William Dampier

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The buccaneers took their name from the boucans, or the places where they dried and salted their meat. They were initially associated with the Caribbean island of Hispaniola (now San Domingo), composed chiefly of French colonists whose ranks had been "enlarged by liberal contributions from the slums and alleys of more than one European city and town," and seen as "savage, surly, fierce, and filthy men," albeit peaceful ones, in the early to mid-seventeenth century.

Then, the Spaniards desired control over the Caribbean islands and vowed extermination of the resident buccaneers. The buccaneers, in turn, vowed revenge, and associated themselves with the freebooters and pirates. England sought men who would sail against the Spaniards, as well as the rising number of buccaneers and pirates, in Caribbean waters.

Enter William Dampier. He was born in England in 1652 and began his relationship with the sea in 1669. This narrative tells of his adventures in the Caribbean Sea and along the coasts of Central and South America as businessman, explorer, sacker of towns, and privateer and buccaneer against the Spaniards. Though poverty dogged him at times, he was successful enough in the cause for English control of the seas that he was presented to the Queen. He left the sea at the age of fifty-nine and stepped into obscurity, vanishing "like a puff of tobacco smoke." A thorough and engaging look at a complex man of England during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

  • Author: William Clark Russell
  • Title: William Dampier
  • First Published Format: HC
  • First Published Date: 1889

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