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William Adams

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William Adams
William Adams (NO)
Character Information
Voice Actor(s):
Ben Peel
Real name:
William Adams
Miura Anjin
Japanese name:
三浦 按針
September 24, 1564
May 16, 1620

William Adams (ウィリアム・アダムス) is an English navigator who served under the Tokugawa regime after being shipwrecked in Japan. He helped propagate trading throughout the country and became one of the few known foreign samurai.

Role in GamesEdit

William Adams is the playable protagonist of Nioh who survived a fierce storm at sea. Struggling to survive in a foreign land filled with demons called Yokai, he eventually forms an alliance with historical figures affiliated with the Tokugawa.

Anjin Miura appears in later Nobunaga's Ambition titles as an unlockable officer with above average levels for tactics and gunnery.


In Nioh, players can equip William with various weapons to defeat enemies. His proficiency with each type of weapon increases through repeated use and stat growth. In addition to weaponry, William has the ability to summon guardian spirits for aid.

Historical InformationEdit

Humble BeginningsEdit

William Adams Portrait

Artistic portrait of William Adams.

Born in the town of Gillingham at Kent, England, Adams lost his father at the age of 12 and made ends meet by apprenticing under the shipyard owner Nicholas Diggins in Limehouse. There, he spent the next 12 years mastering shipbuilding, astronomy, and navigation. He put those skills to use by joining the Royal Navy and becoming a pilot for one of Sir Francis Drake's supply ships.

Although content with his current position, the Dutch trade's successful ventures made a lasting impression on Adams. He and his brother Thomas later became navigators for the Barbary Company's merchants who sought to find new trade routes to the Far East. The journey was allegedly a two-year expedition to the Arctic in hopes of finding a northeast shortcut along the coast of Siberia, though this has been contested by several historians.

Fateful VoyageEdit

Adams, tasked with leading a fleet to Asia, departed Rotterdam in June 1598. The fleet consisted of his flagship, "De Hoop" (Hope), and four more vessels manned by Dutch sailors: "De Liefde" (Love), "Het Geloof" (Faith), "De Trouw" (Loyalty), and "Blijde Boodschop" (Gospel). The ships were supposed to reach West Africa for silver and pass through the Magellan Strait, but complications and other unfortunate events caused some of them to scatter.

Even after Adams had switched ships to De Liefde, the long journey was putting a heavy strain on his crewmen. Some died from illness while others, including Thomas, were killed fighting hostile natives. Threatened by the presence of the Spaniards, the remaining ships fled to the Pacific and managed to reach Japan. Only De Liefde made it there intact.

On April 19, 1600, the sickly crew, which had less then 20 of the original 110 men, found themselves shipwrecked at the coast of Bungo, Japan. Mistakened for pirates by Portuguese missionaries, Adams and his men were taken prisoner to Ōsaka Castle under Tokugawa Ieyasu's orders. The bronze cannons their ship carried were also confiscated and used in the Battle of Sekigahara.

Life in JapanEdit

William Adams Artwork

Artist's depiction of Adams meeting Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1707.

During their first three meetings, the Shogun was impressed by Adams's knowledge on naval engineering enough to treat the surviving crew as guests rather than prisoners. The Jesuits were envious of their good fortunate and tried to convert the sailors as Catholics or deport them clandestinely; these efforts failed and helped lead to their expulsion 1614. Adams eventually replaced João Rodrigues as the Shogun's official interpreter after learning the Japanese language.

When Adams was commissioned by Ieyasu to build a Western-style ship on Izu Peninsula, he was reluctant to do so due to his lack of experience as a carpenter. Fortunately, the construction was a success and the vessel, weighing 80 tons, was used for surveying the coastline. A second ship, being 40 tons heavier, was later built and lent to shipwrecked sailors from Spain. For their efforts, the crewmen were given numerous privileges including the right to engage in foreign trade. A majority of them left Japan, though only Adams was forced to stay behind. In 1608, he proved instrumental in establishing relations with New Spain after contacting Rodrigo de Vivero y Velasco, the interim governor of the Philippines.

Adams wanted to reunite with his wife Mary and their two daughters, but Ieyasu, who immensely valued the navigator's counsel in trade and diplomacy, forbade him from leaving. To coax him into staying, the Shogun gave Adams a large residence at Tokyo and two precious swords that effectively elevated him to the status of samurai. Now called "Miura Anjin", he was granted a fief at Hemi with a generous stipend of 250 koku, as well as the right to marry Oyuki (お雪), a daughter of the samurai Magome Kageyu. Because Oyuki was not of noble standing, some historians believe that Miura married her out of love. The couple was blessed with two children: a son named Joseph and a daughter called Susanna. Even though Miura now had a new family to take care of, he continued to support his previous wife via monetary support sent overseas. He also had a concubine who bore him an unnamed child.

Later YearsEdit

Anjin Miura Grave

Anjin Miura's grave at Hirado, Nagasaki Prefecture.

While Miura deeply appreciated Japan and its inhabitants, he was eager to travel once more and saw trading as a means to fulfill this desire. It also inspired him to bring his native and adoptive homes together as potential allies. The English samurai went on to help John Saris install a trading post for the British East India Company. However, there were some complications that made the operation difficult. For one, Miura's advice in setting up the factory near their target market was ignored by Saris who wanted to spy on the commercial activities of the Dutch. Also, Saris was put off by the navigator's praise of Japan's customs, further straining their ties. Fortunately for Miura, his attitude was well-received by Richard Cocks who became one of his closest friends.

Miura also participated in the Red Seal Asian trade which saw him take trips throughout Okinawa, Thailand, and Indochina. These expeditions were possible thanks to the Shogun's influence. But when Hidetada succeeded his father Ieyasu, trading declined to the point where only the Dutch were allowed to trade with Japan. Eventually, Miura retired from his post and died at Hirado. He was buried right next to a memorial dedicated to Francis Xavier. His possessions and titles were inherited by Joseph who followed in his father's footsteps until foreign trading was banned in 1635.


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