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My father had a small estate in Nottinghamshire.
I was the third of five sons.
When I was 14 years old, my father sent me to Emmanuel College in Cambridge, where I studied for three years.
But the cost of keeping me there was too great, so I was bound as an apprentice to Mr. James Bates, a highly respected surgeon in London, and I continued with him four years.
My father now and then sent me small sums of money and I spent them on learning navigation and other parts of mathematics useful to those who travel, as I always believed it would be my fortune to do.
When I left Mr. Bates, I went to Holland famous Leyden, where I studied medicine, knowing it would be useful to me on long voyages.
Soon after my return from Leyden, Mr. Bates recommended me to be the ship’s doctor on the Swallow, a ship on which I stayed three years and a half, making voyages to the Levant and other parts.
The last of these voyages was not very profitable and I grew weary of the sea.
I intended to stay home with my wife and family, but after three years of little success in my practice, I accepted an offer to sail to the South Seas as the ship’s doctor on the Antelope.
We set sail from Bristol on May 4, 1699.
At first we fared well, but as we sailed into the East Indies we were driven by a violent storm to the northwest of Van Diemen’s Land.
Twelve of our crew died from overwork and ill food;
the rest were in a very weak condition.
On the fifth of November, which is the beginning of summer in those parts, the weather was hazy.
Seamen spied a rock near the ship, but the wind was so strong it drove us directly onto it.
The ship immediately split.
Six of the crew, of whom I was one, let down a boat into the sea and rowed clear of the ship and the rock.
We rowed about three leagues, till we were able to work no longer.
We trusted ourselves to the mercy of the waves.
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