Samoset (ca. 1590 – 1653) was the first Native American to make contact with the Pilgrims. On March 16, 1621, the settlers were more than surprised when Samoset strolled straight through the middle of the encampment at Plymouth Colony and greeted them in English. He was a member of an Abenaki tribe that resided at that time in Maine. He was a sagamore (subordinate chief) of his tribe and was visiting Chief Massasoit. He had learned his broken English from the English fishermen that came to fish off Monhegan Island. After spending the night with the Pilgrims, he came back two days later with Squanto, who spoke English much better than Samoset.
The orthography of Samoset's name varied depending on which Englishman was discussing him. Although he appeared as Samoset in some accounts, in others he appeared as Somerset. This odd Anglicisation of this American Indian name probably came naturally to English explorers, many of whom hailed from the West Country. Even Captain Christopher Levett, a Yorkshireman, referred to this Native American as Somerset in his account of his journey to explore New England in 1623 and 1624.