The New International Encyclopædia/Adams, William (pioneer)

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ADAMS, William (?1575-?1620). The first Englishman in Japan, whose romantic story is closely connected with the opening of that empire. He was born in Kent, near the mouth of the Thames. Having entered the service of some Dutch merchants, he sailed, in 1598, for the east, from the Texel, as the chief pilot of a fleet of five small ships. After a severe voyage, the Charity, in which Adams was sailing, anchored off the coast of Bungo (Kiushiu). Iyéyasu had recently come to power, and Adams, after a brief imprisonment, was taken into his favor and employed in the government service, to its great advantage. He built vessels and gave helpful information in respect to the intrigues of the Spanish and Portuguese. At a later day he received the revenues of the village Hémi, near Yokosuka, the modern imperial dockyard in Yeddo Bay. In 1613, the Clove, an English ship, brought other Englishmen to Firando, and, with Adams, they proceeded to establish a factory, of which Richard Cocks was chief. In 1616 Iyéyasu died and foreigners soon fell into disfavor. Not being allowed to return to his wife and children in England, Adams married a Japanese wife, and their descendants are still living. He died May 16, 1620, and was buried on a hill above Hémi-Mura, where his tomb and that of his Japanese wife were discovered in 1872 by James Walter, an American. A street in Yedo was named after him, and a celebration is still held in his honor. Letters of Adams may be found in Purchas his Pilgrimes, and in the publications of the Hakluyt Society. Consult: The Diary of Richard Cocks, 1615-22 (London, 1883); Hildreth, Japan as It Was and Is (Boston, 1855); and Griffis, The Mikado's Empire (New York, 1876).