Apr 20, 2012

Who Was Bartholomew Gosnold

He was a prolific explorer and also gave both Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod their names.

In addition, he pioneered the quickest way to sail from Great Britain to the northeastern seaboard of America. Gosnold recruited John Smith for his Jamestown expedition and a published account of his voyage in 1602 to explore the coast south of Nova Scotia in search of a passage to Asia. He was responsible for popularizing the colonization of New England.

Martha’s Vineyard is named after a daughter of Gosnold who died in infancy. Originally the name was applied to a much smaller island; a “place most pleasant” according to a contemporary source. The larger island was actually called Martin’s Vineyard, after the captain of the ship Gosnold was sailing on, for much of its history. Eventually the feminine name came to stand for the larger island as well. Martha’s Vineyard is the eighth-oldest surviving place name the United States. You can visit the grave of little Martha in the churchyard of Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk, England.

For centuries, codfish have figured prominently in Cape Cod's history and fortunes. Bartholomew caught a ton of cod near this cape and named it in a note in his logbooks about the plentiful "codfyshes" which "pestered" his ship.

Although many explorers and fishermen had sailed New England's waters in the 1500s, Gosnold is credited with the European discovery of New England decades later.