Historical Paintings of Woods Hole and Falmouth by F. L. Gifford

The Landing of Bartholomew Gosnold at Woods Hole, 1602

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History states that on March 26, 1602, Bartholomew Gosnold sailed from Dartmouth, England, in a small bark manned by a crew of 32 men. Steering a direct course across the Atlantic, he reached Massachusetts Bay in seven weeks. It is assumed that he first saw land about off Nahant, Massachusetts. Steering south, Gosnold came upon the islands off Woods Hole. He first landed at the island now known as "No Man's Land," but which he called "Martha's Vineyard." He anchored at the mouth of Buzzards Bay.

Gosnold then decided to plant his colony on an island which he called "Elizabeth." This particular island is now known by its Indian name of "Cuttyhunk." Here Gosnold built and fortified a house.

On May 31st, he explored the mainland. (Brereton, a member of Gosnold's crew wrote, "We went in one light horseman from this island (Martha's Vineyard) to the mainland (Woods Hole) two leagues off"). So it is reasonably certain that the trip described establishes the fact that the first place where Gosnold landed on the mainland was Woods Hole. He is reputed to have landed in Great Harbor, at a point on the shore near the present site of the Breakwater Hotel. [Note: The Breakwater Hotel is no more. Ed.]

This painting portrays Bartholomew Gosnold landing from his vessel, "The Concord,'' and being greeted in a cordial manner by the Indians, who showered upon him gifts of skins, wampum, tobacco and turtles.

([Gifford’s] Note: The naming of "Cape Cod" is ascribed to Gosnold, for when he landed at Woods Hole he had previously found codfish in such great quantities in the waters thereabouts that he was prompted to call this promontory, "Cape Cod.''

This was the first English name given to any spot in New England, and as far as is known, Gosnold and his men were the first Englishmen to set foot on our land).

The text above is from Historical Paintings of Woods Hole, by Franklin Lewis Gifford (Woods Hole Public Library, 1962).