Mutiny on the Bounty
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The Mutiny on the Bounty[n 1] was a mutiny aboard the Royal Navy ship HMS Bounty in the south Pacific on 28 April 1789. Disaffected crewmen, led by Acting Lieutenant Fletcher Christian, seized control of the ship from their captain Lieutenant William Bligh and turned him and 18 loyalists afloat in Bounty's open launch. The mutineers variously settled on Tahiti or on Pitcairn Island, where Christian's group burned Bounty in January 1790; Bligh meanwhile undertook an epic voyage to Timor in the launch, using only a sextant and a compass to navigate what he recorded as 3,618 nautical miles (6,701 km; 4,164 mi).
Tasked to transport breadfruit plants from Tahiti to the West Indies, Bounty left England in December 1787. During the ten-month outward voyage Bligh promoted the master's mate Christian to be second-in-command. The need for the plants to mature before transport necessitated a five-month layover in Tahiti, during which the crew lived ashore with Bligh's approval; many of them formed sexual attachments with native Polynesians. Relations between Bligh and his crew disintegrated after he began handing out harsh punishments and oral criticisms, particularly targeting Christian. Three seamen deserted on Tahiti, but were quickly recovered. About three weeks after Bounty left Tahiti, Christian successfully mounted a mutiny.
Bligh returned to England in March 1790 and seven months later was formally acquitted of any responsibility for Bounty's loss. The Admiralty despatched HMS Pandora to capture the mutineers, and Pandora reached Tahiti on 23 March 1791. Fourteen Bounty men were there and nine, including Christian, had moved on to Pitcairn. Within a week of Pandora 's arrival all 14 fugitives at Tahiti had been imprisoned in a makeshift cell on the ship'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 10 Bounty men were repatriated to England in 1792 and thereupon court martialled. Three were hanged, four were acquitted, and three were pardoned.
Christian's group remained undiscovered on Pitcairn until 1808, by which time only one mutineer, John Adams, remained alive. Apart from Ned Young, who died of natural causes in 1800, all the other Bounty men on Pitcairn, including Christian, had been killed—either by each other or by their Polynesian companions. The descendants of the mutineers and their Tahitian consorts live on Pitcairn to this day.
- 1 Background
- 2 Expedition
- 3 Mutiny
- 4 Aftermath
- 5 Admiralty reaction
- 6 Pitcairn
- 7 Cultural impact
- 8 See also
- 9 Notes and references
- 10 Further reading
- 11 External links
Bounty and her mission
His Majesty's Armed Vessel (HMAV) Bounty, or HMS Bounty, was built in 1784 at the Blaydes shipyard in Hull, Yorkshire, as a collier named Bethia. She was renamed after being purchased by the Royal Navy for £1,950 in May 1787. Three-masted, 91 feet (28 m) long overall and 25 feet (7.6 m) across at her widest point, Bounty was registered at 230 tons burthen. As an "armed vessel", she was equipped with four short four-pounder carriage guns and ten half-pounder swivel guns, supplemented by small arms such as muskets. She was rated by the Admiralty as a cutter, the smallest category of warship, which had implications for the ship's complement. A cutter was commanded not by a captain but by a lieutenant, who would be the only commissioned officer on board. Nor did a cutter warrant the usual detachment of Royal Marines, that ships' commanders could use to enforce their authority.[n 2]
Bounty had been acquired for a single mission—to transport breadfruit plants from Tahiti (then rendered "Otaheite"), one of the Society Islands in Polynesia in the south Pacific, to the British colonies in the West Indies. The expedition was promoted by the Royal Society and organised by its president Sir Joseph Banks, who shared the view of Caribbean plantation owners that breadfruit might grow well there and provide cheap food for the slaves. For the purposes of the mission Bounty was refitted under Banks's supervision at Deptford. The great cabin, normally the ship's captain's quarters, was converted into a greenhouse for over a thousand potted breadfruit plants, with glazed windows, skylights and a lead-covered deck and drainage system to prevent the wastage of fresh water used for feeding. The space required for these arrangements in the small ship meant that the crew and officers would endure severe overcrowding for the duration of the long voyage.
With Banks's agreement, command of the expedition was given to Lieutenant William Bligh, whose experiences included Captain James Cook's third and final voyage (1776–80) in which he had served as sailing master, or chief navigator, on HMS Resolution. Bligh was born in Plymouth in 1754, into a family of naval and military tradition—Admiral Sir Richard Rodney Bligh was his third cousin. Appointment to Cook's ship, at the age of 21, was a considerable honour, although Bligh believed that his contribution was not properly acknowledged in the official account of the expedition. On his return to England he served in a number of short-term naval assignments. With the ending of the American War of Independence in 1783, the navy was reduced in size, and Bligh found himself ashore on half-pay.
After a period of idleness, Bligh took temporary employment in the mercantile service and in 1785 was captain of the Britannia, a vessel owned by his wife's uncle Duncan Campbell. He returned in Britannia from the West Indies on 31 July 1787 to receive the news of his Bounty appointment, which he assumed on 16 August. Bligh accepted the prestigious assignment at a considerable financial cost; his lieutenant's pay of four shillings a day (£70 a year) contrasted with the £500 a year he had earned as captain of Britannia. Because of the limited number of warrant officers allowed, Bligh was also required to act as the ship's purser. His orders stated that he was to enter the Pacific via Cape Horn and then, after collecting the breadfruit plants, sail westward through the Endeavour Strait and across the Indian and Atlantic Oceans to the West Indies. Bounty would thus circumnavigate the Earth.
Bounty's complement was 46 men, comprising 44 Royal Navy seamen (including Bligh), and two civilian botanists. 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 of Bounty's crew were chosen by Bligh, or were recommended to him by influential patrons. However, a draft list of the crew before the voyage includes several names of men who did not ultimately 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 Cook and Bligh on HMS Resolution; several others had sailed under Bligh more recently, on the Britannia. Among these was Fletcher Christian, 23 years old, from a wealthy Cumberland family descended from Manx gentry. Christian had chosen a life at sea rather than the legal career envisaged by his family. Having twice voyaged with Bligh to the West Indies, he professed his willingness to serve on Bounty even without pay, as one of the "young gentlemen". Bligh and Christian had formed a master-pupil relationship on Britannia, so that the latter had become a highly skilled navigator. He was given one of the master's mate's berths. Another of the young gentlemen recommended to Bligh was 15-year-old Peter Heywood, also from a Manx family and a distant relation of Christian's. Heywood was determined on a sea career, and had left school at 14 to spend a year on HMS Powerful, a harbour-bound training vessel at Plymouth. His recommendation to Bligh came from Richard Betham, a family friend who was Bligh's father-in-law.
The two botanists, or "gardeners", were chosen by Banks. The chief botanist, David Nelson, was a veteran of Cook's third expedition who had been to Tahiti and had learned some of the natives' 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 more 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.
Living space on the ship was rigidly divided on the basis of rank. Bligh and Fryer each had small cabins, and the "non-gentlemen" warrant officers—the boatswain, the gunner and the carpenter—occupied the gunroom. The master's mates and the midshipmen, together with the young gentlemen, berthed together in the cockpit, and as junior or prospective officers were allowed use of the quarterdeck. The other ranks, 33 men altogether, had their quarters in the forecastle, a windowless unventilated area measuring 36 by 22 feet (11.0 by 6.7 m) with headroom of 5 feet 7 inches (1.70 m).
To Cape Horn
On 15 October 1787 Bounty left Deptford for Spithead, in the English Channel, where Bligh would await his final sailing orders.[n 3] Adverse winds and weather delayed their arrival at Spithead until 4 November. Bligh was anxious to depart quickly, to reach the southern ocean before the end of the short southern summer while passage around Cape Horn was still possible. However, the Admiralty did not accord high priority to the Bounty expedition, and delayed issuing the orders for a further three weeks. When Bounty finally sailed, on 28 November, the weather had changed; the ship was trapped by contrary winds and unable to proceed into the Channel. Only on 23 December was she able to get away. With the prospect of a passage around Cape Horn now in serious doubt, Bligh received permission from the Admiralty to take, if necessary, an alternative, longer route to Tahiti via the Cape of Good Hope.
As the ship settled into its sea-going routine, Bligh introduced Cook's strict discipline regarding sanitation and diet. According to the expedition's historian Sam McKinney, Bligh enforced these rules "with a fanatical zeal, continually fuss[ing] and fum[ing] over the cleanliness of his ship and the food served to the crew." For their exercise and entertainment he introduced regular music and dancing sessions. In organising the ship's daily timetable, Bligh chose to eschew the watch system traditionally used by the Royal Navy—two watches alternating on duty for four hours throughout the day and night—in favour of a three-watch system whereby each four-hour shift was followed by eight hours' rest. Bligh's despatches to Campbell and Banks expressed his satisfaction: "Both men and officers tractable and well disposed & cheerfulness & content in the countenance of every one". What had given him greatest pleasure, he added, was that he had not had occasion to administer any punishment. The only adverse feature of the voyage to date, Bligh considered, was the conduct of the surgeon, Thomas Huggan, who was revealed as an indolent, unhygienic drunkard.
From the start of the voyage, Bligh had established warm relations with Christian, according him a status that implied that he rather than Fryer was Bligh's second-in-command.[n 4] On 2 March Bligh formalised the position by promoting Christian to the rank of Acting Lieutenant.[n 5] Although Fryer showed little outward sign of resentment at his junior's advancement, his relations with Bligh significantly worsened from this point. A week after the promotion, on Fryer's insistence, Bligh was forced to order the flogging of Matthew Quintal, who received 12 lashes for "insolence and mutinous behaviour", thereby destroying Bligh's expressed hope of a voyage free from such punishment.
On 2 April, as Bounty approached Cape Horn, a strong gale and high seas heralded an unbroken period of stormy weather which, Bligh wrote, "exceeded what I had ever met with before ... with severe squalls of hail and sleet the remainder of this and all the next day." The winds drove the ship back; on 3 April she was further north than she had been a week earlier. Again and again Bligh forced the ship forward, to be repeatedly repelled. On 17 April he informed his exhausted crew that the sea had beaten them, and that they would turn and head for the Cape of Good Hope—"to the great joy of every person on Board", Bligh recorded.
Cape to Pacific
Bounty made a rapid passage across the Atlantic and arrived in False Bay, east of the Cape of Good Hope, on 24 May 1788. The ship was in need of considerable repair and reprovisioning, which occupied Bligh and the crew for more than five weeks. Bligh's letters home emphasised how fit and well he and his crew were, by comparison with other vessels, and that he should receive credit for it. At one stage during the sojourn, Bligh lent Christian money, a gesture that the historian Greg Dening suggests might have become a sources of anxiety and even resentment to the younger man. In her account of the voyage, Caroline Alexander describes the loan as "a significant act of friendship", but one which Bligh would not allow Christian to forget.
After leaving False Bay on 1 July, Bounty set out across the southern Indian Ocean on the long voyage to their next port of call, Adventure Bay in Tasmania. The only land sighted on the way was the remote Île Saint-Paul, a small uninhabited island which Bligh knew from earlier navigators contained fresh water and a hot spring. He did not attempt a landing, although his botanists would have welcomed a trip ashore. The weather was cold and wintry, conditions akin to the vicinity of Cape Horn, and it was difficult to take navigational observations, but Bligh's skill was such that on 19 August he sighted Mewstone Rock, on the south-west corner of Tasmania, and two days later made anchorage in Adventure Bay.
Bligh had visited Adventure Bay on Cook's expedition, and set up a temporary land base in Cook's old headquarters from where he supervised various tasks, mainly fishing, replenishment of water casks and the felling of timber. There were peaceful encounters with the native population. At this time the first sign of overt discord between Bligh and his officers occurred. The captain exchanged angry words with William Purcell, the carpenter, over the methods used in cutting wood.[n 6] Bligh ordered Purcell back to the ship, and when the carpenter stood his ground, Bligh withheld his rations "which immediately brought him to his senses".[n 7]
On the final leg of the journey, from Tasmania to Tahiti, further clashes occurred. On 9 October Fryer refused to routinely sign the ship's account books unless Bligh provided him with a certificate attesting to his complete competence throughout the voyage. Bligh would not be coerced; he summoned the crew and read the Articles of War, at which Fryer backed down. There was also trouble with the surgeon Huggan who, having through misdiagnosis probably hastened the death of a sick seaman, caused havoc by raising a false scare that members of the crew were suffering from scurvy. Huggan was almost paralytic with drink, until Bligh discovered his supply and confiscated it. Huggan briefly returned to duty; before Bounty's arrival in Tahiti, he examined all on board for signs of venereal disease, and found none. Bounty came to anchor in Matavai Bay, Tahiti on 26 October 1788, concluding a journey of 27,086 nautical miles (50,163 km; 31,170 mi).
Bligh's first actions on arrival in Tahiti was to make contact with the local chieftains, whose co-operation was essential to the success of his mission. The paramount chief, Tynah, remembered Bligh from Cook's voyage 15 years previously, and greeted him warmly. Bligh presented the chiefs with gifts, and informed them that their own "King George" wished in return only breadfruit plants. They happily agreed with this simple request. Bligh assigned Christian to lead a shore party charged with establishing a compound in which the plants would be nurtured.
Whether ashore or on board, the men's duties during Bounty's five-month stay in Tahiti were relatively light. Many led promiscuous lives among the native women—altogether, 18 officers and men, including Christian, received treatment for venereal infections—while others took regular partners thereof. Christian formed a close relationship with a Polynesian, Mauatua, to whom he gave the name "Isabella" after a former sweetheart from Cumberland. Bligh remained chaste himself, but was tolerant of such activities, unsurprised that his sailors should succumb to temptation when "the allurements of dissipation are beyond any thing that can be conceived". Nevertheless, he expected them to do their duty efficiently, and was disappointed to find that as the weeks passed instances of neglect and slackness on the part of his officers became increasingly common. Infuriated, he wrote: "Such neglectful and worthless petty officers I believe were never in a ship such as are in this".
Huggan died on 10 December. Bligh attributed this to "the effects of intemperance and indolence ... he never would be prevailed on to take half a dozen turns upon deck at a time, through the whole course of the voyage". Meanwhile, for all his earlier favoured status, Christian did not escape Bligh's wrath. He was often humiliated by the captain—sometimes in front of the crew and the Tahitians—for real or imagined slackness, while severe punishments were handed out to men whose carelessness had led to the loss or theft of equipment. Floggings, rarely administered during the outward voyage, now became increasingly common.
On 5 January three members of the crew—Charles Churchill, John Millward and William Muspratt—deserted, taking a small boat and quantities of arms and ammunition. Muspratt had recently been flogged for neglect. The three had absconded after the officer of the watch, Midshipman Hayward, had fallen asleep. Bligh had Hayward placed in irons, reduced him to the rank of seaman, and mounted a determined search for the missing men. Among the belongings Churchill had left on the ship, Bligh found a list of names that he interpreted as possible accomplices in a desertion plot. He would assert later that the names included those of Christian and Heywood. Bligh was persuaded that his protégé was not planning to desert, and the matter was dropped. Churchill, Millward and Muspratt were found after three weeks' absence and, on their return to the ship, flogged.
From February onwards the pace of work increased; more than 1,000 breadfruit plants were potted and carried into the ship, where they filled the great cabin. The ship itself was overhauled for the long homeward voyage, by men who in many cases regretted the forthcoming departure and loss of their easy life with the Tahitians. Bligh was impatient to be away, but as Richard Hough observes in his account, 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". By 1 April the work was done, and on 5 April 1789, after an affectionate farewell from Tynah and his queen, Bounty left the harbour.
In their respective Bounty histories, both Hough and Alexander accept that however regretful the men were to leave Tahiti, they were not at that point close to mutiny. The journal of James Morrison, the boatswain's mate, confirms this.[n 8] The fate of the the voyage, Hough suggests, was determined in the three weeks following the departure, during which time Bligh appeared to be periodically afflicted by bouts of anger and paranoia. Christian was a particular target, always seeming to bear the brunt of the the captain's rages. According to Alan Frost's biographical sketch, Bligh was "[entirely] unaware of the effect his mood swings and harsh criticisms had on those about him"; he was seemingly able to forget instantly these displays, and resume normal social intercourse.
On 22 April 1789 Bounty arrived at Nomuka, one of the Friendly Islands (now called Tonga), intending to pick up wood, water and further supplies on what he intended should be the final stop before the Endeavour Strait.[n 9] Bligh had visited the island with Cook, and knew that the inhabitants could behave unpredictably. He put Christian in charge of the watering party and equipped him with muskets—but ordered that they should be left in the boat, not carried. Christian's party was harassed and threatened continually, but having been denied the use of arms he was unable to retaliate. He returned to the ship with his task incomplete, and was cursed by Bligh as "a damned cowardly rascal". Further disorder ashore resulted in the thefts of a small anchor and an adze, for which Bligh berated Fryer and Christian. Amid the chaos, busy trading with the islanders ensured that large quantities of goods, including yams and coconuts, crowded Bounty's decks. In an attempt to recover the missing property, Bligh briefly detained the island's chieftains on the ship, but to no avail. When he finally gave the order to sail, neither the anchor nor the adze had been restored.
Christian was by now in a state of despair, depressed and brooding.[n 10] His mood was worsened when Bligh accused him of the theft of coconuts from the captain's private supply. Bligh used this incident to inflict a punishment on the entire crew, stopping their rum ration and reducing their food by half. Feeling that his position was now intolerable, Christian considered a plan to escape the ship, by constructing a raft with which he could reach an island and take his chances with the natives. He may have acquired planks of wood for this purpose from Purcell. In any event, awareness of his discontent became common knowledge among his fellow officers. Two of the young gentlemen, George Stewart and Ned Young, urged him not to desert; they assured him that he would have the support of almost the whole crew, if he were to seize the ship and depose Bligh.
Seizure of Bounty
Christian went below around 05:15 and, after waking Hallett, who was sleeping on the chest containing the ship's muskets, distributed arms to his followers. He posted armed guards at each hatchway and then, with Churchill and four other mutineers, made for Bligh's cabin, which was always left unlocked. Bligh, wearing only a nightshirt, was awoken by his door swinging open; he sat upright to see Christian brandishing a cutlass. Three men grabbed Bligh and tied his hands, threatening him with death if he rose the alarm. Bligh "called as loudly as I could in hopes of assistance". Hearing the commotion from his quarters directly opposite, Fryer woke and, through the door window, saw the mutineers frogmarch Bligh from his cabin. Christian's men promptly entered the master's cabin and, according to Fryer's account, "told me to lay down again, and hold my tongue or I was a dead man".
Bligh was brought to the quarterdeck naked from the waist down and held captive abaft the mizzenmast, his hands bound by a cord held by Christian. According to some accounts, Christian had a sounding plummet hanging from his neck so he could jump overboard and drown himself if the mutiny failed. The mutineers put trousers on Bligh. The captain would recount that when he pressed the two men holding him for an explanation, one nervously said he was "only acting as the others do". The senior officers and the botanist David Nelson were prevented from emerging by Christian's guards. Fryer was briefly permitted on deck to speak to Christian, but was then forced below at bayonet-point; according to Fryer, Christian told him: "I have been in hell for weeks past. Captain Bligh has brought this on himself."
Nobody came to Bligh's aid. In Guttridge's words, "proficiency, fatherly solicitude, and fair play in command had lost out to a thoroughly dislikeable personality." On the other hand, only a minority of those aboard, no more than a dozen or so, actively mutinied. The majority of the crew looked on uneasily as they attempted to grasp the situation and decide how to react. Hours of confusion followed. The boatswain, William Cole, obeyed Christian's instruction to hoist out the ship's cutter, in which Bligh, the senior officers and any who wished to join them would be turned adrift; the smaller 23-foot (7 m) launch was hoisted out instead when the cutter was found unseaworthy. Overcome by what was happening around him, the near-blind Irish fiddler Michael Byrne hid himself in the cutter and cried.
Bligh turned adrift
The captain's clerk John Samuel set about loading the launch, bringing Bligh's journal, commission papers and other documents from the commander's cabin; the mutineers forced him to leave the maps and a box containing Bligh's navigational work over the past 15 years. The mutineers initially forbade the loyalists seafaring instruments, but ultimately begrudged them a sextant, Peckover's compass and Purcell's tool chest. Fryer begged to be allowed to stay on board—in the hope, he would claim, that the mutineers would get drunk and enable him to retake the ship—but Christian ordered him into the launch with 17 others. Bligh was the last to be put into the boat; around 10:00 the mutineers brought him to the ship's side and untied his hands. "The remembrance of past kindnesses produced some signs of remorse in Christian", Bligh would recall. "When they were forcing me out of the ship I asked him if this treatment was a proper return for the many instances he had received of my friendship? he appeared disturbed at my question and answered with much emotion: 'That, Captain Bligh, that is the thing; I am in hell, I am in hell.'"
In the launch with Bligh were Fryer, Nelson, Cole, Peckover, Purcell, Elphinstone, Hayward, Hallett, Samuel, the acting surgeon Thomas Ledward, the quartermasters Peter Linkletter and John Norton, the sailmaker Lawrence Lebogue, the cooks Thomas Hall and John Smith, the quartermasters' mate George Simpson, the butcher Robert Lamb and the young gentleman Robert Tinkler—19 men in all, including the captain. This overloading of the launch, which was designed to carry only 15 people, forced some loyalists to stay with the ship under duress. There thus remained 25 men aboard Bounty, including non-mutineers. The ship's armourer Joseph Coleman and the two carpenter's mates, Thomas McIntosh and Charles Norman, called down to Bligh to remember that they had remained with the ship against their will. "Never fear, lads, I'll do you justice if ever I reach England", Bligh said.
On the ship with Christian remained the young gentlemen Heywood, Stewart and Young, the gunner's mate John Mills, Churchill, Morrison, Coleman, McIntosh, Norman, the botanist's assistant William Brown, and 14 able seamen: Thompson, Matthew Quintal, John Sumner, John Millward, Thomas Burkitt, William McCoy, Henry Hillbrant, William Muspratt, Thomas Ellison, John Williams, Isaac Martin, Richard Skinner, "Alexander Smith" (actually John Adams) and Byrne. Some of the mutineers drunkenly taunted the loyalists from the side of the ship, and tossed breadfruit plants overboard; others looked down at the small boat in silence. The men in the launch had for supplies 150 pounds (68 kg) of bread, some pork, 6 quarts of rum, 6 bottles of wine and 28 gallons of drinking water. When Bligh called for weapons, the mutineers jeered and threw down four cutlasses. "After having undergone a great deal of ridicule", Bligh would recount, "and having been kept some time to make sport for these unfeeling wretches, we were at length cast adrift in the open ocean." The captain would claim to have heard shouts of "Huzzah for Otaheite!" from Bounty as the mutineers sailed away.
Bligh's voyage in the launch
Bligh quickly resolved that his only option was to attempt to reach the Dutch East India Company settlement at Coupang (now Kupang) on the island of Timor, over 3,000 nautical miles (5,600 km; 3,500 mi) to the west through the Endeavour Strait. To this end he initially directed the boat to Tofua, where he hoped essential supplies such as water might be acquired from the natives. Bligh instructed his men not to mention the mutiny to the Tofuans and to say instead that they were the sole survivors of a shipwreck. The Tofuans were initially friendly and gave the Britons breadfruit, coconuts and plantains, but little water. Scanty as these supplies were, Bligh would assert that they helped to revive morale—by 2 May the crew "no longer regarded me with those anxious looks which had constantly been directed towards me since we lost sight of the ship: every countenance seemed to have a degree of cheerfulness, and they all seemed determined to do their best."
About 200 Tofuans gathered along the beach where the launch was moored during 2 May and, late in the day, began to knock stones together, which Bligh correctly interpreted as a signal that they were about to attack. Bligh told his men to return everything to the boat for a quiet departure, but as they were casting off the natives attacked; the quartermaster John Norton was caught and stoned to death. Surmising that the other nearby islands would only give similar receptions, Bligh steered the launch west towards Timor. With no charts and little to steer by—the nights were often pitch-black, with no stars in sight—Bligh navigated largely from memory, in Guttridge's opinion "an astonishing feat of seamanship", particularly as for equipment he had only the sextant and compass the mutineers had allowed him, a second quadrant found in the launch and some navigation manuals.
The open-boat voyage was an achievement not just of seamanship but also of human endurance. Storms along the way drenched the men and almost caused the launch to founder. Cramped together in the small boat with almost nothing to eat or drink, the company "seemed half dead" to Bligh by the fourth week. Bligh endeavoured to continue Bounty's log while in the launch, recording observations, sketching and charting as they made their way west. To try to keep the men's spirits up he told stories of his prior experiences at sea and occasionally said prayers. Arguments continued in the boat, particularly between Bligh and Fryer, whom the captain thought should have done more to stop the mutineers. A fresh mutiny almost broke out in late May off the coast of Australia. The captain rebuked Purcell for grumbling about their predicament; according to Bligh, Purcell then "told me with a mutinous aspect that he was as good a man as myself." When Bligh grabbed a cutlass and challenged Purcell to prove it, Fryer told Cole to arrest their captain. Both Fryer and Purcell backed down after Bligh threatened to kill Fryer if he interfered.
The emaciated seamen sighted the eastern shore of Timor around 03:00 on 12 June, 41 days after leaving Tofua. Bligh logged the distance as 3,618 nautical miles (6,701 km; 4,164 mi). "It is not possible for me to describe the pleasure which the blessing of the sight of this land diffused among us", Bligh would write. The launch anchored at Coupang soon after dawn on 14 June. Here the sailors recuperated, and Bligh made his first report of the mutiny, while awaiting transport back to England. The botanist David Nelson caught a fever in the mountains around Coupang, and died on 20 July. Bligh left Coupang on 20 August 1789, sailing a small schooner west to Batavia (now Jakarta), whence he proceeded to Europe aboard a Dutch vessel.[n 11] Of the 19 men who had sailed in the launch, only 12 would reach England. Besides Norton and Nelson, Elphinstone, Linkletter and Hall all died in Batavia, and Lamb died on a Dutch East India Company ship. Ledward was apparently left behind in Batavia.
Bounty under Christian
With Bligh turned adrift, Christian became de facto commander of Bounty. Realising that Bligh or other loyalists might well survive and make the mutiny known in England, Christian resolved that it would not be prudent to settle in Tahiti. He steered the ship east with the intent of settling on Tubuai (then spelt "Toobouai"), an island about 450 nautical miles (830 km; 520 mi) south of Tahiti. A month's sailing brought Bounty to Tubuai on 28 May 1789.
Despite a hostile reception from the island's natives, Christian spent several days surveying the land and selecting a site for a fort before taking Bounty back to Tahiti. When they reached Matavai Bay, Christian concocted a story that he, Bligh and Captain Cook were founding a new settlement at Aitutaki. Cook's name ensured generous gifts of livestock and other goods, and on 16 June the well-provisioned Bounty sailed back to Tubuai with nearly 30 Tahitians, some of whom had been taken aboard by deception. The attempt to establish a colony on Tubuai was unsuccessful; the repeated raids by the mutineers for "wives" and the near-mutinous dissatisfaction of the duped Tahitians wrecked Christian's plans.
On 18 September 1789 Bounty sailed back to Matavai Bay for the final time. Sixteen of the sailors now decided that they would remain in Tahiti and risk the consequences of discovery, while Christian, with a number of Tahitians and eight mutineers—McCoy, Quintal, Young, Williams, Mills, Brown, Adams and Martin—took off in Bounty for an unrevealed destination. Before departing, Christian left messages for his family with Heywood, recounting the story of the mutiny and emphasising that he alone was responsible. Those from Bounty who remained behind in Tahiti set about organising their lives. The largest group, led by James Morrison, began building a schooner, to be named Resolution after Cook's ship. Thompson and Churchill chose to lead drunken and generally dissolute lives which ended in the violent deaths of both—Churchill was murdered by Thompson, who was in turn killed by Polynesians who considered Churchill their "king". Heywood preferred quiet domesticity in a small house with a Tahitian wife, studying the Tahitian language and fathering a daughter. Over a period of 18 months he gradually adopted native manners of dress, and was heavily tattooed on his body.
Bligh landed in England to public acclaim on 14 March 1790, two years and 11 weeks after Bounty's departure. He was quickly promoted to post-captain. In the following months he wrote his account of the mutiny, and on 22 October was honourably acquitted at court martial of responsibility for Bounty's loss. The Admiralty resolved to send the frigate HMS Pandora, under Captain Edward Edwards, to capture the mutineers and return them to England to stand trial. Pandora departed England on 7 November 1790 with a crew of 134, including the Bounty loyalist Thomas Hayward.
Sailing via Cape Horn, Pandora reached Tahiti on 23 March 1791, ending what Dening calls an "arcadian existence" for the ex-Bounty seamen. Heywood's first reaction on seeing the ship was, he would write, "the utmost joy"; as Pandora anchored he paddled out in a canoe to introduce himself. The reception given him was frosty, however, as it would prove for others who came aboard voluntarily. Edwards made no distinctions among the former Bounty men—all became prisoners, and were manacled and taken below. Within a few days all the 14 surviving fugitives in Tahiti had surrendered or been captured.
Pandora remained at Tahiti for five weeks while Captain Edwards tried without success to obtain information on Bounty's whereabouts. A cell was built on Pandora's quarterdeck, a structure known as "Pandora's Box" where the prisoners, legs in irons and wrists in handcuffs, were to be confined for almost five months. Pandora left Tahiti on 8 May 1791 to search for Christian and the Bounty among the thousands of southern Pacific islands. Apart from a few spars—which had probably floated from Tubuai—discovered at Palmerston Island (Avarau), no traces of the ship could be found. Physical attacks from natives were frequent; early in August Edwards abandoned the search and headed for the Dutch East Indies via the Torres Strait.
On 29 August 1791 Pandora ran aground on the outer Great Barrier Reef and began to fill with water. Most of the men in "Pandora's Box" were ignored as the regular crew went about their efforts to prevent the ship from foundering. At dawn the officers gave the orders to abandon ship. The armourer was ordered into the "box" to knock off the remaining prisoners' leg irons and shackles; however, the ship sank before he had finished. Heywood, stripped naked, was one of the last to get out of the cell. Four Bounty men—Stewart, Hillbrant, Skinner and Sumner—were drowned, as were 31 of Pandora's crew. The 99 survivors, including ten prisoners, recovered on a nearby island where they stayed for two nights before embarking on an open-boat journey which largely followed Bligh's course of two years earlier. The prisoners were mostly kept bound hand and foot on the slow passage to Coupang, which they reached on 17 September 1791.
From Coupang the prisoners were taken to Batavia, where they were confined on a Dutch East India Company ship for seven weeks, then transported to Cape Town on a Dutch vessel, still under the charge of Captain Edwards. They left for England on a British warship, HMS Gorgon, on 5 April 1792 and arrived at Portsmouth on 19 June. There they were moved to the guardship HMS Hector. Bligh, who had been given command of a second breadfruit expedition, had left England in August 1791 and thus would be absent from the court martial proceedings that awaited the returned mutineers.
The court martial opened on 12 September 1792 aboard HMS Duke in Portsmouth Harbour, presided over by Lord Hood, naval commander-in-chief at Portsmouth. Peter Heywood was central among the accused—his influential family attempted to pull strings on his behalf, and helped him to build a defence emphasising his young age. Accused with him were Coleman, McIntosh, Norman, Byrne, Morrison, Burkitt, Ellison, Millward and Muspratt. Coleman, McIntosh and Norman had all been exonerated in Bligh's account and could confidently expect acquittal, as could the sightless Byrne.
Lord Hood announced the court's verdicts on 18 September. As expected, Coleman, McIntosh, Norman and Byrne were acquitted. Heywood and the other five were found guilty of the charge of mutiny, and were ordered to suffer death by hanging. Lord Hood added that "in consideration of various circumstances, the court did humbly and most earnestly recommend the said Peter Heywood and James Morrison to His Majesty's Royal Mercy." On 26 October 1792, on Hector's quarterdeck, a royal pardon from King George III was formally read to Heywood and Morrison by Captain Montagu. Heywood responded with a short statement that ended: "I receive with gratitude my Sovereign's mercy, for which my future life will be faithfully devoted to his service." William Muspratt, the only other of the accused to employ legal counsel, was reprieved on a legal technicality and pardoned in February 1793.
Millward, Burkitt and Ellison were hanged from the yardarms aboard HMS Brunswick on 29 October 1792. Dening calls them "a humble remnant on which to wreak vengeance". There was some unease expressed in the press, a suspicion that "money had bought the lives of some, and others fell sacrifice to their poverty." A report that Heywood was heir to a large fortune was unfounded; nevertheless, Dening asserts that "in the end it was class or relations or patronage that made the difference." Some accounts claim that the condemned trio continued to protest their innocence until the last moment, while others speak of their "manly firmness that ... was the admiration of all".
Christian's group of himself, eight mutineers and 19 Polynesians—six men, 12 women and a small girl—initially sailed west and combed the Friendly, Fiji and Cook Islands for a safe haven. It has been suggested that during this time they visited Rarotonga, which was then uncharted. Christian then struck on the idea of settling east of Tahiti on Pitcairn Island, whose discovery had been reported in 1767 but thereafter never corroborated. They reached the charted location to find no island. Christian correctly guessed that the longitude had been miscalculated—sailing along the line of latitude, he rediscovered the island on 15 January 1790, 188 nautical miles (348 km; 216 mi) east of the recorded position.
The longitudinal error contributed to the mutineers' decision to settle on Pitcairn. Livestock and other provisions were removed from Bounty before she was burned on 23 January 1790 in what is now called Bounty Bay. The common explanation for this is that the islanders feared the ship might give away their position; an alternative, favoured by Guttridge, is that Quintal set her on fire "for reasons unknown", and thus scuppered the settlers' prior plans to use the timbers on the island.
The Pitcairn Island community began life with bright prospects. The island exceeded Christian's highest hopes—it was uninhabited, warm and virtually inaccessible, and there was food, water and fertile land for everyone. Although many of the Polynesians were homesick, and the mutineers knew they were marooned on Pitcairn forever, they settled into life on Pitcairn fairly quickly. A number of children were born. Little is agreed upon regarding Fletcher Christian's role once the mutineers were established on Pitcairn Island. John Adams would later describe Christian as being "always cheerful" on Pitcairn, but he also claimed that Christian would brood in a cave, and had "by many acts of cruelty and inhumanity, brought on himself the hatred and detestation of his companions."
Adams variously claimed that Christian had been killed "in a single massacre that occurred on the island about four years after arrival" or that Christian had "committed suicide". Adams at another point asserted that the "mutineers had divided into parties, 'seeking every opportunity on both sides to put each other to death.'" While the details were inconsistent, Adams usually agreed with the account in Young's journal, which described Christian's death as part 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." The women, "passed around from one 'husband' to the other as men died and the balance of power shifted", eventually "rebelled" as well.
In 1793, a conflict broke out on Pitcairn Island between the mutineers and the Tahitian men who had sailed with them. Fletcher Christian and four of the mutineers (Jack Williams, Isaac Martin, John Mills, and William Brown) were killed by the Tahitians. Christian's last recorded words, supposedly, were "Oh, dear!" Rumours abounded in England over the following decades that Christian was not dead but concealed by his family in Cumberland, having somehow made his way home. Letters supposedly written by Christian were published, but overwhelmingly dismissed as forgeries. Heywood, who went on to a long and respectable career as a Royal Navy officer, claimed to have seen Christian on a street in Plymouth; the man fled when Heywood moved to accost him. "So the stories would persist", Guttridge concludes, "and the fate of Fletcher Christian remain almost as much a mystery as the true genesis of his fabled mutiny."
By 1794 all six of the Tahitian men were dead, having been killed during the on-and-off fighting—some by the widows of the murdered mutineers and others by each other. Christian's absence caused a leadership vacuum on the island. Presuming he was indeed dead, he was survived by Mauatua and three children. Two of the four surviving mutineers, Ned Young and John Adams, 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 on Pitcairn continued thus until the deaths of McCoy and Quintal, and the destruction of the still. McCoy died after a drunken fall. Matthew Quintal was subsequently killed by Adams and Young after threatening to kill everyone. Eventually Adams and 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. Only Adams, nine women and 19 children now remained. Adams became the leader of the community and took responsibility for educating its members. Using the ship's Bible from Bounty, he taught literacy and the Christian religion, holding regular Sunday services. His gentleness and tolerance enabled the small community to thrive, and peace was restored to Pitcairn Island.
Later contacts; geopolitical legacy
The Pitcairners reported that after the burning of HMS Bounty, the first ship they saw was one that passed the island in December 1795. She did not approach the island and they could not identify to which nation she belonged. A second vessel was seen soon thereafter, and later still a third. None of these made contact with the islanders, though the third came close to the shore and seemed to those on Pitcairn to be observing them. Outside contact with the people of Pitcairn Island was first established on 6 February 1808, by the American whaler Topaz under Captain Mayhew Folger. A crew of Pitcairners paddled out and came on board the Topaz; one of them introduced himself in English as Thursday October Christian, son of Fletcher, and asked if Folger knew Captain Bligh.[n 12] Adams gave Folger the chronometer Bligh had used on Bounty, either as a gift or as proof of the islanders' story.
A report of Folger's find was forwarded to the Admiralty, along with a correct latitude and longitude for the island, but the rediscovery was not known to a flotilla of two British warships, HMS Briton and HMS Tagus, that found Pitcairn on 17 September 1814. The seamen of Tagus were astonished when two inhabitants came alongside in canoes and hailed them in English, calling out: "Won't you heave us a rope now?" The first Pitcairner on deck was Thursday October Christian; his companion was Ned Young's son George. Briton 's commander Sir Thomas Staines sent a party ashore and wrote a detailed report for the Admiralty, noting a population of 46, "mostly grown-up young people, with a few infants". Thursday October Christian impressed the British visitors with his pleasant disposition, eloquence in English and thorough knowledge of Bounty's history. "Added to a great share of good humour", Captain Philip Papon of Tagus reported, "we were glad to trace, in his benevolent countenance, all the features of an honest English face."
Adams indicated his willingness to return with the warships to England, but when this was put to the other islanders "all the women burst into tears", according to Papon, "and the young men stood motionless and absorbed in grief". This turned to joy "impossible to describe" when Staines and Papon made clear that Adams could stay. The Admiralty chose not to take action against Adams, who spent the rest of his days on Pitcairn and died there in 1829. The island's only settlement, Adamstown, is named after him. In 1838 Pitcairn and the uninhabited islands of Henderson, Ducie and Oeno were incorporated into the British Empire as the Pitcairn Islands. Britain transported all 193 Pitcairners to Norfolk Island in 1856; six families returned to Pitcairn over the next decade, and in 1937 the population peaked at 233. In the 21st century the Pitcairn Islands are a British Overseas Territory with a population of under 50, mostly direct descendants of the Bounty mutineers and their Tahitian consorts. Nearly half of the people bear the surname Christian; the rest are called either Young, Brown or Warren. Each 23 January they celebrate Bounty Day, marking the anniversary of Bounty 's destruction by burning a small replica in the bay.
Over 2,000 books and articles have been written about the mutiny.
The story of the mutiny has been adapted numerous times to the page, stage and screen. Bligh, who was 34 years old at the time of the mutiny, is often depicted as considerably older than he actually was. The first film version, The Mutiny of the Bounty, was produced in Australia in 1916. A second Australian film, In the Wake of the Bounty, followed in 1933; this film, directed by Charles Chauvel, starred Errol Flynn in his screen debut as Fletcher Christian. Two years later the first Hollywood film of the mutiny, Frank Lloyd's Mutiny on the Bounty, was produced. A remake of the same name was released in 1962, followed by a fifth screen adaptation, The Bounty, in 1984.
- HMS Hermione, scene of a far more bloody mutiny in 1797
- Batavia (ship), equally brutal events after the shipwreck of a Dutch ship in 1629
- Heywood Manuscript
Notes and references
- "Mutiny on the Bounty", while the prevailing term for the event, is technically a misnomer; the incident would be correctly called the "Mutiny on HMS Bounty" or similar.
- James Cook commanded his first voyage, in HMS Endeavour, as a newly-promoted lieutenant, and was not promoted to the rank of captain until after his second voyage. However, Cook always insisted on the support of a marine detachment of at least twelve.
- Dates are given as recorded by Bligh in Bounty 's log (where applicable), which was kept according to the "nautical", "navy" or "sea" time then used by the Royal Navy—each day begins at noon and continues until noon the next day, twelve hours ahead of regular "civil", "natural" or "land" time. The nautical "15 October", for example, equates to the land time period between noon on the 14th and noon on the 15th.
- An early example of Bligh's esteem for Christian was indicated at Tenerife, where Bounty stopped between 5 and 11 January. On arrival, Bligh sent Christian ashore as the ship's representative, to pay respect to the island's governor.
- This was not a formal appointment, but it gave Christian the authority of a commissioned officer on the voyage, and greatly increased his chances of promotion to full lieutenant on his return. Christian was placed in charge of the third watch.
- Suggestions that Bligh was an exceptionally harsh commander are not borne out by evidence. His violence was more verbal than physical; as a captain his overall flogging rate of less than one in ten seaman was exceptionally low for the time. He was known for shortness of temper and sharpness of tongue, but his rages were generally directed at his officers, particularly when he perceived incompetence or dereliction of duty.
- In the published version of his journal (1792), Bligh makes no mention of his dispute with Purcell. The entry for 23 August briefly mentions the sawing of planks, among miscellaneous information on local flora and fauna.
- Morrison's journal was probably written with the advantage of hindsight, after his return to London as a prisoner. Hough argues that Morrison could not have maintained a day-by-day account of all the experiences he underwent including the mutiny, his capture and the return to England.
- On the way to Nomuka, Bounty sighted an uncharted island. Bligh learned from natives that met the ship in their canoes that it was called Aitutaki (Bligh wrote it as "Wytootackee).
- The historian Leonard Guttridge suggests that Christian's psychological state may have been further affected by the venereal disease contracted in Tahiti.
- Bligh took the Bounty logbooks with him to England; they are now held by the State Library of New South Wales. During a restoration in 2004 it was discovered that several pages, including that describing the day of the mutiny, were written on a different type of paper, though Bligh's handwriting was the same and continuous with the other pages. It has been suggested that Bligh may have transcribed some stained or damaged original pages onto new paper.
- Folger restored the Pitcairners' reckoning of the date, which had been lost over the years, but incorrectly did so as if the island were to the west of the 180th meridian (rather than the east). The island shifted its calendar by a day in 1814 to compensate for this. This confusion regarding the date on Pitcairn carried over to Thursday October Christian's name, which alluded to his birth on a Thursday in October—a British officer attempting to "correct" the name in 1814 recorded it as Friday October Christian, a variant subsequently used in many accounts. The timekeeping historian Ian Bartky comments that in any case the calendar moved back rather than forwards a day, so a "corrected" version of the name would be Wednesday.
- Winfield 2007, p. 355.
- Hough 1972, p. 64.
- Alexander 2003, p. 70.
- Alexander 2003, pp. 49, 71.
- David 2004.
- Alexander 2003, p. 72.
- Alexander 2003, p. 71.
- McKinney 1999, p. 16.
- McKinney 1999, pp. 17–20.
- Hough 1972, p. 65.
- Alexander 2003, p. 43.
- McKinney 1999, pp. 7–11.
- Darby 2004.
- Frost 2004.
- Alexander 2003, p. 47.
- Hough 1972, pp. 58–59.
- McKinney 1999, p. 1.
- Hough 1972, pp. 66–67.
- Alexander 2003, p. 73.
- Alexander 2003, p. 48.
- McKinney 1999, pp. 164–166.
- Alexander 2003, p. 51.
- Hough 1972, p. 74.
- Alexander 2003, p. 54.
- Alexander 2003, p. 56.
- McKinney 1999, pp. 20–22.
- Dening 1992, p. 70.
- Hough 1972, pp. 75–76.
- 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 2003, p. 69.
- Hough 1972, p. 78.
- McKinney 1999, p. 180.
- Alexander 2003, pp. 70–71.
- Alexander 2003, pp. 72–73.
- Hough 1972, pp. 78–80.
- McKinney 1999, pp. 25–26.
- McKinney 1999, pp. 13–14, 28.
- Hough 1972, p. 88.
- Hough 1972, p. 83.
- Alexander 2003, p. 86.
- Alexander 2003, p. 79.
- Bligh 1792, p. 27.
- Bligh 1792, p. 25.
- Alexander 2003, pp. 86–87.
- McKinney 1999, p. 31.
- Hough 1972, p. 87.
- Dening, p. 22.
- Bligh 1792, p. 30.
- Alexander 2003, p. 90.
- Bligh 1792, p. 33.
- Hough 1972, pp. 95–96.
- Alexander 2003, pp. 92–94.
- Dening 1992, p. 69.
- Hough 1972, pp. 97–99.
- Alexander 2003, pp. 97–98.
- Dening 1992, p. 127.
- Bligh 1792, pp. 47–48.
- Hough 1972, pp. 100–01.
- Alexander 2003, pp. 101–03.
- Alexander 2003, pp. 103–04.
- McKinney 1999, p. 47.
- Alexander 2003, pp. 105–107.
- Hough 1972, p. 115.
- Hough 1972, pp. 122–125.
- Alexander 2003, p. 112.
- Guttridge 2006, p. 26.
- Guttridge 2006, p. 24.
- Bligh 1790, p. 9.
- Bligh 1792, p. 102.
- Alexander 2003, pp. 115–120.
- Alexander 2003, pp. 124–125.
- Hough 1072, p. 128.
- Hough 1972, p. 133.
- Alexander 2003, p. 126.
- Hough 1972, pp. 312–13.
- Hough 1972, pp. 131–32.
- Hough 1972, pp. 135–36.
- Bligh 1792, pp. 145–47.
- Alexander 2003, pp. 129–30.
- Hough 1972, pp. 138-39.
- Alexander 2003, pp. 132–33.
- Guttridge 2006, pp. 27–29.
- Alexander 2003, p. 136.
- Hough 1972, p. 144.
- Hough 1972, pp. 13–14, 147.
- Hough 1972, pp. 14–16.
- Guttridge 2006, pp. 29–31.
- Alexander 2003, p. 140.
- Bligh 1792, p. 154.
- Alexander 2003, pp. 134–141.
- Hough 1972, pp. 160–162.
- Guttridge 2006, pp. 29–33.
- Guttridge 2006, pp. 31–32.
- Bligh 1792, p. 161.
- Bligh 1792, pp. 158–160.
- Hough 1972, p. 158.
- Dening 1992, p. 88.
- Guttridge 2006, pp. 32–33.
- Dening 1992, p. 329.
- Guttridge 2006, p. 33.
- Barrow 1831, p. 97.
- Bligh 1792, p. 171.
- Bligh 1792, pp. 171–177; Barrow 1831, pp. 97–98; Guttridge 2006, p. 33.
- Guttridge 2006, pp. 33–35.
- Guttridge 2006, p. 35.
- Barrow 1831, p. 118.
- Bligh 1792, pp. 227–233.
- Alexander 2003, pp. 152–156.
- St John 1976, p. 2.
- Barrow 1831, pp. 118–120.
- Proud & Zammit 2006.
- Guttridge 2006, p. 36.
- Hough 1972, pp. 194–196.
- Dening 1992, p. 90.
- Hough 1972, pp. 197–200.
- Hough 1972, p. 201.
- Hough 1972, pp. 201–203.
- Dening 1992, pp. 215–217.
- Hough 1972, pp. 219–222; Alexander 2003, p. 8.
- Hough 1972, pp. 219–222; Alexander 2003, p. 188.
- Tagart 1832, pp. 81–84 (letter from Heywood to his mother, 15 August 1792).
- Hough 1972, pp. 216–218; Alexander 2003, pp. 164–179.
- Alexander 2003, p. 9.
- Dening 1992, p. 217.
- Dening 1992, pp. 238–239.
- Hough 1972, p. 221.
- Hough 1972, p. 226.
- Hough 1972, pp. 226–227.
- Alexander 2003, pp. 15–18.
- Alexander 2003, pp. 22–26; Hough 1972, pp. 227–230.
- Alexander 2003, pp. 27–35.
- Hough 1972, p. 276; Alexander 2003, pp. 214–215, 220.
- Guttridge 2006, p. 42.
- Alexander 2003, p. 283.
- Alexander 2003, pp. 297–298.
- Alexander 2003, p. 212.
- Alexander 2003, pp. 300–302.
- Dening 1992, pp. 37–42.
- Dening 1992, p. 48.
- Government of Pitcairn 2000.
- Stanley 2004, pp. 288–296.
- Guttridge 2006, p. 86.
- Alexander 2003, p. 348.
- Alexander 2003, p. 371.
- Alexander 2003, pp. 371–372.
- Alexander 2003, p. 365.
- Alexander 2003, p. 369.
- Hough 1972, p. 257.
- Alexander 2003, pp. 354–355.
- Dening 1992, p. 326.
- Bartky 2007, pp. 15–18.
- McKinney 1999, p. 155.
- Barrow 1831, pp. 285–289.
- Barrow 1831, pp. 292–293.
- Dening 1992, pp. 344–348.
- Journal articles
- Darby, Madge (2004). "Bligh, Sir Richard Rodney (1737–1821)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/2648. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
- David, Andrew (2004). "Cook, James (1728–1779)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/6140. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
- Frost, Alan (2004). "Bligh, William (1754–1817)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/2650. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
- Proud, Jodie; Zammit, Anthony (2006). "From Mutiny to Eternity: The Conservation of Lt. William Bligh's Bounty Logbooks" (PDF). Canberra: Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Material. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
- Shaw, A G L (1966). "Bligh, William (1754–1817)". Australian Dictionary of Biography (online ed.). Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 27 April 2015.
- "History of Pitcairn Island". Guide to Pitcairn. Auckland: Government of the Islands of Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno. 2000. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
- Alexander, Caroline (2003). The Bounty. London: Harper Collins. ISBN 978-0-00-257221-7.
- Barrow, Sir John (1831). The Eventful History of the Mutiny and Piratical Seizure of HMS Bounty: Its Causes and Consequences. London: John Murray.
- Bartky, Ian R (2007). One Time Fits All: The Campaigns for Global Uniformity. Redwood City, California: Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0-8047-5642-6.
- Bligh, William (1790). A Narrative Of The Mutiny, etc. London: George Nicol.
- Bligh, William (1792). A Voyage to the South Sea, etc. London: Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty.
- Dening, Greg (1992). Mr Bligh's Bad Language: Passion, Power and Theatre on the Bounty. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-38370-7.
- Guttridge, Leonard F (2006) . Mutiny: A History of Naval Insurrection. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1591143482.
- Hough, Richard (1972). Captain Bligh & Mr Christian. 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.
- Stanley, David (2004). South Pacific (Eighth ed.). Chico, California: Moon Handbooks. ISBN 978-1-56691-411-6.
- Tagart, Edward (1832). A Memoir of the late Captain Peter Heywood, R.N. with Extracts from his Diaries and Correspondence. London: Effingham Wilson.
- Winfield, Rif (2007). British Warships in the Age of Sail, 1714–1792: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. Barnsley: Seaforth Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84415-700-6.
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