Sunday, 8 March 2015

Goats with a 'Friday'—Mosquito Indian "Will" (1681-84)

What happened so far?

1. Malthus's Essay on the Principle of Population (1798)J has been anticipated by Joseph Townsend's Dissertation on the Poor Laws (1786).  Townsend also recounted a true story of an ecological interaction between goats and dogs on an island of Juan Fernández in the Pacific Ocean (see here).

2. Townsend's source for that dog-goat story was the account of the French Geodesic Mission by Jorge Juan and Antonio de Ulloa (1758) translated into English as A Voyage to South America (see here).

3. In 1740 the crew of George Anson (1748) caught some goats with slit ears (see here). They concluded that the goats must have been marked by Alexander Selkirk, a pirate who has been cast away there from 1704 to 1708. That would mean twice the life expectancy usually given for goats, unless—of course—others who have been on the island after Selkirk continued his ear marking habit.

4. Privateer Woodes Rogers (1712. A Cruising Voyage Round the World) rescued Alexander Selkirk. He began his voyage with two ships, the Duke and Dutchess of Bristol, in 1708 and finished in 1711.

Before Selkirk, in 1681, a Mosquito Indian called William or Will has been left on the island because his ship, commanded by William Dampier, has been chased away by Spanish pirate hunters. Three years later Will was picked up again. Dampier was no longer captain, but happened to be on the ship as a member of the crew anyway. John Masefield collected and edited the accounts of William Dampiers voyages and published them in 1906. 
"We presently got out our Canoa and went ashore to see for a Moskito Indian, whom we left here when we were chased by 3 Spanish ships in the year 1681, a little before we went to Arica; Capt Watlin being then our Commander, after Capt. Sharp was turned out.
This Indian lived here alone above three years, [...] He saw our ship the day before we came to an Anchor, and did believe we were English, and therefore kill'd 3 Goats in the Morning, before we came to an Anchor, and drest them with Cabbage, to treat us when we came ashore." Masefield (1906, p. 112)

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