s Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation in 1600.

Other Internet and Reference Sources

An online excerpt from Giles Merton’s Big Chief Elizabeth: How Englands Adventurers Wooed the Native Tribes of America and Won the New World (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000) contains more information on Hore’s journey in the wider context of English voyages to the New World and can be found at http://www.fsbassociates.com/fsg/bigchiefelizabeth.htm#excerpt

For a printed account, see Stephen R. Bown, “Cannibal Cruise” Beaver (Canada) 82:2 (2002): 41-45.

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