The British Empire and its effect on Plymouth

Alexander Selkirk

Alexander Selkirk was the castaway who was thought to be the prime inspiration for Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe Character. It is thought that Defoe and Selkirk did indeed meet to confirm details and discuss his time marooned.

Selkirk voluntarily marooned himself after falling out with the captain of a ship and consequently spent over four years on a small island off the coast of Chile. His exploits were initially published as A Cruising Voyage Round the World by Captain Woode Rogers in 1712 and made him a household name.

He came to Plymouth in 1720 as master's mate on board HMS Weymouth. On 12 December he married a widow named Frances Candis, in St Andrew's Church, signing a new will on the same day and leaving everything to his new bride. His address was given as Oarston (Oreston), Plymstock, Devon. By the end of March 1721 Selkirk was involved in operations against pirates and interlopers on the Guinea coast and it was here, during a period of unusually high mortality among the crew, that he probably contracted a fatal disease. The Weymouth's log records Selkirk's death on 13 December 1721.

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by Stephen Luscombe