May 15 - 1602: Cape Cod was named today

Bartholomew Gosnold sailed into Provincetown Harbor and named the peninsula "Cape Cod" for the huge schools of fish sighted
Albert Beirstadt's 1858 Painting entitled: "Gosnold at Cuttyhunk, 1602". The adventurers set up a camp but gave it up when they were unable to find sufficient food for the winter, and sailed back to England. Note the bark Concord moored offshore on left.

1602: Gosnold sailed the coast of Maine and arrived here on May 15

He named Cape Cod and probably Martha's Vineyard too

On this day in 1602, Bartholomew Gosnold sailed into Provincetown Harbor and named the peninsula "Cape Cod" for the huge schools of fish sighted.  He didn't "discover" the Cape as many references cite. Champlain had a fight with our Nausets in Chatham in 1609, and others had visited our shores before him including the Portuguese who had set up fishing camps here for decades.  But Gosnold is the man who named us and the Pilgrims who stayed for a week in 1620. By 1638 "eight men from Saugus" took refuge from the crowded mainland, and Cape Cod had its first permanent settlement in what is today's Sandwich.

He pioneered a new route to the New World

Gosnold had sailed from Falmouth, England in a small Dartmouth bark, the Concord, with thirty-two crew on board, and like the Pilgrims fourteen years later in 1620, they had come to North America to establish a colony in New England, which was then known as Northern Virginia.

Bartholomew Gosnold pioneered a direct sailing route due west from the Azores to New England, arriving in early May 1602 at Cape Elizabeth in Maine near today's Portland (Lat 43 degrees). He skirted the Maine coastline for several days before anchoring in York Harbor, Maine, on May 14, 1602.

The next day, he sailed across Massachusetts Bay into Provincetown Harbor, where he is credited with naming Cape Cod. Following the Atlantic coastline south for several days, he discovered Martha's Vineyard, and named it perhaps after his daughter or wife. He established a small post on one of the Elizabeth Islands, which is now called Cuttyhunk Island and is part of the town of Gosnold. The post was abandoned when the settlers decided to return the ship to England because they had insufficient provisions to last over the winter.

Click painting below to see original.


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