Talk:William Adams (sailor)

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In the city of Ito, Shizuoka, The Mura Anjin festival is held all day on August 10.—The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 06:39, 10 August 2005.

To my knowledge, the figurehead of the 'Liefde' (which was previously named 'Erasmus', which is what the figurehead depicts), is still kept in the imperial museum in Tokio. I do not know wether there might be images of it available. J.B. 16:47, 8 September 2006 (UTC)

Yes, it seems my entry (note 2) "The statue (...) is preserved in a buddhist temple in Sano-shi, Tochigi-ken. (...)" is wrong. An image CAN be found here: The accompanying Dutch text states the temporary exhibition of the statue in Rotterdam is thanks to the Tokyo National Museum. Perhaps someone who CAN read japanese can make sure by looking at Kudonogame 12:50, 12 September 2006 (UTC)


The book's main characters follows the characters of Williams Adams and Tokugawa Ieyasu very closely.

I don't know exactly the route of the two ships in 1599, but i have serious doubts about could be Hawaii; from Chile, the winds and the water streams go to the north until the ecuador and from here across the ocean to present Indonesia; Hawaii is in the middle of the opposite way, with the winds and water streams walking from Japan to USA, and of course a sea of calms in the middle of the ocean. -Fco

I'm a "once in a blue moon" contributor here, so I don't think that I have the authority to tag this entry with one of the "this article has serious problems" tags. But this article has serious problems. While I get really annoyed reading articles that are plastered with "citation needed" tags, I have to say that while reading this article, "citation needed" was my first thought after every other sentence. I know this is not a blog, sorry if I've broken any rules.

WP:Japan Assessment[edit]

Having not read the entire thing word for word, I can't make any overall comments on spelling, grammar, and the like, but for length, apparent depth & detail, and pictures, I think this is definitely worth ranking above "a good start." LordAmeth 08:03, 27 October 2006 (UTC)

I've changed the importance of the article from Low to High as Adams was among the first Europeans in Japan, certainly the first Englishman, and certainly the first (if not only, ever) European hatamoto and direct advisor to a shogun. You can move him to "mid" if you'd like, but to my mind, Low is reserved for those who've had no influence on Japan's history or development. Music albums, porn actors, low-ranking samurai... LordAmeth 08:05, 27 October 2006 (UTC)

Bloody advisor[edit]

Thanks to Adams' advices thousands of Japanese Chrisitians were killed by the Tokugawa regime. I wounder if anybody admire this disgusting fellow. His hands are in blood not less than hads of the Spanish conquistador. -- 14:50, 5 November 2006 (UTC)

Some sources for that? PHG 04:23, 9 November 2006 (UTC)
That's just a religious diatribe somebody posted. Pay no attention to it. Engr105th 13:34, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
@ I'm an admirer of Adams. And a Japanese to boot. LoveJapanChika (talk) 02:53, 13 September 2014 (UTC)
  • The agenda of William Adams was to establish trade relations with Japan for Britain. At the time, Portugal with the newly Christian (Catholic) Japanese converts had favorable trade relations with Japan. Adams who was a Protestant wanted to reduce Catholic and thereby Portuguese influence in Japan.-- (talk) 19:19, 12 February 2008 (UTC)
Wrong. Adams came to Japan on a Dutch ship, working for the Dutch. His agenda would be to establish trade between the Dutch and Japan in such a case. And going by contemporary accounts Adams not only negotiated for the British, but also for the Dutch, which made him not so popular among other British traders (some of the letters written by his "colleagues" are less than favorable.) The move against the Christians comes clearly from a political problem, since the Portuguese and the Spanish with their Jesuits wouldn't stop meddling in political affairs in Japan. Eventually the Tokugawa saw that as a problem and took care of it (and given the history of Christian conquest around the world that move was the only logic conclusion.) You can't really blame Adams for that. He was a trader, not a politician. Akinaka (talk) 06:18, 21 July 2009 (UTC)

We also cannot forget that Portugal had loss his independence to Spain in 1580, and probably the fear of that the Spanish Empire could use the Christian influence to try to conquer Japan lead to the widspread and tragic persecution of Japanese and Portuguese and other Europeans Catholics and Missionaries. It probaly would make sense to know if William Adams supported the persecution and execution of Catholics. (talk) 01:27, 20 December 2009 (UTC)

Spanish imperialism can by no means be identified as a real threat to Japanese souvereignity(and Adams as a contemporary man must have known that). Japan was far beyond the reach of the spanish military machine(unlike Portugal). It is quite absurd to believe that Spain while continuously fighting the Ottomans, the Dutch and the English would have the manpower or even the intention to conquer a proud country on the opposite of the Earth. Even the Mongols failed to take Japan despite being neighbours.
1. First of all it would be necessary to dispatch a vast army and Spain could not afford sending many of her troops out of Europe because of her multiple enemies mentioned above(plus France not to forget). It was necessary to keep the Army of Flanders and other spanish armies in place to check the Ottomans, Dutch and others.
2. I can't imagine how could a huge enough army be transported from Europe to the Far east using 16 century logistics. And what would be their base of operations? The Philipines? I doubt these islands had the ammount of food and lodgings to support an invasion force this large. Real warfare is not like in Totalwar games where you move your armies just as you want.
From the military point of view a 16 or 17 century spanish invasion of Japan is absolutely unrealistic. Even the US were affraid to launch a full scale invasion in WWII because of the enormous difficulties it would bring despite having 20 century technology and logistics. The european countries were the one who should have been affraid of Spain not Japan.
btw sorry for my English, i'm not a native speaker.
--Isidoros47 (talk) 01:02, 12 January 2011 (UTC)


Is anything known of his descendants in England and Japan? Fergananim (talk) 01:24, 9 July 2008 (UTC)

According to the book Samurai William nothing was known of them after his death. Japan shut itself off for about 200 years after this time so they could have simply become part of the general population or they could have been caught up in the ban on christianity. Your guess is as good as the next man's.Weavehole (talk) 14:08, 27 December 2009 (UTC)weavehole
A quick search on google seems to show that no record of any further decedents beyond his imminent children are lost to history, either his bloodlines died off or any present day descendants have no knowledge that he is their ancestor, if a rich geneticists wants to start screening thousands and thousands of Japanese volunteers to find one who had a half dutch-english great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, that would be intresting.--BerserkerBen (talk) 01:27, 15 January 2014 (UTC)

There are later generations of Adams families connected to the East Indian Docks and the Blackwall Docks of London who were involved in the building and redevelopment of the shipping industry in both the UK and Australia in the 18th and 19th century. These families were operating out of the same shipyards in London that Samurai William would have sailed and traded from. You can find references to these families at Ancestry or in various historical documents references to the London shipyards. It could be possible that some of Samurai Williams descendants or cousins stayed in the shipping trade and grew in numbers and prosperity in later generations in and around the London dockyards but to date no link to these later generations of the Adams has been established. Here is another interesting research assignment for someone to investigate further. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:38, 17 July 2014 (UTC) just to let you know I am a descendant and am still living in Gillingham Kent , my Grandmother (paternal) was Joyce Adams and was invited to visit Japan in the 1980's by the Japanese delegates that visited her at her house in Maidstone Road Rochester. sadly she never did visit, but was recognized as an official descendant which makes me also as well if you would like to get in touch

Source(s) of Quotes?[edit]

Could someone please source the quotes here attributed to Adams? I am especially interested in the last listed, "As a nation of free men, we must live through all time, or die by suicide."

This line happens to be an exact quote from Abraham Lincoln's Lyceum Address [1]of 1837. In that context, it is fully integrated into Lincoln's main argument. It is, on the other hand, very difficult to imagine an appropriate context for Adams to have spoken or written such a line. Further, some internet sources attributing the quote to Adams include the preceding line from Lincoln's speech, which makes the attribution all the more dubious. I suspect this is all the result of an error made in one quote compilation copied by others. Perhaps (as I often seem to find in popular quotes lists) an actual Adams quote (perhaps the familiar line extolling the civil government of Japan?) was listed adjacent to Lincoln's word and some copyist accidentally omitted Lincoln's name from their notes. (As is typical of such compilations no precise source or context is given, making errors very difficult to track down or correct.)

If this quote is indeed originally from Adams (at least in some form), then appropriated by Lincoln, it would seem to have to be from a published source (of Adams's few surviving letters then known?) available in 1830s America. So what might that source be? --BruceJohnson (talk) 16:56, 13 October 2009 (UTC)

First Caucasian Samurai[edit]

Yasuke is mentioned as being a Samurai but the relevant wiki article on him doesn't specify this at all. I've mentioned him in passing to a few people here in Japan and no-one has heard of any african samurai. Is this an exaggeration of his possible court position or is there some source? Weavehole (talk) 14:08, 27 December 2009 (UTC)weavehole

Yasuke is mentioned briefly in Shinchō Kōki, but all sources that I've found state that he was attendant of Oda Nobunaga. Even when he participated at Incident at Honnō-ji he's not considered a samurai [2]. In other hand, Adams was a hatamoto. Greetings! --Rage against (talk) 07:34, 10 January 2010 (UTC) (just passing by :p)

Removing all mention of Yasuke, he was NEVER awarded samurai status and is mainly myth, Adams was the only officially recognised non-Japanese samurai that can be factually accounted for. Much later a Frenchman named Cullache wore the robes of a samurai but was never officially awarded the right to wear the attire instead it was tolerated by the Daimyo of Tsugaru who needed his military help.Twobells (talk) 11:22, 22 June 2011 (UTC)

"Most influential"[edit]

The lead says that " recognized to this day as one of the most influential foreigners in Japan during this period." Like all sentences containing superlatives, this needs a citation.

The tv series "Shogun" was received with boredom and distain by modern Japanese, suggesting that he is not so regarded by Japanese at all. Quite the reverse, in fact. The sentence should be deleted if a WP:RELY reference cannot be found. Omiting this sentence does not detract from the article much IMO. Currently a Japanese reader might just laugh at the sentence and move on to another article. Research is important. Student7 (talk) 13:53, 14 January 2010 (UTC)

Um, this article is not about Shogun. You're in the wrong place. Nobody really cares about your pretentious claims for all Japanese, either. --Chris (クリス • フィッチュ) (talk) 19:21, 14 January 2010 (UTC)
Please be WP:CIVIL.
Clavell, I suspect, tried to engage the Japanese audience in the television series, "Shogun." While Americans were duly impressed, I was surprised (and perhaps Clavell with his experience in the Orient was as well) to learn that the Japanese couldn't care less. The character in his book and tv, "Anjin-san", was, of course, based on Adams and many of the events in his life). These facts are documented. The one suggesting that Adams was or is influential has not been. Please remove the sentence, if it cannot be factually documented with a WP:RELY reference. Student7 (talk) 02:04, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
You're still in the wrong article, trying to push a point in the wrong place. No need for me to be overly civil in such a case. --Chris (クリス • フィッチュ) (talk) 03:44, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
In reviewing the article, Adams may be "remembered" in a few small areas in Japan, but that hardly qualifies him as "one of the most influential". A citation is needed. Student7 (talk) 02:07, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
Where are your sources for a few small areas? Everyone gets him in their history classes here. He's the first Englishman here of influence, hatamoto to Tokugawa, and helped to provide an alternate view of the outside world from the one of the Jesuits. Your fact-tagging is wishful thinking and a WP:POINT violation. I'm happy to take this to WP:3O, shall we? --Chris (クリス • フィッチュ) (talk) 03:44, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
Searchtool-80%.png Response to Third Opinion Request:
Disclaimers: I am responding to a third opinion request made at WP:3O. I have made no previous edits on William Adams (sailor) and have no known association with the editors involved in this discussion. The third opinion process (FAQ) is informal and I have no special powers or authority apart from being a fresh pair of eyes. Third opinions are not tiebreakers and should not be "counted" in determining whether or not consensus has been reached. My personal standards for issuing third opinions can be viewed here.

Opinion: A reliable source needs to be provided for the statement or it needs to be removed; all facts and assertions in Wikipedia must be supported by reliable sources. To say that he was "most influential" because he was the first of influence is a surmise and original research. Incivility is never acceptable at Wikipedia.

What's next: Once you've considered this opinion click here to see what happens next.—TRANSPORTERMAN (TALK) 05:04, 17 January 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for weighing in, TransporterMan. I can respect that opinion from someone who does not mistake one article for another. --Chris (クリス • フィッチュ) (talk) 05:35, 17 January 2010 (UTC)

A quote[edit]

The monument to William Adams at the location of his former Tokyo townhouse, in Anjin-chō, today Nihonbashi Muromachi 1-10-8, Tokyo.

Here is a quote illustrating the influence of William Adams at the time, indeed superior to that of the all-mighty Jesuits, in Eastward ho! The first English adventurers to the Orient by Foster Rhea Dulles p.127 [3]:

"So it was that this outspoken English seaman, rather than the wily Jesuits who had looked with jaundiced eyes upon all new-comers to Japan, became the medium through whom Ieyasu learned of the Western world and maintained those slender ties which bound his empire to Europe. Adam's influence grew steadily, but, even more remarkable, there developed between the Englishman and the Japanese a friendship which was to endure until Ieyasu's death."

... clearly "one of the most influential foreigners in Japan during this period". The Japanese themselves recognize his importance as shown, for example, by his monument in Anjin-cho. As far as I know, most Japanese know of him (as 三浦按針) and have much sympathy for his key role in Japan's opening to the world.
Per Honor et Gloria  07:38, 17 January 2010 (UTC)

Yes. A pov history might say that. But our concern here is the phrase, " recognized to this day as one of the most influential foreigners in Japan during this period." The problem with this particular quote is phrases like "outspoken" "wily", "jaundiced eyes". Not really that reliable for what we are looking for. It's an amusing story, but the influence was totally negative, if there indeed was any influence. The Japanese built no ocean-going vessels. Closed their society for 300 years. They may have had "other" reasons, but the legacy of Adams is merely being remembered for audacity and luck, not influence. I think the article just reaches too far. Reporting the facts is fine. Stretching them to include "influence" is a problem here.
An amusing book, written in 19th century style, but not really WP:RELY. The one sentence that this discussion all revolves around is about Adams' contributions, quite slight. He ran some expeditions to make money, he did talk to the eventual Shogun. The Portuguese were expelled and the Nagasaki Christians (Catholics) massacred. Not really sure this can be traced directly to Adams though. The Shogun doubtless took counsel with any number of people. This needs to be said in an modern important Japanese reference, not an old puff history.Student7 (talk) 01:42, 20 January 2010 (UTC)

Deletion of the quotes section[edit]

At the moment the quotes section comprises exactly one quote, and the section itself seems fairly pointless in the scheme of the article. I move that it should be deleted, I'd do so myself but I thought it best to put it up for discussion first. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:37, 13 June 2011 (UTC)

Yeah. Delete without further discussion IMO. Student7 (talk) 14:15, 16 June 2011 (UTC)

Doesn't add up[edit]

'Adams served in the Royal Navy under Sir Francis Drake and saw naval service against the Spanish Armada in 1588 as master of the Richarde Dyffylde, a resupply ship.[citation needed] Adams then became a pilot for the Barbary Company'

In all likelyhood there is no problem here. I just wish to point out that Adams himself states (in his 1611 letter which I believe is included in this article) that he served in the Barbary Company for 11 or 12 years. If he began service in 1588 or later, this would not add up, since he left on the voyage to Japan in 1598. Should I assume that this is a miscalculation on Adams' part? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:35, 16 December 2011 (UTC)


The article claimed he was also called: Anjin-sama (anjin, "pilot"; sama, a Japanese honorific). There is no citation and no further evidence in the rest of the article. The form sama in particular seems hard to believe. So, if anybody wants to add names like Anjin-sama or Anjin-san, he is supposed to add evidence, too. -- Zz (talk) 09:54, 7 August 2013 (UTC)

The reference can be found in the article from page 5

Only known officially recognised Western Samurai?[edit]

The article claimed: William Adams is known as the only officially-recognised Western samurai. I wonder what the difference between an officially recognised and a non-official samurai is, so that it needs to be mentioned. In the presence of claims such as 'he is known as that' with a corresponding lack of corroboration, I believe this to be made up of thin air. To my knowledge, quite a lot of foreigners got a honorific noble title during the Meiji era. So, even if he may be "known" for it, I ask for reliable sources for the factual claim. -- Zz (talk) 10:07, 7 August 2013 (UTC)

William Adams is considered the only officially-recognized Western samurai because Tokugawa Ieyasu not only made him a Hatamoto which is a personal retainer, but ALL Hamamotos were samurai. Adams was granted a fief in Hemi which is present day Yokosuka City and a commoner does not get a fief even with a title. Nor is a commoner allowed to marry into a samurai family which is the case when Adams married the daughter of a minor official Magome Kageyu who was samurai. As for honorific noble title granted during the Meiji era, Emperor Meiji dissolved the samurai class which means any title he may have awarded could not be for making someone a samurai. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:59, 9 September 2015 (UTC)

"Eliminated"? "Crucified"?[edit]

The Trouw later turned up in Tidore (Indonesia) where the crew was eliminated by the Portuguese in January 1601

Portuguese Jesuit priests claiming that Adams' ship was a pirate vessel and that the crew should be crucified as pirates

Is this serious??? Come on ... ... — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:47, 6 June 2014 (UTC)

Yes to both. Cited. The Portuguese did not like the British/Dutch at the time. And vice-versa, I'm sure. Student7 (talk) 23:54, 12 June 2014 (UTC)

Of course, they did not like at all each other. But my claim is that these two words are biased and try to imply that the Portuguese were specially sadistic, heartless or ferocious.

In particular, what is the reference to support that they claimed that "the [English] crew should be crucified as pirates"? Actually crucifixion was never used as a way of death execution at that time by any European nation.

On the other hand, killed (if that was the case, reference again?) is more factual than eliminated. Do you agree? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:46, 14 June 2014 (UTC)

This is taken out of the citation. The WP:RS can be questioned, if you choose to do so. But both words are used in it.
I realize some people are shocked by what happened 500 years ago. I am not. Current civilization is founded on what was learned at the time. We are here because they were there. Having seen the Shogun (film) helps me here, even though (like most films) it contains historical inaccuracies. I guess crucifixion does seem unusual, but what the heck? The antagonists of the time were not "minimalists," they were extremists! Student7 (talk) 12:41, 20 June 2014 (UTC)


What Protestant denomination did Adams follow if any? Was he an Anglican (which is more a Via Media) or Lutheran etc. Thanks. Freedom Fighter 1988 (talk) 08:12, 22 July 2014 (UTC)

Japanese wife?[edit]

Japanese family is mentioned/suggested but nothing about his Japanese wife (assuming he had one), only his English wife. The Japanese wife was a major story-line in the Shogun TV series - is there any information that can be added on this? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:16, 6 December 2015 (UTC)