Bounty mutiny survivors reach Timor

Bounty mutiny survivors reach Timor

English Captain William Bligh and 18 others, cast adrift from the HMS Bounty seven weeks before, reach Timor in the East Indies after traveling nearly 4,000 miles in a small, open boat.

READ MORE: Mutiny on the HMS Bounty

On April 28, Fletcher Christian, the master’s mate on the Bounty, led a successful mutiny against Captain Bligh and his supporters. The British naval vessel had been transporting breadfruit saplings from Tahiti for planting on British colonies in the Caribbean. The voyage was difficult, and ill feelings were rampant between the captain, officers, and crew. Bligh, who eventually would fall prey to a total of three mutinies in his career, was an oppressive commander and insulted those under him. On April 28, near the island of Tonga, Christian and 25 petty officers and seamen seized the ship. The captain and 18 of his crew were set adrift in a small boat with 25 gallons of water, 150 pounds of bread, 30 pounds of pork, six quarts of rum, and six bottles of wine.

By setting the captain and his officers adrift in an overcrowded 23-foot-long boat in the middle of the Pacific, Christian and his conspirators had apparently handed them a death sentence. By remarkable seamanship, however, Bligh and his men reached Timor in the East Indies on June 14, 1789, after a voyage of about 3,600 miles. Bligh returned to England and soon sailed again to Tahiti, from where he successfully transported breadfruit trees to the West Indies.

Meanwhile, Christian and his men attempted to establish themselves on the island of Tubuai. Unsuccessful in their colonizing effort, the Bounty sailed north to Tahiti, and 16 crewmen decided to stay there, despite the risk of capture by British authorities. Christian and eight others, together with six Tahitian men, a dozen Tahitian women, and a child, decided to search the South Pacific for a safe haven. In January 1790, the Bounty settled on Pitcairn Island, an isolated and uninhabited volcanic island more than 1,000 miles east of Tahiti. The mutineers who remained on Tahiti were captured and taken back to England, where three were hanged. A British ship searched for Christian and the others but did not find them.

In 1808, an American whaling vessel was drawn to Pitcairn by smoke from a cooking fire. The Americans discovered a community of children and women led by John Adams, the sole survivor of the original nine mutineers. According to Adams, after settling on Pitcairn the colonists had stripped and burned the Bounty, and internal strife and sickness had led to the death of Fletcher and all the men but Adams. In 1825, a British ship arrived and formally granted Adams amnesty, and he served as patriarch of the Pitcairn community until his death in 1829.

In 1831, the Pitcairn islanders were resettled on Tahiti, but unsatisfied with life there they soon returned to their native island. In 1838, the Pitcairn Islands, which includes three nearby uninhabited islands, were incorporated into the British Empire. By 1855, Pitcairn’s population had grown to nearly 200, and the two-square-mile island could not sustain its residents. In 1856, the islanders were removed to Norfolk Island, a formal penal colony nearly 4,000 miles to the west. However, less than two years later, 17 of the islanders returned to Pitcairn, followed by more families in 1864. Today, around 40 people live on Pitcairn Island, and all but a handful are descendants of the Bounty mutineers. About a thousand residents of Norfolk Island (half its population) trace their lineage from Fletcher Christian and the eight other Englishmen.


After the Mutiny: Captain Bligh’s Return

The mutiny on the Bounty is a much-fabled crime, but what Bligh achieved next is the truly legendary part of the tale.

This competition is now closed

Just before the Sun rose on 28 April 1789, Captain William Bligh of the HMS Bounty was woken at cutlass point. The weapon was held by crewmember Fletcher Christian. Bligh was forcibly relieved of his command by a mob of mutineers, and bundled rudely onto a 7-metre-long boat.

Eighteen loyal crewmembers were crammed alongside Bligh in a vessel designed to carry a maximum of 15 over short distances. They were given four cutlasses, a quadrant and compass, 28 gallons of water, 150lbs of bread, 32lbs of salted pork, six quarts of rum and six bottles of wine, and cast adrift on the Pacific Ocean.

Two and a quarter centuries on, the mutiny on the Bounty is part of naval folklore and, thanks to Hollywood, Christian is regarded as a dashing rebel (played on screen by leading men such as Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, Marlon Brando and Mel Gibson) while Bligh is remembered as a spiteful tyrant. The truth is more complicated, but it’s what happened immediately after the mutiny that underpins Bligh’s legacy in maritime history, if not in popular culture.

Colours to the mast

The mutiny was bloodless, but more members of the Bounty’s 44-man crew actually sided with their Captain than with Christian. Several left on the Bounty had to be physically restrained from joining Bligh in his apparently doomed vessel, which was so heavily overloaded that seawater lapped over the gunnels and it looked set to sink at any moment.

Whether these men were truly loyal to their Captain, however, or afraid of the consequences of being associated with the mutiny, is debatable. The ship was on a peaceful mission – to collect breadfruit from Tahiti as a potential source of cheap food for slaves – but Britain’s Royal Navy was on a permanent war-footing throughout the late 19th century. If the mutineers ever returned to England, they were assured a trip to the gallows for treason.

Despite his enduring reputation, Bligh was a comparatively moderate disciplinarian for his time, but he was notoriously short-fused and infamous for launching vicious verbal assaults on people (some historians have suggested he may have had Tourette’s). A number of the Bounty’s crewmembers passionately disliked their Captain – including some who ended up on the launch with him after the mutiny, such as the Sailing Master John Fryer, who Bligh had demoted during the voyage, installing Christian as Acting Lieutenant in his place.

Bligh’s relationship with Christian, who had served under Bligh on several previous journeys, was complex. The two men were friends, but on the Bounty, Bligh constantly berated Christian, humiliating him in front of the crew and ultimately pushing him to breaking point.

As the launch was cut free from the Bounty, Bligh stared his old friend in the eye and reminded him: “You have dandled my children upon your knee…”

“I am in hell,” was Christian’s telling, emotional response. Other mutineers were less conflicted. “Huzzah for Otaheite!” was the last shout from the renegade crew of the Bounty, as it made for the horizon. Otaheite was the contemporary name for Tahiti – the lovesick sailors were heading back to their native wives. While waiting for the breadfruit crop to reach a stage where it could be transported, Bligh’s men had spent five months enjoying the island’s laidback lifestyle and the company of its women. Returning to life on a boat was never going to be easy.

Close to the wind

The abandonment of Bligh and almost half the crew on a dangerously overloaded small boat in the middle of the ocean could have been a death sentence, but the mutineers probably assumed they would make for nearby Tonga. If so, they gravely underestimated their erstwhile Captain, who had no intention of submitting so weakly to life as a castaway.

Bligh began his seafaring career as Ship’s Boy and Captain’s Servant on HMS Monmouth, aged seven. He served with distinction under Captain Cook in peacetime and Admiral Nelson at war, and was, by all accounts, a brilliant navigator. Even so, heading for Timor in Indonesia (the closest European settlement) by crossing over 3,500 nautical miles of ocean in a barely sea-worthy boat with no charts or marine chronometer was audacious in the extreme.

Their first stop was Tofua, a tiny island 30 nautical miles away, where they attempted to augment their meagre rations. The island’s hostile inhabitants attacked them, however, and John Norton, Quartermaster on the Bounty, was killed. They were chased from the island by several canoes, but managed to distract their pursuers by lobbing clothes overboard.

Still hopelessly under provisioned – but with one less mouth to feed – Bligh then went west towards the northern tip of Australia. En route, he led the first European passage through the islands of Fiji. A meticulous cartographer, Bligh sketched the coastline of the Yasawa archipelago but, nervous after the Tofua attack and having previously heard rumour of cannibalism in Fiji, he opted against stopping. Negotiating the big swell of the open South Pacific in a boat where the freeboard (amount of wriggle room) was no bigger than a man’s hand, was a nerve-destroying nightmare of unimaginable proportions.

All hands had to bail constantly to keep the boat afloat and, to avoid capsizing, the Helmsman’s concentration couldn’t waver for a second. Big seas, storms and torrential rain assailed them. Constantly soaked and exposed to the wind, the men were perpetually freezing– but the fresh rainwater did keep them alive.

Island rescue

For a month, the men lived on a few ounces of bread a day and the occasional spoon of wine, but on 29 May they landed on – and named
– Restoration Island, off Australia’s east coast. Still 1,300 nautical miles from Timor, they fell upon the beach like men embracing salvation.

While island hopping north along the Great Barrier Reef, Bligh narrowly escaped a second mutiny when an altercation with Carpenter William Purcell erupted over food. It rapidly escalated until Bligh threatened Purcell with a cutlass. John Fryer and William Cole also became involved, but eventually the crew capitulated to Bligh’s need to be obeyed. Fryer later said Bligh “was as tyrannical in his temper in the boat as in the ship.”

With the boat barely afloat and morale sinking, Bligh successfully located Cape York. They sailed through the Endeavour Strait and out into the Arafura Sea in early June, and reached Coupang, a Dutch settlement on Timor, two weeks later. When they finally came ashore, 47 days after leaving Tofua, the crew were in a desperate condition, many unable to walk. David Nelson, the botanist, soon died from a fever. Bligh, desperate to reach Batavia and then Europe, bought a 10-metre schooner, HMS Resource, and the survivors set off on the 1,800-mile journey on 20 August.

In Surabaya, another altercation with his crew resulted in Bligh arresting Fryer and Purcell at bayonet point, and having them put in irons. However, on 1 October 1789, the unhappy ensemble finally arrived in Batavia. Almost immediately, Bligh departed for Europe accompanied by John Samuel and John Smith.

A court marshal cleared Bligh of blame for the loss of the Bounty, and the HMS Pandora was sent to hunt down the mutineers, many of whom had met grizzly ends. Of the survivors, 10 were brought back to England, where four were acquitted, three pardoned and three hanged – a conclusion that Bligh missed because he’d been dispatched back to Tahiti on a second breadfruit mission.

The mutiny on the Bounty and Bligh’s subsequent achievement in navigating a tiny, crowded launch over 3,500 miles from Tofua to Coupang, cemented his name next to those of Captain James Cook and Admiral Horatio Nelson as the most famous naval men of their generation. A plaudit even Bligh might have considered as compensation for being posthumously painted as a big-screen villain.


Today in history

14 June 2021 (MIA)

– National Flag Day in the United States

1158 – Munich is founded by Henry the Lion on the banks of the river Isar.

1216 – First Barons’ War: Prince Louis of France captures the city of Winchester and soon conquers over half of the Kingdom of England.

1276 – While taking exile in Fuzhou in southern China, away from the advancing Mongol in vaders, the remnants of the Song dynasty court hold the coronation ceremony for the young prince Zhao Shi, making him Emperor Duanzong of Song.

1285 – Second Mongol in vasion of Vietnam: Forces led by Prince Trần Quang Khải of the Trần dynasty destroy most of the in vading Mongol naval fleet in a battle at Chuong Duong.

1287 – Kublai Khan defeats the force of Nayan and other traditionalist Borjigin princes in East Mongolia and Manchuria.

1381 – Richard II of England meets leaders of Peasants’ Revolt on Blackheath. The Tower of London is stormed by rebels who enter without resistance.

1404 – Welsh rebel leader Owain Glyndŵr, having declared himself Prince of Wales, allies himself with the French against King Henry IV of England.

1618 – Joris Veseler prints the first Dutch newspaper Courante uyt Italien, Duytslandt, &c. in Amsterdam (approximate date).

1645 – English Civil War: Battle of Naseby – 12,000 Royalist forces are beaten by 15,000 Parliamentarian soldiers.

1667 – The Raid on the Medway by the Dutch fleet in the Second Anglo-Dutch War ends. It had lasted for five days and resulted in the worst ever defeat of the Royal Navy.

1690 – King William III of England (William of Orange) lands in Ireland to confront the former King James II.

1775 – American Revolutionary War: the Continental Army is established by the Continental Congress, marking the birth of the United States Army.

1777 – The Stars and Stripes is adopted by Congress as the Flag of the United States.

1789 – Mutiny on the Bounty: HMS Bounty mutiny survivors in cluding Captain William Bligh and 18 others reach Timor after a nearly 7,400 km (4,600 mi) journey in an open boat.

1789 – Whiskey distilled from maize is first produced by American clergyman the Rev Elijah Craig. It is named Bourbon because Rev Craig lived in Bourbon County, Kentucky.

1800 – The French Army of First Consul Napoleon Bonaparte defeats the Austrians at the Battle of Marengo in Northern Italy and re-conquers Italy.

1807 – Emperor Napoleon’s French Grande Armée defeats the Russian Army at the Battle of Friedland in Poland (modern Russian Kaliningrad Oblast) ending the War of the Fourth Coalition.

1821 – Badi VII, king of Sennar, surrenders his throne and realm to Isma’il Pasha, general of the Ottoman Empire, ending the existence of that Sudanese kingdom.

1822 – Charles Babbage proposes a difference engine in a paper to the Royal Astronomical Society entitled “Note on the application of machinery to the computation of astronomical and mathematical tables”.

1830 – Beginning of the French colonization of Algeria: 34,000 French soldiers begin their in vasion of Algiers, landing 27 kilometers west at Sidi Fredj.

1839 – Henley Royal Regatta: the village of Henley-on-Thames, on the River Thames in Oxfordshire, stages its first regatta.

1846 – Bear Flag Revolt begins – Anglo settlers in Sonoma, California, start a rebellion against Mexico and proclaim the California Republic.

1863 – American Civil War: Second Battle of Winchester – a Union garrison is defeated by the Army of Northern Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley town of Winchester, Virginia.

1863 – Second Assault on the Confederate works at the Siege of Port Hudson during the American Civil War.

1872 – Trade unions are legalised in Canada.

1900 – Hawaii becomes a United States territory.

1900 – The Reichstag approves a second law that allows the expansion of the German navy.

1907 – Norway grants women the right to vote.

1919 – John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown depart from St. John’s, Newfoundland on the first nonstop transatlantic flight.

1926 – Brazil leaves the League of Nations

1937 – Pennsylvania becomes the first (and only) state of the United States to celebrate Flag Day officially as a state holiday.

1937 – U.S. House of Representatives passes the Marihuana Tax Act.

1940 – World War II: As part of Germany’s Fall Rot, Paris is occupied and Allied forces retreat.

1940 – The Soviet Union presents an ultimatum to Lithuania resulting in Lithuanian loss of in dependence.

1940 – A group of 728 Polish political prisoners from Tarnów become the first in mates of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

1941 – June deportation: the first major wave of Soviet mass deportations and murder of Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians, begins.

1944 – World War II: After several failed attempts, the British Army abandons Operation Perch, its plan to capture the German-occupied town of Caen.

1945 – World War II: Filipino troops of the 15th, 66th and 121st In fantry Regiment, Philippine Commonwealth Army, USAFIP-NL liberate the captured in Ilocos Sur and start the Battle of Bessang Pass in Northern Luzon.

1949 – Albert II, a rhesus monkey, rides a V-2 rocket to an altitude of 134 km (83 mi), thereby becoming the first monkey in space.

1951 – UNIVAC I is dedicated by the U.S. Census Bureau.

1952 – The keel is laid for the nuclear submarine USS Nautilus.

1954 – U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs a bill in to law that places the words “under God” in to the United States Pledge of Allegiance.

1955 – Chile becomes a signatory to the Buenos Aires copyright treaty.

1959 – Disneyland Monorail System, the first daily operating monorail system in the Western Hemisphere, opens to the public in Anaheim, California.

1959 – A group of Dominican exiles depart from Cuba and land in the Dominican Republic with the in tent of overthrowing the totalitarian government of Rafael Trujillo. All but four are killed or executed.

1962 – The European Space Research Organisation is established in Paris – later becoming the European Space Agency.

1966 – The Vatican announces the abolition of the In dex Librorum Prohibitorum (“ in dex of prohibited books”), which was originally in stituted in 1557.

1967 – Mariner program: Mariner 5 is launched towards Venus.

1967 – The People’s Republic of China tests its first hydrogen bomb.

1982 – Falklands War: Argentine forces in the capital Stanley conditionally surrender to British forces.

1985 – TWA Flight 847 is hijacked by Lebanese Islamist organization Hezbollah shortly after take-off from Athens, Greece.

1986 – The Mindbender accident happens at West Edmonton Mall. 3 people died, and 1 person was in jured in the accident. This accident caused WEM to close the Mindbender for a few months for upgrades to it. Since 1986, the Mindbender has run accident free ever since.

1994 – The 1994 Vancouver Stanley Cup riot occurs after the New York Rangers win the Stanley Cup from Vancouver, causing an estimated CA$1.1 million, leading to 200 arrests and in juries.

2002 – Near-Earth asteroid 2002 MN misses the Earth by 75,000 miles (121,000 km), about one-third of the distance between the Earth and the Moon.

2014 – A Ukraine military Ilyushin Il-76 airlifter is shot down, killing all 49 people on board.

2015 – A wildfire near Willow, Alaska in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough burns over 6,500 acres.


Background: Mutiny on the Bounty

Captain Bligh and his crew were originally ordered to collect young breadfruit trees from Tahiti and bring them to the West Indies (Caribbean) as a cheap food source for the workers there. They were heading toward the West Indies when the now-famous mutiny occurred, allegedly caused by Bligh&rsquos legendary hot temper, coupled with the crew&rsquos resentment over their recent forced departure from Tahiti&mdashand the women many were courting. Tension peaked when an enraged Captain Bligh humiliated his first mate Fletcher Christian over an alleged theft of coconuts from the ship&rsquos stores.

On the morning of April 28, 1789, 17 mutineers, led by Christian, ambushed Bligh in his sleep, then ordered him off the ship, which then set sail back to Tahiti. The captain and 18 (some sources say 19) crew members who remained loyal were set adrift on the Bounty&rsquos small launch vessel.


The Bounty, Pitcairn Island, and Fletcher Christian's Descendants

By Borgna Brunner

Phrases in the Pitcairnese Dialect

Bou yo gwen? ? Where are you going?

I gwen down Farder's morla. ? I'm going down to Father's place tomorrow.

Bou yo bin? ? Where have you been?

I gwen out yenna fer porpay. ? I'm going out yonder for red guavas.

Foot yawly come yah? ? Why did you come here?

Up a side, Tom'sa roll. ? Up at that place, Tom fell down.

Source: Ray and Eileen Young, New Zealand residents descended from Midshipmen Edward Young of the Bounty. Courtesy of the Pitcairn Island Web site.

It is not surprising that the most famous of all mutinies, that of the British HMS Bounty, has become ideal fodder for popular history and legend. The mutiny has generated five films (who can think of Fletcher Christian without picturing Marlon Brando?) as well as countless books (including a historical novel by Mark Twain, The Great Revolution in Pitcairn).

Set in the paradisiacal islands of the South Seas, the mutiny involved a host of colorful characters, including the tyrannical Captain Bligh, the aristocratic Fletcher Christian (a distant relation of William Wordsworth's), numerous uninhibited Tahitian women, and a pack of sailors made up of cockney orphans and ruffian adverturers.

Anglo-Tahitian Culture Preserved

What has also helped to perpetuate the romantic fascination with the mutiny is the existence of a small community on Pitcairn Island directly descended from the mutineers and their Tahitian wives.

Living on a 1.75 square mile volcanic speck in the South Pacific that is surely one of the most isolated places on Earth, the contemporary Pitcairn Islanders still bear the surnames of the eighteenth century mutineers (Tom Christian, for example, is the great-great-great-grandson of Fletcher). The islanders speak a dialect that is a hybrid of Tahitian and eighteenth-century English. It is as if history had been preserved in a petri dish (another admittedly romantic notion about an already widely romanticized past).

Paradise

The Bounty left England on Dec. 23, 1787, and reached Tahiti in 1788. It was sent to collect a cargo of breadfruit saplings, which was then to be transported to Jamaica where the breadfruit would serve as food for slaves working on the plantations. After sailing 27,000 miles over ten months, the crew spent a sybaritic idyll on Tahiti, where they reveled in the subtropical climate, lush surroundings, and overwhelming warmth and hospitality of the Tahitians.

A scientist of the time, gladly abandoning reason for passion, claimed that the Tahitians knew "no other god but love every day is consecrated to it, the whole island is its temple, all the women are its idols, all the men its worshippers." Many of the men found Tahitian companions, and Fletcher Christian and a Tahitian named Maimiti fell deeply in love and later married. For Christian, Maimiti had the face that launched one mutinous ship.

Breadfruit Bligh

On April 4, 1789, the Bounty embarked on the second leg of its journey with a cargo of a thousand breadfruit saplings aboard. A little more than three weeks later, near the island of Tonga, the crew, led by first mate Fletcher Christian, staged a mutiny against Captain William Bligh, under whom they claimed to suffer inhuman treatment.

Bligh and eighteen loyal sailors were set adrift in a 23-foot open boat. According to Captain Bligh's diary, the mutineers threw breadfruit after him as he was forced off the Bounty, and yelled, "There goes the Bounty bastard, breadfruit Bligh!" Miraculously, Bligh and his loyalists survived the seven-week, 3,600-mile voyage in the cramped boat, finally reaching the island of Timor.

Discovering Pitcairn

After the mutiny, Christian and his sailors returned to Tahiti, where sixteen of the twenty-five men decided to remain for good. Christian, along with eight others, their women, and a handful of Tahitian men then scoured the South Pacific for a safe haven, eventually settling on Pitcairn on January 23, 1790.

An isolated volcanic island 1,350 miles southeast of Tahiti, it was named after British midshipman Robert Pitcairn, who first sighted the island on July 2, 1767. Its location had been incorrectly charted by the explorer Carteret, who missed the mark by 200 miles, and was therefore the ideal refuge for the mutineers. Although a British ship spent three months searching for them, the mutineers eluded detection. Those who had remained on Tahiti were not so lucky. They were swiftly captured and brought to trial in England, where seven were exonerated and three were hanged.

Psychoanalyzing Captain Bligh

The circumstances leading to the mutiny remain unclear. History has alternately presented William Bligh as horrifically cruel or as a disciplined captain merely running a tight ship. Scenes from movies in which he keel-hauled sailors or gave their water rations to the breadfruit plants have no historical basis, but diplomacy and compassion were clearly not his strong suits. In short, the captain is believed to have been a foul-tempered, highly critical authoritarian with a superiority complex.

Bligh himself contended that the mutineers "had assured themselves of a more happy life among the Otaheitans [Tahitians] than they could possibly have in England, which, joined to some female connections, has most likely been the leading cause of the whole business."

Bligh Climbs the Naval Ladder Rather than Walking the Plank

Certainly the stark contrast between the pleasures of Tahiti and the bleak life aboard the Bounty played a role in igniting the mutiny, but the blame seems to rest largely on Bligh's failings as a captain. The fact that Bligh was later involved in yet another mutiny and again accused of "oppressive behavior" makes the occasional attempts to rehabilitate his reputation unconvincing. In 1805 he was appointed governor of New South Wales, Britain's colony of Australia. The colonists, well accustomed to harsh leaders and conditions, found Bligh's rule intolerable. Within three years, they mutineed Bligh was imprisoned and sent back to England.

Ironically, having two mutinies on his record did not stymie Bligh's career?he was eventually promoted to Vice Admiral. Although he was arrogant and cruel, he was also courageous and intelligent, as well as an excellent navigator, astronomer, and cartographer?he could never have survived the seven-week, 3,600-mile post-mutiny voyage otherwise.

The Ebb & Flowof Pitcairn's Population

1790: 27
1800: 34
1806: 35
1850: 156
1856: 194
1857: 0 *
1858: 17
1864: 43

1937: 233
1968: 75
1997: 54
2000: 44
2002: 47
2008: 48
2009: 48
2014: 48

* Pitcairn's population dropped to zero when all the inhabitants emigrated to Norfolk Island.

Landing on Pitcairn Island in 1790, the mutineers and Tahitians remained invisible to the world for eighteen years. Despite the fledgling society's opportunity to invent itself from scratch, island culture more closely resembled Lord of the Flies than a Rousseauvian utopia. When an American whaler discovered the island in 1808, murder and suicide had left eight of the nine mutineers dead.

Pitcairn Joins the Commonwealth

Pitcairn flourished under the leadership of the last surviving mutineer, John Adams, a Cockney orphan who had joined the Bounty under the pseudonym Alexander Smith. He reverted to his real name on Pitcairn?apparently deciding it was the sort of place where he could let his hair down. Adamstown, the capital, is named after him.

Despite his former hard-drinking days and near illiteracy, Adams emphasized the importance of religion and education to the Bounty's second generation?which included Fletcher Christian's son, Thursday October Christian, the first child born on the island.

In 1825, a British ship arrived and formally granted Adams amnesty, and on November 30, 1838, the Pitcairn Islands (which also include three uninhabited islands?Henderson, Ducie, and Oeno) were incorporated into the British Empire.

Emigration to Norfolk Island

By 1855, the population had grown to nearly 200, and the tiny island, with only 88 acres of flat land, could no longer sustain its people. As a result, Queen Victoria bequeathed them Norfolk Island, a former penal colony more than 3,700 miles to the west.

On May 3, 1856, the entire population of 194 people reluctantly abandoned Pitcairn. Within 18 months, however, seventeen of the immigrants returned to Pitcairn, followed by another four families in 1864. Contemporary Norfolk has approximately 1000 Bounty descendants?about half its population?and celebrates Bounty Day (the day the Pitcairners first arrived) on June 8.

Contemporary Pitcairn

Statistics

Island Mayor: Mike Warren (2007)
Population: 47
Capital: Adamstown
Religion: Seventh-Day Adventist
Languages: English (official) Anglo-Tahitian dialect
Chief Occupations: subsistence farming and fishing
Agriculture: citrus fruits, sugarcane, watermelons, bananas, yams, and beans.
Average Temperature: 55-90F
Major source of revenue: postage stamps and handicrafts
Currency: New Zealand dollar
Area: 1.75 square miles

Today about 50 people live on Pitcairn. All but a handful?a pastor, the schoolteacher, and others?are direct descendants of the mutineers. The only way to reach the island is by ship, but storms and Pitcairn's dangerous harbor have sometimes prevented landings. In recent years one of Pitcairn's thrice-annual supply ships ran aground on a reef on its way from Norfolk to Pitcairn.

Mail service takes approximately three months, and for medical attention, Pitcairners must wait for a ship to transport them to New Zealand, several thousand miles to the west. All are Seventh-Day Adventists who converted sometime after 1886, when an American missionary arrived on the island.

The islanders support themselves by producing postage stamps and making handicrafts, which they sell primarily to visitors on passing ships. Their meager revenue does not cover the enormous costs incurred in keeping the remote island running?electricity, among other things, is exhorbitant and cargo costs several thousand dollars per ton to transport. Great Britain has until now subsidized the island, but it is uncertain whether it will continue to underwrite the expenses of its tiny but costly colony.

World Wide Web Brings the Wide World to Pitcairn

There are individuals and organizations around the world devoted to the Pitcairners, their genealogy, and the history of the mutiny (the genealogical tree extends to 7,500 known descendants throughout the world). Friends of the Pitcairn Islanders have even launched the island into cyberspace?the Pitcairn Island online portal, and Norfolk Island has its own site. It is now even possible to buy Pitcairn Island handicrafts through the Pitcairn Island Online Shop!

Pitcairn has also recently begun to sell its Internet domain name?".pn"?to those needing a unique URL. "Yahoo.com" may be out of the question, but "Yahoo.pn" just might be up for grabs. Islander Tom Christian originally sold the rights to the ".pn" domain to a British Internet company. When the cash-strapped islanders realized they were seeing no financial reward they fought for and eventually took back control of their domain name.

Pitcairn Island. Courtesy of the Pitcairn Island Web Site.

Paradise Lost

In recent years, however, a sexual abuse scandal has cast a deep shadow over the island. Accounts of the victimization of women and young girls on Pitcairn began surfacing in 1999. Seven men?more than half the adult male population of the island?were charged with 96 counts of abuse, including rape and sexual assault. Some of the charges dated back four decades. Subject to British law, the accused faced trial in October 2004 on Pitcairn. Three judges, a number of lawyers, and legal staff members made the 3,000-mile journey to Pitcairn from New Zealand. Eight women, all former Pitcairn Islanders, testified by video link from Auckland, New Zealand.

On Oct. 29, 2004, four men were convicted of multiple sex offenses and received jail sentences of up to six years two others were sentenced to community service. Jay Warren, the island's magistrate, was found innocent. The appeals of all four men were dismissed, and they are currently being jailed on Pitcairn and guarded by a prison staff from New Zealand.


Bounty mutiny survivors reach Timor - Jun 14, 1789 - HISTORY.com

TSgt Joe C.

English Captain William Bligh and 18 others, cast adrift from the HMS Bounty seven weeks before, reach Timor in the East Indies after traveling nearly 4,000 miles in a small, open boat.

On April 28, Fletcher Christian, the master’s mate on the Bounty, led a successful mutiny against Captain Bligh and his supporters. The British naval vessel had been transporting breadfruit saplings from Tahiti for planting on British colonies in the Caribbean. The voyage was difficult, and ill feelings were rampant between the captain, officers, and crew. Bligh, who eventually would fall prey to a total of three mutinies in his career, was an oppressive commander and insulted those under him. On April 28, near the island of Tonga, Christian and 25 petty officers and seamen seized the ship. The captain and 18 of his crew were set adrift in a small boat with 25 gallons of water, 150 pounds of bread, 30 pounds of pork, six quarts of rum, and six bottles of wine.

By setting the captain and his officers adrift in an overcrowded 23-foot-long boat in the middle of the Pacific, Christian and his conspirators had apparently handed them a death sentence. By remarkable seamanship, however, Bligh and his men reached Timor in the East Indies on June 14, 1789, after a voyage of about 3,600 miles. Bligh returned to England and soon sailed again to Tahiti, from where he successfully transported breadfruit trees to the West Indies.

Meanwhile, Christian and his men attempted to establish themselves on the island of Tubuai. Unsuccessful in their colonizing effort, the Bounty sailed north to Tahiti, and 16 crewmen decided to stay there, despite the risk of capture by British authorities. Christian and eight others, together with six Tahitian men, a dozen Tahitian women, and a child, decided to search the South Pacific for a safe haven. In January 1790, the Bounty settled on Pitcairn Island, an isolated and uninhabited volcanic island more than 1,000 miles east of Tahiti. The mutineers who remained on Tahiti were captured and taken back to England, where three were hanged. A British ship searched for Christian and the others but did not find them.

In 1808, an American whaling vessel was drawn to Pitcairn by smoke from a cooking fire. The Americans discovered a community of children and women led by John Adams, the sole survivor of the original nine mutineers. According to Adams, after settling on Pitcairn the colonists had stripped and burned the Bounty, and internal strife and sickness had led to the death of Fletcher and all the men but Adams. In 1825, a British ship arrived and formally granted Adams amnesty, and he served as patriarch of the Pitcairn community until his death in 1829.

In 1831, the Pitcairn islanders were resettled on Tahiti, but unsatisfied with life there they soon returned to their native island. In 1838, the Pitcairn Islands, which includes three nearby uninhabited islands, were incorporated into the British Empire. By 1855, Pitcairn’s population had grown to nearly 200, and the two-square-mile island could not sustain its residents. In 1856, the islanders were removed to Norfolk Island, a formal penal colony nearly 4,000 miles to the west. However, less than two years later, 17 of the islanders returned to Pitcairn, followed by more families in 1864. Today, around 40 people live on Pitcairn Island, and all but a handful are descendants of the Bounty mutineers. About a thousand residents of Norfolk Island (half its population) trace their lineage from Fletcher Christian and the eight other Englishmen.

Bounty mutiny survivors reach Timor - Jun 14, 1789 - HISTORY.com

Short Documentary emphasizing the Faith that William Bligh had in God. Many people today don't really know much about Bligh other than that he was a hard and.

Thank you my friend TSgt Joe C. for making us aware that on June 14, 1789 English Captain William Bligh and 18 others, from the HMS Bounty seven weeks before, reached Timor in the East Indies after traveling nearly 4,000 miles in a an overcrowded and uncovered open 23-foot-long boat.
They were cast adrift by mutineer's led by former master’s mate Fletcher Christian.
At least the mutineers set adrift the captain and 18 of his crew with 25 gallons of water, 150 pounds of bread, 30 pounds of pork, six quarts of rum, and six bottles of wine.

Image: Captain William Bligh, Frontispiece to A Voyage to the South Sea 1792

Read more at rmg.co.uk/discover/explore/william-bligh#xpegQUaGSZEt3uE5.99
Background on William Bligh from rmg.co.uk/discover/explore/william-bligh#xpegQUaGSZEt3uE5.99
"William Bligh was an officer in the Royal Navy and was the victim of a mutiny on his ship, the Bounty, in 1789.
Bligh (1754–1817) had a reputation for having a volatile temper and often clashed with his fellow officers and crewmen. His crew mutinied against him during a return trip from Tahiti in 1789.

Early career
Bligh, the son of a Plymouth customs officer, went to sea aged seven as a captain's servant on board HM Monmouth. He became a skilled young seaman and navigator and in 1776, aged 22, he was appointed sailing master on HM Resolution, serving under Captain James Cook on his final Pacific voyage. He did fine chart and survey work, published alongside Cook's journals, but resented the lack of credit received for this.

1789 Mutiny on the Bounty
By 1781 he had made lieutenant, and six years later, he was recommended the role of acting captain to command the HM sloop Bounty. This was to lead a mission to transfer breadfruit from Tahiti to the Caribbean, as food for the slave labour force used on plantations there.
After five months on Tahiti, master’s mate Fletcher Christian led a mutiny on board the Bounty on 28 April 1789. Eighteen mutineers set Bligh and 18 of his loyal crewmen adrift in a small boat. Bligh, however, was a skilled navigator and managed to sail them nearly 4000 miles to Timor, in the Dutch East Indies. From there, he brought his men back to England to report the mutiny, arriving 14 March 1790.

1791 Return to Tahiti
Bligh was tried for the loss of the Bounty but acquitted and promoted to captain. In August 1791 he once again set sail for Tahiti, but this time he was better prepared, with two ships HMS Providence and Assistance. Despite difficulties it was a success Bligh transferred a cargo-load of breadfruit to the West Indies and returned to Britain with samples of ackee fruit from Jamaica, which he sent to the Royal Society.
However, upon his return Bligh found his reputation had been tarnished thanks to the trial of the Bounty mutineers. He was put on half pay and unemployed for 18 months. Bligh returned to active service in 1795 and served with distinction under Admiral Duncan at the Battle of Camperdown in 1797 and with Nelson at the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801.

1808 Rum Rebellion
In 1806 Bligh was appointed Governor and Captain-General of New South Wales, Australia. Under his strict authority, he set out to stamp out the corruption that was rife among officials and the military in Australia at that time. His interference was not met kindly and in 1808 the military deposed him and put him under house arrest – this was known as the ‘Rum Rebellion’.
Bligh returned to Britain in 1810 and in 1811 was promoted to Rear-Admiral, but his days of active service were over and he died in 1817."


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On June 14 1789, English Captain William Bligh and 18 others, cast adrift from the HMS Bounty seven weeks before, reach Timor in the East Indies after traveling nearly 4,000 miles in a small, open boat.

On April 28, Fletcher Christian, the master’s mate on the Bounty, led a successful mutiny against Captain Bligh and his supporters. The British naval vessel had been transporting breadfruit saplings from Tahiti for planting on British colonies in the Caribbean. The voyage was difficult, and ill feelings were rampant between the captain, officers, and crew. Bligh, who eventually would fall prey to a total of three mutinies in his career, was an oppressive commander and insulted those under him. On April 28, near the island of Tonga, Christian and 25 petty officers and seamen seized the ship. The captain and 18 of his crew were set adrift in a small boat with 25 gallons of water, 150 pounds of bread, 30 pounds of pork, six quarts of rum, and six bottles of wine.

By setting the captain and his officers adrift in an overcrowded 23-foot-long boat in the middle of the Pacific, Christian and his conspirators had apparently handed them a death sentence. By remarkable seamanship, however, Bligh and his men reached Timor in the East Indies on June 14, 1789, after a voyage of about 3,600 miles. Bligh returned to England and soon sailed again to Tahiti, from where he successfully transported breadfruit trees to the West Indies.

Meanwhile, Christian and his men attempted to establish themselves on the island of Tubuai. Unsuccessful in their colonizing effort, the Bounty sailed north to Tahiti, and 16 crewmen decided to stay there, despite the risk of capture by British authorities. Christian and eight others, together with six Tahitian men, a dozen Tahitian women, and a child, decided to search the South Pacific for a safe haven. In January 1790, the Bounty settled on Pitcairn Island, an isolated and uninhabited volcanic island more than 1,000 miles east of Tahiti. The mutineers who remained on Tahiti were captured and taken back to England, where three were hanged. A British ship searched for Christian and the others but did not find them.

In 1808, an American whaling vessel was drawn to Pitcairn by smoke from a cooking fire. The Americans discovered a community of children and women led by John Adams, the sole survivor of the original nine mutineers. According to Adams, after settling on Pitcairn the colonists had stripped and burned the Bounty, and internal strife and sickness had led to the death of Fletcher and all the men but Adams. In 1825, a British ship arrived and formally granted Adams amnesty, and he served as patriarch of the Pitcairn community until his death in 1829.

In 1831, the Pitcairn islanders were resettled on Tahiti, but unsatisfied with life there they soon returned to their native island. In 1838, the Pitcairn Islands, which includes three nearby uninhabited islands, were incorporated into the British Empire. By 1855, Pitcairn’s population had grown to nearly 200, and the two-square-mile island could not sustain its residents. In 1856, the islanders were removed to Norfolk Island, a formal penal colony nearly 4,000 miles to the west. However, less than two years later, 17 of the islanders returned to Pitcairn, followed by more families in 1864. Today, around 40 people live on Pitcairn Island, and all but a handful are descendants of the Bounty mutineers. About a thousand residents of Norfolk Island (half its population) trace their lineage from Fletcher Christian and the eight other Englishmen.


Contents

William Bligh was born on 9 September 1754, but it is not clear where. It is likely that he was born in Plymouth, Devon, as he was baptised at St Andrew's Church on Royal Parade in Plymouth on 4 October 1754, [2] where Bligh's father, Francis (1721–1780), was serving as a customs officer. Bligh's ancestral home of Tinten Manor near St Tudy near Bodmin, Cornwall, is also a possibility. Bligh's mother, Jane Pearce (1713–1768), was a widow (née Balsam) who married Francis at the age of 40. [3]

Bligh was signed for the Royal Navy at age seven, at a time when it was common to sign on a "young gentleman" simply to gain, or at least record, the experience at sea required for a commission. In 1770, at age 16, he joined HMS Hunter as an able seaman, the term used because there was no vacancy for a midshipman. He became a midshipman early in the following year. In September 1771, Bligh was transferred to Crescent and remained on the ship for three years.

In 1776, Bligh was selected by Captain James Cook (1728–1779), for the position of sailing master of Resolution and accompanied Cook in July 1776 on Cook's third voyage to the Pacific Ocean, during which Cook was killed. Bligh returned to England at the end of 1780 and was able to supply details of Cook's last voyage.

Bligh married Elizabeth Betham, daughter of a customs collector (stationed in Douglas, Isle of Man), on 4 February 1781. The wedding took place at nearby Onchan. [4] A few days later, he was appointed to serve on HMS Belle Poule as master (senior warrant officer responsible for navigation). Soon after this, in August 1781, he fought in the Battle of Dogger Bank under Admiral Parker, which won him his commission as a lieutenant. For the next 18 months, he was a lieutenant on various ships. He also fought with Lord Howe at Gibraltar in 1782.

Between 1783 and 1787, Bligh was a captain in the merchant service. Like many lieutenants, he would have found full-pay employment in the Navy however, commissions were hard to obtain with the fleet largely demobilised at the end of the War with France when that country was allied with the North American rebelling colonies in the War of American Independence (1775–1783). In 1787, Bligh was selected as commander of His Majesty's Armed Transport Bounty. He rose eventually to the rank of vice admiral in the Royal Navy.

William Bligh's naval career involved various appointments and assignments. He first rose to prominence as Master of Resolution, under the command of Captain James Cook. Bligh received praise from Cook during what would be the latter's final voyage. Bligh served on three of the same ships on which Fletcher Christian also served simultaneously in his naval career.

Date Rank Ship (number of guns)
1 July 1761 – 21 February 1763 Ship's boy and captain's servant HMS Monmouth (64)
27 July 1770 Able seaman HMS Hunter (10)
5 February 1771 Midshipman HMS Hunter
22 September 1771 Midshipman HMS Crescent (28)
2 September 1774 Able seaman HMS Ranger
30 September 1775 Master's mate HMS Ranger
20 March 1776 – October 1780 Master HMS Resolution (12)
14 February 1781 Master HMS Belle Poule
5 October 1781 Lieutenant HMS Berwick (74)
1 January 1782 Lieutenant HMS Princess Amelia (80)
20 March 1782 Sixth lieutenant HMS Cambridge (80)
14 January 1783 Joins merchant service
1785 Commanding lieutenant Merchant vessel Lynx
1786 Captain Merchant vessel Britannia
1787 Returns to Royal Navy
16 August 1787 Commanding lieutenant HM Armed Vessel Bounty
14 November 1790 Commander HM Brig-sloop Falcon (14)
15 December 1790 Captain HMS Medea (28) (for rank only)
16 April 1791 – 1793 Captain HMS Providence (28)
16 April 1795 Captain HMS Calcutta (24)
7 January 1796 Captain HMS Director (64)
18 March 1801 Captain HMS Glatton (56)
12 April 1801 Captain HMS Monarch (74)
8 May 1801 – 28 May 1802 Captain HMS Irresistible (74)
March 1802 – May 1803 Peace of Amiens
2 May 1804 Captain HMS Warrior (74)
14 May 1805 Appointed Governor of New South Wales
27 September 1805 Captain HMS Porpoise (12), voyage to New South Wales
13 August 1806 – 26 January 1808 Governor of New South Wales
31 July 1808 Commodore HMS Porpoise, Tasmania
3 April 1810 –
25 October 1810
Commodore HMS Hindostan (50), returning to England.
31 July 1811 Appointed Rear-Admiral of the Blue (backdated to 31 July 1810)
12 August 1812 Appointed rear admiral of the white
4 December 1813 Appointed rear admiral of the red
4 June 1814 Appointed vice admiral of the blue

In the early 1780s, while in the merchant service, Bligh became acquainted with a young man named Fletcher Christian (1764–1793), who was eager to learn navigation from him. Bligh took Christian under his wing, and the two became friends.

The mutiny on the Royal Navy vessel HMAV Bounty occurred in the South Pacific Ocean on 28 April 1789. Led by Master's Mate / Acting Lieutenant Fletcher Christian, disaffected crewmen seized control of the ship, and set the then Lieutenant Bligh, who was the ship's captain, and 18 loyalists adrift in the ship's open launch. The mutineers variously settled on Tahiti or on Pitcairn Island. Meanwhile, Bligh completed a voyage of more than 3,500 nautical miles (6,500 km 4,000 mi) to the west in the launch to reach safety north of Australia in the Dutch East Indies (modern Indonesia) and began the process of bringing the mutineers to justice.

First breadfruit voyage Edit

In 1787, Lieutenant Bligh, as he then was, took command of HMAV Bounty. In order to win a premium offered by the Royal Society, he first sailed to Tahiti to obtain breadfruit trees, then set course east across the South Pacific for South America and the Cape Horn and eventually to the Caribbean Sea, where breadfruit was wanted for experiments to see whether it would be a successful food crop for enslaved Africans there on British colonial plantations in the West Indies islands. According to one modern researcher, the notion that breadfruit had to be collected from Tahiti was intentionally misleading. Tahiti was merely one of many places where the esteemed seedless breadfruit could be found. The real reason for choosing Tahiti has its roots in the territorial contention that existed then between France and Great Britain at the time. [5] Bounty never reached the Caribbean, as mutiny broke out on board shortly after the ship left Tahiti.

The voyage to Tahiti was difficult. After trying unsuccessfully for a month to go west by rounding South America and Cape Horn, Bounty was finally defeated by the notoriously stormy weather and opposite winds and forced to take the longer way to the east around the southern tip of Africa (Cape of Good Hope and Cape Agulhas). That delay caused a further delay in Tahiti, as he had to wait five months for the breadfruit plants to mature sufficiently to be potted in soil and transported. Bounty departed Tahiti heading east in April 1789.

Mutiny Edit

Because the vessel was rated only as a cutter, Bounty had no commissioned officers other than Bligh (who was then only a lieutenant), a very small crew, and no Royal Marines to provide protection from hostile natives during stops or to enforce security on board ship. To allow longer uninterrupted sleep, Bligh divided his crew into three watches instead of two, placing his protégé Fletcher Christian—rated as a Master's Mate—in charge of one of the watches. The mutiny, which took place on 28 April 1789 during the return voyage, was led by Christian and supported by eighteen of the crew. [6] They had seized firearms during Christian's night watch and surprised and bound Bligh in his cabin.

Despite being in the majority, none of the loyalists put up a significant struggle once they saw Bligh bound, and the ship was taken over without bloodshed. The mutineers provided Bligh and eighteen loyal crewmen a 23-foot (7.0 m) launch (so heavily loaded that the gunwales were only a few inches above the water). They were allowed four cutlasses, food and water for perhaps a week, a quadrant and a compass, but no charts, or marine chronometer. The gunner William Peckover, brought his pocket watch which was used to regulate time. [7] Most of these were obtained by the clerk, Mr Samuel, who acted with great calm and resolution, despite threats from the mutineers. The launch could not hold all the loyal crew members, so four were detained on Bounty for their useful skills they were later released in Tahiti.

Tahiti was upwind from Bligh's initial position, and was the obvious destination of the mutineers. Many of the loyalists claimed to have heard the mutineers cry "Huzzah for Otaheite!" as Bounty pulled away. Timor was the nearest European colonial outpost in the Dutch East Indies (modern Indonesia), 3,618 nmi (6,701 km 4,164 mi) away. Bligh and his crew first made for Tofua, only a few leagues distant, to obtain supplies. However, they were attacked by hostile natives and John Norton, a quartermaster, was killed. [8] Fleeing from Tofua, Bligh did not dare to stop at the next islands to the west (the Fiji islands), as he had no weapons for defence and expected hostile receptions. He did however keep a log entitled "Log of the Proceedings of His Majesty's Ship Bounty Lieut. Wm Bligh Commander from Otaheite towards Jamaica" which he used to record events from 5 April 1789 to 13 March 1790. [7] He also made use of a small notebook to sketch a rough map of his discoveries.

Bligh had confidence in his navigational skills, which he had perfected under the instruction of Captain James Cook. His first responsibility was to bring his men to safety. Thus, he undertook the seemingly impossible 3,618-nautical-mile (6,701 km 4,164 mi) voyage to Timor, the nearest European settlement. Bligh succeeded in reaching Timor after a 47-day voyage, the only casualty being the crewman killed on Tofua. From 4 May until 29 May, when they reached the Great Barrier Reef north of Australia, the 18 men lived on 1 ⁄ 12 pound (40 grams) of bread per day. The weather was often stormy, and they were in constant fear of foundering due to the boat's heavily laden condition. On 29 May they landed on a small island off the coast of Australia, which they named Restoration Island, 29 May 1660 being the date of the restoration of the English monarchy after the English Civil War. Over the next week or more they island-hopped north along the Great Barrier reef—while Bligh, cartographer as always, sketched maps of the coast. Early in June they passed through the Endeavour Strait and sailed again on the open sea until they reached Coupang, a settlement on Timor, on 14 June 1789. [7] Several of the men who survived this arduous voyage with him were so weak that they soon died of sickness, possibly malaria, in the pestilential Dutch East Indies port of Batavia, the present-day Indonesian capital of Jakarta, as they waited for transport to Britain. [9]

Possible causes of the mutiny Edit

The reasons behind the mutiny are still debated some sources report that Bligh was a tyrant whose abuse of the crew led them to feel that they had no choice but to take over the ship. Other sources argue that Bligh was no worse (and in many cases gentler) than the average captain and naval officer of the era, and that the crew—inexperienced and unused to the rigours of the sea—were corrupted by the freedom, idleness and sexual licence of their five months in Tahiti, finding themselves unwilling to return to the "Jack Tar's" life of an ordinary seaman. This view holds that most of the men supported Christian's prideful personal vendetta against Bligh out of a misguided hope that their new captain would return them to Tahiti to live their lives hedonistically and in peace, free from Bligh's acid tongue and strict discipline.

The mutiny is made more mysterious by the friendship of Christian and Bligh, which dates back to Bligh's days in the merchant service. Christian was well acquainted with the Bligh family. As Bligh was being set adrift he appealed to this friendship, saying "you have dandled my children upon your knee". According to Bligh, Christian "appeared disturbed" and replied, "That,—Captain Bligh,—that is the thing——I am in hell—I am in hell". [10]

Bounty ' s log shows that Bligh was relatively sparing in his punishments. He scolded when other captains would have whipped, and whipped when other captains would have hanged. He was an educated man, deeply interested in science, convinced that good diet and sanitation were necessary for the welfare of his crew. He took a great interest in his crew's exercise, was very careful about the quality of their food and insisted upon the Bounty being kept very clean. He tried (unsuccessfully) to check the spread of venereal disease among the men. [ citation needed ] The modern historian John Beaglehole has described the major flaw in this otherwise enlightened naval officer: "[Bligh made] dogmatic judgements which he felt himself entitled to make he saw fools about him too easily … thin-skinned vanity was his curse through life … [Bligh] never learnt that you do not make friends of men by insulting them." [11] Bligh was also capable of holding intense grudges against those whom he thought had betrayed him, such as Midshipman Peter Heywood and ship's gunner William Peckover in regard to Heywood, Bligh was convinced that the young man was as guilty as Christian. Bligh's first detailed comments on the mutiny are in a letter to his wife Betsy, in which he names Heywood (a mere boy not yet 16) as "one of the ringleaders", adding: "I have now reason to curse the day I ever knew a Christian or a Heywood or indeed a Manks [sic] man. [12] Bligh's later official account to the Admiralty lists Heywood with Christian, Edward Young and George Stewart as the mutiny's leaders, describing Heywood as a young man of abilities for whom he had felt a particular regard. [13] To the Heywood family Bligh wrote: "His baseness is beyond all description." [14] Peckover applied for a position as gunner on HMS Providence (the second breadfruit expedition to Tahiti) but was refused by Bligh. In a letter to Sir Joseph Banks, 17 July 1791 (two weeks before departure), Bligh wrote:

Should Peckover my late Gunner ever trouble you to render him further services I shall esteem it a favour if you will tell him I informed you he was a vicious and worthless fellow – He applied to me to render him service & wanted to be appointed Gunner of the Providence but as I had determined never to suffer an officer who was with me in the Bounty to sail with again, it was for the cause I did not apply for him. [15]

Bligh's refusal to appoint Peckover was partly due to Edward Christian's polemic testimony against Bligh in an effort to clear his brother's name. [15] Christian states in his appendix:

In the evidence of Mr. Peckover and Mr. Fryer, it is proved that Mr. Nelson the botanist said, upon hearing the commencement of the mutiny, "We know whose fault this is, or who is to blame, Mr. Fryer, what have we brought upon ourselves?" In addition to this, it ought to be known that Mr. Nelson, in conversation afterwards with an officer (Peckover) at Timor, who was speaking of returning with Captain Bligh if he got another ship, observed, "I am surprized that you should think of going a second time with [Bligh] (using a term of abuse) who has been the cause of all our losses." [15] [16]

Popular fiction often confuses Bligh with Edward Edwards of HMS Pandora, who was sent on the Royal Navy's expedition to the South Pacific to find the mutineers and bring them to trial. Edwards is often made out to be the cruel man that Hollywood has portrayed. The 14 men from Bounty who were captured by Edwards' men were confined in a cramped 18′ × 11′ × 5′8″ wooden cell on Pandora ' s quarterdeck. Yet, when Pandora ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef, three prisoners were immediately let out of the prison cell to help at the pumps. Finally, Captain Edwards gave orders to release the other 11 prisoners, to which end Joseph Hodges, the armourer's mate, went into the cell to remove the prisoners' irons. Unfortunately, before he could finish the job, the ship sank. Four of the prisoners and 31 of the crew died during the sinking. More prisoners would likely have perished, had not William Moulter, a bosun's mate, unlocked their cages before jumping off the sinking vessel. [17]

Aftermath Edit

In October 1790, Bligh was honourably acquitted at the court-martial inquiring into the loss of Bounty. Shortly thereafter, he published A Narrative of the Mutiny on board His Majesty's Ship "Bounty" And the Subsequent Voyage of Part of the Crew, In the Ship's Boat, from Tofoa, one of the Friendly Islands, to Timor, a Dutch Settlement in the East Indies. Of the 10 surviving prisoners eventually brought home in spite of Pandora's loss, four were acquitted, owing to Bligh's testimony that they were non-mutineers that Bligh was obliged to leave on Bounty because of lack of space in the launch. Two others were convicted because, while not participating in the mutiny, they were passive and did not resist. They subsequently received royal pardons. One was convicted but excused on a technicality. The remaining three were convicted and hanged.


HMS Pandora

The Pandora was sent out by the British Admiralty in order to capture the Bounty mutineers and, if possible, the ship. Bligh arrived in England on March 14, 1790, and only ten days later the King ordered a ship to be sent out to hunt down the “pirates.” On April 1 the following notice appeared in the London Chronicles:

It is said that by the express command of His Majesty two new sloops of war are to be instantly fitted to go in pursuit of the pirates who have taken possession of the Bounty. An experienced officer will be appointed to superintend the little command, and the sloops will steer a direct course to Otaheite where, is is conjectured, the mutinous crew have established their rendezvous.

“Two sloops” were changed to one frigate, which was actually an upgrading of sorts. But the term “little command” accurately reflects the fact that to the Admiralty this expedition was of minor importance, especially since was expected at any moment.

The key dates of Pandora ’s voyage were:

  • November 7, 1790: Sailed from England
  • March 23, 1791: Arrived at Tahiti.
  • May 8, 1791: Sailed from Tahiti.
  • August 28, 1791: Struck the Great Barrier Reef and foundered.
  • September 15, 1791: Survivors reach Coupang on Timor.
  • June 19, 1792: Bounty men arrive at Spithead.

In November 1997, the wreck of the Pandora was discovered in seventeen fathoms of water on the outer edge of the reef near Cape York. For the story of the discovery and the exploration of the wreck see:

Marden, Luis. “Wreck of H.M.S. Pandora,” National Geographic , October 1985.

-- This sketch is from Dr. Sven Wahlroos’ book, Mutiny and Romance in the South Seas , and is used by permission. See Book Recommendations for a review of this outstanding work.


Watch the video: An Emotional End To The Mutiny Crews Epic Journey. Mutiny