Complement of HMS Bounty
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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
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. 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. The other warrant officers were the boatswain, the surgeon, the carpenter, and the gunner. 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.
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. 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). 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; Bligh gave him one of the master's mate's berths on Bounty, and in March 1788 promoted him to the rank of Acting Lieutenant, effectively making Christian second-in-command. Another of the young gentlemen recommended to Bligh was 15-year-old Peter Heywood, a Manxman and a distant relation of Christian's. His recommendation came from Bligh's father-in-law, who was a Heywood family friend.
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. Nelson's assistant, William Brown, was a former midshipman who had seen naval action against the French. Banks also helped to secure the midshipmen's berths for two of his protégés, Thomas Hayward and John Hallett. Overall, Bounty's crew was relatively youthful, the majority being under 30. 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.
|Name||Rank or function||Loyalist
|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|
Notes and references
- Bligh 1792, pp. 158–160; Hough 1972, pp. 76–77; Alexander 2003, frontispiece.
- McKinney 1999, pp. 164–166.
- Hough 1972, pp. 165–189, 215.
- Hough 1972, pp. 243–246.
- Alexander 2003, pp. 49, 71.
- Alexander 2003, p. 51.
- Hough 1972, p. 74.
- Alexander 2003, p. 54.
- Alexander 2003, p. 56.
- Hough 1972, pp. 75–76.
- Alexander 2003, pp. 86–87.
- Alexander 2003, pp. 63–65.
- Hough 1972, pp. 67–68.
- Alexander 2003, p. 68.
- McKinney 1999, p. 23.
- McKinney 1999, pp. 17–23, 164–166.
- Alexander, Caroline (2003). The Bounty. London: Harper Collins. ISBN 978-0-00-257221-7.
- Bligh, William (1792). A Voyage to the South Sea, etc. London: Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty.
- Hough, Richard (1972). Captain Bligh and Mr Christian: The Men and the Mutiny. London: Hutchinsons. ISBN 978-0-09-112860-9.
- McKinney, Sam (1999) . Bligh!: The Whole Story of the Mutiny Aboard H.M.S. Bounty. Victoria, British Columbia: TouchWood Editions. ISBN 978-0-920663-64-6.