William Dampier

William Dampier

Infobox Person
name = William Dampier

image_size = 250px
caption = William Dampier, buccaneer, navigator and explorer
birth_name =
birth_date = 5 September 1651
birth_place = East Coker Somerset
death_date = March 1715
death_place = London
death_cause =
resting_place =
resting_place_coordinates =
residence =
nationality = English
other_names =
known_for =
education =
employer =
occupation = explorer
home_town =
title =
salary =
networth =
height =
weight =
term =
predecessor =
successor =
party =
boards =
religion =
spouse =
partner =
children =
parents =
relatives =

website =
footnotes =
William Dampier (5 September 1651 (baptised) – March 1715) was an English buccaneer, sea captain, author and 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 circumnavigate the 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 Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh) and James Cook. Yet he is relatively little known in Australia, and even less known in his native country.

First circumnavigation

Miskito coast is marked with a star. Dampier and his associate, the surgeon and buccaneer Lionel Wafer describe the Miskito peoples 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 Main of 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 Panama and captured Spanish ships on the Pacific coast of that isthmus; the pirates then raided Spanish settlements in Peru before 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 Horn and 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 1686 they set out across the Pacific to raid the East Indies, calling it Guam and 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 Admiralty and 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 Island at the mouth of Shark Bay in Western Australia. In search of water he followed the coast northeast, reaching the Dampier Archipelago and then Roebuck Bay, but finding none he was forced to bear away north for Timor. Then he sailed east and on 3 december 1699 sighted 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 Island on 21 February 1701 and the crew were marooned there for five weeks before being picked up on 3 April by an East Indiaman and 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.

econd circumnavigation

He wrote an account of the 1699–1701 expedition, "A Voyage to New Holland" and returned to privateering.

The War of the Spanish Succession broke 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 Islands off the coast of Chile to 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.

Third circumnavigation

Dampier was engaged in 1708 by the privateer Woodes Rogers as 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 London in 1715 before he received his share.


Dampier influenced several figures better known than he:
* His observations and analysis of natural history helped Charles Darwin's and Alexander von Humboldt's development of their theories,
* He made innovations in navigation technology that were studied by James Cook and 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 breadfruit led 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 Panama influenced 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 Australia were studied by naturalist and scientist Joseph Banks who made further studies during the first voyage with Cook. It helped lead to the naming of and colonization of Botany Bay and the founding of modern Australia.
* He is mentioned in the Gabriel Garcia Marquez short story "The Last Voyage of the Ghost Ship".
* He is parodied mercilessly by Jonathan Swift in 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)

Further reading

* 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.

External links

** 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.]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • William Dampier — Captain William Dampier, retrato de T. Murray, 1698 …   Wikipedia Español

  • William Dampier — (* im August, getauft am 5. September 1651 in East Coker, Somerset, England; † März 1715 in London) war ein britischer Freibeuter, dreimaliger Weltumsegler, Entdecker und Geograph. William Dampier …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • William Dampier — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Dampier. William Dampier, pirate, navigateur et explorateur William Dampier (septembre  …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Dampier, Western Australia — Dampier Western Australia Map of Dampier, Western Australia and surrounding area …   Wikipedia

  • Dampier — may refer to: Dampier, Western Australia Division of Dampier, an Australian Electoral Division in Western Australia from 1913 to 1922 Dampier (MCC cricketer), English cricketer playing 1765 1787 Alex Dampier, Canadian British ice hockey player… …   Wikipedia

  • Dampier-Archipel — Der Dampier Archipel und die Burrup Halbinsel Gewässer Indischer Ozean …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Dampier (Australien) — Dampier Staat …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Dampier Archipelago — …   Wikipedia

  • Dampier — ist der Familienname folgender Personen Erick Dampier (* 1975), US amerikanischer Basketballspieler Karl Dampier (* 1948), österreichischer Politiker (SPÖ) William Dampier (1651–1715), englischer Seefahrer Dampier ist der (Teil )Name der Orte… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Dampier (Ville) — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Dampier. 20° 38′ 00″ S 116° 42′ 50″ E …   Wikipédia en Français

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.