1902 Encyclopedia > Selkirk

Alexander Selkirk
(also known as: Alexander Selcraig)
Scottish sailor

SELKIRK, or SELCRAIG, ALEXANDER (1676-1723), a sailor who is supposed to have been the prototype of Defoe's " Robinson Crusoe," was the son of a shoemaker and tanner in Largo, Fifeshire, and was born in 1676. In his youth he displayed a quarrelsome and unruly disposition, and, hav-ing been summoned on 27th August 1695 before the kirk-session for his indecent behaviour in church, " did not compear, being gone away to the seas." At an early period he was engaged in buccaneer expeditions to the South Seas, and in 1703 joined the " Cinque Ports " galley as sailing master. The following year he had a dispute with the captain, and at his own request was in October put ashore on the island of Juan Fernandez, where, after a solitary residence of four years and four months, he was taken off by Captain Woods Rogers, commander of a privateer, who made him his mate and afterwards gave him the independent command of one of his prizes. He returned home in 1712 ; but in 1717 he eloped with a country girl and again went to sea. He died in 1723 while lieutenant on board the royal ship " Weymouth."

See Howell, Life and Adventures of Alexander Selkirk, 1829.

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