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Alexandre Olivier Exquemelin (also spelled Esquemeling, Exquemeling, or Oexmelin) (c. 1645-1707) was a French writer most known as the author of one of the most important sourcebooks of seventeenth century piracy, first published in Dutch as De Americaensche Zee-Roovers, in Amsterdam, Jan ten Hoorn, in 1678.

Born about 1645, it is likely that Exquemelin was a native of Harfleur, France, who on his return from buccaneering settled in Holland, possibly because he was a Huguenot. In 1666 he was engaged by the French West India Company and went to Tortuga, where he stayed for three years. There he enlisted with the buccaneers, in particular with the band of Henry Morgan, whose confidante he was, probably as a barber-surgeon, and remained with them until 1674. Shortly afterwards he returned to Europe and settled in Amsterdam where he qualified professionally as a surgeon, his name appearing on the 1679 register of the Dutch Surgeons' Guild. However, he was later once again in the Caribbean as his name appears on the muster-roll as a surgeon in the attack on Cartagena in 1697.[1]

The bibliographic legacy of Exquemelin's "History of the Bouccaneers of America" is complex. It has rightly been said that perhaps no book of the seventeenth century in any language was ever the parent of so many imitations and the source of so much fiction.

For a contemporary reprinting, see Esquemeling, Alexander O., The Buccaneers of America. A true account of the most remarkable assaults committed of late years upon the coasts of West Indies by the Buccaneers of Jamaica and Tortuga (both English and French), containing also Basil Ringrose’s account of the dangerous voyage and bold assaults of Captain Bartholomew Sharp and others (Dover Publications, Inc. New York (reprinted 1967). ISBN 0-486-40966-X

Peter Benchley, in his book The Island, referred to Exquemelin at length, having used it in his research.

References

  1. ^ Jack Beeching, 'Introduction' in A.O. Exquemelin, The Buccaneers of America, Folio Society, London, 1972

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