William Dampier was born in 1651 at Somerset Dorset. He went to sea as a boy and worked on merchant ships until he joined the British Navy in 1672.
He fought the Dutch in Several naval battles. In 1674 William Dampier left the Navy and went to Jamaica and got involved in several nefarious ventures, and by the end of the 1670's Dampier was hanging out with buccaneers and probably involved in smuggling. In 1683 he joined a band of buccaneers to seize ships in the Pacific Ocean.
In 1685, William Dampier set off on the Cygnet and arrived on the coast of Western Australia at the beginning of 1688. A violent storm had blown her onto the coast and Dampier needed to seek shelter for the damaged ship. At latitude 16 degrees 50' South, they anchored on January 5th two miles from the shore in 29 fathom on a good hard sand bottom. Dampier found the soil to be dry and sandy and lacking in water, except if you dug a well. He collected many plant specimens which he took back to England and are still preserved in the Oxford Herbarium. He made note of dugongs (calling them manatees) and turtles. He also wrote about the aboriginals
William Dampier's writings gave him a lot of attention so the British Admiralty ignored his dubious past and gave him a ship, the Roebuck , to further explore Australia. He took off again on January 14th 1699 from the Downs with a fair wind. He carried only twelve guns, a crew of fifty and provisions for twenty months. The Roebuck stopped at the Canary Islands, The Cape de Verde Islands, and Brazil on the seven months voyage to Western Australia, hitting the coast at Shark Bay. They anchored in seven and a half fathoms of water 2 miles from the shore. They went ashore to look for water but could find none. They spent the rest of the time cutting wood. They caught a lot of sharks for eating.
They headed north looking for water and when they next went ashore to dig for water they had a fight with the aborigines. They never found water and his crew were suffering from scurvy, so they headed for Timor for water and fresh fruits. William Dampier did not visit Australia again, but his detailed writings and reports were very important to the British Government in their decision to set up colonies in Australia. The Roebuck was shipwrecked on a later voyage in the South Atlantic Ocean off Ascension Island.
Baudin & Flinders
Sir Robert Seppings