Alexander Selkirk: brief biography

Robinson Crusoe is a fictional character in the bookDaniel Defoe, first published in 1719. In this famous work, Robinson is shipwrecked and is on the island, surviving alone until the meeting with Friday, another lonely resident of the island.

Alexander Selkirk: Biography

The history of Defoe, however, is based on reallife experience of a Scottish sailor. Prototype of Robinson Crusoe Alexander Selkirk (photo of his statue is presented below) was born in 1676 in the small fishing village of Low Largo, in the Fife region, Scotland, near the mouth of the Firth of Forth.

He was hired by the boatswain on the ship "Sen Por"headed for a private voyage in 1702. The owners of the ship received a marque from the Lord Admiral, which not only allowed merchant ships to arm themselves from foreign ships for self-defense, but also sanctioned attacks on them, especially those that sailed under the flags of the enemy countries of Britain. In fact, privateering was no different from piracy - robbery was another way to earn money, when normal sea trade stopped during the war.

The fate of "Sen Por" was inextricably linked with another privateer enterprise led by the captain of the "St. George" William Dampier.

alexander selkirk

License for robbery

In April 1703, Dampier left London at the headexpedition consisting of two ships, the second of which was called "Fame" and was under the command of Captain Pulling. Nevertheless, before the ships left Downs, the captains quarreled, and the Fame set sail, leaving the St. George alone. Dampier sailed to Kinsale, Ireland, and there he met with the "Sank Pore" under the command of Pickering. Both ships decided to join forces, and a new agreement was concluded between the two captains.

Dampier was hired by Thomas Escort tosent an expedition to the South Sea (Pacific Ocean) in order to search and rob the Spanish ships carrying treasures. Two captains agreed to sail along the coast of South America and capture a Spanish ship in Buenos Aires. If the extraction amounted to 60,000 pounds sterling or more, the expedition was to immediately return to England. In case of failure, the companions planned to round Cape Horn to attack Spanish ships carrying gold from the mines in Lima. If this did not happen, it was also agreed to swim north and try to capture Acapulco, a manila ship almost always carrying treasures.

alexander selkirk prototype

The Anxious Expedition

The Cape expedition left Ireland in May 1703year, and as the matter progressed, things did not go very well. Captains and crew members quarreled a lot, and then Pickering fell ill and died. He was replaced by Thomas Stradling. Disputes, however, did not stop. The discontent was caused by the suspicions of the crew that Captain Dampier was not sufficiently determined to take decisions on robbing passing ships and, as a result, much production was lost. He was also suspected that, after the mission was completed, he and his friend Edward Morgan would not want to share prey with the crew.

In February 1704, during a stop on the islandJuan Fernandez the "Senk por" team rebelled and refused to return aboard the ship. The crew returned to the ship after the intervention of Captain Dumper. Worse still, the sails and gear remained on the island, after the team hurriedly retired, noticing the French ship. As the voyage continues, the means for cleaning and repairing ships necessary to prevent damage to the ship by worms were lost, and the ships soon gave way. By that time, the relationship between the two teams had reached a point, and then they agreed upon sharing the Panama Bay to divide the booty and disperse.

sailor alexander selkirk

Riot on the ship

In September 1704, "St. George" sailed, and"Sank por" returned to Juan Fernandez in an attempt to restore his sails and gear, but it turned out that the French ship took them. It was here that the boatswain Alexander Selkirk mutinied, refusing to swim further. He understood that the ship's condition was so bad, and his relationship with Captain Stradling was so tense that he chose to try his luck and land on Mas-a-Tierra, one of the uninhabited islands of the group Juan Fernandez. He was left with a pistol, a knife, an ax, oats and tobacco, as well as a bible, religious literature and several navigational aids. At the last moment Alexander Selkirk asked to take him on board, but Stradling refused.

As a result it turned out, albeit against its will,he saved his life. After sailing from Juan Fernandez, the leak "Senk's time" became so strong that the crew was forced to leave the ship and change seats on rafts. Survived only 18 sailors who managed to reach the coast of South America, where they were captured. The Spaniards and the local population treated them cruelly and then the crew was put in jail.

Prototype Robinson Crusoe Alexander Selkirk

Alexander Selkirk: life on the island

Near the shore, he found a cave where he could live, butin the first months was so frightened by his isolation and loneliness that he rarely left the shore, eating only shellfish. Alexander Selkirk - a prototype of Robinson Crusoe - for days on the beach, peering into the horizon with the hope of seeing a ship that would save him. More than once he even thought about suicide.

Strange sounds, coming from the depths of the island,terrified him, and seemed to be the cries of wild, bloodthirsty beasts. In fact, they were published by trees that fell from a strong wind. Selkirk came to his senses only when his beach was captured by hundreds of sea lions. There were so many of them, and they were so huge and terrible that he did not dare to go to the shore, where there was only one source of his food.

Fortunately, the valley was abundant near lushvegetation, in particular, cabbage palms, which have become one of its main food sources. In addition, Selkirk discovered that the island was inhabited by a lot of wild goats, probably left here by pirates. At first he hunted them with a gun, and then, when the gunpowder was over, he learned to catch them with his hands. In the end, Alex domesticated a few and fed them meat and milk.

The trouble of the island was the big ferocious rats,who had the habit of gnawing his arms and legs while he was sleeping. Fortunately, the island lived wild cats. Selkirk tamed several, and at night they surrounded his bed, protecting him from rodents.

alexander selkirk photo

Phantom Hope

Alexander Selkirk dreamed of salvation and dailyLooking for sails, lit the lights, but it took several years before the ships visited the Bay of Cumberland. However, the first visit was not exactly what he had expected.

Joyful, Alex rushed to the shore toto sound two ships, anchored off the coast. Suddenly he realized that they were Spanish! Since England and Spain were at war, Selkirk realized that in his captivity he expected a fate worse than death, the fate of a slave in a salt mine. The search party landed on the shore and, noticing the "Robinson", began to shoot at him while he ran and hid. In the end, the Spaniards stopped searching and soon left the island. Avoiding captivity, Alex returned to his much friendlier cats and goats.

alexander selkirk biography

Happy Salvation

"Robinson" remained on the island alone infor four years and four months. He was rescued by another privateer ship, led by Captain Woods Rogers. In his ship magazine, which he led during this famous journey, Rogers described the moment of saving Selkirk in February 1709.

"We arrived on the island of Juan Fernandez on January 31. Replenishing the reserves, we stayed there until February 13. On the island we found no one Alexander Selkirk, a Scotsman who was left there by Captain Stradling, who accompanied Captain Dampier in his last voyage, and who survived for four years and four months, without having any living soul with whom he could communicate, and not a single satellite, except for wild goats. "

In fact, Selkirk, despite hisforced loneliness, had to beg that he went on board, because he learned that among his rescuers was the commander of the ill-fated voyage "Senk por" and now the pilot on the ship Woods, Roger Dampier. In the end, he was persuaded to leave the island, and he was appointed assistant to the Rogers ship "Duke". The following year, after the capture of the Spanish ship Nuestra Senora de la Incarnacion Disenganio, which transported gold, the sailor Alexander Selkirk was made into the boatswains of the new vessel of the expedition, renamed "Bachelor."

alexander selkirk life on the island


The voyage of Woods Rogers ended in 1711arrival in the Thames. The prototype of Robinson Crusoe Alexander Selkirk on his return became widely known. He, however, was asked to testify in a lawsuit filed against William Dumpier by Elizabeth Creswell, the daughter of the owner of the first expedition, for damages incurred in 1703.

After that, "Robinson" sailed on a merchant ship to Bristol, where he was charged with an attack. Probably, the charge was put forward by supporters of Dampira, but nevertheless he stayed in custody for 2 years.

Alexander Selkirk, sailor, marque and Robinson, died at sea in 1721.

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