William Dampier: Buccaneer and Planter
J.H. Bennett introduces William Dampier, the circumnavigator of the globe, and the first Englishman to land in Australia, who spent part of his youth as a planter in Jamaica and a Caribbean buccaneer.
When the Merchant ship Content, bound for Jamaica, sailed out of the Thames estuary on April 6th, 1674, she was manned by a notorious buccaneer, a renowned author, the greatest English explorer of the age, and a worthless plantation hand. Not that Captain John Kent would have recognized any of his crew in these descriptions, but all were personified by Seaman William Dampier in the lives he would lead once the Content ended her long voyage from Charles II’s London to Henry Morgan’s piratical Port Royal.1
In his three circumnavigations of the globe, Dampier became the first Englishman to land in Australia and the discoverer of Dampier Straits and New Britain Island. As one of the floating nation of British and French buccaneers, he shared in the spoil of a score of Spanish towns in America and of Spanish ships in every sea. He was with the pirates in the sack of Porto Bello and the march on Panama in 1679 and 1680.