Lionel Wafer

Lionel Wafer was a English Buccaneer and surgeon. He began his nautical career in 1677 when he set out for the East Indies as a servant to the surgeon on board a ship called the Great Anne. His second voyage brought him to the West Indies. In Jamaica, he jumped ship and lived with his brother who worked on a plantation on the island. During this time, he practiced as a surgeon in Port Royal. 

He eventually joined with the buccaneers in Jamaica. He partook in the concentrated plunder of the shipping bound to and from the Spanish Main with the noted buccaneer's Cook and Lynch. Later he joined with the buccaneers who were led under the command of Bartholomew Sharp. Around this time he meet William Dampier. In 1679, Wafer, Dampier and the buccaneers crossed the Isthmus of Darien. After the venture they returned to an island called Drake's Island, here the men found themselves un-united in direction which led to their separation into two groups. Wafer directed his followers to return to the Isthmus. In May 1681, he was accidentally injured by an unexpected explosion of gunpowder. Immobile due to his injuries he remained and was cared for by the Cuna Indians. For several months he absorbed the geography and culture of the residents, only returning to his group after regaining his health.

It is from these experiences that he wrote his New Voyage and Description of the Isthmus of Panama in 1699. This document remains to us as an important account of which describes the natural history and inhabitants of South America. The author briefly summarized the content in the subtitle of his book: Giving an Account of the Author's Abode there, The Form and Make of the Country, the Coasts, Hills, Rivers, &c...Trees, Fruit, Beasts, Birds, Fish, &c. The Indian Inhabitants...their Manners, Customs...Hunting, Computation, Language, &c. With Remarkable Occurrences in the South Sea, and Elsewhere.

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