William Dampier – Buccaneer, Explorer, Hydrographer and sometime Captain

Copper engraving of William Dampier. ANMM Collection 00000846

Copper engraving c 1789 of William Dampier. ANMM Collection 00000846

Buccaneer, Explorer, Hydrographer and sometime Captain of the Ship ROEBUCK in the Royal Navy of King William the Third.

So reads the memorial to Englishman William Dampier in the village of East Coker, Somerset, England, the place of his birth in 1651. The memorial lists only a portion of Dampier’s eclectic career and speaks faintly of his contradictory character. Pioneer and pirate, criminal and captain, explorer, author, travel writer and buccaneer. Ironically Dampier, with his less than angelic past, visited Australian shores in 1688, a full century before the convicts of the first fleet. At its bleakest contrast, Dampier was a felon who created a historic legacy in the hallowed halls of literature, science and exploration.

Here’s how it came about. Continue reading