Detailed map of New Guinea as seen by William Dampier, first man to circumnavigate the world three times and first naturalist afloat
This is a map of William Dampier's tracts aboard the Roebuck in 1699, included in the re-issue of John Harris' Navigatium Atque Itinerarium Biblioteca (1705) . Harris was a clergyman, mathematics teacher, and Fellow of the Royal Society interested in disseminating knowledge of natural philosophy to a broader audience. His was one of the most important compilations of discoveries and voyages issued in the eighteenth century. It was expanded and reissued by John Campbell in 1744-8 and this example hales from the reissue. Campbell changed the editorial tone of his Navigantium to focus more on imperial expansion, a theme Dampier fits well.
The map featured in the first volume of the Navigantium, which chronicled the greatest of all navigational feats, the circumnavigation. Dampier was an exceptional navigator and was the first man to circle the world three times. The first had been with the buccaneers who harassed Spanish trade along the west coast of New Spain and South America in the 1680s. The second was from 1703-6, and the third would be with the privateer Woodes Rogers in 1708-11.
The map shows a portion of the route taken by Dampier in the Roebuck. After the publication of his first voyage account in 1697, Dampier quickly became the darling of the Royal Society, the Admiralty, and London high society. Based on his observations, which included many notes on the peoples, flora, and fauna of the places he visited, Dampier was called as an expert before the Board of Trade and Plantations in 1697. Later, when Dampier requested a ship from the Royal Navy to discover Terra australis incognita, they obliged.
Dampier set sail from England on July 14, 1699. While in the Atlantic, Dampier fought bitterly with his Lieutenant, George Fisher. Dampier left Fisher in Brazil, then sailed around the Cape of Good Hope, rather than Tierra del Fuego as originally planned, to New Holland. He coasted clockwise around New Guinea and named the island of New Britain before losing the Roebuck to a leak at Ascension. The crew returned home on an East India convoy, where Dampier had to face two courts martial, one for the loss of the Roebuck and the other for his harsh treatment of Lieutenant Fisher. He was convicted of the latter and found unfit to command a Navy ship.
This map shows Dampier's leaky cruise through the Timors and over top of New Guinea, his circumnavigation of New Britain and return along the Coast of New Guinea. The discovery of New Britain was the only significant discovery of the expedition; due to issues with the crew and the poor condition of the Roebuck, Dampier did not make it to the east coast of Australia, to which he was so close.
Whatever Dampier's interpersonal and leadership shortcomings, his books were phenomenally popular. This is in large part because of his detailed natural historical descriptions. Some of those observations are reflected on this map, in a text box that gives an extensive annotation about the area. It begins with a history lesson: its European discovery by Saavedra and renaming by Schouten. Then it describes the peoples as mostly blacks, although there is supposedly one tribe of whites thought to be one of the lost tribes of Israel. The inhabitants are such good warriors that they have so far prevented all Europeans from gaining the interior, which is why the resources of the country remain unknown. The text box ends with the suggestion of a colony on New Britain, which is in line with the general editorial line of Campbell's Navigantium.
The map was made by Emmanuel Bowen (ca. 1694-1767), engraver and print seller. He was most well-known for his atlases and county maps. Although he died in poverty, he was widely acknowledged for his expertise and was appointed as mapmaker to both George II of England and Louis XV of France. His business was carried on by his son, Thomas Bowen, and he trained two other prolific mapmakers, Thomas Kitchin and Thomas Jeffreys.
Diana Preston and Michael Preston, A Pirate of Exquisite Mind, The Life of William Dampier: Explorer, Naturalist and Buccaneer (London: Doubleday, 2004).
Adrian Mitchell, Dampier’s Monkey: The South Seas Voyages of William Dampier (Kent Town: Wakefield Press, 2010).
Glyn Williams, Naturalists at Sea: Scientific Travellers from Dampier to Darwin (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013).
Larry Stewart, “Harris, John (c.1666–1719),” ODNB, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2009,, accessed June 22, 2015, http://www.oxforddnb.com.pitt.idm.oclc.org/view/article/12397.
Emanuel Bowen (1694?-1767) was a British engraver and print seller. He was most well-known for his atlases and county maps. Although he died in poverty, he was widely acknowledged for his expertise and was appointed as mapmaker to both George II of England and Louis XV of France. His business was carried on by his son, Thomas Bowen. He also trained many apprentices, two of whom became prominent mapmakers, Thomas Kitchin and Thomas Jeffreys.