William Adams

William Adams (1564 - 1620)

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William "Anjin, Miura Anjin, 三浦按針" Adams
Born in Gillingham, Kent, Englandmap
Son of [father unknown] and [mother unknown]
[sibling(s) unknown]
[spouse(s) unknown]
Father of
Died in Kyūshū, Japanmap
Profile last modified | Created 26 Feb 2017
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Categories: English Notables | Japanese Notables.

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The adventurer William Adams (inspiration for a character in the novel Shōgun), the first Briton to set foot in Japan, arrived at Uraga aboard the Dutch trading vessel Liefde in 1600. In 1612, he was granted the title of samurai and a fief in Hemi within the boundaries of present-day Yokosuka, due to his services to the Tokugawa shogunate. A monument to William Adams (called Miura Anjin in Japanese) is a local landmark in Yokosuka. [1]

Dutch Biography

William Adams (Gillingham, 24 september 1564 - Hirado, 16 mei 1620), in Japan bekend als Anjin of Miura Anjin, was een Engels zeeman die in 1600 als stuurman op het Nederlandse schip De Liefde als eerste Engelsman Japan bereikte, en daar een vertrouweling van shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa werd. Hij wordt beschouwd als de eerste Brit die Japan bezocht.
Adams was succesvol in de Japanse samenleving, kreeg een landgoed in Hemi, nabij Yokosuka en trouwde met een Japanse vrouw. Zijn verzoek in 1605 om naar Europa te mogen terugkeren werd niet ingewilligd; wel was hij vanaf 1614 enkele jaren in dienst van de Britse Oost-Indische Compagnie, en bezocht onder meer Thailand. Later keerde hij naar Japan terug, waar hij stierf.

The Netherlands – Japan (1600)-The first contact

On 19 April 1600 Japanese see the small ship 'De Liefde' in the Bungo Strait, off the coast of the island of Kyushu. She was hardly seaworthy and only twenty-five of the original one hundred crew members had survived. They were in such bad shape that only five of them were able to go ashore.
On 27 June 1598, De Liefde had left the port of Rotterdam for Asia with four other ships. At the time, there were more than five hundred men on board the ships. The small fleet wanted to avoid the sea route around Cape of Good Hope, that was controlled by the Portuguese. Therefore, it sailed to the Pacific Ocean by way of the most southern tip of South America.
The voyage failed miserably and, in the end, only a single ship was to return to Rotterdam. The others were lost in different parts of the world, De Liefde being one of them.
The Japanese who came on board were astonished at the ‘Barbarians’ and their ship. They stole the inventory, but carried the remaining crew and the trading goods ashore. There, the crew members were given the opportunity to recuperate, although it proved to be too late for six of them, who still died. The Dutch had arrived in Japan and were to remain there for more than two centuries.


  1. Wikipedia contributors Yokosuka, Kanagawa Wikipedia. Accessed 23 Dec 2017
  2. Source: Wikipedia contributors William Adams (Dutch) Wikipedia Accessed 23 Dec. 2017.
  3. quote from het geheugen van Nederland Nederland Japan eerste contact, Accessed 23 December 2017

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Images: 1
Jan Joosten and William Adams, Dutch ship de Liefde in Japan, 1600
Jan Joosten and William Adams, Dutch ship de Liefde in Japan, 1600


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