Dampier was made a naval officer and commanded an expedition (1699–1701) to Australia, New Guinea, and New Britain (which he discovered to be an island and named). Other discoveries included Dampier Archipelago and Dampier Strait. His vessel, the Roebuck, finally foundered off Ascension island. Dampier subsequently commanded an unsuccessful privateering expedition (1703–7) in the course of which Alexander Selkirk was voluntarily marooned. Dampier's account was published in his Voyage to New Holland (Part I, 1703 Part II, 1709). Though an excellent hydrographer and navigator, he proved an incompetent commander, guilty of drunkenness and overbearing conduct. He was also pilot to Woodes Rogers on a voyage around the world (1708–11). Dampier had a wide-ranging impact on future generations: his navigational methods influenced both Captain James Cook and Admiral Horatio Nelson, while his scientific observations effected the theories of both Alexander von Humboldt and Charles Darwin.
See editions of Dampier's writings by J. Masefield (1906) and Sir Albert Gray (1927, repr. 1968) biographies by J. Shipman (1962), C. Lloyd (1966), and D. and M. Preston (2004).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Explorers, Travelers, and Conquerors: Biographies
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