Send him a boy, quick!
This week’s quickies were all about Canadian explorers. Some we’ve all heard of, and one named Sir Humphrey Gilbert, who claimed Newfoundland for England. And that’s literally what he did: he showed up, took a ceremonial chunk of sod, waved his letters patent about and that was that. God save the Queen. His life is too lengthy to get into, but it’s worth a googling. Highlights:
- He put together a seven ship fleet to colonize new lands, but didn’t quite make it because it was crewed by criminals and pirates, and three of the ships decided to take off to go high seas raiding.
- He was involved in Irish colonization and had a deft touch for diplomacy. He camped in a tent surrounded by the heads of murdered Irishmen, including women and children.
- While a Member of Parliament he murdered an Irish merchant on the dock while visiting Cork.
- Sir Thomas Smith said of him that the only way to soothe his temper was to send him a boy. Use your imagination.
- He was advised not to go to sea (being a noted poor sailor) by Queen Elizabeth herself, but what does she know?
- He died, seemingly purposelessly, on a return voyage to England when his ship Squirrel became unseaworthy. He refused to transfer to the other, larger ship near him and was swamped in a storm. The Squirrel was lost with all hands, with its captain reportedly in his cabin reading and quoting from Thomas More’s Utopia.