Mutiny on the Bounty

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This article is about the historical event. For other uses, see Mutiny on the Bounty (disambiguation).
The mutineers turning Bligh and some of the officers and crew adrift from His Majesty's Ship Bounty, 29 April 1789. By Robert Dodd.

The Mutiny on the Bounty was a mutiny aboard the Royal Navy ship HMS Bounty on 28 April 1789. The mutiny was led by Fletcher Christian against their captain, Lieutenant William Bligh. According to accounts, the sailors were attracted to the "idyllic" life and sexual opportunities afforded on the Pacific island of Tahiti. It has also been argued that they were motivated by Bligh's allegedly harsh treatment of them.

Eighteen mutineers set Bligh afloat in a small boat with eighteen of the twenty-two crew loyal to him. To avoid detection and prevent desertion, the mutineers then variously settled on Pitcairn Island or on Tahiti and burned Bounty off Pitcairn.

In an extraordinary feat of seamanship, Bligh navigated the 23-foot (7 m) open launch on a 47-day voyage to Timor in the Dutch East Indies, equipped with a quadrant and pocket watch and without charts or compass. He recorded the distance as 3,618 nautical miles (6,701 km; 4,164 mi). He then returned to Britain and reported the mutiny to the Admiralty on 15 March 1790, 2 years and 11 weeks after his original departure.

The British government dispatched HMS Pandora to capture the mutineers, and Pandora reached Tahiti on 23 March 1791. Four of the men from Bounty came on board soon after her arrival, and ten more were arrested within a few weeks. These fourteen were imprisoned in a makeshift cell on Pandora's deck. Pandora ran aground on part of the Great Barrier Reef on 29 August 1791, with the loss of 31 of the crew and four of the prisoners. The surviving ten prisoners were eventually repatriated to England, tried in a naval court, with three hanged, four acquitted, and three pardoned.

Descendants of some of the mutineers and Tahitians still live on Pitcairn. The mutiny has been commemorated in books, films, and songs.

Bounty and her 1787 expedition[edit]

Main article: HMS Bounty

The ship and mission[edit]

His Majesty's Ship (HMS) Bounty began her career as the collier Bethia, a small vessel built in 1784 at the Blaydes shipyard in Hull. On 26 May 1787 (JJ Colledge/D Lyon say 23 May), she was bought by the Royal Navy for £2,600, refitted and renamed Bounty.[1] Bligh was appointed commanding lieutenant of Bounty on 16 August 1787, at the age of 32, after a career that included a tour as sailing master of James Cook's HMS Resolution during Cook's third and final voyage (1776–79).

The Royal Navy bought the ship for a single mission in support of an experiment: she was to travel to Tahiti; pick up breadfruit plants; and transport them to the West Indies, in the hope that they would grow well there and become a cheap source of food for slaves. The experiment, promoted through a prize offered by the Royal Society, was proposed by Sir Joseph Banks, who recommended Bligh as commander, Banks at the time being the unofficial director of Kew Gardens.

In June 1787, Bounty was refitted at Deptford. The captain's great cabin was converted to house the potted breadfruit plants, and glazed windows were fitted to the upper deck, while a lead lining was installed on the floor to catch and re-use run-off water used to feed the plants. Bligh was quartered in a small cramped cabin next to crew and officers.[2]

Outward voyage and arrival[edit]

Bligh transplanting breadfruit trees from Tahiti

On 23 December 1787, Bounty sailed from Spithead for Tahiti with a complement of 46 officers and men. For a full month, she attempted to round Cape Horn, but adverse weather blocked her. Bligh ordered her turned about, and proceeded east, rounding the Cape of Good Hope and crossing the width of the Indian Ocean. During the outward voyage, Bligh demoted the ship's sailing master, John Fryer, replacing him with Fletcher Christian. This act seriously damaged the relationship between Bligh and Fryer, and Fryer would later claim Bligh's act was entirely personal. Bounty reached Tahiti on 26 October 1788, after ten months at sea.

Bligh and his crew spent five months in Tahiti, then known as "Otaheite," collecting and preparing a total of 1,015 breadfruit plants; the five-month layover was unplanned, required to allow the plants to reach the point of development where they could be safely transported by ship. Bligh allowed the crew to live ashore and care for the potted breadfruit plants, and they became socialized to the customs and culture of the Tahitians. Many of the seamen and some of the "young gentlemen" had themselves tattooed in native fashion. Master's Mate and Acting Lieutenant Fletcher Christian married Maimiti, a Tahitian woman. Other warrant officers and seamen of the Bounty were also said to have formed "connections" with native women.

Bligh was not surprised by his crew's reaction to the Tahitians. He recorded his analysis:

The women are handsome ... and have sufficient delicacy to make them admired and beloved – The chiefs have taken such a liking to our people that they have rather encouraged their stay among them than otherwise, and even made promises of large possessions. Under these and many other attendant circumstances equally desirable it is therefore now not to be wondered at ... that a set of sailors led by officers and void of connections ... should be governed by such powerful inducement ... to fix themselves in the midst of plenty in the finest island in the world where they need not labour, and where the allurements of dissipation are more than equal to anything that can be conceived.

A Narrative of the Mutiny, etc., by Lieut. W. Bligh, 1790, p. 9.

Tensions rise[edit]

Despite the relaxed atmosphere, relations between Bligh and his men, and particularly between Bligh and Christian, continued to deteriorate. Christian was routinely humiliated by the captain—often in front of the crew and the native Tahitians—for real or imagined slackness,[3] while severe punishments were handed out to men whose carelessness had led to the loss or theft of equipment.[4] Floggings, rarely administered during the outward voyage, now became a common occurrence; as a consequence, crewmen Millward, Muspratt, and Churchill deserted the ship. They were quickly recaptured, and a search of their belongings revealed a list of names which included those of Christian and Heywood. Bligh confronted the pair and accused them of complicity in the desertion plot, which they strenuously denied; without further corroboration, Bligh could not act against them.[3]

As the date for departure grew closer, Bligh's outbursts against his officers became more frequent.[5] One witness reported: "Whatever fault was found, Mr. Christian was sure to bear the brunt."[6] Tensions rose among the men, who faced the prospect of a long and dangerous voyage that would take them through the uncharted Endeavour Strait, followed by many months of hard sailing. Bligh was impatient to be away, but in Hough's words he "failed to anticipate how his company would react to the severity and austerity of life at sea ... after five dissolute, hedonistic months at Tahiti".[7] On 5 April, Bounty finally weighed anchor and made for the open sea with her breadfruit cargo.[5]

The mutiny[edit]

The mutiny occurred on 28 April 1789, some 23 days out and 1,300 miles west of Tahiti. Fletcher Christian had that morning contemplated making a raft and deserting the ship by paddling around 30 nautical miles (56 km; 35 mi) to the nearby island of Tofua.[8] Instead he and several of his followers entered Bligh's cabin, which he always left unlocked. Bligh was awakened and, wearing only his nightshirt, pushed on deck where he was guarded by Christian holding a bayonet. When Bligh entreated Christian to be reasonable, Christian would only reply: "I am in hell, I am in hell!" Despite strong words and threats on both sides, the ship was taken bloodlessly and apparently without struggle by any of the loyalists except Bligh himself. Of the 42 men on board aside from Bligh and Christian, 18 joined the mutiny, two were passive, and 22 remained loyal to Bligh.

The mutineers ordered Bligh, the ship's master, two midshipmen, the surgeon's mate (Ledward), and the ship's clerk into Bounty's launch. Several more men voluntarily joined Bligh rather than remaining aboard, as they knew that those who remained on board would be considered de jure mutineers under the Articles of War.

Bligh's epic voyage[edit]

William Bligh in 1814, many years after the events described here.

In all, eighteen of the loyal crew were in the launch with Bligh; four other loyalists were forced to stay with the eighteen mutineers and two passive crew. Bligh and his crew headed for Tofua (in a bay that they subsequently called "Murderers' Cove") to augment their meager provisions.[9] The only casualty during this voyage was a crewman, John Norton, who was stoned to death by some natives of Tofua.

Bligh then navigated the 23-foot (7 m) open launch on a 47-day voyage to Timor in the Dutch East Indies. Equipped with a quadrant and a pocket watch and with no charts or compass, he recorded the distance as 3,618 nautical miles (6,701 km; 4,164 mi). He was chased by cannibals in what is now known as Bligh Water, Fiji, and passed through the Torres Strait along the way, landing in Kupang, Timor, on 14 June.[10] Shortly after the launch reached Timor, the cook and botanist died. Three other crewmen died in the coming months.

Lieutenant Bligh returned to Britain and reported the mutiny to the Admiralty on 15 March 1790, 2 years and 11 weeks after leaving England.

Mutineers in Tahiti[edit]

Meanwhile, the mutineers sailed for the island of Tubuai, where they tried to settle. After three months of being attacked by the island's natives they returned to Tahiti. Twelve of the mutineers and the four loyalists who had been unable to accompany Bligh remained there, taking their chances that the Royal Navy would not find them and bring them to justice.

Two of the mutineers died in Tahiti between 1789 and 1790. Matthew Thompson shot Charles Churchill and was subsequently stoned to death by Churchill's Tahitian family in an act of vendetta.

Last voyage of Pandora[edit]

HMS Pandora in the act of foundering
by Robert Batty

HMS Pandora, under the command of Captain Edward Edwards, was dispatched on 7 November 1790 to search for Bounty and the mutineers. Pandora carried twice the normal complement of master's mates, petty officers, and midshipmen, as it was expected that the extras would man Bounty when she was recovered from the mutineers.

Pandora reached Tahiti on 23 March 1791. Four of the men from Bounty came on board Pandora soon after her arrival, and ten more were arrested within a few weeks. These fourteen, mutineers and loyal crew alike, were imprisoned in a makeshift cell on Pandora's deck, which they derisively called "Pandora's Box".

On 8 May 1791, Pandora left Tahiti, spending about three months visiting islands to the west of Tahiti in search of Bounty and the remaining mutineers, without finding anything except flotsam (including some spars and a yard on Palmerston Island). Heading west through the Torres Strait, Pandora ran aground on a reef (part of the Great Barrier Reef) on 29 August 1791. The ship sank the next morning, and 31 of the crew and four of the prisoners (Skinner, Sumner, Stewart, and Hillbrandt) were lost. The remaining 89 of the ship's company and ten prisoners (released from their cell at the last moment by William Moulter, a boatswain's mate on the Pandora[11]) assembled in four small launches, and sailed for Timor, in a voyage similar to that of Bligh. They arrived at Timor on 16 September 1791.


Peter Heywood, Captain Royal Navy.

After being repatriated to Britain, the ten surviving prisoners were tried by a naval court. During the trial, great importance was attached to which men had been seen to be holding weapons during the critical moments of the mutiny, as under the Articles of War, failure to act when able to prevent a mutiny was considered no different from being an active mutineer. In the judgement delivered on 18 September 1792, four men whom Bligh had designated as innocent were acquitted. Two were found guilty, but pardoned; one of these was Peter Heywood, who later rose to the rank of captain himself; the second was James Morrison, who also continued his naval career and died at sea. Another was reprieved due to a legal technicality and later also received a pardon. The other three men, John Millward, Thomas Burkett and Thomas Ellison were convicted, and hanged aboard HMS Brunswick on 29 October 1792. They were buried at Haslar Hospital in Gosport, Hampshire. In other trials, both Bligh and Edwards were court-martialled for the loss of their ships (an automatic proceeding under British naval law, and not indicative of any particular suspicion of guilt). Both were acquitted.

Bligh resumed his naval career and went on to attain the rank of Vice Admiral. His career was marked by another insurrection. In 1808, while Bligh was Governor of New South Wales, troops of New South Wales arrested him in an incident known as the Rum Rebellion.

Second breadfruit expedition[edit]

Even before Edwards had returned from his search for Bounty, HMS Providence and her tender Assistant began a second voyage to collect breadfruit trees on 3 August 1791. This mission was again championed by Joseph Banks and again commanded by Bligh, now promoted from Lieutenant to Captain. On this second voyage, they collected 2,126 breadfruit plants and hundreds of other botanical specimens. Departing Tahiti on 19 July 1792, Bligh once again successfully navigated the Torres Strait, and delivered the breadfruit to the West Indies. The slaves on Jamaica, however, refused to eat the breadfruit, so the main purpose of the expedition was initially a failure. However, breadfruit is today a staple in Jamaica.

Mutineers on Pitcairn Island[edit]

Map showing Bounty's movements in the Pacific Ocean, 1788–1790
  Voyage of Bounty to Tahiti and to location of the mutiny, 28 April 1789
  Movements of Bounty after the mutiny, under Christian's command
  Course of Bligh's open-boat journey to Coupang
Rudder in the Fiji Museum

Immediately after setting sixteen men ashore in Tahiti in September 1789,[12] Fletcher Christian, eight other crewmen,[13] six Tahitian men, and 18 women, one with a baby,[14] set sail in the Bounty hoping to elude the Royal Navy. According to a journal kept by Edward Young, one of the mutineers, all but three of the Tahitian "women brought to Pitcairn had been kidnapped"[14] when Christian set sail without warning them, the purpose being to kidnap the women.

The mutineers passed through the Fiji and Cook Islands, but feared that they would be found there. Continuing their quest for a safe haven, on 15 January 1790, they rediscovered Pitcairn Island, which had been misplaced on the Royal Navy's charts. After the decision was made to settle on Pitcairn, livestock and other provisions were removed from Bounty. To prevent the ship's detection, and anyone's possible escape, the ship was burned on 23 January 1790 in what is now called Bounty Bay. Some of her remains, such as her ballast stones, are still partially visible in its waters. Her rudder is displayed in the Fiji Museum in Suva. An anchor of Bounty was recovered by Luis Marden in Bounty Bay in 1957.

The Pitcairn Island community began life with bright prospects. There was ample food, water, and land for everyone, and the climate was mild. Although many of the Polynesians were homesick, and the Britons knew they were marooned on Pitcairn forever, they settled into life on Pitcairn fairly quickly. A number of children were born.

At the time the community on Pitcairn was first visited by outsiders, John Adams "was the sole surviving mutineer".[15] Little is agreed upon regarding Fletcher Christian's role once the mutineers were established on Pitcairn Island. Adams claimed "Christian 'was always cheerful'" but also claimed Christian would: "retreat and brood [in a cave, and] had 'by many acts of cruelty and inhumanity, brought on himself the hatred and detestation of his companions.'"[16] Adams variously claimed that Christian had been killed "in a single massacre that occurred on the island about four years after arrival" and that Christian had "committed suicide".[16] Adams at another point claimed the "mutineers had divided into parties, 'seeking every opportunity on both sides to put each other to death.'"[17] While the details were inconsistent, Adams usually agreed with the journal of Young: that Christian died as the result of a massacre: "The massacre ... had taken place in several waves of violence, and principally arose from the fact that the Englishmen had come to regard their [Tahitian] friends as slaves."[18] The women, "passed around from one 'husband' to the other, as men died and the balance of power shifted", eventually "rebelled" as well.[19]

Death of Fletcher Christian[edit]

In 1793, a conflict broke out on Pitcairn Island between the mutineers and the Tahitian men who sailed with them. Fletcher Christian and four of the mutineers (Jack Williams, Isaac Martin, John Mills, and William Brown) were killed by the Tahitians. All six of the Tahitian men were killed during the on-and-off fighting, some by the widows of the murdered mutineers and others by each other.

Fletcher Christian was survived by Maimiti and their son Thursday October Christian (sometimes called "Friday October Christian"). Rumours persisted that Christian left the island and made it back to England. There are other reports that Christian actually committed suicide.

Christian's death caused a leadership vacuum on the island. Two of the four surviving mutineers, Ned Young and John Adams (also known as Alexander Smith), assumed leadership, and some peace followed, until William McCoy created a still and began brewing an alcoholic beverage from a native plant. The mutineers began drinking excessively and making life miserable for the women.

The women revolted a number of times—with the men continually "granting pardons" (each time threatening to execute the leaders of the next revolt)—and some of the women attempted to leave the island on a makeshift raft; it swamped in the "bay". Life in Pitcairn continued thus until the deaths of McCoy and Quintal, and the destruction of the still.

William McCoy died after a drunken fall. Matthew Quintal was subsequently killed by John Adams and Ned Young after threatening to kill everyone. Eventually John Adams and Ned Young were reconciled with the women, and the community began to flourish.

Ned Young succumbed in 1800 to asthma, the first man to die of natural causes. After Young's death in 1800, Adams became the leader of the community, and took responsibility for educating its members. Adams started holding regular Sunday services and teaching the Christian religion to the settlement. His gentleness and tolerance enabled the small community to thrive, and peace was restored to Pitcairn Island, with the population measuring one man, nine Tahitian women and dozens of children.

Later contacts[edit]

The islanders reported that it was not until 27 December 1795 that the first ship after Bounty was seen from the island, but as she did not approach the land, they could not make out to what nation she belonged. A second appeared some time in 1801, but did not attempt to communicate with them. A third came sufficiently near to see their habitations, but did not venture to send a boat ashore.[20][21]

The American trading ship Topaz, under the command of Mayhew Folger, was the first to visit the island and communicate with the inhabitants when the crew spent 10 hours at Pitcairn in February 1808. A report of Folger's find was forwarded to the Admiralty—which mentioned the discovery and the position of the island at latitude 25° 2' south and longitude 130° west;[22] however, this rediscovery was not known to Sir Thomas Staines, who commanded a Royal Navy flotilla of two ships (HMS Briton and HMS Tagus), which found the island at 25° 4' S. (by meridian observation) on 17 September 1814. Staines sent a party ashore and wrote a detailed report for the Admiralty.[20][21][23] In November 2009 a logbook kept by midshipman J.B. Hoodthorp of HMS Briton detailing the first contact with the mutineers was auctioned for over £40,000 by Cheffin's Auction House in Cambridge.[24]

In 1808, when Topaz reached Pitcairn Island, only John Adams, nine women, and some children still lived. In 1825, Adams was granted amnesty for his mutiny; Pitcairn's capital, Adamstown, is named for him. On 30 November 1838, the Pitcairn Islands (which include the uninhabited islands of Henderson, Ducie and Oeno) were incorporated into the British Empire. In 1856, the British government granted Norfolk Island to the Pitcairners for settlement since population growth was rendering their original refuge uninhabitable.

The Pitcairn Islands are a British Overseas Territory with a population of about 48.[25] Bounty Day is celebrated on 23 January by Pitcairn Islanders in commemoration of the 1790 burning of the Bounty, and on 8 June as the national holiday on Norfolk Island to commemorate the 1856 arrival of settlers from Pitcairn Island.

Mission details[edit]

The details of the voyage of HMAV Bounty are very well documented, largely due to the effort of William Bligh to maintain an accurate log before, during, and after the actual mutiny. Bounty's crew list is also well chronicled, down to and including the names of every seaman on board, something which larger ships in the rating system only occasionally were capable of due to crews in the hundreds whereas the Bounty carried fewer than fifty personnel.

Mission log[edit]

  • 1787
    • 16 August: William Bligh is ordered to command a breadfruit gathering expedition to Tahiti
    • 3 September: HMAV Bounty launched from the drydock at Deptford
    • 4–9 October: Bounty navigated with a partial crew to an ammunition loading station, south of Deptford
    • 10–12 October: Onload of arms and weapons at Long Reach
    • 15 October – 4 November: Navigated to Spithead for final crew and stores onload
    • 29 November: Made anchor at St Helens, Isle of Wight
    • 23 December: Departed English waters for Tahiti
  • 1788
  • 1789
    • 4 April: Weighed anchor from Huahine
    • 23–25 April: Anchored for provisions off Annamooka (Tonga)
    • 26 April: Departed Annamooka for the West Indies
    • 28 April: Mutiny on the Bounty. Captain Bligh and loyal crew members set adrift in Bounty's launch
  • From this point, Captain Bligh's mission log reflects the voyage of the Bounty launch towards the Dutch East Indies.
    • 29 April: Bounty launch arrives at Tofua
    • 2 May: Bounty launch castaways flee Tofua after being attacked by natives
    • 28 May: Landfall on a small island north of New Hebrides. Named "Restoration Island" by Captain Bligh
    • 30–31 May: Bounty launch transits to a second nearby island, named "Sunday Island"
    • 1–2 June: Bounty launch transits forty two miles to a third island, named "Turtle Island"
    • 3 June: Bounty launch sails into the open ocean towards Australia
    • 13 June: Bounty launch lands at Timor
    • 14 June: Launch castaways circle Timor and land at Coupang. Mutiny is reported to Dutch authorities
  • Captain Bligh's mission log from this point reflects his return to England onboard various merchant vessels and sailing ships.
    • 20 August – 10 September: Sailed via schooner to Pasuruan, Java
    • 11–12 September: In transit to Surabaya
    • 15–17 September: In transit to the town of Crissey, Madura Strait
    • 18–22 September: In transit to Semarang
    • 26 September – 1 October: In transit to Batavia (Jakarta)
    • 16 October: Sailed for Europe on board the Dutch packet SS Vlydte
    • 16 December: Arrived Cape of Good Hope
  • 1790
    • 13 January: Sailed from Cape of Good Hope for England
    • 13 March: Arrived Portsmouth Harbour

Crew list[edit]

Page one of Bligh's list of mutineers – starting with Fletcher Christian.

In the 18th century Royal Navy, rank and position on board ship was defined by a mix of two hierarchies, an official hierarchy of ranks (commissioned officers, warrant officers, petty officers and seamen) and a conventionally recognized social divide between gentlemen and non-gentlemen. Royal Navy uniforms were often used to denote rank and position on board ships; however, due to the lengthy and isolated voyage of the Bounty, uniforms were not worn daily on board while the ship was underway.

At the top of the official rank hierarchy were the commissioned officers – on a larger warship, the commissioned officers included the captain, several lieutenants to command watches, and the officers commanding the Royal Marines on board the ship. The Bounty, however, carried no marines, and no commissioned officers other than Lieutenant Bligh himself, who served as master and commander of the ship. As he was effectively the captain, he occupied a private cabin.

Next below the commissioned officers came the warrant officers, such as the sailing master, surgeon, boatswain, purser and gunner, who were as likely to be considered skilled tradesmen as gentlemen. As the senior warrant officer, the sailing master and his mates were entitled to berth with the lieutenants in the wardroom (though in this case there were no lieutenants there); other warrant officers berthed in the gunroom. Like commissioned officers, warrant officers had the right of access to the quarterdeck and were immune from punishment by flogging. They held their warrants directly from the navy, and the captain could not alter their rank. Roman Catholics were allowed to serve as warrant officers, but not as commissioned officers.

Below the warrant officers came the petty officers. The petty officers included two separate groups: young gentlemen training to be future commissioned officers, often serving as midshipmen or master's mates, and tradesmen working as skilled assistants to the warrant officers. Although the young gentlemen technically were ratings, holding a rank below warrant officers at the mercy of the captain, as aspiring future commissioned officers they were considered socially superior and were often given a watch (with authority over some warrant officers) or a minor command.

Finally, at the bottom of the hierarchical tree, were the seamen, divided into able seamen and ordinary seamen. Aboard some vessels, an even lower grade existed called landsman, who were seamen-in-training with very little or no naval skill. On board the Bounty, due to the vessel's long and fairly important mission, the only seamen mustered into the crew were able seamen – the ship did not carry any ordinary seamen or landsmen.

Note, however, that the young gentlemen might also be rated as seamen rather than midshipmen on the ship's books; though they were still considered the social superiors of the seamen, petty officers (excluding other young gentlemen) and most warrant officers and could be given authority over them.

In the immediate wake of the mutiny, all but four of the loyal crew joined Captain Bligh in the long boat for the voyage to Timor, and eventually made it safely back to England unless otherwise noted in the table below. Four were detained against their will on Bounty for their needed skills and for lack of space on the long boat. The mutineers first returned to Tahiti, where most of the survivors were later captured by Pandora and taken to England for trial. Nine mutineers continued their flight from the law and eventually settled Pitcairn Island, where all but one died before their fate became known to the outside world.

Crew of the Bounty in 1788–89
Category Name Position Mutiny
Lieutenant William Bligh Commanding Lieutenant Also Acting Purser;[26] died in London on 6 December 1817
Wardroom Officers John Fryer Sailing Master loyal went with Bligh; arrived safely in England; died at Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk on 26 May 1817
Fletcher Christian Master's Mate
promoted mid-cruise to
Acting Lieutenant
mutinied to Pitcairn; killed 20 September 1793
William Elphinstone Master's Mate loyal went with Bligh; died in Batavia October 1789
Thomas Huggan Surgeon died in Tahiti 9 December 1788 before mutiny
Cockpit Officers John Hallett Midshipman loyal went with Bligh; arrived safely in England; died 1794 of illness
Thomas Hayward Midshipman loyal went with Bligh; arrived safely in England; died 1798 in shipwreck
Thomas Ledward Surgeon's Mate loyal went with Bligh; promoted to Surgeon after death of Thomas Huggan; presumed lost at sea in sinking of Welfare 1789 but reported to have been ship surgeon on HMS Discovery in 1791 and died several years later
John Samuel Clerk loyal went with Bligh; arrived safely in England
Warrant Officers William Cole Boatswain loyal went with Bligh; arrived safely in England
Charles Churchill Master-at-Arms
(Ship's Corporal)
mutinied to Tahiti; murdered by Matthew Thompson in Tahiti April 1790 prior to trial
William Peckover Gunner loyal went with Bligh; arrived safely in England
Joseph Coleman Armourer loyal detained on Bounty against his will; to Tahiti; tried and acquitted
Peter Linkletter Quartermaster loyal went with Bligh; died in Batavia October 1789
John Norton Quartermaster loyal went with Bligh; killed by natives in Tofua 2 May 1789
Lawrence LeBogue Sailmaker loyal went with Bligh; arrived safely in England – did join Bligh on the second breadfruit expedition
Henry Hillbrandt Cooper mutinied to Tahiti; drowned in irons during wreck of Pandora 29 August 1791
William Purcell Carpenter loyal went with Bligh; arrived safely in England; reportedly died in Haslar hospital 10 March 1834 – last survivor of the Bounty crew
David Nelson Botanist
loyal went with Bligh; died 20 July 1789 at Coupang
mustered as
Able Seamen
Peter Heywood Midshipman mutinied detained against will (?) on Bounty; to Tahiti; sentenced to death, but pardoned; aka Roger Byam in novels by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall
George Stewart Midshipman loyal detained against will on Bounty; to Tahiti; killed after being hit by gangway at wreck of Pandora 29 August 1791
Robert Tinkler Midshipman loyal went with Bligh; arrived safely in England
Ned Young Midshipman mutinied to Pitcairn; died 25 December 1800
James Morrison Boatswain's Mate mutinied stayed on Bounty; to Tahiti; sentenced to death, but pardoned. Lost on HMS Blenheim 1807
George Simpson Quartermaster's Mate loyal went with Bligh; arrived safely in England
John Williams Armourer's Mate mutinied to Pitcairn; killed 20 September 1793
Thomas McIntosh Carpenter's Mate loyal detained against will on Bounty; to Tahiti; tried and acquitted
Charles Norman Carpenter's Mate loyal detained against will on Bounty; to Tahiti; tried and acquitted
John Mills Gunner's Mate mutinied to Pitcairn; killed 20 September 1793
William Muspratt Tailor mutinied to Tahiti; sentenced to death, but released on appeal and pardoned. Died on HMS Bellerophon 1797
John Smith Steward loyal went with Bligh; arrived safely in England – did join Bligh on the second breadfruit expedition
Thomas Hall Cook loyal went with Bligh; died from a tropical disease (probably malaria) in Batavia on 11 October 1789
Richard Skinner Barber mutinied to Tahiti; drowned in irons during wreck of Pandora 29 August 1791
William Brown Botanist's Assistant mutinied to Pitcairn; killed 20 September 1793
Robert Lamb Butcher loyal went with Bligh; died at sea en route Batavia to Cape Town
John Adams Able Seaman mutinied to Pitcairn; pardoned 1825, died 1829; aka Alexander Smith
Thomas Burkitt Able Seaman mutinied to Tahiti; condemned and hanged 29 October 1792 at Spithead
Michael Byrne Able Seaman loyal detained against will on Bounty; to Tahiti; tried and acquitted
Thomas Ellison Able Seaman mutinied to Tahiti; condemned and hanged 29 October 1792 at Spithead
Isaac Martin Able Seaman mutinied to Pitcairn; killed 20 September 1793
William McCoy Able Seaman mutinied to Pitcairn; committed suicide 1797/98
John Millward Able Seaman mutinied to Tahiti; condemned and hanged 29 October 1792 at Spithead
Matthew Quintal Able Seaman mutinied to Pitcairn; "executed" 1799 by Adams and Young
John Sumner Able Seaman mutinied to Tahiti; drowned in irons during wreck of Pandora 29 August 1791
Matthew Thompson Able Seaman mutinied to Tahiti; executed by Tahitians in April 1790 prior to trial after killing Charles Churchill
James Valentine Able Seaman died of scurvy at sea 9 October 1788 prior to mutiny; listed in some texts as an Ordinary Seaman

Crew members' biographical information may be found on the Bounty's Crew Encyclopedia page at the Pitcairn Islands Study Centre (PISC).

Discovery of the wreck[edit]

Luis Marden discovered the remains of Bounty in January 1957. After spotting a rudder from the ship in a museum on Fiji, he persuaded his editors and writers to let him dive off Pitcairn Island, where the rudder had been found. Despite the warnings of one islander – "Man, you gwen be dead as a hatchet!"[27] – Marden dived for several days in the dangerous swells near the island, and found the remains of the fabled ship. He subsequently met with Marlon Brando to counsel him on his role as Fletcher Christian in the 1962 film Mutiny on the Bounty. Later in life, Marden wore cuff links made of nails from the Bounty.

Recreation of the voyage[edit]

In April 2010, 221 years after the original voyage, a crew recreating Captain William Bligh's epic voyage after the mutiny on Bounty was set adrift in Tongan waters.[28] The expedition eschewed the use of modern technology including compasses and toilet paper, and only took the same provisions as were aboard the original ship. The expedition lasted 48 days – one day longer than the original voyage – and was led by Australian adventurer Don McIntyre on board the sailing ship the Talisker Bounty.[29][30]

Bounty on postage stamps[edit]

  • Pitcairn Island's first postage stamps were issued on 15 October 1940[31] with a portrait of the ship entitled "H.M. Armed Vessel Bounty" on the 6d stamp.
  • The third definitive issue of 1964 depicted "H.M. Armed Vessel Bounty" on the 1d denomination, changed to 1 cent in 1967.
  • In 1976, Bounty was shown as "H.M.S. Bounty" on the 10c stamp.
  • Bicentenary Sheetlets and first day covers were issued in 1990 depicting Bounty as "HMAV Bounty".
  • In 2004, a set of stamps and first day covers were issued to celebrate "HMAV Bounty", the 1979 replica then based in Sydney.
  • In 2007, a set of stamps and first day covers were issued to celebrate "HMS Bounty", the 1962 USA-based replica.

Fictional depictions[edit]

Actor Charles Laughton as Bligh in Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)

The story of the mutiny has been adapted numerous times to the page, the screen, and the stage.

Although William Bligh has frequently been portrayed as a middle-aged man in stage and screen productions about the Bounty, he was thirty-four years old at the time of the mutiny, having been born in 1754.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Blaydes – Summary". Retrieved 2007-05-13. 
  2. ^ "Exotische Pflanzen – Matrosen sind keine Gärtner". Mare via Spiegel Online (in German). 12 September 2010. Retrieved 6 September 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Hough, pp. 122–25
  4. ^ Alexander, pp. 115–120
  5. ^ a b Alexander, pp. 124–25
  6. ^ Hough, p. 132
  7. ^ Hough, p. 128
  8. ^ Hough, Richard (1994). Captain Cook: A Biography. Hodder and Staughton. p. 290. ISBN 9780340825563. 
  9. ^ Wahlroos, Sven. "Bligh Encyclopedia". Pitcairn Islands Study Center. Retrieved 2007-05-13. 
  10. ^ Toohey, John (March 2000). Captain Bligh's Portable Nightmare: From the Bounty to safety—4,162 Miles Across the Pacific in a Rowing Boat. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-019532-0. 
  11. ^ "The story of HMS Pandora [325KB]" (PDF). 
  12. ^ Alexander (Penguin Edition), p. 5
  13. ^ Alexander (Penguin Edition), p. 350
  14. ^ a b Alexander (Penguin Edition), p. 368
  15. ^ Alexander (Penguin Edition), p. 348
  16. ^ a b Alexander (Penguin Edition), p. 371
  17. ^ Alexander (Penguin Edition), pp. 371–372
  18. ^ Alexander (Penguin Edition), p. 365
  19. ^ Alexander (Penguin Edition), p. 369
  20. ^ a b History of Pitcairn Island, Pitcairn Study Center. Retrieved 15 September 2008
  21. ^ a b Pitcairn descendants of the Bounty Mutineers, Retrieved 15 September 2008.
  22. ^ The European Magazine, and London Review, Philological Society of London, 1816, Volume 69 (Jan. – June 1816) "Mutineers of the Bounty". p. 134
  23. ^ Staff. The Annual Biography and Obituary for the Year ..., Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1831, Volume 15 "Chapter X Sir Thomas Staines" pp. 366–367
  24. ^ Bounty logbook sells for £40,000.
  25. ^ "CIA World Factbook – Pitcairn Islands". The World Factbook. U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 26 February 2013. 
  26. ^ "Bounty's Crew Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2009-04-08. 
  27. ^ "National Geographic Icon Luis Marden Dies". National Geographic. 3 March 2003. Retrieved 2007-05-13. 
  28. ^ "Bounty expedition nears Australia". Australian Geographic. 28 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-28. 
  29. ^
  30. ^ "Safe Arrival in Kupang". Don McIntyre's blog. 16 June 2010. Retrieved 2011-09-24. 
  31. ^ "The Pitcairn Islands Philatelic Bureau". 
  32. ^


  • Alexander, Caroline (2003). The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty. Viking Penguin. ISBN 0-670-03133-X. 
  • Alexander, Caroline (2003). The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-200469-3. 
  • Bligh, William – Meuterei auf der Bounty, Erdmann Verlag Tuebingen . Description of actual travel logs by W. Bligh, published 1791 and 1793 by Georg Forster and his father in Berlin as "Magazin von merkwuerdigen neuen Reisebeschreibungen"
  • Conway, Christiane (2005). Letters from the Isle of Man – The Bounty-Correspondence of Nessy and Peter Heywood. Isle of Man: The Manx Experience. ISBN 1-873120-77-X. 
  • Dening, Greg (26 June 1992). Mr. Bligh's Bad Language: Passion, Power and Theatre on the Bounty. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-38370-7. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Replica vessels

Coordinates: 25°4′7.26″S 130°5′42.52″W / 25.0686833°S 130.0951444°W / -25.0686833; -130.0951444