Humphrey Gilbert

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Sir Humphrey Gilbert

Sir Humphrey Gilbert (c. 15399 September 1583) was an adventurer, explorer, member of parliament and soldier who served during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and was a pioneer of the English colonial empire in North America and the Plantations of Ireland. He took Newfoundland for the crown in 1583, establishing a colony as St. John's. He was drowned on the journey home on 9 September 1583.


  • We are as near to heaven by sea as by land !
    • Dying words as his frigate Squirrel sank in the Atlantic Ocean near the Azores, 5 August 1583, Quoted in Richard Hakluyt Third and Last Volume of the Voyages of the English Nation, 1600. Dictionary of Quotations, p. 353

Quotes about Humphrey Gilbert[edit]

  • "The heddes of all those (of who sort soever thei were) which were killed in the daie, should be cutte off from their bodies and brought to the place where he incamped at night, and should there bee laied on the ground by eche side of the waie ledying into his owne tente so that none could come into his tente for any cause but commonly he muste passe through a lane of heddes which he used ad terrorem...[It brought] greate terrour to the people when thei sawe the heddes of their dedde fathers, brothers, children, kindsfolke, and freinds..."
    • Francis Jennings, The Invasion of America (New York: W. W. Norton, 1975), 168
  • An interesting psychological case, with the symptoms of disturbed personality that often go with men of mark, not at all the simple Elizabethan seaman of Froude's Victorian view. He was passionate and impulsive, a nature liable to violence and cruelty – as came out in his savage repression of rebels in Ireland – but also intellectual and visionary, a questing and original mind, with the personal magnetism that went with it. People were apt to be both attracted and repelled by him, to follow his leadership and yet be mistrustful of him.
    • A. L. Rowse: The Elizabethan Renaissance: the Life of the Society (1971) p. 160.
  • "The men of war could not be maintained without their churls and calliackes, old women and those women who milked their Creaghts (cows) and provided their victuals and other necessaries. So that the killing of them by the sword was the way to kill the men of war by famine."
    • Quinn, David B. (1966). The Elizabethans and the Irish. Folger Shakespeare. 1966, p. 172

External links[edit]

  • Chamber's Dictionary of Quotations, 1996
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