HAWKERIDGE (Hawkridge), WILLIAM, English navigator, made voyage to Hudson Strait in 1625; fl. 1610–31.
Very little is known about William Hawkeridge, except that he came from Devon and was a cousin of Phineas Pett, master shipwright of the Deptford dockyard. In 1610 he sailed with Capt. Richard Whitbourne, as servant, in the Newfoundland trade, and it is recorded that they both encountered a creature they supposed to be a mermaid in the harbour of St. John’s, which Whitbourne described as “a strange Creature . . . looking cheerefully as it had been a woman, by the Face, Eyes, Nose, Mouth, Chin, Eares, Necke and Forehead; . . . the same came shortly after unto a Boate, wherein one William Hawkridge, then my seruant, was, . . . and the same Creature did put both his hands upon the side of the Boate, and did strive to come in to him and others then in the said Boate: . . . Whether it were a Maremaid or no, I know not; I leave it for others to judge.” (A discourse and discovery of New-found-land (London, 1620).)
Hawkeridge sailed with Sir Thomas Button in 1612–13, as volunteer, to Hudson Bay. A few years later he was in command of a voyage to discover the Northwest Passage under the auspices of Sir John Wolstenholme and the East India Company. There is some question as to the date of this voyage. Rundall notes that, according to his own research, it was 1619. However, Christy states that the voyage probably took place in 1625. The expedition sailed in two pinnaces (whose names are not recorded according to Luke Fox, but one of which is listed as Lions Whelp by Dodge) from the west coast of England and reached the entrance to Hudson Strait on 29 June, after first having sailed, in error, into Frobisher Bay (called Lumley’s Inlet). However, it was not until 22 July that Hawkeridge actually entered the strait. He sailed to the Western extremity of Hudson Strait, and then seems to have cruised aimlessly about, making no new discoveries, until 16 August when he turned around for home, passing Resolution Island on 7 September. The only extant record of Hawkeridge’s voyage was made by Luke Fox, either from Hawkeridge’s own log, or with the help of Hawkeridge himself. Though full of detail, the account is very confused and Hawkeridge’s course is almost impossible to chart on a map. It is not known whether Hawkeridge was incompetent and lacking in ability, despite his many years’ experience, or merely extremely unlucky. However, the results of his voyage were completely valueless to those who followed him. This voyage is considered the last of the “Golden Age of Arctic Research.” The dismal failure of this well-equipped expedition dampened the enthusiasm for arctic exploration until 1631 when Fox and James set sail.
Of Hawkeridge’s later life there is no record other than that he was the owner of a cargo ship that was captured in 1631 off Algiers and that he himself was held in slavery for ransom.
Accounts of Hawkeridge’s voyage can be found in the three following books: Danish arctic expeditions (Gosch), II: The expedition of Captain Jens Munk to Hudson’s Bay in search of a north-west passage in 1619–20. Narratives of voyages towards the north-west, in search of a passage to Cathay and India . . . , ed. Thomas Rundall (Hakluyt Soc., 1st ser., V, 1849). Voyages of Foxe and James (Christy), I, 248-59. See also: Miller Christy, “Captain William Hawkeridge and his voyage in search of a north-west passage in 1625,” Mariner’s Mirror, XIII (1927), 51–78. Dodge, Northwest by sea.