Was headed for Virginia, first Englishman to set foot in America
On this day in 1602, almost two decades before the Pilgrims arrived in Provincetown in November of 1620, explorer Bartholomew Gosnold sailed from Falmouth, England bound for Northern Virginia, as New England was then known, intent on establishing the first permanent British colony in North America.
Forty-nine days later after cruising along the coast of Maine, Gosnold and his 32-sailor crew landed at the island at the foot of what eventually became known as the Elizabeth Islands.
Whether Gosnold named the site Elizabeth Island after his wife or the queen of England is uncertain; we know it today as Cuttyhunk.
By then Gosnold and his crew had already stopped at present-day Provincetown and gone ashore, becoming the first English explorers to set foot in New England.
Codfish was so plentiful in the harbor where his vessel, the Concord, was anchored that Gosnold decided against his original name for the peninsula - Shoal Hope - and named it Cape Cod instead. The name stuck.
After leaving Provincetown, Gosnold skirted the coast to the south, turning west after Monomoy Island south of Chatham and sailing across the body of water eventually known as Nantucket Sound.
Another trip ashore to one of the islands resulted in it being named "Martha's Vineyard" for the bountiful grapes found there and, it is believed, his deceased daughter.
After exploring Elizabeth Island and building a small fort, Gosnold and his men decided against remaining for fear of insufficient provisions to last them the winter. They stayed for only a month on Cuttyhunk (on the right) before returning home.
Five years later, Gosnold served as commander of one of three vessels to land at Jamestown, Virginia, where the first permanent British colony in North American was established. His presence there was short-lived, however; Gosnold died only three months after the colony was founded.
See Cuttyhunk from the air, and read about this island here.)