William Dampier is an English explorer, pirate, privateer, navigator, and naturalist who became the first Englishman to explore parts of what is today Australia, and the first person to circumnavigate the world three times. He has also been described as Australia’s first natural historian, as well as one of the most important British explorers, with a mix of piratical derring-do of the former and scientific inquiry of the later.
His expeditions were among the first to identify and name a number of plants, animals, foods, and cooking techniques for a European audience; being among the first English writers to use words such as avocado, barbecue, and chopsticks. In describing the preparation of avocados, he was the first European to describe the making of guacamole, named the breadfruit plant, and made frequent documentation of the taste of numerous foods foreign to the European palate such as flamingo and manatee.
After impressing the Admiralty with his book A New Voyage Round the World, Dampier was given command of a Royal Navy ship and made important discoveries in western Australia, before being court-martialed for cruelty. On a later voyage he rescued Alexander Selkirk, a former crewmate who may have inspired Daniel Defoe‘s Robinson Crusoe.