Humphrey Gilbert

Humphrey Gilbert

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Humphrey Gilbert was a noted English navigator, soldier and explorer of the early Elizabethan Age. The half brother of Walter Raleigh, he was born near Dartmouth. Gilbert was knighted in 1570.In 1572, a budding Parliamentary career was interrupted by a call to action in the Netherlands, where Dutch Protestant allies were attempting to overthrow Spanish Catholic control.Gilbert had long maintained an interest in exploring the New World. He had written about the Northwest Passage, which served as an inspiration to noted navigators Martin Frobisher and John Davis. On a number of occasions over the years, Gilbert had petitioned Elizabeth I to back his own venture. The queen, however, found him more valuable in other capacities.Gilbert’s wish was granted in 1578, when he and Raleigh received a charter to explore North America. On that return voyage, Gilbert’s ship was lost near the Azores.

Sir Humphrey Gilbert

Sir Humphrey Gilbert (ca. 1537-1583), English soldier and colonizer, failed in his attempt to settle Newfoundland. Nevertheless he took the first step toward building a British colonial empire in America.

Humphrey Gilbert was born at Greenway, Devonshire. His family was well-to-do, but as a younger son he inherited only enough to pay for his education. He entered the service of Elizabeth before she became queen, and her friendship endured until his death.

Gilbert accompanied the Earl of Warwick's expedition to France in 1562 to aid the Huguenots, then hard pressed by their own government. It is supposed that Gilbert's interest in America dated from this experience and that he here met André Thevet, the French geographer who had visited the New World and written two books about Brazil.

By 1565 Gilbert had become interested in a northern route to the Pacific. He petitioned the Queen for permission to discover a passage to China and wrote A Discourse of a Discoverie for a New Passage to Cataia, advocating an English colony on the west coast of North America. Nothing came of this. Gilbert then served in Ireland, intermittently, until 1570, for which he was knighted. During the next few years Gilbert represented Plymouth in Parliament and saw military service in the Netherlands. In 1576 his Discourse was published.

In 1578 Gilbert received letters patent from the Crown empowering him to make Western discoveries on the condition that he not harm Spanish subjects. The Northwest Passage is not mentioned in this grant. Gilbert probably wished to establish a colony between the Hudson River and Cape Hatteras. What actually happened on his voyage of 1578 is uncertain he may have attacked the West Indies, but he founded no colony and was back in England by April 1579. Unable to sail again immediately, he went once more to Ireland, then returned to England to prepare for another voyage of colonization.

Gilbert's small ship sent out for reconnaissance in 1580 does not seem to have visited Newfoundland. After much trouble with the financing, he embarked from a point near Plymouth with five ships and about 260 men in June 1583. Reaching St. John's Bay in Newfoundland in August, he took possession for the Queen. During an exploration of the adjacent mainland coast he lost a ship and all the prospective colonists. It seemed necessary to take what was left of the expedition back to England and return the following spring. Against others' advice, Gilbert insisted on sailing in the Squirrel, a tiny ship that was too heavily laden to be seaworthy. On the night of Sept. 9, 1583, watchers on a nearby ship saw the Squirrel's lights vanish, and it and Gilbert were seen no more.

Gilbert is remembered as the first English colonizer. He was not a sailor, and although he studied and understood navigation he felt uncomfortable on shipboard. Before his last voyage the Queen wrote suggesting he not go along, being "a man of not good hap by sea."

Sir Humphrey Gilbert and American Colonization

Richard C. Simmons describes how a land-owners’ colony, rather than a military settlement, was Gilbert’s aim.

Of the attempted colonizing ventures to North America before the successful settlement of Jamestown in 1607, that of Sir Walter Raleigh’s Roanoke colony is probably the best known. The Roanoke settlers included John White, whose American drawings are justly famous, and Thomas Hariot, whose account of‘Virginia’, first published in 1588, was issued in four languages in 1590 and included some of White’s sketches. With such notable publicity, and because of the flamboyant character of Raleigh, more attention has been given to the Roanoke colony than to the earlier venture of Sir Humphrey Gilbert.

This is unfortunate since Gilbert was an interesting figure and his project, more than Raleigh’s, anticipated later colonial developments. He was the first to explore the potential of the proprietary colony that came to fruition in the seventeenth century—in Maryland, the Calvert’s palatinate, in Pennsylvania, William Penn’s great Quaker commonwealth, and in New York and the Jerseys. Gilbert also hit on the idea of interesting disaffected religious groups in emigration for the sake of freedom of conscience, and obtained Roman Catholic backing.

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This entry is from the book, "Gilberts of New England, Part II: Descendants of Matthew Gilbert of New Haven, Humphrey Gilbert of Ipswich, and William Gilbert of Boston" from The Gilbert Family Manuscript Genealogy by Homer W. Brainerd and Clarence A. Torrey (by Permission of the Connecticut Historical Society) Edited by Geoffrey Gilbert:

Chapter II: Humphrey Gilbert of Ipswich, Mass.

H1. HUMPHREY1 GILBERT was born about 1616, probably in England (deposed 18 Dec. 1654 that he was about 38) died early in 1658in Ipswich, Mass. He married (1) -------. He married (2) ELIZABETH BLACK, daughter of John and Susanna Black. She married (2) 24 Sep. 1658 in Ipswich, William Raynor or Rayner, who died 28 Oct. 1672 in Marblehead, Mass., leaving six children. She married (3), as second wife, Henry Kimball of Wenham, Mass., who died before 16 June 1676. She married (4) 25 Dec. 1679, Daniel Kilham, then of Ipswich, father-in-law of her son John. She was living in 1686, but died before 29 Mar. 1693, when Daniel Kilham remarried.

Humphrey Gilbert was residing in Ipswich as early as 1642, when he took part in an expedition against Passaconanway, an Indian chieftain, and his name appears in the lists of soldiers who received payment 4 Dec. 1643. (Felt, "History of Ipswich, Essex, and Hamilton, p. 323). He was one of the contributors to a fund, 19 Dec. 1648, to be paid to Major Dennison, (N.E.H.G. Register, 2:52). on 5 or 25 May 1650 he purchased land in Ipswich (Ipswich Deeds, 1:77). The land was near the Wenham line, and he attended church there, for he contributed to the support of the minister of Wenham in 1657.

His will of 14 Feb. 165/8 was proved 30 Mar. 1658. Inventory of his estate, taken 10 Mar. 1657/8, amounted to 169 pounds/12 shillings/06 pence. The will mentions wife Elizabeth, son John, and four daughters, of whom Abigail is named. From Essex County Probate Records it appears that Hannah, who was the oldest daughter, received a legacy from her deceased mother, first wife of Humphrey Gilbert. Apparently all the daughters, except perhaps Abigail, were by this first wife. There is no record of either marriage in New England, but if the ages of Hannah and Martha given in their depositions are correct they must have been born there.

Children, prob. all born in New England first 3 or 4 by first wife:
i. HANNAH2, b. abt. 1646 (deposed in June 1670 that she was about 24). She married in Jan. 1670/1, in Salem, Mass., PETER HARVEY.
ii. MARTHA, b. abt. 1649 (deposed 23 Nov. 1668 that she was about 19 and 21 April 1670, still Martha Gilbert, that she was about 21). She married (1) ------- REWE. She married (2) 25 Oct. 1668, RICHARD COOMER (or Comer or Coman). (The record, 23 Oct. 1663, is an error). She died before 4 Feb. 11692/3, leaving a daughter Mary, b. 1 Nov. 1686, who m. 19 July 1706, at Salem, Robert Westgate.
iii. MARY, b. ----. She married 24 June 1672 in Salem, RICHARD PALMER, who died before 14 Dec. 1689, when inventory of his estate was taken.
iv. ABIGAIL, b. ----. She married about 1679, as second wife, MOSES ABORN, baptized 6 Aug. 1648 in Salem son of Samuel and Catherine (Smith) Aborn. He resided in Marblehead, Salem, and Lynn. HIs wife Abigail is mentioned in his will, dated 8 May 1723 and proved 19 Jan. 1735/6, and a wife survived him. Son Ebenezer probably others.
H2. v. JOHN, b. 1656 or 1657 m. ELIZABETH KILHAM.

The following notes by C. A. Torrey, appended to the above, elaborate and document the information already given:

"The will of Humphrey Gilbert of Ipswich, dated 14 Feb. 1657/8, was proved 30 Mar. 1658 (Essex Probate Records at Salem, vol. 1, pp. 264-6 vol. 2, p. 236 vol. 3, pp. 9, 74-5). Inventory was taken 10 Mar. 1657/8. He must therefore have died between 14 Feb. and 10 Mar., in spite of the fact that the Ipswich Vital Records given his death-date as 13 Feb. and the Probate Records (vol. 1, p. 266) as 20 Jan.

"He left a widow Elizabeth, son John, daughters Hannah, Martha, Mary, and Abigail. His daughter Hannah deposed in May or June 1670, aged about 24 years. She was given several articles by her deceased mother on her mother's death-bed, according to the probate records. The mother's name is not known to the writer (C.A.T.). The other daughters, with the possible exception of Abigail, were probably by the first wife.

"Widow Elizabeth[(Black)]Gilbert married (2) 24 Sep. 1658 William Raynor, who died 26 Oct. 1672 at Marblehead, Mass. She was mentioned as his widow 25 March 1673. Her third husband, to whom she was married probably in 1673, was Henry2 Kimball (Richard1). He died before June 1676, when the inventory of his estate was taken. It mentions "remainder of legacies to Humphrey Gilbert's children" and "land belonging to Humphrey Gilbert's farm, which William Raynor received of Thomas Fiske". The widow Elizabeth signed an agreement about his estate 26 Sep. 1676. She married (4) 25 Dec. 1679, as second wife, Daniel Kilham. She was living in 1686 but died before 29 Mar. 1693, when Daniel Kilham married his third wife at Topsfield, Mass.

"John Black, Sr., of Beverly, Mass., died intestate 16 Mar. 1674/5. Administration [of his estate] was granted 20 July 1675 to his son John, who was ordered to make payments to his sisters Eliza[beth] Kimball, Persis Follett, and Lydia Davis. The sister Eliza (Eizabeth) evidently was the wife of Henry Kimball, as she is the only Kimball in Essex Co., who had a wife Elizabeth in 1675 and 1676.

"John Black had 3 daughters baptized in Salem Church: Lydia on 25 Dec. 1636 another Lydia on 3 June 1638 a daughter, not named in the church record, on 29 Nov. 1640. From the probate record it appears that the daughter baptized 3 June 1638 was the youngest, living in 1675. Persis, who married Robert Follett 29 Nov. 1655, was younger than Elizabeth. Quite likely Elizabeth was born about 1632 and Persis about 1634.

"John Black's wife is not mentioned in the Essex County Probate Records, nor in Perley's "History of Salem, Mass.". Presumably she was the Susanna Black who, with her husband John, joined the church in Charlestown, Mass., 4 Jan. 1634/5.

"As nearly as can be ascertained, Humphrey Gilbert's son, by his wife Elizabeth Black, was born in or about 1656."

H2. JOHN2 GILBERT (Humphrey1) was born in 1656 or 1657 in Ipswich, Mass. died there 17 Mar. 1722/3 in his 67th year. He married 27 Sep. 1677 ELIZABETH KILHAM, born ---- died ---- daughter of Daniel and Mary (Safford) Kilham of Ipswich.

He was a soldier in King Philip's War (Bodge, "Soldiers in King Philip's War", p. 449 Felt, "History of Ipswich, Essex, and Hamilton", p. 324). He then married. He was chosen freeman 24 May 1682. He resided in Ipswich, had attended the Wenham church, of which he was a member before 1692, his wife was also a member. He was chosen deacon about 1700. On 1 May 1712 he was one of the petitioners for a church at "the Hamlet", ("Maine Historical & Genealogical Recorder, vol. 9, p. 348 also "Ipswich Antiquarian Papers", vol. 2, No. 22, Aug. 1881). He and his wife were dismissed from the Wenham church 3 Oct. 1714 to become members of the new church ("Register", 61:337). His tombstone is in a cemetery in the part of Ipswich formerly known as "the Hamlet", now in the town of Hamilton. ("Essex Aquitarian", vol. 11, p. 8).

Deacon John Gilbert left no will, and there is no record of the settlement of his estate in the Essex County Probate Court. Before his death he deeded his lands to his sons Daniel, Joseph, Benjamin, and Noah. Daniel as the eldest son received a double portion, and the others one-fifth each. On 29 Nov. 1710 he conveyed to his son Daniel "ye two-fiths part of all of his Lands, Uplands, and Swamps that lyeth in Ipswich and Meadow ground, Excepting his Salt Marsh, he haveing Devided his Lads into five parts." ("Essex County Deeds", 35:247). There is no record of any deed to a son John. This method of disposing of his lands disproves the view that the John Gilbert who married Martha Dodge was Deacon Gilbert's son. John Gilbert, husband of Martha, resided in Boston for a few years and was a member of the Brattle Street Church. According to the records of that church he was "from Mr. Shaw's Church, London".

i. JOHN3, b. 14 July 1678 d. young.
H3 ii. DANIEL, b. 1679? m. ELIZABETH PORTER.
iii. ELIZABETH, baptized at Wenham Church d. young. (This was perhaps the baptism of the mother, Elizabeth).
iv. MARY, baptized at Wenham Church d. young. ("Register", 62:35).
v. MARY, b. 10 Jan. 1682 d. young. Perhaps same as preceding.
vi. ELIZABETH, baptized between 10 Jan. 1682/3 and Sep. 1685 owned the covenant at Wenham Church 24 Mar. 1705/6. She married 23 Dec. 1714 in Ipswich JOHN DAVIS, b. 28 June 1684, Beverly, Mass. son of John and Sarah[(---)]Davis. They moved from Wenham to Beverly before 16 May 1726, when they sold land in Wenham.
vii. MARY, baptized between Sep. 1685 and 5 Jan. 1687/8 owned the covenant at Wenham Church 24 March 1705/6. She married (int. 9 Nov. 1706 at Wenham, 14 Nov. at Ispwich) ISAAC HULL of Wenham, son of Isaac and Sarah (Cock-Solart) Hull. He d. 22 March 1722/3, Beverly. A committee was appointed 10 Oct. 1727 to set off widow Mary's dower, hence it is probable that she had died before that date.
viii. SARAH, b. ---- owned the covenant at Wenham Church 24 Mar. 1705/6. She married (1) (int. 23 and 28 Oct. 1708) NATHANIEL GOTT of Wenham, who removed to Concord, Mass., when he died before 14 Aug. 1727, when his widow was appointed administratix. She married (2) before 20 May 1729 JOSEPH NOYES of Sudbury, Mass., b. 16 Aug. 1663 son of Joseph and Mary (Darvell) Noyes, as his second wife.
ix. MARTHA, baptized between 25 Nov. 1688 and 18 May 1690.
H4 x. JOSEPH (twin), b. 1 Feb. 1691/2 m. (1) MARY COGSWELL (2) MRS. ELIZABETH (---) WHIPPLE.
H5 xi. BENJAMIN (twin), b. 1 Feb. 1691/2 m. ESTHER PERKINS.
xii. LYDIA, [born 1699,]baptized 12 Apr. 1702 d. 9 Mar. 1757. She married (int. 21 Mar. 1722/3) EDMUND KIMBALL of Wenham b. 18 Apr. 1699 d. 24 Apr. 1768 son of Thomas and Elizabeth (Cross) Kimball. He married (2) 6 Sep. 1759 at Wenham Mrs. Mercy Carter.
H6 xiii. NOAH, baptized 21 Nov. 1703 m. (1) SARAH ALLEN (2) MRS. SARAH (---) LANE.

H5A LYDIA GILBERT3 (John2, Humphrey1) was born in 1699, baptized 12 April 1702 in Wenham, Massachusetts d. there, 9 March 1757 in her 57th year. She married 14 April 1724, EDMUND KIMBALL, born in Wenham, Massachusetts, 18 April 1699 died 24 April 1768 son of Thomas and Elizabeth (Cross) Kimball of Wenham, Massachusetts.

i. Elizabeth, b. 10 April 1726 d. 6 Oct. 1728.
ii. Edmund Jr., b. 9 August 1728 m. ELIZABETH KIMBALL, a cousin.
iii. Thomas, b. 5 February 1730 m. (1) MARY CROSS, a cousin m. (2) ELIZABETH STRATTON.
iv. Elizabeth, b. 25 December 1731 m. JAMES FITTS.
v. Lydia, b. 3 June 1734 m. AMOS BATCHELDER.
vi. Martha, b. 10 January 1739-40 m. ISAAC WOODBURY.

Edmund was born in Wenham, MA on April 18, 1699 and died on April 24, 1768. He married on April 14, 1724 to Lydia Gilbert of Ipswich, MA. She was born in 1702 and died March 5, 1757. He married, second, on September 6, 1759 to Mrs. Mercy Carter of Wenham, MA. Her will was proven on April 5, 1779. In this she mentions "dau. Lydia Batchelder, dau. Martha Woodbury, gr. sons Thomas, Edmund and Gr. Daughter Mercy Perkins, Mercy Woodbury, Anna, Elizabeth and Lydia Dodge, Elizabeth Batchelder, Anna Gallop, Sarah & Lydia Emery Gr. sons Nathaniel & William, son Thomas Exr."

Edmund Kimball was a housewright and yeoman, resided in Wenham, and was admitted to the church on January 21, 1727-8.

1. Elizabeth (5), b. 10 Apr 1726 d. 6 Oct 1728
2. Edmund (5-175), b. 9 Aug 1728 d. 11 Nov 1759
3. Thomas (5-176), b. 5 Feb 1730 d. 2 May 1805 resided in Wenham
4. Elizabeth (5-1015). b. 25 Dec 1731 d. before 1768
5. Lydia (5-1016), b. 3 June 1734 d. 26 Nov 1813
6. Martha (5), b. 10 Jan 1739-40 m. 14 June 1761, Isaac Woodbury, of Ipswich, M

Humphrey Gilbert - History

September 1569 - Gilbert is upgraded Colonel of the army in Munster and appointed military Governor of the province.

December 1569 - Gilbert comes with a 500-men army to secure the surrender of the main Irish rebels.

January 1570 - Humphrey Gilbert is rewarded for services by being knighted in Drogheda by the Lord Deputy Sir Phillip Sidney .

July 11, 1578- Sir Humphley Gilbert is granted by Queen Elizabeth letters patent allowing him to discover and occupy over the next six years all the lands that would have never been previously owned by Europeans.

It was clear however that the fact of being authorized to expel every intruder who would settle down unless 600 miles from the colony compelled him to make of North America his primary objective. He could rule by himself the country discovered or entrust it to others but only on the Crown's behalf, given that the laws in this colony had to be in agreement with those of England.

With the new rights vested in him, Gilbert was able to devote to an ambitious project across the Atlantic Ocean. He received for it the guidance of John Dee, who was particularly involved in the search of a way to Asia as well as geographer Thomas Hakluyt who advocated the settlement of an English colony in territories located between the 35th and the 40th parallel. Gilbert was besides on good terms with Secretary of State Sir Francis Walsingham . It is also likely that he selected Anthony Parkhurst's idea of starting a settlement in Newfoundland. There is no doubt that Gilbert planned also to come alongside and plunder all the Spanish ships that he would have crossed implying to make a detour to the Caribbean before heading northwards to the American coast.

September 26, 1578 - T he bad weather quickly disperses the fleet, some ships being diverted up to the Isle of Wight.

October 15, 1578 - After the first start's failure, Gilbert' s fleet gets together in Plymouth.

Novemb er 18, 1578 - Henry Knollis leaves the expedition and starts with his ship for his own campaign accompanied with two other boats.

November 19, 1578 - the seven remaining ships leave Plymouth. Obsessed by the desire to go to sea, Gilbert refuses to admit that, on winter's eve, this expedition will be obviously doomed to failure.

April 1579 - Gilbert 's fleet goes back to Dartmouth.

Only the Falcon commanded by Sir Walter Raleigh with first mate Simon Fernandes (aka Simon Ferdinando, a Portugese coxswain captured in the Carribean and sold to Gilbert by Walsingham ) reached Canary Islands but they didn't go further and were back to Plymouth in May. The expedition resulted in a complete failure, revealing serious misjudgments and especially Gilbert' s gaps in command. The hardest thing for him was that he had lost in this misadventure a part of his personal and wife's fortune.

Christopher Carleill, Sir Francis Walsingham 's son-in-law, on whom depended in wide part the tolerance granted in high places to Gilbert ’s project, is about to set up his own expedition. Benefiting from the commitment of the Bristol merchants and Muscovy Company, he has planned to found a 100-men settlement near the 40th parallel and to build a fishery and a warehouse to trade with Indians.

This work consisted of a number of printed stories and handwritten sources on the subject introducing documents as the the letters patent granted to John Cabot in 1496, the narrative of Verazzano's journey in 1524 and Ribault's report on the Florida colony in 1562, up to the list of products found in America and various opinions on the colonization. David Ingram, Simon Fernandes and a certain John Walker who had just achieved a round trip to Penobscot were also consulted by Walsingham and others.

Humphrey Gilbert studied the detailed map of North America drawn by John Dee for the Queen which resumed all the knowledge of the time. He also acquired from Dee a world map made especially for him. These items had a significant influence on his geographical conceptions. Dee was convinced that the passage across the continent would be found at temperate latitudes sailing up the St Lawrence or Norumbega Rivers.

June 13, 1583 - H aving suffered a gale from the start, it turns out that men are already sick.

According to captain Edward Hayes, some of the crew fell sick before departure and quickly spread the disease on board. Believing to be unable to continue the expedition, Sir Walter Raleigh prefered to go back to Plymouth.

June 15-28, 1583 - Despite fair winds, the four remaining ships trudge between fog and rain.

July 20, 1583 The lasting bad weather scatters Gilbert 's fleet. The Swallow and the Squirrel get lost in the fog.

July 27, 1583 - The Gilbert expedition meets the first icebergs.

July 30, 1583 - Humphrey Gilbert and his crew approach the coast of Newfoundland.

It seemed at once inhospitable. There were only sad dark rocks rising from the sea and bare hills where grew no tree .They met these wingless birds called penguins and entered Conception Bay where they found the Swallow already at anchor with her whole crew. They learned that its members had taken advantage of the dispersal of the fleet to be engaged in acts of piracy against fishermen. They soon found that the Squirrel cast anchor a little farther.

August 3, 1583 - Gilbert enters St John's harbour discovering with some surprise the presence of 36 fishing boats, French, English, Spanish and Portuguese.

They first denied access to Humphrey Gilbert , believing that he was trying to get hold some ships engaged in piracy but decided otherwise having learnt that he was Lord Parmount and came to claim the land on the Queen of England's behalf. Gilbert intended to make a grand entrance in the port but the Delight was suddenly driven by currents towards rocks into which it would have smashed if the fishermen's boats had not quickly gone to her help.

September 2, 1583 - Gilbert is welcomed aboard the Golden Hind in order to have an injured foot treated, after stepping on a nail. He decides however to re-board the Squirrel despite the advice of his men.

September 9, 1583 - The 2 boats have been driven by the storm to the Azores . The Squirrel has miraculously escaped but the respite will last only a few hours. Sir Humphrey Gilbert is seen reading in the stern of his boat and is heard from the Golden Hind constantly repeating « We are as near to heaven by sea as by land ” .

Gilbert, Humphrey T

Humphrey Trench Gilbert of Revesby, Lincolnshire, was born on November 3rd 1919. He was educated at Durnford School and was at Cheltenham College from January 1934 to July 1937. He joined the RAF on a short service commission in early December 1937. After completing his ab-initio course at 7 E&RFTS, Desford on February 18th 1938, Gilbert went to No 1 RAF Depot, Uxbridge for a short disciplinary course. He was posted to 9 FTS, Hullavington on March 5th.

Gilbert was awarded his pilots wings on June 1st 1938, completed his training and joined 73 Squadron at Digby on September 17th. He was sent to CFS, Upavon on October 23rd and qualified as an instructor on December 22nd 1938. In January 1939 Gilbert was posted to 504 Squadron, Auxiliary Air Force as Flying Instructor. On 3rd August 1940 he was posted from 9 FTS to 6 OTU, Sutton Bridge.

After converting to Hurricanes, he joined 601 Squadron at Debden on the 16th. Gilbert shared in the destruction of a Ju87 on August 15th, shared a He111 on the 30th, destroyed a Me110 on the 31st and was himself shot down over the Thames Estuary, in Hurricane V7260. He baled out, unhurt.

Gilbert destroyed a Me110 on September 4th. Two days later he was shot down by a Me109 over Mayfield. Again he baled out but this time he was wounded. He landed at Pembury and his Hurricane, V6647, crashed at Kippings Cross, near Pembury.

In late April 1941 Gilbert was appointed 'B' Flight Commander. A month later he was temporarily attached to 1422 Flight at Heston. He flew night sorties in a Hurricane, accompanying a Havoc in what were early tests on Turbinlite aircraft.

Gilbert was posted to 71 (Eagle) Squadron at Martlesham Heath on September 3rd 1941 as a Flight Commander. He was given command of 222 Squadron at North Weald on November 1st and on December 23rd 1941 he moved to Debden to take over 65 Squadron. When the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau made their Channel Dash on February 12th 1942, the squadron was involved in combat with the German fighter cover. Gilbert destroyed a Me109 and damaged another.

On a Boston escort to Hazebrouck on April 12th, he shot down a Fw190.

Gilbert crashed on May 2nd 1942, attempting to take off from Debden in a Spitfire BL372/YT-Z with Flight Lieutenant David Gordon Ross the Controller on his lap. They were said to have been going to a party. Both men were killed.

Gilbert is buried in Saffron Walden Cemetery, Essex - Compt. 41. Grave 17.

Son of Comdr. W. R. Gilbert and Lady Beryl Groves, of Revesby Abbey, Lincolnshire.

The award of the DFC was gazetted after his death (29th May 1942).

"This officer has been engaged on operational flying since August, 1940, and fought through the Battle of Britain. He has completed numerous operational sorties over enemy occupied territory and although he has been shot down and wounded, he has always displayed great keenness to engage the enemy. Since February, 1942, Squadron Leader Gilbert has participated in a number of operational sorties, including an attack on German battleships. In this operation he destroyed one enemy aircraft and damaged another. He has led his squadron, and occasionally the wing, with considerable success and his fine leadership and determination have been an inspiration to his pilots.
Squadron Leader Gilbert has destroyed 5 enemy aircraft."
Details: Awarded posthumously.

Stepping across the World – Dartmouth’s Gallant adventurers

Adventurers and round-the-world yachtsman have in recent times often chosen Dartmouth as place to start from because of the beauty of the town, its naval heritage and the safety of the town’s harbour.

But centuries before that – in an age lacking the most basic of navigational tools – intrepid Dartmouth men sailed beyond the horizon to search for riches, land and perhaps a little fame.

Imagine the Apollo 11 mission – conducted by amazing men who had guts, brains and a desire to travel further than anyone had done before. Now imagine if the crew all came from Dyersville, Iowa (pop. 4,035). Wouldn’t that seem a bit of a coincidence? Now imagine that two of them were brothers and that all the remainder of the Apollo missions were manned by either friends or relatives of those first three men. That would be unbelievable, wouldn’t it?

Well that’s essentially what Dartmouth produced during the late 1500s, a series of men who tried to discover new lands, new riches, and make their name with bold adventures on the high seas.

Many of their voyages were inspired by a desire to find the mythical ‘North West Passage’ to Asia – the way to trade with China (or Cathay as it was known) without travelling around the Cape of Good Hope or Cape Horn.

Sir Humphrey Gilbert was the first to attempt to find this route. The former soldier and governor of Ulster wrote a book on his theory of where it was to be found in an attempt to gain support from Queen Elizabeth (who he also petitioned to support a novel idea- a Naval training academy she didn’t like it) but failed to get her support. He next wrote a proposal called ‘How to Annoy the King of Spain’ proposing to found colonies in the New World and perhaps travel near to where he suggested a passage might be. This proposal she DID like and suddenly he had the money to mount an expedition.

He was not blessed with good luck.

He took 11 ships from Dartmouth in September 1578. The fleet left late and was quickly forced back to Plymouth by bad weather. The captains of five of the vessels refused to be commanded by Gilbert, and sailed for London instead. The remaining ships tried again but were forced back to Spain and then to Ireland when they left port again. The expedition almost bankrupted Gilbert.

Five years later he tried again – this time with a fleet of five ships, one of which was commanded by his half brother, Walter Raleigh.

Again the voyage did not go well.

One ship turned back within days after sickness took over the crew. The four ships that reached Newfoundland, where Sir Humphrey had a patent to claim the land for the Queen, found more than 30 ships of various countries doing the same for their monarchs. With what might be called supreme arrogance, Sir Humphrey read his claim to the people of the area and seems to have convinced them of its validity. But even this success seemed a poor victory when another ship had to sail for home with sick and dying aboard.

He then lost another ship which ran aground, carrying all his supplies and 100 men to a watery grave.

Sailing for home the two remaining ships – the Golden Hind and Sir Humphrey’s tiny Squirrel – were overtaken by terrible storms. Sir Humphrey tried to reassure his crew by always walking above decks and even reading a book whilst they were swamped with massive waves, but his steely resolve could not prevent the sinking of the Squirrel in September taking all men, including Sir Humphrey, with it. The Golden Hind returned to Dartmouth, with less than a fifth of the men who originally set out in June.

However unsuccessful Sir Humphrey was his exploits inspired others – including the best friend of his younger brother Adrian.

John Davis was an experienced captain, who was inspired to search for the North West Passage by Gilbert. He took two very small ships to explore the seas around Newfoundland in 1585, two years after Sir Humphrey’s death.

He seems to have been clever, canny and quite committed to his cause. He realised soon after arriving in Newfoundland that he needed to be able to ask for help from the ‘Eskimaux’ inhabitants. So he began to compile a makeshift dictionary of phrases to use with them. His meticulous drawings of the coast meant that others would be able to navigate in the dangerous waters, and the water between the coast of Newfoundland and Greenland still bears his name: The Davis Strait.

He returned three times to the area and did much to allow others to explore further and deeper than ever before. He had a patent to trade with China, and realised that if he did not get to the place, he would never realise riches or success. So he turned to face east, and tried to find new ways to the Jade Empire.

In a series of voyages between 1591 and 1605 he visited Rio de Janeiro, Magellan’s Strait, St Helena, Ascension Island, the Cape of Good Hope, Madagascar, the Seycelles, the Maldives, Siam and Indonesia.

He never, however, made it to China.

He paid a heavy price for his expeditions, losing all of his money and his wife to another man – who then tried to take him to court on charges Davis had mistreated the woman. Although he was exonerated, Davis must have been devastated by this turn of events.

Perhaps as a reaction to this, the search for a route to China seems to have become an obsession, as he took greater and greater risks to reach it, even as his reputation as a navigator grew. In 1605 he invited some Japanese pirates onto his ship to see if they could help him get to China. They tried to take the ship and Davis was killed in the fight. He was 62.

Davis’ expeditions seem to have been the catalyst for many.

Sir Walter Raleigh took famous expeditions to Roanoke in Virginia and Guiana twice. On his first trip he took his nephew, and Sir Humphrey’s son. On his final trip he took his son Walter, who was then killed in a fight with Spanish ships.

Heartbroken, he returned home, to find the Spanish Ambassador had demanded the King execute him in retaliation for his attack on the ships he believed were loaded with treasure.

In what is regarded as one of the most unfair decisions in English legal history, the King agreed and Raleigh was beheaded that year – his final words, spoken to his executioner, we reportedly ‘Strike man, Strike!’

Dartmouth began to become rich of the triangular trade from Newfoundland and the Mediterranean. Dartmouth became a regular stop off for ships going on long and dangerous voyages.

Then, after all these great men had passed, beaten by disease or disaster, a group just as, if not more intrepid set out from Dartmouth’s Bayards Cove: the Pilgrim Fathers set out in 1620, destined to become the founders of the world’s biggest and most influential nation.

Yet again Dartmouth showed itself to be a small town which had a large influence over world events.

Dartmouth, Devon

Situated on the River Dart in Devon’s South Hams, Dartmouth is a thriving town, with its narrow streets, overhanging medieval houses and old quays a haven for yachtsmen and visiting tourists alike, offering fine restaurants, galleries, marinas, antique shops and fine places to stay.

Although there was originally a nearby hilltop village and church at Townstal, Dartmouth’s origins derive from soon after the Norman conquest, when the French realised the value of the safe harbour for cross-channel voyages to their territories in Normandy. The rapid development was such that by the 12th century the town was used as an assembly point for a fleet of 146 ships setting out on the Second Crusade in 1147, and again in 1190, when more than 100 vessels embarked upon the Third Crusade. These events have given the name to Warfleet Creek, which lies just inside the river mouth.

Later a dam was built (modern Foss Street) across the tidal creek to power two grain mills, thereby joining together the two villages of Hardness and Clifton which now form the modern town. By the 14th century Dartmouth had grown considerably and the Dartmouth merchants were growing rich on the wine trade with English-owned lands in Gascony. In 1341, the king rewarded the town a charter of incorporation, and in 1372 St. Saviour’s Church was consecrated and became the town church.

In 1373 Chaucer visited the area, and later wrote of a “Shipman of Dartmouth,” one of the pilgrims in the Canterbury Tales. The Shipman was a skilled sailor but also a pirate, and it is said that Chaucer based the character on the colourful John Hawley (d.1408) – the leading merchant and fourteen times Mayor of Dartmouth, who was also a privateer in the Hundred Years War.

During the wars with France, the danger of attacks from across the Channel led to the construction by John Hawley of Dartmouth Castle at the mouth of the river.

Dartmouth Castle circa 1760, artist’s impression

This was completed around 1400, and was provided with a moveable chain connected to another fort on the Kingswear side of the river to prevent river-borne attacks on the town. The castle was one of the first in the country to have provision for gunpowder artillery, and has been altered and adapted many times as weapons technology has progressed.

When a 2000-strong Breton force landed at Slapton in 1404 in an attempt to capture nearby Dartmouth and avenge English privateer’s actions in France, Hawley quickly organised an army of untrained locals and defeated the well-armed knights at the Battle of Blackpool Sands, the knights being weighed down by their armour and unsupported by their archers. Hawley’s brass lies in St. Saviour’s church in the chancel which he built, and after his death his house was used as the Guildhall for almost 400 years.

When under threat from the Spanish Armada in 1588, Dartmouth sent 11 ships to join the English fleet and captured the Spanish flagship, the Nestra Señora del Rosario, which was anchored in the Dart for over a year while its crew worked as slaves at Greenway House. Greenway was the home of Sir Humphrey Gilbert and his half-brother, Sir Walter Raleigh. Both were great explorers and adventurers, and although Gilbert failed in his quest to find the North West Passage, in 1583 he claimed Newfoundland for England. Today, Greenway is also well known for another of its owners – the Devon born author, Agatha Christie.

The rich fishing from the cod banks in this area gave the town a further period of prosperity. The surviving 17th century Butterwalk Quay and many 18th century houses around the town today are the most obvious results of this prosperous trade. In 1620 the Pilgrim Fathers, bound for America, berthed the Mayflower and Speedwell ships at Bayard’s Cove for repairs. Contact with these new colonies expanded, and by the 18th century locally-made goods were traded with Newfoundland, while the salted cod was sold to Spain and Portugal in exchange for wine.

During the English Civil War Dartmouth was also involved, and the castle played a significant part. Royalists besieged and captured the castle and held it for three years. However, when the Parliamentarians under Sir Thomas Fairfax attacked and took the town, the Royalists surrendered the castle the next day.

Dartmouth’s most famous former resident is Thomas Newcomen (1663 – 1729) who invented the first practical steam engine in 1712. It was soon used in the coalmines of the Midlands and proved to be one of the key inventions of the Industrial Revolution, being cheaper than James Watt’s later improved version. However, during the resulting Industrial Revolution hand weavers lost their jobs, railways were slow to reach Dartmouth because of the difficult terrain, and steam ships replaced the sailing ships traditionally built in the town. When the Newfoundland trade also collapsed in the mid-19th century, the town faced a serious economic downturn.

However, the economy gradually recovered in the second half of the 19 th century. In 1863 the Royal Navy decided to train naval cadets on the Dart and stationed the ships “Britannia”, then the “Hindustan” in the river for the purpose. In 1864 the railway arrived in Kingswear, and was often used to transport coal for steam ships. Both events boosted the economy. The ships were replaced by the new Naval College in 1905, and the Navy still trains its officers there (pictured below).

From the early 20th century the town began to benefit from the growth in the tourist industry. People came by railway, the higher ferry was introduced into service, and visitors enjoyed trips on steamers along the Dart. During the Second World War American troops took over the Naval College and made it their base for planning the D-Day rehearsals. The countryside inland from Slapton was evacuated to enable practice attacks on the nearby beaches and the river filled with landing ships. On June 4th 1944 a fleet of 480 landing ships, carrying nearly half a million men, left for Utah beach.

Since the war some of the town’s oldest industries have vanished. Shipbuilding lasted until the 1970’s, but has now stopped. Crab fishing still flourishes, but there are few commercial ships. Today, most of the local economy relies on the thriving tourism industry, with a heavy emphasis on yachting and the sea.

View our interactive map of the Museums of Britain for details of local galleries and museums.

Dartmouth is easily accessible by both road and rail, please try our UK Travel Guide for more detailed information.

What happened to the lost colony of Roanoke Island?

It is one of history's greatest unsolved mysteries: what happened to the lost colony of Roanoke Island? Founded in August 1585 by Queen Elizabeth I's favourite, Sir Walter Ralegh, the first English settlement in the New World was found abandoned without a trace of the colonists in 1590. Here, Dr Eric Klingelhofer investigates…

This competition is now closed

Published: July 28, 2020 at 2:45 pm

The morning of 18 August 1590, a group of sailors from two English privateering ships, the Moonlight and the Hopewell, scrambled up from a sandy beach to enter open woodland. They followed the lead of an elderly man who would have grown increasingly desperate in his shouts: “Eleanor! Ananias! Anybody! Is anyone there?” The sailors had landed on Roanoke Island in modern North Carolina, and their leader was John White, governor of Queen Elizabeth I’s North American dominion, Virginia.

White was trying to find his daughter Eleanor and her husband, Ananias Dare, and indeed any other English settler on the island. Eleanor and Ananias, with his young granddaughter Virginia, were members of the colony he had left there three years earlier.

Listen: Misha Ewen delves into the mysterious disappearance of a group of English settlers in North America in the late 16th century, which was voted in fourth place in our History’s Greatest Mysteries poll

In 1587 White had returned to England to get badly needed supplies from Sir Walter Ralegh for the colonists who had wintered on Roanoke. His voyage back to America was soon beset by problems. On his first attempt, his vessel was captured by French pirates and he was seriously wounded in the fight. His efforts were also frustrated by a royal order to stop all shipping because of the Armada threat.

A new Eden

White’s group of civilians had not been the first colony that Ralegh sent to Roanoke Island. After his half-brother Sir Humphrey Gilbert drowned on a voyage to Newfoundland, Queen Elizabeth transferred the charter for colonising North America to Ralegh, although as the new royal favorite at court, Elizabeth would not permit Ralegh to lead expeditions himself.

Ralegh turned his attention to the North Carolina coast that juts out into the Gulf Stream route that Spanish galleons took to bring gold and silver from Mexico and Peru. In 1584, a single English vessel arrived on the Carolina shores and was soon guided by native peoples to Roanoke Island. Based on its brief visit, Roanoke was described as a land filled with crops, game and welcoming Indians – a new Eden.

Ralegh promptly sent a military expedition on a one-year colonial venture, exploring the new province he named Virginia in honor of the queen. Commanded by Ralph Lane, a cousin of Elizabeth’s stepmother, Queen Katherine Parr, the soldiers were to determine its potential for profitable commodities and as a base to attack Spanish shipping.

Lane found that the land did have some promise, but it was not a new Eden, and its shallow coastal waters were unsuitable for warships. Ralegh had taken care to provide expert reporting of the venture, which he used to attract investment – and hopefully royal support – for later settlement. He sent John White, an artist known at court, to accompany the fleet that did the initial exploration. White made for him watercolour drawings of the flora, fauna and native peoples of North America that remain our best images from the Age of Exploration.

Ralegh also sent the mathematician-scientist Thomas Harriot to spend the year with Lane on Roanoke, making navigational charts, learning the Algonquian language from Manteo, a noble from the friendly coastal Croatoan tribe, and collecting samples to test their mineral and pharmaceutical value.

The second colony

This, then, was the state of affairs in the winter of 1586–7 when John White, the artist in the employ of Ralegh, offered to lead a civilian colonial expedition to Virginia. In 1585, White had been in Virginia for only the initial weeks, so he had not experienced the privation and danger that Lane’s men later faced. Most of the group that sailed with him seems to have come from London, of artisan and middle-class backgrounds. Entire families joined the second colony, while others sailed expecting their families to follow. Economic opportunity was probably the main reason for their emigration, though religious freedom may also have been important.

The second colony’s ships arrived on the coast near Roanoke in the summer of 1587. There, a dispute arose between the captain, who commanded at sea, and the governor who took charge on land. White later reported that Ralegh had instructed him to take the settlers north to the deep-water Chesapeake Bay, which Lane had thought a better base for privateers and closer to the mountain sources of copper and perhaps gold and silver. The captain, however, seems not to have felt bound by these orders because he refused to take the passengers any further.

When the group arrived, they found the Roanoke settlement empty, the fort in ruins and the mainland Indians hostile. To compound matters, an accident in landing led to the spoilage of much of the food supplies. After taking steps to repair existing cottages and build additional ones, the colony’s leaders decided that a direct appeal to Ralegh was needed and that only Governor White could make it. Before he left, White witnessed two important events: the birth of his granddaughter Virginia, the first English child born in the New World, and the baptism and induction as Lord of Roanoke of the native leader Manteo. These two events must have been seen by White and all those present as the beginning of a colonial-born population and the integration of Indians into Elizabethan religious and political structures.

Explaining the mystery

What did happen to the Lost Colony, then? Why did it disappear? When considering causes for social and demographic calamities, traditionally there are four general possibilities: war, famine, pestilence, and death. It is probable that all four brought Elizabethan Virginia to an end. We do know that the Spanish never found the colony, but fear of that threat may have caused it to move further west. White thought that a move “50 miles further up into the maine” had been intended. Also, the nearby mainland Indians were clearly hostile in 1587.

Soon after the civilians arrived, the body of an Englishman who went crabbing was found full of arrows and mutilated. This local threat was another reason to leave Roanoke.

We also know that Lane’s soldiers in 1586 faced a serious food shortage and that White in 1587 returned to England because the supplies had been ruined. The civilian colony had no real leverage to convince native tribes to share their winter reserves. Later, famine would cause the ‘starving time’ at Jamestown, when Indians there refused to sell food. North Carolina lacked a single, powerful native polity that might have supported the colony, so it is probable that it broke up into smaller groups, independently intent on survival. At Jamestown, disease – even the Plague itself – would again and again sap the strength of the young colony. Infectious diseases may have had a similar impact at Roanoke.

All three causes, if unchecked, led to the fourth – death. White’s sailors came across no burials or human remains during the hours they spent on Roanoke, so it is quite possible that the colonists evacuated the island before incurring such a fate. It then seems likely that the survivors split into two or more groups. One would have waited for supply ships among the Croatoan tribe on the Outer Banks. The other would have sailed 50 miles westward to a safer and more productive region. Jamestown colonists did hear second-hand stories about a few survivors from Roanoke living among the tribes in this interior here, but these stories were never confirmed.

Then, in 2012, First Colony Foundation (FCF), a group of historians and archaeologists researching Ralegh’s American colonies, asked the British Museum to examine paper patches on its manuscript map La Virginea Pars, drawn by John White for Sir Walter Ralegh. The museum staff soon discovered beneath one patch the symbol of a Renaissance fort, and upon the patch’s surface they noted the faint image of a fortified town, perhaps drawn in invisible ink. The patch was located at the west end of the Albemarle Sound, about 50 miles from Roanoke Island.

Remote sensing and fieldwork by FCF revealed no such fort in a five-mile-wide area, but its teams did unearth metal objects and Tudor-period domestic pottery in one spot adjacent to a contemporary Algonquian village. Because the pottery would not have been carried by Lane’s soldiers in 1585–6, FCF researchers announced in 2015 that Site X (for unknown) was the probable location of a few members of the Lost Colony for a limited period of time. Excavations will resume in late 2016 to determine more fully the nature of Site X and to find more clues to the four-century-old mystery of the Lost Colony.

Dr Eric Klingelhofer is Emeritus Professor of history and research fellow at Mercer University, Georgia, and vice-president of research at First Colony Foundation.

Humphrey Gilbert

British navigator and explorer who played a significant role in early British colonization, setting up the first British colony in North America in 1583 at St. John's, Newfoundland. After an early career in the military, Sir Gilbert (knighted in 1570 for his military achievements), a half-brother of Sir Walter Raleigh (1552?-1618), was the first to petition Queen Elizabeth I of England for exploration seeking a Northwest Passage to the Orient. As a result, in 1578 he was granted a royal charter for the privileges of exploration and colonization in North America. After an unsuccessful first voyage, a second expedition in 1583 reached Newfoundland, where Gilbert founded the first English colony in America. On the return voyage, the ship carrying the explorer was lost at sea north of the Azores in the Atlantic.

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Watch the video: Playing Both Sides: Sir Humphrey Gilbert and British Interest in America (October 2022).

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