THE LINDA HALL LIBRARY HISTORY OF SCIENCE COLLECTION
William Dampier: 1679-1707
Map of the East Indies and Australia
from A New Voyage Round the World: London:
Printed for James Knapton, 1697.
William Dampier, an orphan of Weymouth, England, spent twelve and a half years as a pirate, plundering ships in the West Indies and Central America, and eventually making his way across the Pacific to the Philippines, the East Indies, and Australia. Having set out in 1679, he returned home in 1691 and published his carefully-kept journal in 1697; it proved to be a sensation. Dampier may have been a buccaneer, but he was such an astute observer of people, places, and natural history that his works are often included with the publications of more explicitly scientific expeditions. His book was dedicated to the President of the Royal Society of London.
Dampier spent nine weeks on
the west coast of Australia during his first voyage, and is
considered to be the first Englishman to go there. He wrote
of that visit:
"New Holland is a very large tract of land. It is
not yet determined whether it is an island or a main continent;
but I am certain that it joyns neither to Asia, Africa, nor