William Dampier (baptised 5 September 1651; died March 1715) was an English explorer, ex-pirate and navigator who became the first Englishman to explore parts of what is today Australia, and the first person to circumnavigate the world three times. He has also been described as Australia's first natural historian, as well as one of the most important British explorers of the period between Sir Walter Raleigh and James Cook.
After impressing the Admiralty with his book A New Voyage Round the World, Dampier was given command of a Royal Navy ship and made important discoveries in western Australia, before being court-martialled for cruelty. On a later voyage he rescued Alexander Selkirk, a former crewmate who may have inspired Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe. Others influenced by Dampier include James Cook, Horatio Nelson, Charles Darwin, and Alfred Russel Wallace.
Portrait of Dampier holding his book, a painting by Thomas Murray (c. 1697–1698)
|Born||Baptised 5 September 1651|
|Died||March 1715 (aged 64)|
|Occupation||Privateer and explorer|
|Known for||Exploring and mapping Australia, Circumnavigation|
William Dampier was born at Hymerford House in East Coker, Somerset, in 1651. He was baptised on 5 September, but his precise date of birth is not recorded. He was educated at King's School, Bruton. Dampier sailed on two merchant voyages to Newfoundland and Java before joining the Royal Navy in 1673. He took part in the two Battles of Schooneveld in June of that year.
Dampier's service was cut short by a catastrophic illness, and he returned to England for several months of recuperation. For the next several years he tried his hand at various careers, including plantation management in Jamaica and logging in Mexico, before he eventually joined another sailing expedition. Returning to England, he married Judith around 1679, only to leave for the sea a few months later.
In 1679, Dampier joined the crew of the buccaneer Captain Bartholomew Sharp on the Spanish Main of Central America, twice visiting the Bay of Campeche, or "Campeachy" as it was then known, on the north coast of Mexico. This led to his first circumnavigation, during which he accompanied a raid across the Isthmus of Darién in Panama and took part in the capture of 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 was engaged by the privateer John Cooke. Cooke entered the Pacific via Cape Horn and spent a year raiding Spanish possessions in Peru, the Galápagos Islands, and Mexico. This expedition collected buccaneers and ships as it went along, at one time having a fleet of ten vessels. Cooke died in Mexico, and a new leader, Edward Davis, was elected captain by the crew, taking the ship Batchelor's Delight, with future Captain George Raynor in the crew.
Dampier transferred to the privateer Charles Swan's ship, Cygnet, and on 31 March 1686 they set out across the Pacific to raid the East Indies, calling at Guam and Mindanao in the Philippines. Spanish witnesses saw the predominantly English crew as not only pirates and heretics but also cannibals. Leaving Swan and 36 others behind on Mindanao, the rest of the privateers under new Captain John Read sailed on to Manila, Poulo Condor in modern-day Vietnam, China, the Spice Islands, and New Holland (Australia). Contrary to Dampier's later claim that he had not actively participated in actual piratical attacks during this voyage, he was in fact selected in 1687 to command one of the Spanish ships captured by Cygnet's crew off Manila.
On 5 January 1688, Cygnet "anchored two miles from shore in 29 fathoms" on the northwest coast of Australia, near King Sound. Dampier and his ship remained there until March 12, and while the ship was being careened Dampier made notes on the fauna and flora and the indigenous peoples he found there. Among his fellows were a significant number of Spanish sailors, most notably Alonso Ramírez, a native of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Later that year, by agreement, Dampier and two shipmates were marooned on one of the Nicobar Islands. They obtained a small canoe which they modified after first capsizing and then, after surviving a great storm at sea, called at "Acheen" (Aceh) in Sumatra.
Dampier returned to England in 1691 via the Cape of Good Hope, penniless but in possession of his journals. He also had as a source of income a slave known as Prince Jeoly (or Giolo), from Mindanao (Philippines), who became famous for his tattoos (or "paintings" as they were known at the time). Dampier exhibited Jeoly in London, thereby also generating publicity for a book based on his diaries.
The publication of the book, A New Voyage Round the World, in 1697 was a popular sensation, creating interest at the Admiralty. In 1699, Dampier was given command of the 26-gun warship HMS Roebuck, with a commission from King William III (who had ruled jointly with Queen Mary II until her death in 1694). His mission was to explore the east coast of New Holland, the name given by the Dutch to what is now Australia, and Dampier's intention was to travel there via Cape Horn.
The expedition set out on 14 January 1699, too late in the season to attempt the Horn, so it headed to New Holland via the Cape of Good Hope instead. Following the Dutch route to the Indies, Dampier passed between Dirk Hartog Island and the Western Australian mainland into what he called Shark Bay on 6 August 1699. He landed and began producing the first known detailed record of Australian flora and fauna. The botanical drawings that were made are believed to be by his clerk, James Brand. Dampier then followed the coast north-east, reaching the Dampier Archipelago and Lagrange Bay, just south of what is now called Roebuck Bay, all the while recording and collecting specimens, including many shells. From there he bore northward for Timor. Then he sailed east and on 3 December 1699 rounded New Guinea, which he passed to the north. He traced the south-eastern coasts of New Hanover, New Ireland and New Britain, charting the Dampier Strait between these islands (now the Bismarck Archipelago) and New Guinea. En route, he paused to collect specimens such as giant clams.
By this time, Roebuck was in such bad condition that Dampier was forced to abandon his plan to examine the east coast of New Holland while less than a hundred miles from it. In danger of sinking, he attempted to make the return voyage to England, but the ship foundered at Ascension Island on 21 February 1701. While anchored offshore the ship began to take on more water and the carpenter could do nothing with the worm-eaten planking. As a result, the vessel had to be run aground. Dampier's crew was 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 Roebuck, Dampier was able to save some new charts of coastlines, and his record of trade winds and currents in the seas around Australia and New Guinea. He also preserved a few of his specimens. Many plant specimens were donated to the Fielding-Druce Herbarium (part of the University of Oxford), and in September 1999, they were then loaned to Western Australia for the 300 year celebration. In 2001, the Roebuck wreck was located in Clarence Bay, Ascension Island, by a team from the Western Australian Maritime Museum. Because of his widespread influence, and also because so little exists that can now be linked to him, it has been argued that the remains of his ship and the objects still at the site on Ascension Island – while the property of Britain and subject to the island government's management – are actually the shared maritime heritage of those parts of the world first visited or described by him. His account of the expedition was published as A Voyage to New Holland in 1703.
On his return from the Roebuck expedition, Dampier was court-martialled for cruelty. On the outward voyage, Dampier had his lieutenant, George Fisher, removed from the ship and jailed in Brazil. Fisher returned to England and complained about his treatment to the Admiralty. Dampier aggressively defended his conduct, but he was found guilty. His pay for the voyage was docked, and he was dismissed from the Royal Navy.
The War of the Spanish Succession had broken out in 1701, and English privateers were being readied to act against French and Spanish interests. Dampier was appointed commander of the 26-gun ship St George, with a crew of 120 men. They were joined by the 16-gun Cinque Ports with 63 men, and sailed on 11 September 1703 from Kinsale, Ireland. The two ships made a storm-tossed passage round Cape Horn, arriving at the Juan Fernández Islands off the coast of Chile in February 1704. While watering and provisioning there, they sighted a heavily armed French merchantman, which they engaged in a seven-hour battle but were driven off.
Dampier succeeded in capturing a number of small Spanish ships along the coast of Peru, but released them after removing only a fraction of their cargoes because he believed they "would be a hindrance to his greater designs." The greater design he had in mind was a raid on Santa María, a town on the Gulf of Panama rumoured to hold stockpiles of gold from nearby mines. When the force of seamen he led against the town met with unexpectedly strong resistance, however, he withdrew. In May 1704, Cinque Ports separated from St George and, after putting Alexander Selkirk ashore alone on an island for complaining about the vessel's seaworthiness, sank off the coast of what is today Colombia. Some of its crew survived being shipwrecked but were made prisoners of the Spanish.
It was now left to St George to make an attempt on the Manila galleon, the main object of the expedition. The ship was sighted on 6 December 1704, probably Nuestra Señora del Rosario. It was caught unprepared and had not run out its guns. But while Dampier and his officers argued over the best way to mount an attack, the galleon got its guns loaded and the battle was joined. St George soon found itself out-sized by the galleon's 18- and 24-pounders, and, suffering serious damage, they were forced to break off the attack.
The failure to capture the Spanish galleon completed the break-up of the expedition. Dampier, with about thirty men, stayed in St George, while the rest of the crew took a captured barque across the Pacific to Amboyna in the Dutch settlements. The undermanned and worm-damaged St George had to be abandoned on the coast of Peru. He and his remaining men embarked in a Spanish prize for the East Indies, where they were thrown into prison as pirates by their supposed allies the Dutch but later released. Now without a ship, Dampier made his way back to England at the end of 1707.
In 1708, Dampier was engaged to serve on the privateer Duke, not as captain but as sailing master. Duke beat its way into the South Pacific Ocean round Cape Horn in consort with a second ship, Duchess. Commanded by Woodes Rogers, this voyage was more successful: Selkirk was rescued on 2 February 1709, and the expedition amassed £147,975 (equivalent to £21.6 million today) worth of plundered goods. Most of that came from the capture of a Spanish galleon, Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación y Desengaño, along the coast of Mexico in December 1709.
In January 1710, Dampier crossed the Pacific in Duke, accompanied by Duchess and two prizes. They stopped at Guam before arriving in Batavia. Following a refit at Horn Island (near Batavia) and the sale of one of their prize ships, they sailed for the Cape of Good Hope where they remained for more than three months awaiting a convoy. They left the Cape in company with 25 Dutch and English ships, with Dampier now serving as sailing master of Encarnación. After a further delay at the Texel, they dropped anchor at the Thames in London on 14 October 1711.
Dampier may not have lived to receive all of his share of the expedition's gains. He died in the Parish of St Stephen Coleman Street, London. The exact date and circumstances of his death, and his final resting place, are all unknown. His will was proven on 23 March 1715, and it is generally assumed he died earlier that month, but this is not known with any certainty. His estate was almost £2,000 in debt.
Dampier influenced several figures better known than he:
In his journal, A New Voyage Around The World, Dampier depicted the first inhabitants of Australia as virtually subhuman, likening them to monkeys and calling them the "miserabilist" people he had ever seen. This may have been at the behest of the publisher who wanted to cater to public prejudice and increase sales. Dampier spent two months in the Dampier Peninsula in Western Australia, now named after him, observing the people of that area, the Bardi people. They had been there for thousands of years and were actually a well organised society. In his private journals Dampier did seem to have more respect. Nevertheless, it has been claimed that Dampier set the tone for future explorers and colonisers of Australia, which led to the law of terra nullius, the view that the land was unoccupied and there for the taking.
The following geographical places/features are named after William Dampier:
Alexander Selkirk (1676 – 13 December 1721) was a Scottish privateer and Royal Navy officer who spent four years and four months as a castaway (1704–1709) after being marooned by his captain on an uninhabited island in the South Pacific Ocean. He survived that ordeal, but succumbed to tropical illness a dozen years later while serving aboard HMS Weymouth off West Africa.
Selkirk was an unruly youth, and joined buccaneering voyages to the South Pacific during the War of the Spanish Succession. One such expedition was on Cinque Ports, captained by Thomas Stradling under the overall command of William Dampier. Stradling's ship stopped to resupply at the uninhabited Juan Fernández Islands, and Selkirk judged correctly that the craft was unseaworthy and asked to be left there.
By the time he was eventually rescued by English privateer Woodes Rogers, in company with Dampier, Selkirk had become adept at hunting and making use of the resources that he found on the island. His story of survival was widely publicised after his return to England, becoming a source of inspiration for writer Daniel Defoe's fictional character Robinson Crusoe.Batanta
Batanta is one of the four major islands in the Raja Ampat Islands in West Papua province, Indonesia. Its area is 453 km² and its highest point is 1184 m. The Pitt Strait separates it from Salawati, while the Dampier Strait separates it from Waigeo.
Dampier strait is named for the English explorer William Dampier. In 1759 Captain William Wilson sailing in the East Indiaman Pitt navigated these waters and named the channel between Batanta and Salawati Pitt Strait, after his vessel.Charles Swan (pirate)
Charles Swan (died 1690) was a reluctant buccaneer. Captain Swan was forced into piracy by his crew in the 1680s, and proceeded to write letters to the owners of his ship Cygnet in London, begging them to intercede with James II of England for his pardon - even as he looted his way up and down the coastal areas of South America.
He was present at the attack on Payta in 1684 alongside John Eaton, where he petulantly burned the town after no booty was found. On 25 August 1685, he separated from his confederates Peter Harris and Edward Davis, and sailed up the coast of Mexico alongside Francis Townley, but met with little success. He seized the town of Santa Pecaque but lost fifty men to a Spanish counter-attack, including Basil Ringrose.On 31 March 1686 he set out across the Pacific to ambush the Manila treasure galleon, but failed to over-take the ship. Due to the failure of the assault on Santa Pecaque provisions were short, and by the time they reached the East Indies the crew were plotting to eat their officers of the Cygnet as it crossed the Pacific (starting with the Captain). (Swan is reported to have remarked that the lean William Dampier would have made them a poor meal; the captain himself was a remarkably fat man.) They arrived at Guam without having to resort to cannibalism, and made their way on to the Sultanate of Mindanao. The arrogance of Swan and unruliness of his men soon spoiled their good relations with the local ruler, Raja Laut; and when the captain decided to abandon the attempt on the galleon, his men mutinied. He was replaced as Captain by John Read, who had originally been a crewman under Edward Davis (and Davis' predecessor, John Cook).He managed to save five thousand pounds (legally the property of the Cygnet's owners) from the mutineers, and remained in Mindanao, becoming an officer in Laut's army; but in 1690 he attempted to escape back to England on a Dutch ship with the money, and was chased by Laut's warriors, who capsized his boat and speared him in the water.Cinque Ports (1703 ship)
Cinque Ports is also the name for a group of five English port towns, the namesake of this ship.Cinque Ports was an English ship whose sailing master was Alexander Selkirk, generally accepted as a model for the fictional Robinson Crusoe. The ship was part of a 1703 expedition commanded by William Dampier, who captained an accompanying ship, the 26-gun St George with a complement of 120 men.When the War of the Spanish Succession broke out in 1701, English privateers were recruited to act against French and Spanish interests. Despite a court-martial for cruelty to one of his crew in an earlier voyage, Dampier was granted command of the two-ship expedition which departed England on 30 April 1703 for the port of Kinsale in Ireland.Dampier Archipelago
The Dampier Archipelago is a group of 42 islands near the town of Dampier in the Pilbara, Western Australia.
The archipelago is also made up of reefs, shoals, channels and straits and is the traditional home of five Aboriginal language groups. It was formed 7000 years ago when rising sea levels flooded what were once coastal plains. The underlying rocks are among the oldest on earth, formed in the Archaean period more than 2400 million years ago.
It is named after William Dampier, an English buccaneer and explorer who visited in 1699. Dampier named one of the islands Rosemary Island.
Despite being a region through which considerable shipping and industrial activity occurs, the archipelago has considerable marine resources.Dampier Peninsula
The Dampier Peninsula is a peninsula located north of Broome and Roebuck Bay in Western Australia. It is surrounded by the Indian Ocean to the west and north, and King Sound to the east. It is named after the mariner and explorer William Dampier who visited it. The northernmost part of the peninsula is Cape Leveque.Dampier Strait (Indonesia)
Dampier Strait (sometimes also known as Augusta's Strait) in Indonesian province of West Papua is a strait that separates the Raja Ampat islands of Waigeo and Batanta. It is named after British navigator William Dampier.Davis Land
Davis Land is the name of a phantom island that was believed to be located in the Pacific Ocean, near South America. It is named for the pirate Edward Davis, who supposedly sighted it in 1687. Never found again, it was also believed by William Dampier to possibly be the coast of Terra Australis Incognita.Division of Dampier
The Division of Dampier was an Australian Electoral Division in Western Australia. The division was created in 1913 and abolished in 1922. It was named for the navigator William Dampier, the first Englishman to see Australia, and was located in rural Western Australia, including the towns of Northam and Toodyay. It was safe seat for the non-Labor parties.Fancy (ship)
Fancy was Henry Every's ship, and was commanded by him between May 1694 to late 1695, when he retired from piracy and the fate of Fancy becomes unknown.HMS Dampier (K611)
HMS Dampier was a Bay-class anti-aircraft frigate of the British Royal Navy, named after the explorer, author and privateer, William Dampier (1652-1715). The ship was in commission from 1948 to 1968, spending her entire career based at Singapore, carrying out survey work.HMS Roebuck (1690)
HMS Roebuck was a fifth-rate warship in the Royal Navy which, under the command of William Dampier, carried the first English scientific expedition to Australia in 1699. The wreck of the ship has since been located by a team from the Western Australian Maritime Museum at a site on the coast of Ascension Island where it foundered more than 300 years ago.Hymerford House
Hymerford House (which has also been known as Grove Farm, Manor House and Bridge Farm) in East Coker, Somerset, England was built in the 15th century and it has been designated as a Grade I listed building.The original hall house was built of local stone with hamstone dressing and the walls are rendered. In the 16th century the house was altered with the addition of porches to the front and back. The west front is of six bays. Attached to the house is the 18th-century Grove Cottage. In the grounds is a 19th-century sheep dip.The sailor and explorer William Dampier was born in the house in 1651.King Sound
King Sound is a large gulf in northern Western Australia. It expands from the mouth of the Fitzroy River, one of Australia's largest watercourses, and opens to the Indian Ocean. It is about 120 km long, and averages about 50 km in width. The port town of Derby lies near the mouth of the Fitzroy River on the eastern shore of King Sound. King Sound has the highest tides in Australia, and amongst the highest in the world, reaching a maximum tidal range of 11.8 metres at Derby. The tidal range and water dynamic were researched in 1997–1998.Other rivers that discharge into the sound include the Lennard River, Meda River, Robinson River and May River.
King Sound is bordered by the island clusters of the Buccaneer Archipelago to the East and Cape Leveque to the West.The traditional owners and original inhabitants of the area are the Indigenous Australians the Nimanburu, Njulnjul, Warwa peoples.The first European to explore the Sound was William Dampier who visited the region aboard Cygnet in 1688.
Philip Parker King surveyed the coastline in 1821 and named the area Cygnet Bay.The area was later visited by John Stokes and John Wickham aboard HMS Beagle in 1838. The Sound is named after the noted surveyor, Philip Parker King.In the 1880s it was one the sites in the Kimberleys of a short-lived gold rush.List of privateers
A privateer was a private person or private warship authorized by a country's government by letters of marque to attack foreign shipping. Privateers were an accepted part of naval warfare from the 16th to the 19th centuries, authorised by all significant naval powers.
Notable privateers included:
Victual Brothers or Vitalians or Likedeelers 1360–1401
Gödeke Michels (leader of the Likedeelers) 1360–1401
Klaus Störtebeker, Wismar, (leader of the Likedeelers), 1360–1401
Didrik Pining, German, c. 1428–1491
Paul Beneke, German, born in Hanseatic City of Danzig, Pomerelia c. 1440s–1490s
Kemal Reis, Turkish, c. 1451–1511
Oruç Reis (Barbarossa), Turkish, c. 1474–1518
Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha, Turkish, 1478–1546
Turgut Reis (Dragut), Turkish, c. 1485–1565
Timoji, Hindu, 1496–1513
Murat Reis the Older, Turkish, c. 1506–1609
Sir Francis Drake, English, c. 1540–1596
Sir George Somers, English 1554–1610
Captain Christopher Newport, English, c. 1561–1617
Magnus Heinason, Faroese, c. 1568–1578 privateer in Dutch service under the Dutch revolt and 1580s, and privateer and merchant in Danish service on the Faroe Islands c. 1578–1589
Piet Hein, Dutch, 1577–1629
Alonso de Contreras, Spanish, 1582–1641, privateer against the Turks under the banner of the Order of Malta and later commanded Spanish ships
James Erisey, English, 1585–1590s
Peter Easton, England/Newfoundland, c. 1611–1614
Sir Henry Morgan, Welsh, 1635–1688
Jean Bart, French, 1651–1702
William Dampier, English, 1652–1715
Nicolas Baeteman, Dunkirker 1659–1720
Alexander Dalzeel, Scotland, c. 1662–1715
René Duguay-Trouin, French, 1673–1736
Kanhoji Angre, Maratha, 1698–1729
Lars Gathenhielm, Swedish, 1710–1718
Ingela Gathenhielm, Swedish, 1710/18–1721
Fortunatus Wright, English of Liverpool, 1712–1757
David Hawley, colonial United States, 1741–1807
Jonathan Haraden, colonial United States, 1744–1803
William Death, English, 1756
Alexander Godfrey, colonial Nova Scotia, 1756–1803
Jose Campuzano-Polanco, colonial Santo Domingo, 1689-1760
Etienne Pellot, aka "the Basque Fox", French, 1765–1856
Noah Stoddard, United States, 1755-1850
Robert Surcouf, French, 1773–1827
David McCullough, colonial United States, 1777-1778
Jean Gaspard Vence, French, –1783
Joseph Barss, Colonial Nova Scotia, 1776–1824
Jean Lafitte 1776–1854, French Louisiana hero in the Gulf of Mexico
John Ordronaux (privateer), United States, 1778–1841
Ephraim Sturdivant, United States, 1782–1868
Hipólito Bouchard, Argentina, 1783–1843
Louisa, ship, of Philadelphia United States, 1800s during Quasi-War with the French
Otway Burns, North Carolina, United States 1775–1850Murujuga
Murujuga, usually known as the Burrup Peninsula, is an island in the Dampier Archipelago, in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, containing the town of Dampier. Originally named Dampier Island after the English navigator William Dampier, it lies 3 km off the Pilbara coast. In 1963 the island became an artificial peninsula when it was connected to the mainland by a causeway for a road and railway. In 1979 Dampier Peninsula was renamed Burrup Peninsula after Mt Burrup, the highest peak on the island, which had been named after Henry Burrup, a Union Bank clerk murdered in 1885 at Roebourne.The region is sometimes confused with the Dampier Peninsula, 800 km to the north-east. In Ngayarda languages, including that of the indigenous people of the peninsula, the Jaburara people, murujuga meant "hip bone sticking out".
The peninsula is a unique ecological and archaeological area since it contains the world's largest and most important collection of petroglyphs – ancient Aboriginal rock carvings some claim to date back as far as the last ice age about 10,000 years ago. The collection of standing stones here is the largest in Australia with rock art petroglyphs numbering over one million, many depicting images of the now extinct thylacine (Tasmanian tiger).
The Dampier Rock Art Precinct, which covers the entire archipelago, is the subject of ongoing political debate due to historical and proposed industrial development.Piracy on Lake Nicaragua
Between 1665 and 1857, Caribbean pirates and filibusters operated in Lake Nicaragua and the surrounding shores. The Spanish city of Granada, located on the lake, was an important trading centre for much of its early history so it was a prime target for pirates such as Henry Morgan and freebooters like William Walker.Roebuck Bay
Roebuck Bay is a bay on the coast of the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Its entrance is bounded in the north by the town of Broome, and in the south by Bush Point and Sandy Point. It is named after HMS Roebuck, the ship captained by William Dampier when he explored the coast of north-western Australia in 1699. The Broome Bird Observatory lies on the northern coast of the bay.Ulawun
Ulawun is a basaltic and andesitic stratovolcano in West New Britain Province, on the island of New Britain in Papua New Guinea.
About 130 km (81 mi) southwest of the township of Rabaul, Ulawun is the highest mountain in the Bismarck Archipelago at 2,334 metres (7,657 ft) and one of the most active volcanoes in Papua New Guinea. A total of 22 recorded eruptions have occurred since the 18th century; the first, in 1700, was recorded by William Dampier. Several thousand people live near the volcano. Because of its eruptive history and proximity to populated areas, Ulawun has been deemed one of the Decade Volcanoes.
Pirates since the 1660s
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