John Fryer (Royal Navy officer)

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John Fryer
John Fryer.jpg
Born(1753-08-15)15 August 1753
Wells, Norfolk, England
Died26 May 1817(1817-05-26) (aged 63)
Wells, Norfolk, England
Allegiance United Kingdom
Branch Royal Navy
Service years1781–1812
RankSailing master
Notable eventMutiny on the Bounty

John Fryer (15 August 1753 – 26 May 1817) was the sailing master on HMS Bounty, a British vessel made famous by the Mutiny on the Bounty. He was a strong critic of both Lieutenant William Bligh and mutiny leader Fletcher Christian, at one time even accusing Bligh of favouring Christian. Despite his anger at Bligh, he did not support the mutiny.

Fryer was born at Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk. After his naval service, he returned to Wells, and his grave in the churchyard is now clearly identified. In 1787, Fryer was appointed master of HMS Bounty, with Fletcher Christian serving as master's mate. On 10 January 1788, Bligh put his crew on three watches, giving one of them to Christian, and on 2 March, promoted Christian to acting lieutenant. Some have speculated that this was the source of the ill-will that later developed between Fryer and Bligh. However, as a master, Fryer would never have been promoted to lieutenant at sea. Indeed, he never did become a lieutenant.

Fryer remained loyal, and accompanied Bligh in reaching Timor. Bligh's account of the mutiny vilified Fryer, but Fryer gave fair evidence at Bligh's court-martial. Edward Christian, Fletcher's brother, was assisted by Fryer in publishing a counterweight to Bligh's version. Fryer never received promotion, but served in the Royal Navy until 1812.[1]

Fryer has been portrayed by three actors in various film portrayals of the mutiny on the Bounty. In the 1935 film, he was played by DeWitt Jennings, while Eddie Byrne portrayed him in the 1962 version of Mutiny on the Bounty. Daniel Day-Lewis portrayed him in the 1984 film The Bounty.


  1. ^ "Navy List". Archived from the original on 16 May 2011. Retrieved 17 February 2011.

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