William Hacke

Birth: 1655


William Hacke or Hack (c. 1655-1708) was the son of a Winchester innkeeper. According to the records of the Drapers' Company, he was apprenticed to the chart-maker Andrew Welch for nine years from 1671 (Campbell 1973, 87), although there is no information that he was ever admitted to the freedom of that Company. His first known chart is dated 1682, and thereafter he became a prolific producer of manuscript sea charts in London, in both atlases and single sheets; no fewer than 331 charts have survived (Smith 1978, 100), many signed "At the Signe of Great Britain and Ireland near new stairs in Wapping."

His meeting with Bartholomew Sharp early in 1682 seems likely to have been the basis of his ultimate success. The first transcription of "the great book of charts" brought back by Sharp was made by Hack (W2/A1 : see pp. 263-64), with a translation of the sailing directions by Philip Dassigny, a Jew who apparently later sailed in one of the buccaneer ships to the Pacific and after whom Cowley named one of the Galápagos islands.

Hack was a prolific producer of manuscript charts—not only of the American Pacific coast (eleven surviving South Sea waggoners by him are listed in Table 3, pp. 269-70), but also of the Atlantic seaboard and Caribbean and of the East Indies—mostly bound into sumptuous atlases. He also illustrated and produced charts for six of the surviving copies of the journals of the Sharp-Ringrose voyage listed in Table 1 (pp. 267-68).

His earliest patron seems to have been Christopher, second duke of Albemarle (1653-88), close confidant of King Charles II, a Lord of Trade and Plantations, and, from 1687, governor of Jamaica. The duke's physician, Hans Sloane, accompanied him on this last commission, which is why so many of the relevant documents come from the Sloane collection in the British Library. Later, several of Hack's volumes were dedicated to John, Lord Somers (1651-1715), who became Lord High Chancellor in 1698.

In 1699, James Knapton published A Collection of Original Voyages (which included Sharp's journal) where Hack, who edited the volume, was described as "Capt. William Hacke," although there is no evidence that he ever went to sea. He died in 1708 (Campbell 1973, 101).


A Buccaneer's Atlas. Basil Ringrose's South Sea Waggoner. Edited by Derek Howse and Norman J. W. Thrower. UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS. Berkeley, Los Angeles, Oxford

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