GILBERT, Sir HumrunEv, 1539-83, an English navigator, b. in 1539 in the co. of Devon, second of the three sons of Otho Gilbert, of Greenway. By his mother's side, he was half brother to sir Walter Raleigh, who resembled him in many points of char acter, and whose early life was largely influenced and guided by his example. Educated first at Eton and then at Oxford, he was destined by his father for the law; but being introduced at court by Raleigh's aunt, Catherine Ashley, he obtained the special favor of the queen, and was thus enabled to follow his natural inclination for active enter prise. Recommended by royal letter to sir Philip Sidney, he received from him an appointment in the army in Ireland; and his services contributed so powerfully to put down the rebellion raging there, that in 1570 lie was made a knight and rewarded with the government of Munster. He next served for about five years in the Netherlands, being the first English col. intrusted with command of English forces in that coun try. Upon his return to his native land, he wrote a remarkable treatise on a subject which, at that time, occupied the minds of men, the possibility of a north-west passage to India; which was published in 1576, without his knowledge, by George Gascoigne as Discourse of a Discoverie for a New Passage to Cataia. In June, 1578, Gilbert received let ters-patent authorizing himself, his heirs, and assigns, to discover, occupy, and possess such remote "heathen lands, not actually possessed of any Christian prince Or people as should seem good to him or them." Disposing not only of his patrimony, but also of the estates in Kent, which he owned through his wife, he at once prepared to put the permission to use, and was joined in the enterprise by his brother Raleigh. By the end of the summer of 1578, a fleet of 11 sail, with 400 mariners and men-at-arms, was col lected off the coast of Devon ; but the gallant projectors were singularly unfortunate in the character of some of their associates. Dissensions broke out among the captains, and disorder among the crews. Knollys, for example, boasted that, as a kinsman to royalty, he was of more value than 20 knights, and insolently rejected Gilbert's invita tion to dinner; while his men, encouraged by their captain's conduct, filled the town of with uproar and riot, which finally culminated in murder. It was not until Nov. 19 that Gilbert set sail, with his forces reduced to seven ships and 150 men. The
history of the voyage is involved in obscurity; but about the beginning of the summer, or a little earlier, in 1579, the fleet returned to England, with little; it would appear, to report, except that it had lost one of its chief ships and one of its bravest captains, Miles Morgan, in an encounter with the Spaniards. Gilbert lent his three ships to the government for service against the Spaniards on the Irish coast; but in July 11, 1582, still find him complaining to Walsingham that he had not received the moneys that were due him, and that thus he was prevented from doing more for his queen and -country. He was already planning a new expedition; and at length, in 1583, his fiest was ready. The queen, though she had at first dissuaded Gilbert from his purpose, and would not permit Raleigh to accompany him, wrote to him -by his brother's hand, that she wished him "as great good hap and safety to bis ship as if she herself were there in person," and sent him as a token a golden figure of an anchor guarded by a lady. On June 11, he departed from Plymouth with five sail; but on the 13th, the Ark Raleigh, which had been built and manned at his brother's expense, " ran from him in fair and clear weather, having a large wind." This desertion was the cause of no small displeasure to the admiral, and he wrote to sir George Peckham to solicit his brother to make the crew an example to all knaves; but it appears not improbable (according to Hayes in Hakluyt's collection) that the reason of their conduct was the breaking out of a contagious sickness in the ship. On Aug. 5, Gilbert landed in New foundland, and took formal possession of it in the queen's name; but proceeding south with three vessels, he lost the largest near cape Breton, and was at last constrained to return homewards with the Golden Hind and the Squirrel as the only remnant of his fleet. "On Monday, Sept. 9," reports Hayes, the captain of the Hind, frigate was near cast away, yet at that time recovered; and giving forth signs of joy, the gen., sitting abaft with a book in his hand, cried out unto us in the Hind : 'We are as near to heaven by sea as by land.' The same Monday night the frigate's lights were suddenly out, and it was devoured and swallowed up by the sea." So perished sir Humphrey Gilbert.