First Mate of Henry Hudson on the Half Moon ship
*This article is part of my non-fiction article series leading up to the re-release of my historical fiction book Stowaway. I write these articles for fans of my book that might want to learn more about Henry Hudson, Robert Juet, the Half Moon voyage, and all that made the 1609 voyage something for the history books.
Who was Robert Juet? The first mate of Henry Hudson aboard the Half Moon ship.
Why is Robert Juet famous? He was the first mate of Captain Henry Hudson on Hudson’s last three voyages. According to the mutineers who left Captain Hudson, his son and others to die in 1611, Juet led the mutiny. Many historians stated this innuendo as fact. I am more dubious on this subject, as the only sources are guilty men trying to save their own necks. What we know for certain is that Juet did not return with the survivors. For all we know, Juet remained loyal to Henry Hudson, and the mutineers forced him off the ship into the icy waters with Hudson, his son, and a handful of loyal subjects.
How did Robert Juet contribute to history? Robert Juet wrote a journal of the famous Half Moon voyage in 1609. Most of Henry Hudson’s journal did not survive, so Juet’s journal remains the best source concerning the various stages of the voyage. While Juet appears to have conveniently avoided mentioning certain events, his journal provides the best account we have of this historic adventure to the New World. I used his journal to establish a timeline of my historical fiction account in Stowaway: Golden Age Series.
When I first developed the character Robert Juet in my historical fiction book, Stowaway, he was one dimensional. In the rewrite, he blossomed well beyond the evil, sinister, double-crossing mutineer that his historical distractors argue was his true character. I cannot, nor can anybody, say with any degree of certainty if Robert Juet was a good or bad man, loyal to Henry Hudson, or the ringleader of the mutiny that did in the captain. Recorded history concerning Mr. Juet is full of mystery and contradictions, with too little evidence to back up many of the positions historians have taken.
Robert Juet evolved into a much more vibrant character on the rewrite. The rewrite more accurately and fairly does justice to the real man. My mixed bag approach brings to life a Robert Juet capable of doing both good and bad. I discarded the wild speculation and instead focused on the most likely facts. Like his captain, Juet was a complicated and mysterious man.
What are the likely facts?
History seems to suggest he and Hudson were both great seamen of their day. Documents confirm they sailed on three voyages together, two sanctioned by the English and one by the Dutch. They sailed further into the ice to the north in search of the secret passage than anybody before. Together, Hudson and Juet, discovered the Hudson River for the Dutch. We know they mistreated the natives, who usually were friendly by both Juet and Hudson’s accounts. We know they did not return on their last voyage. Mutiny forced Henry Hudson, his son, and those loyal to Hudson exit the ship into a small boat in icy waters. The mutineers claimed that Juet led the mutiny and died on the way back. While this might be true, why should we take the word of the men that we know committed mutiny and force Hudson overboard? I refuse to accept the word of Abacuk Pricket and his fellow criminals.
As pointed out with Henry Hudson, we do not know enough about Robert Juet. I dismiss part of what was written because it was written by sinister men who had reason to paint Robert Juet and Henry Hudson in bad light. For instance, I refuse to paint Robert Juet as an evil man simply because the mutineers that survived the next voyaged painted him in that light. We have every reason to believe everybody who returned in 1611 were murders and mutineers, and therefore likely to conveniently place the blame at the feet of the “deceased” first and second mates. We’ll likely never have any clear answers to this and many other such questions.
The truth is we don’t know a lot about Robert Juet before 1608 when he first sailed with Henry Hudson, at least according to the known facts. While a couple of historians suggest that Robert Juet and Henry Hudson grew up as childhood friends, others suggest they did not know each other before they sailed on the English ship, the Hopewell, in 1608, one year before their more historical voyage on the Dutch ship, the Half Moon.
The Juet journal suggests Robert Juet was an educated man. While written in the outdated English of the day, it is clear he commanded the ability to read and write. The journal is a fascinating historical document, written while history was being made. His exact motivations for writing the journal is unknown, but all history buffs and those interested in the Golden Age, Henry Hudson, and the Half Moon voyage should be indebted for a journal that provides an important firsthand insight.
I suggest you read the Robert Juet’s Journal for more information on Robert Juet, Henry Hudson, the Half Moon, and their historic connection.