Edward Christian

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the England international footballer, see Edward Christian (footballer).

Edward Christian (3 March 1758 – 29 March 1823) was an English judge and law professor. He was the older brother of Fletcher Christian, leader of the Mutiny on the Bounty.


Christian went up to Peterhouse, Cambridge in 1775, but migrated to St John's College in 1777, graduating as third wrangler in 1779.[1] While at Cambridge he forged a friendship with William Wilberforce.[2] He was admitted to Gray's Inn on 5 July 1782.[3] In 1788 Christian was appointed Downing Professor of the Laws of England, although the chair was only founded along with Downing College in 1800. He held the professorship in conjunction with a fellowship of Downing until his death in 1823. He was also law professor at the East India Company College from 1806 to 1818.[1][3]

Christian was Chief Justice of the Isle of Ely and was one of the preciding judges at the Ely and Littleport riot Special Commission assizes at Ely in 1816.[4]


In 1794, Stephen Barney, counsel to the mutineer William Muspratt, at the urging of Edward Christian, published his version of the Minutes of the Bounty Court-Martial, and included an Appendix written by Edward Christian. In it, Edward did not try to excuse his brother Fletcher's conduct, but citing his interviews with several of the people involved (none directly), and listing the names and addresses of several prominent people as witnesses to these interviews, he recounted several of the excesses of William Bligh, Commander of the Bounty. At the time of the publication of the Minutes and Appendix, the public's only published source of information about the mutiny were Bligh's own A Narrative of the Mutiny on the Bounty, published in 1790, and A Voyage to the South Sea,' published in 1792. With the publication of the 'Appendix, the tide of public opinion began to turn against Bligh. Indeed, Bligh responded by publishing An Answer to Certain Assertions Contained in The Appendix to a Pamphlet, entitled... etc., etc., to which, Edward Christian promptly published A Short Reply to Capt. William Bligh's Answer, which only served to fan the flames.

The process was aided by the efforts of the family of Peter Heywood, a Midshipman on the Bounty, and others, but many attribute the source of William Bligh's bad reputation, to this day, to Edward Christian's Appendix. It is believed by many that Edward Christian's impetus for both the Minutes and the Appendix, were a letter from, and a subsequent meeting with, Peter Heywood, after the latter's pardon.


  1. ^ a b "Christian, Edward (CHRN775E)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  2. ^ Hague, William (2008). William Wilberforce: The Life of the Great Anti-Slave Trade Campaigner. Harper Perennial. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-00-722886-7. 
  3. ^ a b "Christian family history". thepeerage.com. 7 November 2007. Retrieved 28 December 2008. 
  4. ^ Warren, Philip (1997), Report of the trials for rioting at Ely and Littleport 1816:Originally printed c.1816 by Hatfield and Twigg, England, Philip Warren, p. 1, ISBN 0-9531530-0-2 

External links[edit]