- William Dampier
name = William Dampier
image_size = 250px
caption = William Dampier, buccaneer, navigator and explorer
5 September 1651
East Coker Somerset
death_date = March 1715
nationality = English
occupation = explorer
footnotes = William Dampier (
5 September 1651(baptised) – March 1715) was an English buccaneer, sea captain, authorand scientific observer. He was the first Englishman to explore or map parts of New Holland ( Australia) and New Guinea. He was the first person to circumnavigatethe world three times.
Diana and Michael Preston, in "A Pirate of Exquisite Mind", describe him as the greatest nautical explorer-adventurer, British or otherwise, between the Elizabethans (notably Sir
Francis Drakeand Sir Walter Raleigh) and James Cook. Yet he is relatively little known in Australia, and even less known in his native country.
Miskito coastis marked with a star. Dampier and his associate, the surgeon and buccaneer Lionel Waferdescribe the Miskitopeoples in the period 1690-1700. These tribal groups, often mixed with runaway slaves, formed a distinct culture in the coastal region, sometimes forming alliances with pirates against Spanish authorities in the 16th-18th centuries.]
In 1678 he crewed with
buccaneers on the Spanish Mainof Central America, twice visiting the Bay of Campeche. This led to his first circumnavigation: in 1679 he accompanied a raid across the Isthmus of Darién in Panamaand captured Spanish ships on the Pacificcoast of that isthmus; the pirates then raided Spanish settlements in Perubefore returning to the Caribbean.
Dampier made his way to
Virginia, where in 1683 he engaged with the privateer John Cook (or Cooke). Cook entered the Pacific via Cape Hornand spent a year raiding Spanish possessions in Peru, the Galapagos Islands, and Mexico. This expedition collected buccaneers and ships as it went along, at one time having a fleet of ten vessels. In Mexico Cook died, and a new leader, Captain Edward Davis, was elected captain by the crew. Dampier transferred to Captain Charles Swan's ship, the "Cygnet", and on 31 March 1686they set out across the Pacific to raid the East Indies, calling it Guamand Mindanao. Leaving Swan and 36 others behind, the rest of the pirates sailed to Manila, Pulo Condore, China, the Spice Islands, and New Holland ( Australia).
Early in 1688 "Cygnet" was beached on the northwest coast of Australia, near
King Sound. While the ship was being careened Dampier made notes on the fauna and flora he found there. Later that year, by agreement, he and two shipmates were marooned on one of the Nicobar Islands. They built a small craft and called at "Acheen" ( Aceh) in Sumatra. After further adventures Dampier returned to England in 1691 via the Cape of Good Hope, penniless but in possession of his journals.
The "Roebuck" expedition
The publication of these journals as "New Voyage Round the World" in 1697 created interest at the British
Admiraltyand in 1699 Dampier was given the command of HMS "Roebuck" with a commission to explore Australia and New Guinea.
The expedition set out on
14 January 1699, and on 26 July 1699 he reached Dirk Hartog Islandat the mouth of Shark Bayin Western Australia. In search of water he followed the coast northeast, reaching the Dampier Archipelagoand then Roebuck Bay, but finding none he was forced to bear away north for Timor. Then he sailed east and on 3 december 1699sighted New Guinea, which he passed to the north. Sailing east, he traced the southeastern coasts of New Hanover, New Ireland and New Britain, charting the Dampier Strait between these islands (now the Bismarck Islands) and New Guinea.
On the return voyage to England, "Roebuck" foundered near
Ascension Islandon 21 February 1701and the crew were marooned there for five weeks before being picked up on 3 Aprilby an East Indiamanand returned home in August 1701.
Although many papers were lost with the "Roebuck", Dampier was able to save many new charts of coastlines,
trade winds and currents in the seas around Australia and New Guinea.
On his return Dampier was
court-martialled for cruelty. On the outward voyage Dampier had crewman George Fisher removed from the ship and jailed in Brazil. Fisher returned to England and complained about his treatment to the Admiralty. Dampier wrote an angry vindication of his conduct, but he was found guilty, docked his pay for the voyage, and dismissed from the Royal Navy.
He wrote an account of the 1699–1701 expedition, "A Voyage to New Holland" and returned to
War of the Spanish Successionbroke out in 1701 and English privateers were being readied to assist against French and Spanish interests. Dampier was appointed commander of the 26-gun government ship "St George", with a crew of 120 men. They were joined by the 16-gun galleon "Cinque Ports" (63 men) and sailed on April 30 1703.
En-route they unsuccessfully engaged a French ship but captured three small Spaniard ships and one vessel of 550 tons.
However, the expedition was most notable for the events surrounding
Alexander Selkirk. The captain of the "Cinque Ports", Thomas Stradling fell out with Sailing Master Selkirk. In October 1704 the "Cinque Ports" had stopped at the uninhabited Juan Fernández Islandsoff the coast of Chileto resupply. Selkirk had grave concerns about the seaworthiness of "Cinque Ports" and after a disagreement with Stradling, he was left on the island. Selkirk was to remain marooned for four years and 4 months and his experiences were to become part of the inspiration for Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe.
Selkirk's misgivings were fully justified: "Cinque Ports" did later sink with the loss of most of her crew.
Dampier returned to England in 1707 and in 1709 his "A Continuation of a Voyage to New Holland" was published.
Dampier was engaged in 1708 by the privateer
Woodes Rogersas sailing master on the "Duke". This voyage was more successful: Selkirk was rescued on 2 February 1709, and the expedition amassed nearly £200,000 (over £20,000,000 in 2008) of profit. However, Dampier died in Londonin 1715 before he received his share.
Dampier influenced several figures better known than he:
* His observations and analysis of
natural historyhelped Charles Darwin's and Alexander von Humboldt's development of their theories,
* He made innovations in navigation technology that were studied by
James Cookand Horatio Nelson.
Daniel Defoe, author of " Robinson Crusoe", was inspired by accounts of real-life castaway Alexander Selkirk, a crew-member on Dampier's voyages.
* His reports on
breadfruitled to William Bligh's ill-fated voyage in HMS "Bounty".
* He is cited over a thousand times in the "
Oxford English Dictionary" notably on words such as ' barbecue', ' avocado', ' chopsticks' and ' sub-species'. That is not to say he coined the words, but his use of them is the first known example in English.
* His travel journals depicting
Panamainfluenced the undertaking of the ill-fated Darien Scheme, leading to the Act of Union of 1707.
* His notes on the fauna and flora of northwestern
Australiawere studied by naturalist and scientist Joseph Bankswho made further studies during the first voyage with Cook. It helped lead to the naming of and colonization of Botany Bayand the founding of modern Australia.
* He is mentioned in the
Gabriel Garcia Marquezshort story "The Last Voyage of the Ghost Ship".
* He is parodied mercilessly by
Jonathan Swiftin Part IV of " Gulliver's Travels".
*"A New Voyage Round the World", (1697)
*"Voyages and Descriptions", (1699)
*#"A Supplement of the Voyage Round the World"
*#"The Campeachy Voyages"
*#"A Discourse of Winds"
*"A Voyage to New Holland", (Part 1 1703, Part 2 1709)
* Diana and Michael Preston, "A Pirate of Exquisite Mind"
* Anton Gill, "Devil's Mariner"
* Riccardo Capoferro, "Frontiere del racconto. Letteratura di viaggio e romanzo in Inghilterra, 1690-1750", Meltemi, 2007.
Woodes Rogers, "Cruising Voyage Round the World", 1712.
* Clennell Wilkinson, "William Dampier", John Lane at the Bodley Head, 1929.
** gutenberg|no=15675|name=A Voyage to New Holland
** gutenberg|no=15685|name=A Continuation of a Voyage to New Holland
* Works by William Dampier: facsimile scans at [http://www.canadiana.org Early Canadiana Online] , originals held by the National Library of Canada.
** " [http://www.canadiana.org/ECO/mtq?doc=34672 A new voyage round the world] "
** " [http://www.canadiana.org/ECO/mtq?doc=34673 Voyages and descriptions] "
** " [http://www.canadiana.org/ECO/mtq?doc=34674 A voyage to New Holland] "
** " [http://www.canadiana.org/ECO/mtq?doc=34675 A continuation of a voyage to New-Holland] "
* [http://www.galapagos.to/BOOKS.HTM#DampierR Dampier Bibliography] from the [http://www.galapagos.to/ Human and Cartographic History of the Galápagos Islands]
** " [http://www.galapagos.to/TEXTS/DAMPIER-0.HTM A New Voyage Round the World] " (HTML version)
* [http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A010265b.htm J. Bach, 'Dampier, William (1651 - 1715)',
Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, Melbourne University Press, 1966, pp 277-278.]
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