First name
associated with HULL in England

Text source

William Gordon 'of Hull' appears to have been an explorer. He certainly travelled to Pechora in Russia c.1611. Thereafter he joined Danish naval service. Sir Robert Anstruther [SSNE 4172]wrote a letter on his behalf (to Christian Friis) explaining his previous service in Russia and the skills he brought in terms of exploring the northern seas. He was promised 2000 rixdollars by Christian IV if he could find the Northeast Passage on 29 March 1619. He did so as navigator on the voyage of Jens Munch (aka Munk).

Sources: T. Riis, Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot (Odense, 1988), II, p.89; Purchas his Pilgrimes, vol. 3 (London, 1625), 531-534; C. C. A. Gosch, ed. Danish Arctic Expeditions, 1605 to 1620. 2 vols. (London, 1897). We thank Joseph Wagner for the last two references. The following letter is found in the National Archives of Denmark: Rigsarkivet, TKUA England AII 7. Sir Robert Anstruther to Christian Friis, 1619 (Translation)


My amicable greetings with all willing service sent by God

[...] I have now again as a humble servant advised his majesty that the opportunity, and according to his majesty’s gracious orders, send an experienced seaman with him who has a great hope of finding a northwest passage. He has previously been on the same journey and now he has all this Knowledge and sea maps with him. I Hear there are no others to be had now who understand the same sailing and those who have been there are either dead or employed elsewhere. And the same man, William Gordon, was on his way to go to Spain - and with great (?) I have persuaded Him to release himself from the Spanish journey and head for Denmark. He has recently been in [parts of?] Russia which no Englishman has been, and without doubt in that place there is great profit to be won because he says he can buy in that place for half the cost of the goods which are bought at Saint Nicolos, I request that the Chancellor speak to him about the same journey for he says that if his Majesty in Denmark doesn’t have everything ready [re] northwest passage then he will in any case do his Majesty such service (?) and if his majesty wants, he will lead his majesty’s people where they can engage in coastal trade and traffic. As long as he is not employed in his majesty’s service, I request very much that he may be graciously released and sent back so that when one has such folk as long as they are willing to go to Denmark again […]

Your very faithful and most certain

Servant Robert Anstruther

Service record

Arrived 1611-01-01
Departed 0000-01-01, as NAVIGATOR
Arrived 1619-03-01
Departed 1621-12-31, as OFFICER, NAVIGATOR
Capacity EXPLORATION, purpose NAVAL