William Keeling

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Captain William Keeling (1578–1620), of the East India Company, was a British sea captain. He commanded the Susanna on the second East India Company voyage in 1604. During this voyage his crew was reduced to fourteen men and one of the ships vanished. On the third voyage he commanded the Red Dragon and the Hector in 1607. He discovered the Cocos (Keeling) Islands in 1609 as he was going home from Banda to England. Keeling was put in command of Cowes Castle c. 1618; he died on the Isle of Wight.

A fragment of Keeling's diary survives, in which he details his crew's performances of Shakespeare's Hamlet and Richard II on shipboard in 1607 and 1608. For a time after its discovery, the fragment was suspected of being a forgery, but is now generally accepted as genuine.[1]


  1. ^ Halliday, F. E. A Shakespeare Companion 1564–1964. Baltimore, Penguin, 1964; pp. 262, 426-7.

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