SMITHSEND, NICHOLAS, servant of the HBC, brother to Richard Smithsend, of the parish of St. John, Wapping; fl. 1685–98 (o.s.).
Nicholas was a sailor on the Perpetuana Merchant which was captured by the French in Hudson Strait in July 1685 and taken to Quebec [see Richard Smithsend].
It is not known exactly when Nicholas was next employed by the HBC, but he made a trip in the Royal Hudson’s Bay to York Fort (Port Nelson) and Albany River, returning to London in 1694. As no ships were sent to the Bay in 1695, he commanded the Prosperous on a voyage to Newcastle but she was wrecked on her return voyage. Like other HBC captains, Smithsend was granted a letter of marque in 1696 and he commanded the new frigate Knight, accompanied by two other HBC ships and two of the Royal Navy, on an expedition which recovered York Fort, which had been captured by Pierre Le Moyne* d’Iberville in 1694. He commanded the Royal Hudson’s Bay on the return voyage. In 1697 he commanded the same ship on the outward voyage in company with HMS Hampshire (Capt. John Fletcher), the HBC’s Dering, and a fireship. The flotilla was intercepted off Port Nelson by d’Iberville in Le Pélican and after the Hampshire was sunk, Smithsend surrendered his ship without a fight on 5 Sept. 1697 (n.s.) according to La Potherie [Le Roy*]. (Smithsend’s account no longer exists.) A prize crew was put on board, but a bad storm wrecked the ship in Hayes River (called by the French Sainte-Thérèse), enabling Smithsend and some of his crew to slip their captivity and make their way to York Fort where Smithsend encouraged the defenders to resist. The fort was subsequently surrendered by Governor Henry Baley* on 3 Sept. 1697 (o.s.).
Smithsend was presumably released with Baley, Kelsey*, and others; in any case he was in London by 8 Dec. 1697 and was paid his outstanding wages by the HBC on 20 Jan. 1698/99.
For a description of the 1697 battle see Crouse, Lemoyne d’Iberville, 142–51 (it should be noted that the Capt. Smithsend referred to here is Nicholas, not Richard), and Frégault, Iberville. See also Fletcher.