If you’ve ever wondered who sailed across treacherous waters to claim land and explore far-off lands in the name of Britain , consider the exploits of William Dampier, who braved many different bodies of water and traveled on many different voyages. What did he find and what became of his life?
William Dampier (~1652-1715)
Not only was William Dampier looked upon as an explorer and mapmaker, he also gained a reputation as a buccaneer (another way of saying ‘pirate’). When he was a teen, he boarded a ship and sailed to the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. These weren’t the only places that he would visit on his travels, as he also saw the sights in Australia, New Guinea, Southeast Asia, and the South Seas. During this time, he would chart the rivers, coastlines, and currents for the British Admiralty.
A lot was learned from Dampier, as he also wrote in a journal , full of details that described the native cultures that he encountered, the first recorded typhoon, and many other discoveries. Dampier is additionally credited with discovering and giving the name ‘New Britain,’ which was located close to New Guinea. In 1697, he published a book called “A New Voyage Round the World,” which became a hit. However, this did not stop Dampier from dying a poor beggar in 1715.
Facts About Dampier
1) Dampier became the first individual to circumnavigate the world three times.
2) On one of Dampier’s returns, he was served a court martial for cruelty. Apparently, while on an outward voyage, he removed one of his crewmen (George Fisher) from the ship and had him jailed in Brazil. When Fisher finally made it back to England, he submitted a complaint to the Admiralty, stating that he was treated unfairly. Dampier penned a rebuttal regarding his conduct, but was found guilty. As a consequence, he lost his pay for the voyage and was let go from the Royal Navy.
3) In 1708, Dampier was part of an expedition that brought in close to Ã‚Â£200,000 of profit. Unfortunately for Dampier, he died in London before he ever got his hands on his share.
4) Dampier was quite the influencer in his day and if you look close enough, he continues to in the present. For starters, his observations and take on natural history assisted the theories of Charles Darwin and Alexander von Humboldt. His innovative ideas regarding navigational technology proved helpful for James Cook and Horatio Nelson. Notes taken on the flora and fauna of northwestern Australia became study guides for Joseph banks (naturalist and scientist), who explored further when he accompanied Cook on his first voyage.
5) The Oxford English Dictionary cites Dampier many times when it comes to words, such as ‘barbecue’ and ‘avocado.’
6) Aside from writing “A New Voyage Round the World,” Dampier also authored “Voyages and Descriptions” (1699) , (A Supplement of the Voyage Round the World; The Campeachy Voyages; and A Discourse of Winds) and “A Voyage to New Holland” (Part 1 written in 1703 with Part 2 written in 1709).