William Dampier and His Painted Prince



Written by BY William Dampier in 1697

Prefice (2015)

The following articles contain excerpts from A NEW VOYAGE ROUND THE WORLD written by BY William Dampier in 1697.

William Dampier set sail in 1679.

He associated with buccaneers but was not likely a true “pirate” in any full sense of the word.

He brought back to Europe, Jeoly the painted prince, who would be exhibited as Prince Giolo.


PREFACE. (1927, N. M. Penzer.)

……After his return to England in 1691 Dampier must have prepared his manuscript for the press during the intervals between the numerous short voyages he made in the next half dozen years.

The New Voyage appeared in 1697 and was an immediate success, a second edition following the same year. A third edition was published in 1698.






Dampier set out on the memorable adventures recorded in the present volume in an early month of 1679

……Whatever condemnation may be passed on Dampier’s long association with pirates it must be noted to his credit that during the whole period of this cruise in the archipelago, while his companions were drinking and brawling, he was studiously recording his observations. His six months’ residence at Mindanao provides us with a full description of plant and animal life, as also of the inhabitants, their government, religion, manners, and customs. Here too comes on the scene that curious Prince Jeoly, the “painted prince,” whom Dampier brought to England for show and there sold as his only asset.*

(*Footnote. Mr. Masefield quotes a broadsheet of the time (Dampier Voyage Volume 1 page 539) from which it appears that the prince was on view at the Blue Boar’s Head in Fleet Street.)

……His eventful voyage now draws to a close. Getting a passage from Bencoolen in the Defence, Captain Heath, Dampier arrived in the Downs on 16 September 1691, 12 1/2 years since he had left England. All buccaneer’s visions of a home-coming with ample booty in bar gold or pieces-of-eight had vanished, and he landed with no more marketable commodities than a tattooed native.



On his return to England Dampier was 39 years of age. Further great voyages were in store for him, each of which would require its own commentary. None, however, has been so attractive to the reading public as the New Voyage, it may be because the other expeditions, though comprising exploits and adventure, are hardly so attractive to law-abiding citizens as those to which additional zest is provided by contempt of law.

……Those who have excellently well adjudged Dampier’s merits in science and literature have hardly done justice to his personal character. On the debit side some will reckon the unfortunate court martial, but any good man may, in the stress of difficulties attending a sea-command, exercise undue severity in the maintenance of his authority: and no doubt Lieutenant Fisher was a trying subordinate. The Admiralty do not seem to have taken quite the same view of the case as the court, as they shortly afterwards gave Dampier a privateer’s commission. Then there is the fact that he was a buccaneer. On this point references have already been made to the laxity of public opinion on that subject in his day. It cannot be said that in joining the buccaneers Dampier mistook his vocation. That in modern parlance was research, and he could not in his day have obtained opportunities for research in the distant Caribbean and Pacific Seas except with the buccaneers.* He was with them, but hardly one of them. As he was less of a buccaneer, so, as I believe, he was more of a gentleman. I have thus no need to claim or admit that “he was the mildest-mannered man that ever scuttled ship or cut a throat.” There is no evidence that he did either, and one likes to think he did not.

(*Footnote. Mr. Masefield quotes one of Dampier’s marginal notes on the Sloane Manuscript 3236: “I came into these seas this second time more to indulge my curiosity than to get wealth, though I must confess at that time I did think the trade lawful.”)

Although he was not an active buccaneer he seems to have done his duty by his associates; at any rate no complaints against him in this respect are recorded. He took his share in their strenuous labour whether afloat or ashore, without mingling in their drinking bouts and quarrels; and all the while he was carefully writing up his journal day by day, and adding to his observations of nature. He affords a bright example of strength of character in the pursuit of knowledge under the most adverse conditions.

0500461h-01……It is a further tribute to his character that when he was at home he had the patronage and help of Charles Montagu, Earl of Halifax, and the friendship of such men as Sir Robert Southwell, a president of the Royal Society, his son Edward Southwell, a Secretary of State for Ireland, and Sir Hans Sloane, who showed his respect for Dampier by having his portrait painted by Thomas Murray*–the face is that of a grave, thoughtful and resolute man. Much the most interesting sidelight on his social quality, however, is thrown by John Evelyn’s record of his dinner with Mr. Pepys on 6 August 1698:

“I dined with Mr. Pepys, where was Captain Dampier, who had been a famous buccaneer, had brought hither the painted prince Job, and printed a relation of his very strange adventure, and his observations. He was now going abroad again by the King’s encouragement, who furnished a ship of 290 tons. He seemed a more modest man than one would imagine by relation of the crew he had assorted with. He brought a map of his observations of the course of the winds in the South Seas, and assured us that the maps hitherto extant were all false as to the Pacific Sea, which he makes on the south of the line, that on the north end running by the coast of Peru being extremely tempestuous.”

(*Footnote. The picture now in the National Portrait Gallery is reproduced here.)





(Observations of the islands and their Inhabitants)


They have a fashion to cut holes in the lips of the boys when they are young, close to their chin; which they keep open with little pegs till they are 14 or 15 years old: then they wear beards in them, made of turtle or tortoiseshell, in the form you see in the illustration. The little notch at the upper end they put in through the lip, where it remains between the teeth and the lip; the under-part hangs down over their chin. This they commonly wear all day, and when they sleep they take it out. They have likewise holes bored in their ears, both men and women when young; and, by continual stretching them with great pegs, they grow to be as big as a milled five-shilling piece. Herein they wear pieces of wood cut very round and smooth, so that their ear seems to be all wood with a little skin about it. Another ornament the women use is about their legs, which they are very curious in; for from the infancy of the girls their mothers make fast a piece of cotton cloth about the small of their leg, from the ankle to the calf, very hard; which makes them have a very full calf: this the women wear to their dying day. Both men and women go naked, only a clout about their waists; yet they have but little feet, though they go barefoot.



The women are very desirous of the company of strangers, especially of white men; and doubtless would be very familiar if the custom of the country did not debar them from that freedom, which seems coveted by them. Yet from the highest to the lowest they are allowed liberty to converse with or treat strangers in the sight of their husbands.



For the islands Meangis, which I mentioned in the beginning of this chapter, lie within twenty leagues of Mindanao. These are three small islands that abound with gold and cloves, if I may credit my author Prince Jeoly, who was born on one of them and was at that time a slave in the city of Mindanao. He might have been purchased by us of his master for a small matter, as he was afterwards by Mr. Moody (who came hither to trade and laded a ship with clove-bark) and by transporting him home to his own country we might have gotten a trade there. But of Prince Jeoly I shall speak more hereafter. These islands are as yet probably unknown to the Dutch who, as I said before, endeavour to engross all the spice into their own hands.



These islands lie very commodiously in the way to and from Japan, China, Manila, Tonquin, Cochin-china, and in general all this most easterly coast of the Indian continent;



They are so free of their women that they would bring them aboard and offer them to us; and many of our men hired them for a small matter. This is a custom used by several nations in the East Indies, as at Pegu, Siam, Cochin-china, and Cambodia, as I have been told. It is used at Tonquin also to my knowledge; for I did afterwards make a voyage thither, and most of our men had women aboard all the time of our abode there. In Africa also, on the coast of Guinea, our merchants, factors, and seamen that reside there have their black misses. It is accounted a piece of policy to do it; for the chief factors and captains of ships have the great men’s daughters offered them, the mandarins’ or noblemen’s at Tonquin, and even the king’s wives in Guinea; and by this sort of alliance the country people are engaged to a greater friendship: and if there should arise any difference about trade or anything else which might provoke the natives to seek some treacherous revenge (to which all these heathen nations are very prone) then these Delilahs would certainly declare it to their white friends, and so hinder their countrymen’s design.





The other passage I shall speak of that occurred during this interval of the tour I made from Achin is with relation to the painted prince whom I brought with me into England and who died at Oxford. For while I was at Fort St. George, about April 1690, there arrived a ship called the Mindanao Merchant, laden with clove-bark from Mindanao. Three of Captain Swan’s men that remained there when we went from thence came in her: from whence I had the account of Captain Swan’s death, as is before related. There was also one Mr. Moody, who was supercargo of the ship. This gentleman bought at Mindanao the painted prince Jeoly and his mother; and brought them to Fort St. George where they were much admired by all that saw them. Some time after this Mr. Moody, who spoke the Malayan language very well and was a person very capable to manage the company’s affairs, was ordered by the governor of Fort St. George to prepare to go to Indrapore, an English factory on the west coast of Sumatra, in order to succeed Mr. Gibbons, who was the chief of that place.

By this time I was very intimately acquainted with Mr. Moody and was importuned by him to go with him and to be gunner of the fort there. I always told him I had a great desire to go to the Bay of Bengal, and that I had now an offer to go thither with Captain Metcalf, who wanted a mate and had already spoke to me. Mr. Moody, to encourage me to go with him, told me that if I would go with him to Indrapore he would buy a small vessel there and send me to the island Meangis, commander of her; and that I should carry Prince Jeoly and his mother with me (that being their country) by which means I might gain a commerce with his people for cloves.

This was a design that I liked very well, and therefore I consented to go thither. It was some time in July 1690 when we went from Fort St. George in a small ship called the Diamond, Captain Howel commander. We were about fifty or sixty passengers in all; some ordered to be left at Indrapore, and some at Bencoolen: five or six of us were officers, the rest soldiers to the company. We met nothing in our voyage that deserves notice till we came abreast of Indrapore. And then the wind came at north-west, and blew so hard that we could not get in but were forced to bear away to Bencoolen, another English factory on the same coast, lying fifty or sixty leagues to the southward of Indrapore.

Upon our arrival at Bencoolen we saluted the fort and were welcomed by them. The same day we came to an anchor, and Captain Howel and Mr. Moody with the other merchants went ashore and were all kindly received by the governor of the fort. It was two days before I went ashore and then I was importuned by the governor to stay there to be gunner of this fort; because the gunner was lately dead: and this being a place of greater import than Indrapore I should do the company more service here than there. I told the governor if he would augment my salary which, by agreement with the governor of Fort St. George I was to have had at Indrapore, I was willing to serve him provided Mr. Moody would consent to it. As to my salary he told me I should have 24 dollars per month which was as much as he gave to the old gunner.

Mr. Moody gave no answer till a week after and then, being ready to be gone to Indrapore, he told me I might use my own liberty either to stay here or go with him to Indrapore. He added that if I went with him he was not certain as yet to perform his promise in getting a vessel for me to go to Meangis with Jeoly and his mother: but he would be so fair to me that, because I left Madras on his account, he would give me the half share of the two painted people, and leave them in my possession and at my disposal. I accepted of the offer and writings were immediately drawn between us.



Thus it was that I came to have this painted prince, whose name was Jeoly, and his mother. They were born on a small island called Meangis. I saw the island twice, and two more close by it: each of the three seemed to be about four or five leagues round and of a good height. Jeoly himself told me that they all three abounded with gold, cloves and nutmegs: for I showed him some of each sort several times and he told me in the Malayan language which he spoke indifferent well: “Meangis hadda madochala se bullawan”: that is, “There is abundance of gold at Meangis.” Bullawan I have observed to be the common word for gold at Mindanao; but whether the proper Malayan word I know not, for I found much difference between the Malayan language as it was spoken at Mindanao and the language on the coast of Malacca and Achin. When I showed him spice he would not only tell me that there was madochala, that is, abundance; but to make it appear more plain he would also show me the hair of his head, a thing frequent among all the Indians that I have met with to show their hair when they would express more than they can number. That there were not above thirty men on the island and about one hundred women: that he himself had five wives and eight children, and that one of his wives painted him.

He was painted all down the breast, between his shoulders behind; on his thighs (mostly) before; and in the form of several broad rings or bracelets round his arms and legs. I cannot liken the drawings to any figure of animals or the like; but they were very curious, full of great variety of lines, flourishes, chequered work, etc., keeping a very graceful proportion and appearing very artificial, even to wonder, especially that upon and between his shoulder-blades. By the account he gave me of the manner of doing it I understood that the painting was done in the same manner as the Jerusalem cross is made in men’s arms, by pricking the skin and rubbing in a pigment. But whereas powder is used in making the Jerusalem cross, they at Meangis use the gum of a tree beaten to powder called by the English dammer, which is used instead of pitch in many parts of India. He told me that most of the men and women on the island were thus painted: and also that they had all earrings made of gold, and gold shackles about their legs and arms: that their common food of the produce of the land was potatoes and yams: that they had plenty of cocks and hens but no other tame fowl. He said that fish (of which he was a great lover, as wild Indians generally are) was very plentiful about the island; and that they had canoes and went a-fishing frequently in them; and that they often visited the other two small islands whose inhabitants spoke the same language as they did; which was so unlike the Malayan, which he had learnt while he was a slave at Mindanao, that when his mother and he were talking together in their Meangian tongue I could not understand one word they said. And indeed all the Indians who spoke Malayan, who are the trading and politer sort, looked on these Meangians as a kind of barbarians; and upon any occasion of dislike would call them bobby, that is hogs; the greatest expression of contempt that can be, especially from the mouth of Malayans who are generally Mohammedans; and yet the Malayans everywhere call a woman babby, by a name not much different, and mamma signifies a man; though these two last words properly denote male and female: and as ejam signifies a fowl, so ejam mamma is a cock, and ejam babbi is a hen. But this by the way.

He said also that the customs of those other isles and their manner of living was like theirs, and that they were the only people with whom they had any converse: and that one time as he, with his father, mother and brother, with two or three men more, were going to one of these other islands they were driven by a strong wind on the coast of Mindanao, where they were taken by the fishermen of that island and carried ashore and sold as slaves; they being first stripped of their gold ornaments. I did not see any of the gold that they wore, but there were great holes in their ears, by which it was manifest that they had worn some ornaments in them. Jeoly was sold to one Michael, a Mindanayan that spoke good Spanish, and commonly waited on Raja Laut, serving him as our interpreter where the Raja was at a loss in any word, for Michael understood it better. He did often beat and abuse his painted servant to make him work, but all in vain, for neither fair means, threats, nor blows would make him work as he would have him. Yet he was very timorous and could not endure to see any sort of weapons; and he often told me that they had no arms at Meangis, they having no enemies to fight with.

I knew this Michael very well while we were at Mindanao: I suppose that name was given him by the Spaniards who baptised many of them at the time when they had footing at that island: but at the departure of the Spaniards they were Mohammedans again as before. Some of our people lay at this Michael’s house, whose wife and daughter were pagallies to some of them. I often saw Jeoly at his master Michael’s house, and when I came to have him so long after he remembered me again. I did never see his father nor brother, nor any of the others that were taken with them; but Jeoly came several times aboard our ship when we lay at Mindanao, and gladly accepted of such victuals as we gave him; for his master kept him at very short commons.

Prince Jeoly lived thus a slave at Mindanao four or five years, till at last Mr. Moody bought him and his mother for 60 dollars, and as is before related, carried him to Fort St. George, and from thence along with me to Bencoolen. Mr. Moody stayed at Bencoolen about three weeks and then went back with Captain Howel to Indrapore, leaving Jeoly and his mother with me. They lived in a house by themselves without the fort. I had no employment for them; but they both employed themselves. She used to make and mend their own clothes, at which she was not very expert, for they wear no clothes at Meangis but only a cloth about their waists: and he busied himself in making a chest with four boards and a few nails that he begged of me. It was but an ill-shaped odd thing, yet he was as proud of it as if it had been the rarest piece in the world. After some time they were both taken sick and, though I took as much care of them as if they had been my brother and sister, yet she died. I did what I could to comfort Jeoly; but he took on extremely, insomuch that I feared him also. Therefore I caused a grave to be made presently to hide her out of his sight. I had her shrouded decently in a piece of new calico; but Jeoly was not so satisfied, for he wrapped all her clothes about her and two new pieces of chintz that Mr. Moody gave her, saying that they were his mother’s and she must have them. I would not disoblige him for fear of endangering his life; and I used all possible means to recover his health; but I found little amendment while we stayed here.

In the little printed relation that was made of him when he was shown for a sight in England there was a romantic story of a beautiful sister of his, a slave with them at Mindanao; and of the sultan’s falling in love with her; but these were stories indeed. They reported also that this paint was of such virtue that serpents and venomous creatures would flee from him, for which reason I suppose, they represented so many serpents scampering about in the printed picture that was made of him. But I never knew any paint of such virtue: and as for Jeoly I have seen him as much afraid of snakes, scorpions, or centipedes as myself.



Having given this account of the ship that left me at Nicobar, and of my painted prince whom I brought with me to Bencoolen, I shall now proceed on with the relation of my voyage thence to England, after I have given this short account of the occasion of it and the manner of my getting away.

To say nothing therefore now of that place, and my employment there as gunner of the fort, the year 1690 drew towards an end and, not finding the governor keep to his agreement with me, nor seeing by his carriage towards others any great reason I had to expect he would, I began to wish myself away again. I saw so much ignorance in him with respect to his charge, being much fitter to be a bookkeeper than governor of a fort; and yet so much insolence and cruelty with respect to those under him, and rashness in his management of the Malayan neighbourhood, that I soon grew weary of him, not thinking myself very safe indeed under a man whose humours were so brutish and barbarous. I forbear to mention his name after such a character; nor do I care to fill these papers with particular stories of him: but therefore give this intimation because, as it is the interest of the nation in general, so is it especially of the honourable East India Company to be informed of abuses in their factories. And I think the company might receive great advantage by strictly enquiring into the behaviour of those whom they entrust with any command. For beside the odium which reflects back upon the superiors from the misdoings of their servants, how undeservedly soever, there are great and lasting mischiefs proceed from the tyranny or ignorant rashness of some petty governors. Those under them are discouraged from their service by it and often go away to the Dutch, the Mogul, or the Malayan princes, to the great detriment of our trade; and even the trade and the forts themselves are many times in danger by indiscreet provocations given to the neighbouring nations who are best managed, as all mankind are, by justice and fair dealings; nor any more implacably revengeful than those Malayans who live in the neighbourhood of Bencoolen, which fort has been more than once in danger of being surprised by them. I speak not this out of disgust to this particular governor; much less would I seem to reflect on any others of whom I know nothing amiss: but as it is not to be wondered at if some should not know how to demean themselves in places of power, for which neither their education nor their business possibly have sufficiently qualified them, so it will be the more necessary for the honourable Company to have the closer eye over them, and as much as may be to prevent or reform any abuses they may be guilty of; and it is purely out of my zeal for theirs and the nation’s interest that I have given this caution, having seen too much occasion for it.

I had other motives also for my going away. I began to long after my native country after so tedious a ramble from it: and I proposed no small advantage to myself from my painted prince, whom Mr. Moody had left entirely to my disposal, only reserving to himself his right to one half share in him. For beside what might be gained by showing him in England I was in hopes that when I had got some money I might there obtain what I had in vain sought for in the Indies, namely, a ship from the merchants wherewith to carry him back to Meangis and reinstate him there in his own country, and by his favour and negotiation to establish a traffic for the spices and other products of those islands.

1691. Upon these projects I went to the governor and council and desired that I might have my discharge to go for England with the next ship that came. The council thought it reasonable and they consented to it; he also gave me his word that I should go. Upon the 2nd of January 1691 there came to anchor in Bencoolen Road the Defence, Captain Heath commander, bound for England in the service of the Company. They had been at Indrapore where Mr. Moody then was, and he had made over his share in Prince Jeoly to Mr. Goddard, chief mate of the ship. Upon his coming on shore he showed me Mr. Moody’s writings and looked upon Jeoly, who had been sick for three months: in all which time I tended him as carefully as if he had been my brother. I agreed matters with Mr. Goddard and sent Jeoly on board, intending to follow him as I could, and desiring Mr. Goddard’s assistance to fetch me off and conceal me aboard the ship if there should be occasion; which he promised to do, and the captain promised to entertain me. For it proved, as I had foreseen, that upon Captain Heath’s arrival the governor repented him of his promise and would not suffer me to depart. I importuned him all I could; but in vain: so did Captain Heath also but to no purpose. In short, after several essays I slipped away at midnight (understanding the ship was to sail away the next morning and that they had taken leave of the fort) and, creeping through one of the portholes of the fort, I got to the shore where the ship’s boat waited for me and carried me on board. I brought with me my journal and most of my written papers; but some papers and books of value I left in haste and all my furniture; being glad I was myself at liberty, and had hopes of seeing England again.

My stay ashore here was but two days to get refreshments for myself and Jeoly, whom I carried ashore with me: and he was very diligent to pick up such things as the islands afforded, carrying ashore with him a bag which the people of the isle filled with roots for him. They flocked about him and seemed to admire him much. This was the last place where I had him at my own disposal, for the mate of the ship who had Mr. Moody’s share in him left him entirely to my management, I being to bring him to England.  But I was no sooner arrived in the Thames but he was sent ashore to be seen by some eminent persons; and I, being in want of money, was prevailed upon to sell first part of my share in him, and by degrees all of it. After this I heard he was carried about to be shown as a sight and that he died of the smallpox at Oxford.


……When we came as high as the south foreland we left them standing on their course, keeping on the back of the Goodwin Sands; and we luffed in for the Downs where we anchored September the 16th 1691.