You've discovered a list of mysterious disappearances before 1800. These unexplained disappearances have all remained unsolved, even centuries later, and the odds of any satisfying conclusions all this time later are slim to none. The stories behind these mysterious historical disappearances, are all very different, but they are all tragic and fascinating in their own ways.
Henry Hudson was a sea captain who made two major attempts to discover the mythical Northwest Passage that would lead to Asia via the North American continent. In 1609, after several voyages that explored Greenland and its vicinity, the Dutch East India Company hired Hudson to find a passage to Asia by sailing east, north of Russia, but Hudson was soon blocked by ice. He then headed west and reached the east coast of North America, including present-day Cape Cod and Delaware Bay. He sailed up the river that presently bears his name as far as Albany, New York.
Hudson attempted another voyage in 1610, taking a more northerly route that ultimately accessed Canada's present day Hudson's Bay. Unfortunately, Hudson's boat became trapped by ice and he and his crew were forced to spend a bitter winter on land, probably near the shores of present-day James Bay.
When Hudson announced in the spring of 1611 that he intended to keep sailing west, the majority of his crew mutinied. Hudson, his son, and nine crewmen were placed in a small boat, given some nominal supplies, and abandoned in June of 1611. Hudson and his group were never seen again, and their fate is unknown. Only eight of the mutinous crew members survived the voyage home: they were tried and acquitted of murder, but not the mutiny, which was blamed on two other deceased officers. It was believed that the information that the surviving crew could provide concerning the Northwest Passage and the New World outweighed any desire for justice.
Spartacus was a first-century Roman slave of Thracian (present day Bulgaria) descent who lead a lengthy rebellion against ancient Rome. Because accounts of his life and exploits come primarily from ancient Roman historians, his biography is vague and unsubstantiated. He is believed to have been enslaved by Roman legions and confined to a school for gladiators, where he helped lead a successful revolt in 73 BC. His original group of approximately 70 slaves captured wagons and military equipment, recruited other slaves into their ranks, and plundered the Capua region, near present-day Naples, Italy.
Because much of the Roman military was involved in foreign expeditions, Spartacus easily defeated the initial attempts to subdue his revolt and his forces swelled to over 70,000 men. He even defeated the first serious attempt by Rome to engage him with two Roman consular legions. Responsibility for destroying Spartacus was now turned over to the wealthiest man in Rome, Marcus Licinius Crassus, who would lead eight Roman legions of over 40,000 men into battle.
Over an extended period, Crassus was able to push Spartacus southward until the rebel force was bottled up in the toe of present-day Italy. Plans to flee to Sicily with the help of pirates failed and Spartacus and his rebel force were decisively defeated and decimated in a battle near Senerchia. Although six thousand captives were subsequently crucified by Crassus on the Appian Way between Capua and Rome, Spartacus's body was never found and the exact circumstances of his death are unknown.
They say timing is everything. In 1622, David Thomson received a land grant in present-day New Hampshire from the New England Company, the same group that had granted land to the Pilgrims who founded Plimoth Plantation in 1620. Thomson built a settlement called Pannaway and traded successfully with the local Piscataqua natives. He also fished extensively in the waters surrounding his settlement, and he and his wife spent three winters as the first white settlers of the territory.
Then, in 1626, Thomson suddenly left Pannaway and moved to an island in Boston Harbor. He established himself to the extent that today this island is still known as Thomson Island. What happened to him subsequently is unknown - the only additional information about him can be deduced by the fact that his wife remarried legally in 1628. The Pilgrims are an essential part of American history; a few years later to the New World, and without a mythical rock he stepped on, Thomson is virtually unknown.
Jean-Francois de Galaup was born in Albi, in southern France, in 1741. De Galaup served in the French Navy in both the Seven Years' War and the American Revolution. By the end of these conflicts, deGalaup-de LaPerouse (the hyphentated addition came from the name of family property) had achieved great military success and was promoted to the rank of Commodore. In 1785, Louis XVI appointed him to lead a global French naval expedition around the world, similar to voyages being attempted by Great Britain.
Two ships, the Astrolabe and the Boussole, were fitted for the voyage, which departed from Brest in August of 1785. He passed Cape Horn, had contact with Easter Island, and became the first European to set foot on the island of Maui on May 29, 1786. From here, LaPerouse's remarkably long journey would proceed to Alaska, south to California, Macao, the Philippines, Korea, and Eastern Russia. The expedition then rested at Russian settlements before heading to a British outpost in present-day Sydney, Australia. En route, twenty of his crew members, including the commander of the Astrolabe, were killed in Samoa.
LaPerouse arrived in Botany Bay, Australia, in January of 1788. He would remain in Australia for six weeks and then set off for the Solomon Islands, Southern and Western Australia, before returning for France and an arrival date of June 1789. Unfortunately, neither LaPerouse nor his men were ever seen again. More than two hundred years later, wreckage found on the island of Vanikoro in the Solomon group was historically verified as that of the Astrolabe and the Boussole. While many theories persist, the disappearance of LaPerouse and his men was never fully explained.