Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Weymouth, George

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WEYMOUTH or WAYMOUTH, GEORGE (fl. 1607), voyager, concluded an agreement with the East India Company in September 1601 to make a voyage to the north-west for the discovery of a passage to India, by the terms of which he was to have 100l. to prepare his instruments and other necessaries, and 500l. if he discovered the passage, otherwise—nothing. He sailed from Ratcliffe on 2 May 1602 with two small vessels of 70- and 60-tons burden respectively and thirty-five men and boys all told. The expedition is said (Purchas, iii. 809) to have been made at the cost of the Muscovy and Turkey companies. They may have taken a share in the outlay, but the official record shows that the East India Company was really responsible (Cal. State Papers, East Indies, 1601–2). After penetrating some way into Hudson's Strait a mutiny of his men, instigated by John Cartwright, the chaplain, compelled Weymouth to return. He got back to Dartmouth in September. The direct results of his voyage were trifling; but ‘he did, I conceive,’ says Luke Fox, ‘light Hudson into his Straits.’ On 24 Nov. 1602 he was examined before the court of the East India Company, which then resolved that a new attempt should be made with the two ships, one of which should be commanded by Weymouth, the details of the voyage to be settled afterwards. It does not appear that this attempt got any further than this resolution.

In 1605 Weymouth was put in command of the Archangel, a vessel fitted out for trade and discovery by the Earl of Southampton and Lord Arundell of Wardour. She sailed from Ratcliffe in the beginning of March, but did not clear the Channel till 1 April. On the 14th they sighted Flores, and on 14 May made the land, described as ‘a whitish, sandy cliff,’ identified as Sankaty Head, the eastern extremity of Nantucket. On 18 May they arrived at an island now identified as Monhegan, eighty-four miles to the north-east from Cape Ann, and the next day they found a snug anchorage, into which they took the ship. A trade was quickly established with the Indians, and a valuable cargo of skins obtained at a very small cost. Meantime Weymouth went away in a boat and presently discovered a large river, up which he went for a considerable distance. He and those with him seem to have held this discovery to be the great result of the voyage; but from that day to this no one has ever been able to determine positively what river it was, capable opinion in the United States being divided between the Penobscot, St. George's River, and the Kennebec. Having got as much cargo as they could carry, they sailed for England on 15 June, and arrived at Dartmouth on 18 July, bringing with them five Indians, who were handed over to Sir Ferdinando Gorges [q. v.] at Plymouth. Weymouth reported pleasant climate, excellent soil, good harbours, facilities for trade; but opinion still set in favour of gold and precious stones rather than of commerce, agriculture, and hard work, and for several years no further notice was taken of Weymouth's discoveries. It does not seem that Weymouth lived to help in settling the New England coast. The last mention of him is on 27 Oct. 1607, when he was granted a pension of 3s. 4d. per diem ‘until such time as he shall receive from his majesty some other advancement.’

[Cal. State Papers, East Indies; Purchas his Pilgrimes, iii. 809, iv. 1659; Stevens's Dawn of British Trade to the East Indies; Rosier's True Relation of the most prosperous Voyage made this present yeere by Captaine George Waymouth, 1605, black letter. This small book is very rare, and is quoted as having fetched eight hundred dollars at book sales. It was reprinted in 1887 for the Gorges Society, edited, with an introduction (including a forty-page discussion of the river question), by H. S. Burrage; Belknap's American Biography, vol. ii.; Winsor's History of America, iii. 189–92.]

J. K. L.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.278
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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393 ii 4-5 Weymouth, George: for Kennebee read Kennebec