Complement of HMS Bounty

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HMS Bounty's commander Lieutenant William Bligh, as painted by John Webber in 1775

The complement of HMS Bounty, the Royal Navy ship on which a historic mutiny occurred in the south Pacific on 28 April 1789, comprised 46 men on its departure from England in December 1787 and 44 at the time of the mutiny, including her commander Lieutenant William Bligh.[1] All but two of those aboard were Royal Navy personnel; the exceptions were two civilian botanists engaged to supervise the breadfruit plants Bounty was tasked to take from Tahiti to the West Indies.[2] Of the 44 aboard at the time of the mutiny, 19 (including Bligh) were set adrift in the ship's launch, while 25, a mixture of mutineers and detainees, remained on board under Fletcher Christian.[1] Bligh led his loyalists 3,500 nautical miles (6,500 km; 4,000 mi) to safety in the open boat, and ultimately back to England.[3] The mutineers divided—most settled on Tahiti, where they were captured by HMS Pandora in 1791 and returned to England for trial, while Christian and eight others evaded discovery on Pitcairn Island.[4]

The Admiralty rated Bounty as a cutter, the smallest category of warship—this meant that she was commanded not by a captain but by a lieutenant, with no other commissioned officers aboard, and without the usual detachment of Royal Marines that ships' commanders could use to enforce their authority.[5] Directly beneath Bligh in the chain of command were his warrant officers, appointed by the Navy Board and headed by the sailing master John Fryer.[2] The other warrant officers were the boatswain, the surgeon, the carpenter, and the gunner.[6] Two master's mates and two midshipmen were rated as petty officers; to these were added several honorary midshipmen—so-called "young gentlemen" who aspired to naval careers. They signed on the ship's roster as able seamen, but were quartered with the midshipmen and treated on equal terms with them.[7]

Most on Bounty were chosen by Bligh, or were recommended to him. However, a draft list of the crew before the voyage includes several who did not sail, including two pressed men who are thought to have deserted.[8] Of the eventual crew William Peckover, the gunner, and Joseph Coleman, the armourer, had been with Bligh when he was Captain James Cook's sailing master on HMS Resolution during the explorer's third voyage (1776–80).[9] Several others had sailed under Bligh more recently, including Christian, who had twice voyaged with Bligh to the West Indies on the merchantman Britannia. The two had formed a master-pupil relationship through which Christian had become a highly skilled navigator;[10] Bligh gave him one of the master's mate's berths on Bounty,[10] and in March 1788 promoted him to the rank of Acting Lieutenant, effectively making Christian second-in-command.[11] Another of the young gentlemen recommended to Bligh was 15-year-old Peter Heywood, a Manxman and a distant relation of Christian's.[12] His recommendation came from Bligh's father-in-law, who was a Heywood family friend.[7]

The two botanists, or "gardeners", were chosen by Sir Joseph Banks, the president of the Royal Society and the expedition's chief promoter. The chief botanist, David Nelson, was another veteran of Cook's third voyage and had learned some of the Tahitians' language.[13] Nelson's assistant, William Brown, was a former midshipman who had seen naval action against the French.[9] Banks also helped to secure the midshipmen's berths for two of his protégés, Thomas Hayward and John Hallett.[14] Overall, Bounty's crew was relatively youthful, the majority being under 30.[15] At the time of departure Bligh was 33 years old and Fryer a year older. Among the older crew members were the gunner, William Peckover, who had sailed on all three of Cook's voyages, and Lawrence Lebogue, formerly sailmaker on the Britannia. The youngest aboard were Hallett and Heywood, who were both 15 when they left England.[16]

Complement[edit]

Name Rank or function Loyalist
or mutineer
Activity post-mutiny Fate
William Bligh Lieutenant, Royal Navy: Ship's captain Open boat voyage Safe return
John Fryer Warrant officer: Sailing master Loyalist Open boat voyage Safe return
William Cole Warrant officer: Boatswain Loyalist Open boat voyage Safe return
William Peckover Warrant officer: Gunner Loyalist Open boat voyage Safe return
William Purcell Warrant officer: Carpenter Loyalist Open boat voyage Safe return
Thomas Huggan Ship's surgeon Died in Tahiti before mutiny
Fletcher Christian Master's mate
Acting Lieutenant from March 1788
Mutineer Sailed to Pitcairn Murdered on Pitcairn, 1793
William Elphinstone Master's mate Loyalist Open boat voyage Died in Batavia, 1789
Thomas Ledward Surgeon's mate Loyalist Open boat voyage Died en route home from Batavia, c. 1789
John Hallett Midshipman Loyalist Open boat voyage Safe return
Thomas Hayward Midshipman Loyalist Open boat voyage Safe return
Peter Heywood Honorary midshipman Mutineer Settled Tahiti Captured, convicted, pardoned
George Stewart Honorary midshipman Mutineer Settled Tahiti Captured, drowned on Pandora
Robert Tinkler Honorary midshipman Loyalist Open boat voyage Safe return
Edward "Ned" Young Honorary midshipman Mutineer Sailed to Pitcairn Died on Pitcairn, 1800
Peter Linkletter Quartermaster Loyalist Open boat voyage Died in Batavia, 1789
John Norton Quartermaster Loyalist Open boat voyage Killed in attack on open boat at Tofua
George Simpson Quartermaster's mate Loyalist Open boat voyage Safe return
James Morrison Boatswain's mate Mutineer Settled Tahiti Captured, convicted, pardoned
John Mills Gunner's mate Mutineer Sailed to Pitcairn Murdered on Pitcairn, 1793
Charles Norman Carpenter's mate Loyalist (detained) Settled Tahiti Captured, tried, acquitted
Thomas McIntosh Carpenter's mate Loyalist (detained) Settled Tahiti Captured, tried, acquitted
Lawrence Lebogue Sailmaker Loyalist Open boat voyage Safe return
Charles Churchill Master-at-arms Mutineer Settled Tahiti Murdered in Tahiti, c. 1790
Joseph Coleman Armourer Loyalist (detained) Settled Tahiti Captured, tried, acquitted
John Samuel Captain's clerk Loyalist Open boat voyage Safe return
John Smith Captain's servant Loyalist Open boat voyage Safe return
Henry Hillbrant Cooper Mutineer Settled Tahiti Captured, drowned on Pandora
Thomas Hall Cook Loyalist Open boat voyage Died in Batavia, 1789
Robert Lamb Butcher Loyalist Open boat voyage Died in Batavia, 1789
William Muspratt Assistant cook Mutineer Settled Tahiti Captured, convicted, pardoned
Thomas Burkett Able seaman Mutineer Settled Tahiti Captured, convicted, executed
Michael Byrne (or "Byrn") Able seaman – musician Loyalist (detained) Settled Tahiti Captured, tried, acquitted
Thomas Ellison Able seaman Mutineer Settled Tahiti Captured, convicted, executed
William McCoy (or "McKoy") Able seaman Mutineer Sailed to Pitcairn Died on Pitcairn, c. 1796
Isaac Martin Able seaman Mutineer Sailed to Pitcairn Murdered on Pitcairn, 1793
John Millward Able seaman Mutineer Settled Tahiti Captured, convicted, executed
Matthew Quintal Able seaman Mutineer Sailed to Pitcairn Murdered on Pitcairn, 1797
Richard Skinner Able seaman Mutineer Settled Tahiti Captured, drowned on Pandora
John Adams ("Alexander Smith") Able seaman Mutineer Sailed to Pitcairn Died on Pitcairn, 1829
John Sumner Able seaman Mutineer Settled Tahiti Captured, drowned on Pandora
Matthew Thompson Able seaman Mutineer Settled Tahiti Murdered in Tahiti, c. 1790
James Valentine Able seaman Died on Bounty before mutiny
John Williams Able seaman Mutineer Sailed to Pitcairn Murdered on Pitcairn, 1793
David Nelson Botanist (civilian) Loyalist Open boat voyage Died in Coupang, 1789
William Brown Assistant gardener (civilian) Mutineer Sailed to Pitcairn Murdered on Pitcairn, 1793
[1]

Notes and references[edit]

References

  1. ^ a b c Bligh 1792, pp. 158–160; Hough 1972, pp. 76–77; Alexander 2003, frontispiece.
  2. ^ a b McKinney 1999, pp. 164–166.
  3. ^ Hough 1972, pp. 165–189, 215.
  4. ^ Hough 1972, pp. 243–246.
  5. ^ Alexander 2003, pp. 49, 71.
  6. ^ Alexander 2003, p. 51.
  7. ^ a b Hough 1972, p. 74.
  8. ^ Alexander 2003, p. 54.
  9. ^ a b Alexander 2003, p. 56.
  10. ^ a b Hough 1972, pp. 75–76.
  11. ^ Alexander 2003, pp. 86–87.
  12. ^ Alexander 2003, pp. 63–65.
  13. ^ Hough 1972, pp. 67–68.
  14. ^ Alexander 2003, p. 68.
  15. ^ McKinney 1999, p. 23.
  16. ^ McKinney 1999, pp. 17–23, 164–166.

Bibliography