William Dampier bigraphy, stories - Explorer

William Dampier : biography

5 September 1651 - March 1715

William Dampier (baptised 5 September 1651 early 1715) was the first man of English descent to explore sections of New Holland (Australia) and also the first person to circumnavigate the world three times. Dampier has been described as the first natural historian of AustraliaGeorge, A.S. William Dampier in New Holland. Australia's First Natural historian. Bloomings Books Victoria. and the greatest explorer-adventurer between Sir Walter Raleigh and James Cook.Preston D. & M., 2005. A Pirate of Exquisite Mind. The life of William Dampier. Walker and Co. NY

After impressing the Admiralty with his book A New Voyage Round the World, Dampier was given command of a 26-gun ship and made valuable discoveries in Western New Holland, but was court-martialled for cruelty.

On a later voyage, he was able to rescue Alexander Selkirk, who was Daniel Defoe's inspiration for Robinson Crusoe. Others influenced by Dampier include James Cook, Lord Nelson and Charles Darwin.

Early life

William Dampier was born 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.Somerset Archives, 'Records of King's School, Bruton' – http://www1.somerset.gov.uk/archives/ Dampier sailed on two merchant voyages to Newfoundland and Java before joining the Royal Navy in 1673, taking part in the two battles of Schooneveld in June of that year. His 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 managing in Jamaica and logging in Mexico, before he joined another sailing expedition.

Court martial

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 wrote an angry vindication of his conduct, but he was found guilty, docked his pay for the voyage, and dismissed from the Royal Navy.

According to records held at the National Archives. Records of the Navy Board and the Board of Admiralty. Item reference ADM 1/5262/287. the Royal Navy Court Martial held on 8 June 1702, involved the following three charges:

William Dampier, Captain, HMS Roebuck.

Crime: Death of John Norwood, boatswain.
Verdict: Acquitted.

William Dampier, Captain, HMS Roebuck.

Crime: Hard and cruel usage of the lieutenant.
Verdict: Guilty.
Sentence: Forfeit all pay due and deemed unfit to command any of HM's ships.

George Fisher, Lieutenant, HMS Roebuck

Crime: Dispute between the captain and the lieutenant.
Verdict: Acquitted.

The Roebuck expedition

The publication of these diaries as New Voyage Round the World in 1697 was a popular sensation creating interest at the British Admiralty and in 1699 Dampier was given the command of the with a commission from the Admiralty (and by inference King William III who had reigned jointly with Queen Mary II before 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, far too late in the season to round the Horn and it approached New Holland via the Cape of Good Hope. Following the Dutch routes to the Indies, on 26 July 1699, Dampier reached Dirk Hartog Island at the mouth of what he called Shark Bay in Western Australia. He landed and began producing the first known detailed record of Australian flora and fauna. The images are believed to be by his clerk James Brand. Dampier then followed the coast northeast, reaching the Dampier Archipelago and then Lagrange Bay, just south of what is now called Roebuck Bay all the while recording and collecting specimens, including many shells.Marchant, L.R., 1988. An Island unto Itself. William Dampier & New Holland. Hesperian Press. Victoria Park, W.Aust. From there he bore away north for Timor. Then he sailed east and on 3 December 1699 rounded 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 Archipelago) and New Guinea. En route he paused to collect specimens with one stop resulting in a collection of many giant clams.

Living octopus

Living octopus

In countries which are located near sea coasts, sea food is an important part of national cuisine