William Dampier

William Dampier (* in August, baptized on September 5, 1651 in East Coker, Somerset, England; † March 1715 in London) was a British privateer, a three-time circumnavigator, explorer and geographer.

Childhood and youth

Dampier was born as the second of six children of a farming family in Somerset. The fact that his parents were not very poor, proves the fact that Dampier visited the school, which he apparently also ended. In any case, he could not only read and write well, he also mastered Latin. His parents died when he was still a child. Dampier had no inclination to take the farmer profession, and decided as a 18 -year-old for navigation. On a merchant ship as a cabin boy he reached the cold Newfoundland, after which he made ​​the intent to continue to prefer warmer climes. In 1672 he went as a young man to Spanish America in 1673 and took part in the third naval war between England and the Netherlands. In 1674 he was briefly plantation manager in Jamaica, and then he worked until 1678 in the Campeche - loggers on the Yucatán Peninsula.

Career as a pirate

Since his expectations, quickly earning a lot of money, were disappointed, he decided to join one of the many pirate crews. From 1679 to 1681 he had his first experience as a buccaneer in the captains Bartholomew Sharp and John Coxon. This stage of his life was not crowned with success. The attempt to conquer Panama City by land, failed because the Spaniards were prepared a few years earlier after similar attack by Henry Morgan's troops on such maneuvers. Dampier remained with Captain Sharp on one of them hijacked ship and sailed to Chile, where he left along with other the notoriously hapless captain and made ​​his way to Tortuga. From there he sailed to Virginia in 1682 where he settled briefly.


Already in 1683 he joined a group of buccaneers there again, which should make on Spanish ships hunting. As a crew member, he came over Cape Horn into the Pacific, where he studied as one of the first the Galapagos Islands. Target of the pirates was the looting of Spanish cities on the west coast of South America. 1685 Dampier joined the ship and climbed up on the Cygnet to the Navigator. A 6000 mile journey from Mexico to Guam and the Philippines ( from 31 March to 20 May 1686) presented a real masterpiece of the former Maritime Art dar. 1687 circled the Cygnet in the South China Sea, always on the hunt for a prey, then they suggested a course towards the Gulf of Siam and sailed along the north-western coast of New Holland, the first naming of Australia and New Guinea by the Dutch Jansz. In January 1688, the Buccaneers landed on one of the island of present-day Dampier Archipelago. They were the first Englishmen who demonstrably resided in these areas.

After a dispute, the most likely was sparked about the future course of the ship, Dampier and two ( or three) other crew members were exposed on an island of the Nicobar Islands. Then they built a boat, a kind of canoe, and reached after an adventurous drive up the coast of the island of Sumatra, where Dampier again presented his navigational quality test.

Remained gravely ill Dampier back on Sumatra. When he had recovered, he examined within 18 months, the area of Tonkin in Vietnam today, Malacca and Malaysia, where he was going quite scientifically and extensively described the flora and fauna of the visited areas. In 1691, he returned to England. He had brought a " Philippine prince " named Giolo, the London and Oxford as " an exotic appearance" was shown to the public, but died after a few months.

1693 William Dampier was again at sea. He signed on as second mate on one of the four merchant ships, who set out on the way to the West Indies. However, broke on the ships as soon as they reached the Caribbean, a serious mutiny. Dampier, who had from the pirate's life enough, decided not to join the pirates to Captain Henry Every, but sailed with his ship in 1695 returned to England.

There he was accused before the High Court of Admiralty for alleged involvement in the mutiny. Although he was acquitted, but had in 1696 as a witness at the trial of the captured members of Avery's crew, so the suspicion that he had to rebut sympathies with the pirates.

Life in England

Already in 1678 married Dampier a servant of the Countess of Grafton; the marriage was apparently childless. She earned a small estate in the county of Dorset. To all appearances, lost his wife during the many years of absence of her husband's ownership of the land, at least it appeared in any basic book on. He published his experiences in 1697 under the title New Travel the World ( A New Voyage around the World ), which was a great success. In 1699 he supplemented it by A Supplement of the New Voyage, where he described his life before he became a pirate. The main intention Dampier was there to clear his name from allegations that he was involved in several " conspiracies against the crown ." To this end, he testified four times on piracy in the Caribbean and in the Pacific before the " Board of Trade " and reached his full rehabilitation.

Dampier's old life has followed him constantly. With each failure, or failure, he was showered with processes and diatribes. So in 1707, when he returned from a very unfortunate for him verlaufenen military mission to England, they accused him of drunkenness, deceit and cowardice. Two of his former subordinate, William Funnell and John Welbe, published anti - Dampier writings that sought to confirm these allegations. The heir of one of the owners of his ship St.George plated Dampier with a fraud trial avalanche, which was not completed until 1712. Dampier defended himself with a written in very jähzornigem sound polemic Vindication, which appeared in 1707. In it, he accused his critics all personal failure, resentment and envy.

As Dampier died in London in 1715, he left debts of £ 677, according to former standards a large sum. Apparently, his wife died before him, as it is not mentioned in his will, which was already placed end 1714.

Career as an explorer

The success of both books and the details impressed the British Admiralty in such a way that they auserkor Dampier as captain for a research voyage in the Pacific. This project was published in London in 1694 Buoyed by reports of Dutch travelers Abel Tasman, who seemed to give the dreams of a great continent in the south shape. His aim was at that time still very vague as large mass of earth viewed Terra Australis to sail around and explore the possibility of disposing of English goods there. He was given command of HMS Roebuck in January 1699. This ship was actually created as Brander and has been for the journey in 1699 to " 5th rate warship " with 26 guns upgraded. The team was also described as quarrelsome and inexperienced.

Originally the trip around Cape Horn around should lead, but this would have meant to pass the perilous cape during the less favorable conditions then prevailing in the southern hemisphere winter. Given these circumstances Dampier changed the route and headed via the Cape of Good Hope eastward to sailing in the direction of the suspected Terra Australis. On July 26, 1699, he came across the 26 degrees south latitude on the West Australian coast. The unit is called Shark's Bay coastline and the neighboring islands have been studied and mapped in detail by him. In the absence of fresh water Dampier left in September this coast and traveled to Timor to load new supplies. From there, he set course for New Guinea, where he arrived on December 3. As he drove along the East Coast, he came upon an island, which he called New Britain. The extended by him strait between it and two smaller islands today bears his honor the name Dampierstraße. Dampier managed also to map the northwest coast of New Guinea in part.

The the suffering from scurvy crew poor condition of his ship and forced Dampier However, again Timor to run, which he reached back in May of 1700. From there, the journey home on the then Batavia and the Cape of Good Hope was started. HMS Roebuck reached the island of Ascension in February 1701. While the ship anchored off the island, it started strong absorb water and as repair attempts failed, he was put onto land. Dampier and the crew left the ship, they were taken on 3 April 1701 by randomly homeward passing drivers and the East Indies warships and taken to Europe. Dampier was able after all to save his diaries and a collection of more than 40 unknown plants. These are now part of the Sherardian Herbarium in Oxford.

After his return Dampier was indicted in 1702 in England to court for cruelty to the crew and drunkenness on the ride and found guilty. Despite these accusations learned Dampier 1703 great honor to be presented by the Prince Regent George, a member of the Royal Society of Queen Anne.

A subsequent plunder with two ships against French or Spanish ships around the world lasted from 1703 to 1707, but this time did not bring the hoped-for success. Dampier failed because of his inability to keep as captain the team in line. On the trip there was in 1704 for voluntary suspension of Alexander Selkirk on the uninhabited island of Mas a Tierra in the Juan Fernández Archipelago. This island was renamed in 1966 in Isla Robinson Crusoe.

A third circumnavigation of the globe experienced Dampier 1708-1711 as a navigator on the ship of Woodes Rogers. This Kapertour led to more abundant prey. During a stopover for fresh water replenishment on Isla Mas a Tierra just the Alexander Selkirk was found and taken from Rogers on board. Before the now over-indebted Dampier its share was paid on Kapererlös, the adventurer, however, died in London.


Dampier is considered one of the smartest privateer and carried out research on its three circumnavigation as a scientific observer, inter alia, in the fields of hydrology and geography. He sailed the coasts of New Guinea, New Britain and discovered the island of New Ireland and New Hanover nature, and he explored the coast of Western Australia. In his publications Dampier presented exact nautical, topographical, ethnographic and biological observations. The travel diary gives an insight into the ways of life on ships and in the colonies in his time. His travel records include over 1250 pages.

Dampier is attributed to a large influence on the following persons:

  • His records, including the Galapagos, Charles Darwin served as a rich source. There Dampier had already noticed the regional differences of the animal world, as well as their obvious adaptation to differentiated living conditions.
  • In terms of his cartography Alexander von Humboldt said that the following scholars of the work of this " remarkable Bucaneers " had little to add.
  • Captain Cook and Admiral Nelson was impressed with his innovations in navigational technology.
  • Daniel Defoe was inspired by the story of Alexander Selkirk for his novel Robinson Crusoe.
  • Captain Bligh's voyage of the HMS Bounty was initiated for breadfruit tree because of Dampier's report.
  • The Oxford English Dictionary cites Dampier with more than 1000 words.

Two straits before New Guinea ( Dampierstraße (Papua New Guinea) and Dampierstraße ( West Papua ) ), the third highest mountain in New Zealand ( Mount Dampier ) and the Dampier Archipelago and the city of Dampier in northern Western Australia were named after the British.