|Voyage of Bounty|
Able-bodied seaman on the Bounty; mutineer, went with Christian to Pitcairn; died there in 1829.
Adams was from Hackney in London, an orphan who had been brought up in a poorhouse. He was twenty years old when he mustered on the Bounty. For some reason, probably desertion from another ship or some trouble with the law, he used a fictitious name, Alexander Smith, and did not change back to his real name until after the visit to Pitcairn of the Topaz in 1808.
Bligh’s description of Adams, written after the mutiny, reads as follows:
ALEXANDER SMITH. 22 years, 5 feet 5 inches high. Brown complexion, brown hair, strong made, pitted with smallpox. Very much tattooed, scar on right foot.
Adams was flogged (one dozen lashes) only one week after the Bounty arrived at Tahiti. His offense was that he had let a rudder gudgeon be stolen from one of the ship’s boats. The punishment was carried out in full view of the Tahitians who had tried in vain to intercede for him and who cried as they witnessed the barbaric act.
Bligh based his disciplinary measure on the allegation that Adams had been lax in his attention. This was unfair. Bligh – and for that matter all the popa’as – did not realize that the Tahitians, because of their extraordinary swimming ability, had the ship and the boats at their mercy. (The later sabotage of the anchor cable gave evidence of this. Most of the British seamen were either poor swimmers or could not swim at all and diving was almost unknown to them. The fact that a Tahitian could swim long distances under water and could hold his breath for two and a half to three minutes seemed inconceivable. The explanation for the theft, therefore, had to be found in Adams’ inattention, not in any superiority on the part of a Tahitian; the “Indians” were not supposed to be superior to the white men in any respect whatsoever.
Adams soon fell in with island life and was one of the first in the crew to have himself tattooed. It is probable that he at this time formed a relationship with Teehuteatuaonoa, whom he called Jenny.
Adams took an active part in the mutiny from its very inception (although he was later to tell sea captains visiting Pitcairn that he had been asleep at the time). He was with Christian when the latter went to Coleman to demand the keys to the arms chest. And Bligh wrote later that when he was arrested by the mutineers “ . . . Alexander smith . . . assisted under arms on the outside.”
When the Bounty, under Christian’s command, sailed to Tahiti to pick up women and livestock from the intended colony on Tubuai, Teehuteatuaonoa came with Adams to that island. But, as we know, things did not turn out well on Tubuai. When the vote was taken on whether to stay or to leave, Adams was one of the mutineers who voted with Christian and who later sailed with him to Pitcairn. On arrival there, however, he had a new consort, Puarai.
When Edward Young died on Christmas Day 1800 Adams became the last survivor of the mutineers and a sought-out object for interviews by visiting sea captains. He could not feel secure, however, until after the visit in 1814 of HMS Briton and HMS Tagus whose captains, Staines and Pipon, assured him that he would not be taken to England for trial.
Many of the visitors seemed to revere the old patriarch, but a more realistic evaluation of him, I think, can be had from a modern writer, David Silverman, who in his book Pitcairn Island (1967) writes:
The standard picture of Adams in Pitcairn literature is a completely regenerated rascal, benevolence and piety incarnate, while not without basis, is much too simplistic and pat to encompass the record, as it will appear. It should not be forgotten that, not only was the leader of the community when the first ships visited Pitcairn, he was the only man on the Island who had experience of life off that tiny rock, that he monopolized the visitors, that he was unlikely to be contradicted in any statement he made, and that he had a shrewd sense of what the visitors might like to hear in response to their questions and the ability to project a sympathetic picture of the artless man of profound sincerity and good will.
Adams had five Tahitian consorts during his life: (1) Teehuteatuaonoa, who became Martin’s consort before the arrival at Pitcairn. Adams had no children with her. (2) Puarai, with whom he landed on Pitcairn but who died within a year after the arrival. There were no children from this liaison. (3) Tinafanaea, the consort of Titahiti and Oha, who was “given” to him by vote of the mutineers when Puarai died. They had no children. (4) Vahineatua, who had been John Mills’ consort and had borne him two children. She bore Christian three daughters, Dina, Rachel, and Hannah. (5) Teio, who had been the consort of Thomas McIntosh on Tubuai and of William McCoy on Pitcairn. She bore Adams his only son, George, who later married Polly Young, the daughter of Edward Young and Mauatua, Fletcher Christian’s widow.
Teio and Adams were married by Captain Beechey during his visit in 1825. On March 5, 1829, John Adams died and was followed just nine days later by Teio. His grave can still be seen on Pitcairn; the resting place of the other mutineers and their consorts are unknown.
Gardner and botanist’s assistant on the Bounty; mutineer; went with Christian; was killed on Pitcairn.
Brown, born in Leicester, had an unusual background for a gardner. Although technically a civilian, he had seen service as a midshipman and had been acting lieutenant in HMS Resolution (Captain Lord Robert Manners) in the early 1780s. Why he changed his career is unknown, but it is likely that his naval background was one reason why he was chosen for the expedition.
Brown’s physical description, written by Bligh after the mutiny, reads as follows:
[WILLIAM BROWN]. Assistant botanist, aged 27 years, 5 feet 8 inches high, fair complexion, dark brown hair, strong made; a remarkable scar on one of his cheeks, which contracts the eye-lid, and runs down to his throat, occasioned by the king’s evil; is tatowed.
The first significant mention of Brown on the voyage is on October 19, 1788 (only a week after the arrival at Tahiti), and when he and John Mills refused to take part in the daily dancing that Bligh had ordered for exercise. Both men had their grog stopped as a consequence, the most severe punishment on board next to a flogging.
Brown was of course one of the men who were permanently stationed on Point Venus in Tahiti to supervise the collection of breadfruit shoots (the others being Nelson and Christian).
He stayed below deck during the mutiny and seems to have joined the mutineers only afterwards. On Tubuai he voted with Christian and then joined him on his quest for an island refuge.
Brown arrived at Pitcairn with his consort Teathuahitea whom he called “Sarah.” He was an obvious choice for the exploratory shore party and he liked what he saw on the island. The place where he found a well is to this day called Brown’s Water.
On Massacre Day, September 20, 1793, Brown was the fifth and last mutineer to be killed by the Polynesians. Island tradition has it that Teimua, who liked Brown, shot at him with only a powder charge and told him to pretend he was dead. Brown moved too soon, however, and was beaten to death by Manarii.
Brown seems to have been the kindest and mildest of the white men on the island. He left no children.
Able-bodied seaman on the Bounty; mutineer; stayed on Tahiti; survived the wreck of the Pandora; found guilty at the court-martial and was hanged.
Burkett was born in Bath and was twenty-five years old when he joined the Bounty. There appears to be no significant reference to his pre-mutiny activities in the literature other than that he was one of the four able-bodied seamen permanently stationed ashore during the Bounty’s stay at Tahiti.
Bligh’s description of Burkett, written after the mutiny, reads as follows:
[THOMAS BURKETT] 26 years, 5 feet 9 inches high. Fair complexion. Very much marked with smallpox. Brown hair, slender made and very much tattooed.
Burkett was in Christian’s watch and on the morning of the mutiny he was a lookout on the forepeak. He was from the very beginning an active participant in taking over the ship, in fact, he was one of the men who went below with Christian to arrest the Captain.
He seemed, however, to have had more compassion than most of the mutineers. It was he who adjusted Bligh’s shirt so it would cover his exposed private parts and called down for clothes for the captain, and it was he who, over Quintal’s objections, insisted on letting boatswain Cole take a compass on the launch.
On Tubuai Burkett got wounded in the side by a speak in one of the skirmishes with the natives and had a narrow escape. The wound, however, was not dangerous and healed quickly.
Burkett elected to stay on Tahiti when Christian sailed away on the Bounty. On the invitation of chief Temarii, he stayed in the district of Papara (together with his fellow mutineer John Sumner) and took part in the military campaigns against the enemies of Pomare I (then called Mate). It was he who buried Churchill after Thompson had murdered him. Before the Pandora arrived, his Tahitian consort – we do not know her name – bore him a son.
Burkett survived the Pandora but not the court-martial. Of course, being clearly an active mutineer he never had a real chance. And he had no clever attorney who could find a loophole for him, as Muspratt’s lawyer did. To everyone’s satisfaction, however, he did manage to bring out the fact that Hayward and Hallett had cried and begged to be allowed to stay on board the Bounty at the time of the mutiny. Ellison confirmed his testimony.
Burkett, together with Millwad and Ellison, was hanged on HMS Brunswick at Spithead on Octoer 29, 1792.
In their magnificent work Mutiny on the Bounty, Nordhoff and Hall used the actual names of the crew members on board – with one exception: the narrator of the story is midshipman Roger Byam. There was no person with that name on the Bounty, but the fictional Roger Byam is identical with the real-life midshipman Peter Heywood who was a good friend of Fletcher Christian’s but took no part in the mutiny.
There are two reasons why Nordhoff and Hall chose a fictional name for the narrator. One was that they wanted to avoid giving the impression that the story was an actual historical account, and the second was that the name Heywood can be easily confused with Hayward (midshipman Thomas Hayward was also on the Bounty).
Able-bodied seaman on the Bounty; loyalist; kept on board against his will; survived the wreck of the Pandora; acquitted at court-martial.
Michael Bryne was born in Kilkenny, Ireland, and was twenty-six years old when Bligh signed him on the Bounty for the express purpose of playing his fiddle while the sailors danced. Bligh explained his view in a letter to Sir Joseph Banks:
Some time for relaxation and mirth is absolutely necessary and I have considered it so much so that after 4 o’clock the evening is laid aside for their amusement and dancing. I had great difficulty before I left England to get a man to play the violin and I preferred at last to take one two-thirds blind than come without one.
Bligh was a man without humor and he viewed his crew as an engineer views his machinery; therefore even the “mirth” had to be regulated. The mirth was in fact forced on the men: when Mills and Brown refused to dance, they were punished.
In the accounts of Bligh’s second breadfruit expedition there is no mention of a fiddler or of dancing. Did Bligh consider the experiment a failue? No one knows.
After the mutiny, Bligh gave the following description of Byrne:
[MICHAEL BYRNE] 28 years, 5 feet 6 inches high. Fair complexion and is almost blind. Plays the fiddle. Has the mark of an issue in the back of his neck.
There is not much mention of Byrne in the Bounty story; because of his handicap he simply had to “tag along.” During the mutiny he was left in one of the ship’s boats that had been launched and then rejected as a means of conveyance for the loyalists. He spent his time trying to keep the boat from banging into the ship’s side and crying because he did not really know what was going on or what was going to become of him. He was probably kept on board for two reasons: he was popular because he provided music, and the launch was already overfilled when he was considered in terms of remaining or leaving.
Byrne gave himself up voluntarily when the Pandora arrived. It is amazing that he survived the shipwreck; probably someone helped him. At the court-martial he had little difficulty in clearing himself.
Rolf Du Rietz (1965) has described Bligh’s efforts to get Byrne to give him a favorable affidavit. Byrne declined to cooperate and Bligh wrote to his step-nephew, Francis Bond (August 14, 1794):
As to the blind scoundrel, I can only beg of you to make the best of him, & get him flogged nobly whenever he deserves it, as he is certainly a very great Villain. . . . Don’t let him get on shore for I am sure he deserves no leave. When Byrne finally consented to cooperate, he (in Du Rietz’s words) “with Irish stubbornness adhered strictly to the truth (as far as he had knowledge of it).”
Dr. Wahlroos writes that he has seen no reference to Byrne’s later fate.
Fletcher Christian came from old gentry, a landed family with estates both on the Isle of Man and in Cumberland on the west coast of England. He was born to Charles and Ann (nee Dixon) Christian on September 25, 1764, at Moorland Close near Cockermouth in Cumberland on the north-west coast of England. (The house of his birth still stands and was occupied as late as 1974.) He was the seventh of ten children, four of whom died before reaching adulthood.
When Fletcher was only three and a half years old his father died. Ann Christian was a dedicated mother and, despite financial difficulties, saw to it that all her children got an excellent education. In 1780, having lost the family home in Cumbria, Ann took her daughter and her two youngest sons, Fletcher and Humphrey, and moved to Douglas on the Isle of Man. Fletcher may well have been proud of his Manx background, because in that year a popular ballad was published extolling the bravery of his great-great-grandfather, Illiam Dhone, who had led a mutiny against English rule over the island and had been executed in 1663.
Christian went to sea at the age of eighteen. By an interesting coincidence, his first ship was HMS Cambridge on which Bligh was sixth lieutenant at the time. Since Christian was enrolled as just a ship’s boy, it is unlikely that the two had much contact.
The Cambridge took part in the successful relief expedition to Gibraltar in the end of 1782, commanded by Lord Howe. On the return of the ship, Christian was discharged.
It is probable that Christian at this time had a romantic interest in Isabella Curwen, a rich heiress who was also very beautiful, and that this is the reason why he later called Mauatua, his Tahitian consort, Isabella. The heiress, however, married one of Fletcher’s distant cousins, John Christian, in October 1782.
On April 25, 1783, Fletcher signed on as midshipman on board HMS Eurydice, commanded by Captain George Courtney. For almost six months the ship lay at anchor in Spithead. Finally, on October 11, it sailed for India. In Madras, on May 24, 1784, Christian was made acting lieutenant after only one year’s service. This fac is important, since so much has been made of Bligh’s supposed benevolence in promoting him to acting lieutenant early in the voyage of the Bounty. It was Christian’s competence, rather than his commander’s kindness, tha was the reason for the promotion. And Bligh needed a lieutenant.
Christian’s idea of what it takes to be a good commander was rather different from Bligh’s. His brother Edward quotes him as having said: “It was very easy to make one’s self beloved and respected aboard a ship; one had only to be always ready to obey one’s superior officers, and to be kind to the common men, unless there was occasion for severity, and if you are, when there is a just occasion, they will not like you the worse for it.”
By June 1785, the Eurydice was back home and Christian was paid off. He now had to start looking for peace-time employment. His family was on friendly terms with the Bethams, the family of Elizabeth Bligh, and this is probably why Christian applied for a berth on the merchant ship Britannia, owned by Elizabeth’s uncle Duncan Campbell and commanded by William Bligh. For the same reason, Bligh might felt an obligation to accept Christian on board. They were to sail together on two voyages to the West Indies. On the first, Christian entered as an ordinary seaman, although he messed with the officers; on the second, Bligh made him second mate.
However, the contention – found in many publications on the Bounty story – that Bligh taught Christian the elements of navigation on these voyages, simply does not make sense. If Christian had not known the “elements” of navigation, he would not have been promoted to acting lieutenant on the Eurydice. This does not preclude the likelihood that Bligh, one of the master navigators of all time, helped Christian hone and perfect his skills.
Their relationship must have been friendly, otherwise Bligh would not have accepted Christian as master’s mate on the Bounty, nor would he, being of a vindictive nature, have promoted him to acting lieutenant early in the voyage, competence or no.
There is no preserved portrait of Fletcher Christian, nor of his brothers and sisters, and it is doubtful that we can get a balanced impression of his appearance from the description Bligh wrote down for various port authorities after the mutiny:
[FLETCHER CHRISTIAN] Master’s mate, age 24 years, 5 feet 9 inches high, blackish or very dark complexion, dark brown hair, strong made; a star tatowed on his left breast, tatowed on his backside; his knees stand a little out, and he may be called rather bow legged. He is subject to violent perspirations, and particularly in his hands, so that he soils any thing he handles.
All others who knew Christian agreed that he was handsome and of an athletic build. He seems to have been an honest and forthright man, normally with a happy and friendly disposition, and very charming. He seems to have been liked by everyone on board the Bounty with the possible exception of Hayward and Hallett (whom nobody liked).
It is remarkable that none of the men, loyalists or mutineers, who went through so much suffering as a result of the mutiny, ever had one negative word to say about Christian. All of them saw their misfortunes as having been brought about by Bligh. Following are some of the statements that former Bounty crew members, all but one of them (Muspratt) loyalists, later made to Edward Christian after the court-martial of the mutineers:
“He was a gentleman; a brave man; and every officer and seaman on board the ship would have gone through fire and water to serve him.” – “I would still wade up to the arm-pits in blood to serve him.” – “As much as I have lost and suffered by him, if he could be restored to his country, I should be the first to go without wages in search of him.” – “Every body under his command did their duty at a look from Mr. Christian.” – “Mr. Christian was always good-natured, I never heard him say ‘Damn you,’ to any man on board the ship.”
In other words, Christian was a gentleman in the best sense of the word. How could any man wish for a better epitaph!
In Part I of this book I have commented on Christian’s personality and his mental state during the mutiny (see especially the commentaries for June 1788 and April 1789). The only existing biography of Fletcher Christian is written by his descendant Glynn Christian: Fragile Paradise: Fletcher Christian of H.M.S. Bounty (1982). I have drawn upon it many times in writing this book and I recommend it highly to my readers.
The adventures of the world’s most famous mutineer, from the time he sailed from England on the Bounty to his death on Pitcairn, are told in Part 1 of this book. He had three children with Mauatua: Thursday October, Charles, and Mary Anne (born after his death). His descendants live today on Pitcairn and on Norfolk Island and in many other places in the Pacific and the rest of the world. Since both of his sons were married to full-blooded Tahitian women (Thursday October to Teraura and Charles to Sully), the Tahitian genetic heritage is more noticeable in Fletcher’s descendants today than in those of the other mutineers.
Christian’s close friend Peter Heywood once told Sir John Barrow that he had seen – sometime in 1808 or 1809 – a person who looked exactly like Fletcher Christian on Fore Street in Plymouth Dock, but that the man had run away when he saw Heywood approaching. This claim, mentioned by Sir John in his book on the mutiny (1831) has led to wild speculations which will probably never cease. In my opinion it is quite unlikely that Christian left Pitcairn. There are three reasons for this: (1) If Christian’s identity had been known on board a ship, it could not have been kept secret. (2) If Christian had managed to board a ship incognito, everyone on Pitcairn would still have known about it. Knowing the Tahitian fondness for gossiping and telling secrets, it is inconceivable that none of the Tahitian women on the island would have mentioned it eventually, especially since telling the absolute truth became a fetish on the island in the early 1800s. Adams never even hinted at such a possibility, and Teehuteatuaonoa, who had no reason to lie, stated definitely that Christian had been killed by a Polynesian. (3) It is improbable that Christian could have lived out his life incognito in England without giving rise to a family tradition about it.
“Sightings” of dead and missing persons are extremely common. Hitler, for example, was simultaneously “seen” in hundreds of locations after World War II. I once clearly “saw” a close friend who had just died. If I had not had the opportunity to go up and examine “him” closely and convince myself that it was merely someone who looked very much like him, it would forever have left me with an eerie feeling.
Christian’s fate was tragic. Had it not been for that one moment of mental aberration, he would undoubtedly have gone on to a distinguished career in the Navy. But then again, he would hardly have achieved the immortality of which he is now assured. His name has become a symbol of adventure, of revolt against pettiness, and of the romance of the sea. For that we will always be grateful.
Master-at-Arms (Ship’s Corporal) on the Bounty; mutineer; stayed on Tahiti and was killed there by fellow mutineer Thompson.
Churchill was born in Manchester and was twenty-eight years old when the Bounty left England. Bligh, after the mutiny, described his physical appearance as follows:
[CHARLES CHURCHILL] Ship’s Corporal, 30 yeas, 5 feet 10 inches high. Fair complexion, short light-brown hair. Bald headed, strong made. The forefinger on his left hand crooked, and the hands shows the mark of severe scald. Tattooed in several parts of the body.
Churchill’s attempt to desert the ship at Tahiti, together with Millward and Muspratt, was described in the January 1789 commentary in Part I. In view of the fact that he later took a highly active and decisive part in the mutiny, it is possible that he had toyed with the idea before Christian approached him with it.
During the mutiny Churchill was one of the first to join Christian and one of the men who went below with him to arrest Bligh. All through the morning he assumed the role of Christian’s second-in-command, often answering for Christian when the latter seemed to hesitate.
Churchill was a coarse and brutal person with a real proclivity for violence. During the second stay in Tahiti he was eager to participate in the warfare between the districts and, with his training as a Royal Marine and with the muskets procured from the Bounty, he was instrumental in changing the relatively non-lethal nature of the conflicts between the chiefdoms into bloody carnage. Like his friend Thompson, he once killed an innocent Tahitian in cold blood.
A possible reason for Churchill’s staying on Tahiti rather than sailing away with Christian was that he had a very powerful taio, Vehiatua, who was Teina’s (Mate’s) brother-in-law and chief of Taiarapu. Vehiatua may have made promises to Churchill that were difficult to turn down. As we have seen (in the commentaries for February and March 1790) he became chief of Taiarapu when Vehiatua died without a male heir, but was killed by his crony Thompson soon afterward.
Boatswain on the Bounty; loyalist; was on the open-boat voyage from Tofua to Timor; arrived safely in England.
Bligh had been furious with Cole in Tahiti when it was discovered that a set of new sails had been allowed to mildew and rot. On January 17, 1789, he wrote in his log:
This morning, the sail room being cleared to take the sales to short to air. The new fore topsail and fore sail, main topmt stay sale and main stay sail were found very much mildewed and rotten in many places. If I had any officers to supercede the Master John Fryer and Boatswain William Cole, or was capable of doing without them, considering them as commen sea men, they should no longer occupy their respective stations.
As we have pointed out in the January 1789 commentary in Part 1, Bligh was the one who had been in Tahiti before and who should have known what the island’s humidity can do to canvas.
Cole was one of the men on board in whom Christian had confided his plan to leave the ship on a raft shortly before the mutiny. He did not mention it when he came back to England, simply because it was dangerous to have even discussed desertion.
Cole certainly understood Christian well. During the mutiny he and Purcell urged Christian to stop what he was doing, and when Christian reminded them of how ill he had been treated by Bligh, Cole said: “I know it very well, Mr. Christian. We all know it, but drop it for God’s sake!”
It was Cole who demanded that the loyalists be given the Bounty’s launch rather than one of the two other boats which were not seaworthy. It was also he who demanded and – when Quintal refused – insisted, that they be given a compass.
At the subsequent court-martial Cole confirmed Heywood’s innocence, although in vain. He also spoke up for Morrison, also in vain. However, his testimony may have contributed to the pardon Heywood and Morrison were granted after being found guilty.
Armorer on the Bounty; loyalist; kept aboard against his will; survived the wreck of the Pandora; was acquitted at the court-martial.
Coleman was born in Guildford and was thirty-six years old when he mustered on the Bounty. He was married and had children. Bligh’s description of Coleman is as follows:
[JOSEPH COLEMAN] Armourer, 40 years, 5 feet 6 inches high. Fair complexion, grey hair, strong made, a heart tattooed on one arm. (Bligh adds to this description, “This man declared to me publickly when I was in the Boat that he knew nothing of the transaction and begged of me to remember he told me of it and that he was kept against his consent.”)
The armorer on board a ship was an extremely important member of the crew. Not only did he keep the arms in repair, but he served as a highly skilled blacksmith who often had to manufacture gear that had been damaged or lost.
On Tahiti, Coleman was one of the busiest men on shore. He had to serve all the needs of the Bounty, but he also – as a gesture of goodwill towards the Tahitians – had to repair and sharpen the iron tools that they had received from previous visitors.
Christian, even though he was obviously in extreme emotional turmoil during the mutiny, probably experiencing a brief psychotic episode (see the April 1789 commentary in Part I), was not so out of touch with reality that he did not realize Coleman’s importance for the ship and he therefore forbade him to go in the launch.
When Christian arranged his “farewell party” on Tahiti in order to kidnap enough women for the mutineers (see the September 1789 commentary in Part I), he had also planned to kidnap Coleman. However, he could not get Coleman drunk enough, and when the ship started moving, the armorer immediately became suspicious, jumped overboard, and swam ashore. It was a disappointment for Christian but not a disaster: John Williams, one of the mutineers who had cast their lot with Christian, was something of a blacksmith himself and had assisted Coleman on board the Bounty.
Coleman helped Morrison build the Resolution. When the Pandora arrived, he was the first to go on board, happy in the knowledge that Captain Bligh had promised to do him justice. He was also the first one to be put in irons. However, when the Pandora was about to founder, he – together with Norman and McIntosh (who had also been promised ‘mercy’ by Bligh) – was released from his shackles to help in manning the pumps.
Since there was no evidence against Coleman, and Bligh had stated that he had been detained in the Bounty against his will, he had no difficulty in getting acquitted at the court-martial.
Able-bodied seaman on the Bounty, mutineer; stayed on Tahiti; survived the wreck of the Pandora; found guilty at court-martial and hanged.
Ellison was born in Deptford and was only fifteen years old when he was entered on the rolls of the Bounty. Yet he had already sailed with Bligh on the Britannia. He was a protege of Duncan Campbell, Mrs. Bligh’s uncle, so it would have been difficult for the captain not to take him along.
Bligh’s description of Ellison, written after the mutiny, reads as follows:
[THOMAS ELLISON] 17 years, 5 feet 3 inches high. Fair complexion, dark hair, strong made. Has his name tattooed under his right arm, and dated “October 25, 1788.”
In a letter to Campbell, written at the beginning of the voyage, Bligh stated: “Tom Ellison is a very good Boy and will do very well.” He must often have regretted those words later.
Ellison was in Christian’s watch and on the morning of the mutiny he was at the wheel. When the mutiny broke out, he was at first “Terrifyde,” as he later testified during the court-martial, but – like several others among the crew – he soon became elated at the turn of events, in fact he lashed the wheel, took a bayonet and waved it in Bligh’s face and shouted: “Damn him, I will be sentinel over him!”
Ellison remained on Tahiti when Christian sailed away and took part in the war against Teina’s (Mate’s) enemies. When the Pandora arrived, he gave himself up voluntarily together with Morrison and Norman. He survived the wreck of the Pandora and was in the same boat as Morrison on the voyage to Timor. He was treated as cruelly as Morrison being “pinnioned with a cord and lash’d down in the boat’s bottom.”
At the court-martial Ellison tried to plead his youth at the time of the mutiny, but that did not impress the court: youth was no excuse for mutiny, there were thousands of young boys in the Navy. Ellison did have the satisfaction, however, of corroborating Burkett’s testimony concerning Hayward and Hallett having begged to be allowed to stay on board the Bounty, and he added that they had “weep’t bitterly’ when they were ordered into the launch.
Together with Millward and Burkett, Ellison was hanged by slow strangulation on board HMS Brunswick on October 29, 1792.
Master’s mate on the Bounty; loyalist; went with Bligh; died in Batavia. Elphinstone was born in Edinburgh and was thirty-six years old when he joined the Bounty.
Most authors who have written about the Bounty story have claimed that John Fryer, the sailing master on the Bounty, must have been hurt or offended when Fletcher Christian, a master’s mate, was promoted to acting lieutenant by Captain Bligh. The falsehood of that argument was pointed out in Part I (the October 1788 commentary). Someone who did have cause to feel slighted was Elphinstone who was also a master’s mate but thirteen years older than Christian and even three years older than Bligh. However, the likelihood is that he had no aspirations to become a lieutenant.
Elphinstone was asleep when the mutiny began and was put under guard, so he did not have much first-hand knowledge about what went on.
He seems to have been a supporter of Bligh at least until the open-boat voyage; there are indications that he started rebelling against Bligh’s martinet style of authority by the time the loyalists reached Surabaya.
In Batavia Elphinstone died – probably of malaria – only a week after Bligh’s departure.
Sailing master on the Bounty; loyalist; went with Bligh; returned safely to England.
Fryer was born at Wells-next-the-Sea in Norfolk on August 15, 1752. He was two years older than Bligh. In the Bounty literature he has usually, and unfairly, been portrayed as incompetent and a cantankerous troublemaker by writers who have uncritically accepted Bligh’s opinion. It is in fact highly unlikely that the Admiralty would have chosen an incompetent sailing master for the expedition. It is more likely that he was highly competent and that Bligh tried to defame him for exactly that reason; Bligh simply could not stand competition from colleagues and had a highly vindictive nature. As the distinguished Bounty historian Rolf Du Rietz has pointed out, Fryer is the one member of the Bounty complement who has suffered most unfairly in the later descriptions of the dramatis personae.
Fryer was appointed to the Bounty on August 20, 1787. He had served as Master in the Royal Navy since 1781 when he was in HMS Camel. He had risen to Master of the Third Rate.
In the beginning of the voyage, Bligh had approved of his sailing master: “The master is a very good man, and gives me every satisfaction.” His feelings towards Fryer soon changed, however, and most probably because the master was not a yes-man; he had strong opinions of his own. Also, even though he was not as sensitive to insults as Christian, he was conscious of his dignity and his competence and let Bligh know, in no uncertain terms, that he was not going to take things “lying down.”
During the mutiny, Fryer was the only officer who made a forceful attempt to talk Christian out of his hasty decision. When that failed, he made an earnest, although equally unsuccessful attempt to mediate between Christian and Bligh. Finally, he was among those who most forcefully demanded that the loyalists be given the Bounty’s launch instead of one of the other two boats which were not seaworthy. At one point Christian pressed his bayonet against Fryer’s chest and she he would run him through if he advanced one inch further.
During the open-boat voyage the men seem to have been divided in two parties: those who looked to Bligh for leadership and those who wished that Fryer were in command (see also the June 1789 commentary in Part I).
Although Bligh had just as low an opinion of Fryer as of Purcell, he brought charges against the latter but not against the former. The reason is probably that Fryer simply knew too much about Bligh’s questionable financial transactions as purser, and Bligh could not afford to take the risk of these being exposed.
During the court-martial of the accused mutineers, Fryer testified that he had seen Burkett, Muspratt, and Millward under arms. His testimony regarding the rest of the accused was generally in their favor.
As soon as the court-martial was over, Fryer looked up Joseph Christian, a distant relation to Fletcher, in order to tell him about the facts that had not been divulged during the trial. Fryer was later instrumental in helping Fletcher’s older brother, Edward Christian, gather the facts which had been omitted by Bligh and which Edward published in his Appendix to Steven Barney’s Minutes of the Proceedings of the Court-Martial. He wrote an account of the mutiny in 1792.
Fryer went on to a distinguished and honourable career in the Royal Navy, reaching the top of his profession, Master of the First Rate, in 1798. Even before then his competence had been recognized by several commanders who wrote him letters of recommendation. Captain Thomas Foley of HMS Britannia, for example, wrote that
he conducted himself with sobriety, diligence, and obedience in the execution of his duty, and that in every respect he shewed himself to be skilful Seaman and good Officer and that in the several difficult services there was to perform he gave his assistance with a zeal and ardour, that calls on me to recommend him in the strongest terms in the favor of the Navy Board, as one worth any Promotion they may have to bestow.
(Bligh would have been totally incapable of writing such a letter of recommendation for anyone, no matter how talented.)
In the Battle of Copenhagen, Fryer was sailing master in Admiral Sir Hyde Parker’s flagship London (his son Harrison Fryer was midshipman in Nelson’s flagship Elephant, his brother-in-law Robert Tinkler was a lieutenant in the Isis, and Bligh commanded the Glatton). He retired from the Navy in 1812 and died at Wells-next-the-Sea on May 26, 1817.
For the best summing up of Fryer the man and the sailor, we have to go to Rolf Du Rietz (1981):
John Fryer of the Bounty was . . . not a so-called historically important figure, and he will never get a full-dress biography. Nevertheless he was – as far as we know – a loyal and profoundly competent officer and an honest man, who deserved well of his country during the greatest and most crucial period of the naval history of Great Britain. As a moral character, there is every reason to suppose that he was far above Bligh, and we must never forget that a human being may, after all, be of great worth even if he does not become a Fellow of the Royal Society, or succeed in ending up in the Dictionary of National Biography.
Able seaman and ship’s cook on the Bounty; loyalist; went with Bligh; died in Batavia.
Hall was born in Durham and was thirty-eight years old when he mustered on the Bounty. Evidently it was not easy to be a ship’s cook under Bligh, because of the scanty rations he ordered to be issued to the men. Morrison writes: “The quantity was so small, that it was no uncommon thing for four men in a mess to draw for the breakfast, and to devide their bread by the well known method of ‘who shall have this,’ nor was the officers a hair behind the men at it. . . . the division of [the] scanty allowance caused frequent broils in the gally, and in the present bad weather [off Cape Horn] was often like to be attended with bad consequences and in one of these disputes the cook, Thos Hall, got two of his ribbs broke & at another time Churchill got his hand scalded and it became at least necessary to have the Mrs mate of the watch to superintend the division of it.”
On the morning of the mutiny, he was sitting with Muspratt, the assistant cook by the starboard fore scuttle splitting wood for the galley. His actions during the mutiny seem to have involved bringing up provisions for the launch. Otherwise, there is very little mention of Hall in the literature of the Bounty. Weakened by the open-boat voyage he died from a tropical disease (probably malaria) in Batavia on October 11, 1789.
Midshipman on the Bounty; loyalist; went to England with Bligh.
Hallett was born in London and was only fifteen years old when he mustered on the Bounty. In many ways, he and Hayward were like peas in a pod. Both had come on board by the influence of Ms. Bligh who knew their respective families well (Ann Hallett, John’s sister, seems to have been a bosom friend of Betsy Bligh). Both were disliked on the ship because of snobbishness and arrogance, both had a tendency to sleep on duty, and when the mutiny broke out, both had tearfully begged to be allowed to stay on board the Bounty while other loyalists were going into the launch. Yet both later testified against those loyalists who had been forced to stay on board the ship.
When the mutiny broke out, Hallett had not even appeared on deck even though he was in Christian’s watch. His – and Hayward’s – disinclination to do any work clearly made it easier for Christian to take over the ship.
Hallett’s testimony during the court-martial of the accused mutineers was highly damaging to Heywood. Hallett claimed that he had observed Bligh saying something to Heywood during the mutiny and the latter had just laughed and turned around and walked away. After the publication of Edward Christian’s Appendix, Bligh needed help in defending himself against the charges that had been leveled at him, and he found a willing instrument in Hallett who claimed that, no matter what anyone else had said, Bligh had never accused anyone of stealing any coconuts.
Hallett later became a lieutenant and died on board HMS Penelope.
Midshipman on the Bounty; loyalist; went with Bligh; arrived safely in England; shipped as third lieutenant on the Pandora, survived the wreck, and went back to England.
Hayward was born in Hackney and was twenty seven years old when he came on board the Bounty. Both he and his young friend Hallett came to the ship through the influence of Bligh’s wife Betsy; the families of both had been friends of the Bethams for some time.
Hayward seems to have been lazy and undependable. He and Hallett were universally disliked on the Bounty because of their arrogance. Hayward had a propensity for sleeping on duty: on Tahiti Bligh put him in irons for having been asleep while on watch when the deserters left the ship.
Nevertheless Hayward and Bligh seem to have liked each other. After Bligh’s hysterical outburst over the supposedly missing coconuts, the officers had agreed among each other not to accept a dinner invitation from the captain. Hayward broke the agreement and dined with him the evening before the mutiny. Bligh commended him highly after the open-boat voyage, and Hayward was totally in support of Bligh during the trial of the accused mutineers.
Hayward was the mate of Christian’s watch. On the morning of the mutiny he was again sleeping on duty (on the arms chest) when Norman called out that he had seen a giant shark. This awakened Hayward and although he was at first interested in catching the shark, he soon noticed that some of the men came on deck armed and asked them what was going on. Christian told him “Mamu!” (“Shut up” in Tahitian) and that took care of Hayward; he never made any attempt to alert Bligh.
When the loyalists were to go into the launch he, and Hallett, tearfully begged to be allowed to stay on board. They were too disliked by the crew, however; nobody wanted them on board.
Not only did Hayward reach England safely, he soon returned as third lieutenant in the Pandora in search of his former shipmates. The dislike he had developed for them, even for the loyalists, was immediately evident when the ship reached Tahiti. Towards Heywood, especially, he seems to have developed feelings close to hatred. When Heywood – who had stayed on Tahiti with the other loyalists and some of the mutineers – came on board the Pandora and wanted to greet Hayward as an old shipmate, Hayward turned a cold shoulder and would have nothing to do with him. Heywood later wrote:
Having learned from one of the natives that our former messmate, Mr. Hayward now promoted to the rank of lieutenant was on board, we asked for him, supposing he might prove the assertions of our innocence. But he, (like all worldlings when raised a little in life) received us very coolly and pretended ignorance of our affairs. Appearances being so much against us, we were ordered to be put in irons and looked upon oh! Infernal words! – as piratical villains.
At the trial of the accused mutineers, Hayward damaged Heywood’s case by making it clear that he considered Heywood a mutineer because the latter had remained on board.
Hayward was later drowned in the China Sea while commanding the sloop-of-war Swift when she foundered in a typhoon.
Acting midshipman on the Bounty; kept on board against his will; survived the wreck of the Pandora; found guilty at court-martial but recommended for mercy and pardoned; went on to a distinguished career in the Navy.
Heywood was born in Douglas on the Isle of Man on June 6, 1772, and was therefore fifteen years old when he was entered on the rolls of the Bounty. He was “of excellent lineage in the north of England” according to Lady Belcher (his later stepdaughter) and was recommended to Bligh by Dr. Richard Betham, Bligh’s father-in-law. On board the Bounty he ate in Christian’s mess together with George Stewart and Robert Tinkler. Heywood and Christian (whose family was Manx) soon became good friends.
On Tahiti, Heywood was assigned to Christian’s shore party and thus had an excellent opportunity to compile material for the Tahitian dictionary which would later prove so valuable to English missionaries. He adapted quickly to the Tahitian way of life, to the point of having himself heavily tattooed (the word tattoo, by the way, comes from the Tahitian tata’u).
During the mutiny he had run up on deck but had been ordered to go below and was there kept under guard together with George Stewart. From what we know today – which is more than the judges knew at the court-martial – it is clear that Heywood had nothing to do with the mutiny. Bligh, however, was always convinced that Heywood not only took an active part in the mutiny but had planned it together with Christian. Since this was a firm conviction, not just a suspicion, it is probable that it originated in Bligh’s feeling hurt and left out by Christian and Heywood during the stay at Tahiti.
Bligh’s description of Heywood, written after the mutiny, reads as follows:
[PETER HEYWOOD] Midshipman, 16 years, 5 feet 7 inches high, fair complexion, light-brown hair, well proportioned. Very much tattooed, and on the right leg is tattooed the Legs of Man, as the impression on that coin is. At this time he had not done growing. He speaks with the Isle of Man accent.
Heywood kept a journal which he submitted to Edwards who made some abstracts from it. The original was lost with the Pandora, but the abstracts have survived among Edwards papers and support the contents of Morrison’s narrative.
During his second stay on Tahiti, from Christian’s departure to the arrival of the Pandora, Heywood wisely refrained from taking an active part in the island’s wars. There is no doubt that he loved the Tahitians; in a letter to his mother he later wrote:
Whilst we remained there we were used by our Friends (the Natives) with a Friendship, Generosity, & Humanity almost unparalleled, being such as never was equalled by the People of any civilised Nations, to the Disgrace of all Christians.
When the Pandora arrived, he was one of the first to go on board and – like the other loyalists – was shocked to find himself treated as if he was a mutineer.
Heywood received strong support from his family on his return to England. His sister Nessy and his mother spared no effort in trying to see to it that he would be acquitted and – when he was found guilty and condemned to death – to obtain the King’s pardon for him.
Heywood’s mother had wanted to engage two of England’s most eminent attorneys for her son’s defense, but she was advised against it by Commodore Thomas Pasley, Peter’s uncle, who knew the prejudice captains sitting as judges at a court-martial had against lawyers. Pasley instead recommended a friend of his, Mr. Aaron Graham, who had extensive experience as a judge at naval courts-martial.
It may nevertheless have been a mistake, because Graham, instead of advising Heywood to concentrate on the hard fact that he had been kept below deck by force, suppressed Heywood’s own defense speech and, together with his associate Mr. Const, wrote a rambling speech which was mawkish and over-emotional and hardly likely to have a positive influence on the captains sitting as judges. Youth was a poor defense in any case, as shown by the fact that Ellison, who was about the same age as Heywood, also emphasized his tender age at the time of the mutiny and was hanged nevertheless.
It is possible, however, that a different defense would not have led to acquittal; the testimony of Hayward and Hallett – which both afterwards said they regretted – was highly damaging and could not be ignored by the judges.
After obtaining the King’s pardon, Heywood was highly instrumental in helping Edward Christian in his efforts to have the whole story of the mutiny told.
Although the judges at the court-martial could not ignore Hayward’s and Hallett’s testimony, it is clear that they had a favorable impression of Heywood. On the very day that the pardon was issued, the President of the court-martial, Admiral Lord Hood, wrote to Heywood’s uncle, Commodore Pasley, offering his nephew a berth as a midshipman on board his own flagship HMS Victory. Pasley, however, wanted Heywood on board his own ship, HMS Bellerophon.
Many years later, Heywood thought he saw Fletcher Christian on a street in Plymouth. The man had run away, however, which Christian would hardly have done. Nevertheless, the fact that Heywood talked about the incident with his friends has led to many fanciful speculations concerning Christian’s supposed departure from Pitcairn and later adventures.
Heywood had a highly distinguished career in the Navy. He became a post captain in 1803 and his rising to the rank of Admiral was prevented only by his death on February 10, 1831, at the age of fifty-eight (he had, however, retired from active service in 1816).
Sir John Barrow, First Secretary of the Admiralty, wrote about Heywood: “Having reached nearly the top of the list of captains, he died in this present year, leaving behind him a high and unblemished character in that service, of which he was a most honourable, intelligent, and distinguished member.”
Able-bodied seaman and cooper on the Bounty; mutineer; stayed on Tahiti; drowned when the Pandora foundered. Hillbrant was born in Hanover and spoke English poorly and with a heavy accent. He was twenty-four years old when he signed on the Bounty.
Bligh’s description of Hillbrant, written after the mutiny, reads as follows:
[HENRY HEILDBRANDT] 25 years, 5 feet 7 inches high. Fair complexion, sandy hair, very strong made. His left arm shorter than the right, having been broke. Is an Hanovarian and speaks bad English. He is tattooed in several places.
Hillbrant triggered Bligh’s first major temper tantrum when, during the famous cheese incident, he said that the ship’s clerk, John Samuel, had ordered the cheeses – which Bligh claimed had been stolen – to be taken to the captain’s residence before the Bounty sailed. Bligh screamed at Hillbrant that he would get “a damn’d good flogging” if he ever said anything like that again.
Hillbrant’s role in the mutiny could not have been very active, since his participation is not detailed in any of the accounts. He stayed on Tahiti, as did eight of the other mutineers, taking the chance of being discovered by a British warship. Being a skilled craftsman, he was of great help to Morrison in building the schooner Resolution. He also took an active part in the wars on the island.
When the Pandora arrived, Hillbrant was one of the Bounty men who took to the mountains. Like the other, he was soon captured and confined to “Pandora’s box,” chained to hands and feet.
On May 14, 1791, six days out of Tahiti, he asked if he could speak with Captain Edwards. What he told him was that, the evening before Christian had left Tahiti for good, he had told Hillbrant his destination: an uninhabited island to the west of Danger Island discovered by John Bryon. Edwards knew that must be Duke of York’s Island (Atafu), but he should have known it was a ruse designed by Christian. Nevertheless he sailed there, stopping at Aitutaki and Palmerston on the way, all the time getting farther away from Christian.
If Hillbrant had hoped he would get any advantage for divulging this “secret” to Edwards, he must have been bitterly disappointed. Not only did he remain shackled in “Pandora’s box,” but – due to Edwards’ inhuman orders to keep the prisoners chained while the Pandora foundered – Hillbrant went down with the ship without a chance to save himself. His fate is a testimony to the unspeakable callousness of the ship’s commander.
Surgeon on the Bounty; died on Tahiti December 9, 1788. Bligh had noticed Huggan’s chronic drunkenness long before the Bounty sailed from Spithead and had tried to have him replaced, but the Admiralty had either refused or not been able to find a replacement. Bligh had therefore taken on board a surgeon’s mate, Thomas Ledward, an action which showed considerable foresight.
There is little doubt that it was Huggan’s fault that able-bodied seaman James Valentine died. Valentine had been suffering from asthma. Huggan bled him – a common enough procedure at the time – and the wound became infected. Evidently gangrene set in because of mismanagement and neglect. Huggan did not even notify Bligh of the severity of Valentine’s situation until the latter was already on the point of death.
Huggan was very much liked by the Tahitians during the six weeks they got to know him. As far as I can determine, he was the first Englishman to be buried on Tahiti (Domingo de Boenechea being the first European to be buried there, in 1775).
Able-bodied seaman and butcher on the Bounty; loyalist; went with Bligh; died on the passage from Batavia. Lamb was born in London and was twenty-one years old when he joined the Bounty. On December 29, 1788, he was given a dozen lashes for “suffering his Cleaver to be stolen” by Tahitians. He was the only man flogged during the voyage who did not end up as a mutineer.
“End up” is the correct expression here, because Lamb initially joined the mutineers, accepting a musket from Thompson and standing guard over the fore hatchway, but he changed his mind later and went into the launch.
On the open-boat voyage from Tofua to Timor, an incident took place on an island within the Great Barrier Reef which Bligh called Lagoon Key; he describes the event as follows:
. . . three men went to the East Key to endevour to take some birds, . . . About 12 o’clock the bird party returned with only 12 noddys . . . but if it had not been for the obstinacy of one of the party, who separated from the other two and putting the birds to flight, they might have caught a great number. Thus all my plans were totally defeated, for which on the return of the offender I gave him a good beating –
The offender was Robert Lamb, who, upon arrival in Java, confessed that he had alone eaten nine noddies and had frightened the others away.
Lamb died, probably from a tropical disease contracted in Batavia, on the passage from there to Capt Town.
Sailmaker on the Bounty; loyalist; went with Bligh on the open-boat voyage; arrived safely in England; sailed again with Bligh in the Providence.
Lebogue was aged forty when mustering on the Bounty, one of the oldest men in the remarkably young crew. Glynn Christian in his book Fragile Paradise (1982) states that Lebogue was an American from Annapolis, but I do not know his source for the claim.
There is little mention of Lebogue in the literature on the mutiny. He seems to have been highly competent in his craft and a man who went about his work quietly.
On the open-boat voyage from Tofua to Timor, Lebogue and Ledward, the surgeon, came close to dying. On June 10, 1789, Bligh writes:
Lawrence Lebogue and the surgeon cannot live a week longer if I do not get relief . . . the surgeon and Lawrence Lebogue are indeed miserable objects – I issue them a few teaspoonfull of wine out of the little I have remaining, which may secure their existence as long as it lasts.
If the word “indomitable” has any real meaning, it would certainly be in reference to Lebogue, because he volunteered to sail with Bligh again, this time in the Providence on the second breadfruit expedition. Again, he is hardly mentioned in the accounts of the voyage, but Bligh, in a letter to Banks, writes that Lebogue had encountered Christian’s consort on this voyage and adds: “We were with Christian always until his last Departure, which was sudden and unknown.”
If this is true, it virtually proves that Christian did not have a permanent attachment among the women in Tahiti at the time of the mutiny. If the woman Lebogue met was Christian’s consort, why had she not gone with Christian to Tubuai and later to Pitcairn?
The likelihood is that Christian knew both her and Mauatua during his first stay in Tahiti, but that no permanent attachment was formed.
George Mackaness in The Life of Vice-Admiral William Bligh (1951), mentions that a friend of the Bligh family once looked up Lebogue and had some grog with him. “Lebogue,” said the friend, “this is better than being in the boat.” “Oh d----- me,” said the sailmaker, “I never think of the boat!”
Surgeon’s mate on the Bounty; acting surgeon after Huggan’s death; loyalist; went with Bligh to Batavia; probably lost at sea during the passage from Batavia to Cape Town.
Bligh had become aware of the chronic drunkenness of his ship’s surgeon, Thomas Huggan, long before the Bounty sailed from Spithead. He tried to get him replaced, but the Admiralty either refused or could not find a replacement. Bligh then tried to procure an assistant surgeon from one of the ships anchored at Spithead and found Ledward who had just been paid off with a good character from HM frigate Nymph, commanded by Captain Albemarle Bertie, which had just been stood down while in process of refitting for sea. (Captain Bertie, by the way, would later be one of the judges at the court-martial of the accused mutineers.)
Ledward was a man who went about his duty quietly and conscientiously. His initial view of Bligh was that “though a passionate Man, [he] is I believe a good-hearted Man, and has behaved very handsomely to me.” By the time the loyalists reached Batavia, however, he resented what he saw as his pettiness and self-interest in not being willing to advance him money save on very stringent terms (see Ledward’s letter in the November 1789 commentary).
Opposite the name Thomas Ledward the following note is written in the muster book of the Bounty: “17th Nov., 1789. Embarked on board the Rotterdam Welfare. Q. What became of him?”
The likelihood is that Ledward was lost when the Welfare (or more properly Rotterdams Welvaren, Captain Willem Jakob Rudde) went down with all 101 crew and passengers on board en route to Cape Town. His letter from Batavia suggests this since endorsed either by the recipient (his uncle) or another member of the family “Poor, unfortunate Thos. Ledward.” An erroneous belief (see Gavin Kennedy, Bligh, 1978) that he may have been surgeon on Vancouver’s Discovery from 1791 to 1795 is based on confusing him with Thomas Laithwood or Lathwood, a carpenter’s mate who fulfilled the role of surgeon’s mate later in that voyage.
Nordhoff and Hall use Ledward as the narrator for their epic story of the open-boat voyage, Men Against the Sea.
[Note: this entry has been updated based on information provided by Dr. Pieter van der Merwe at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, UK, March 2017].
Quartermaster on the Bounty; loyalist; went with Bligh; died in Batavia. Linkletter was born in Shetland and was thirty years old when he joined the Bounty.
Linkletter is not mentioned much in the literature on the mutiny. We do know that he belonged to the “anti-Bligh group” among the men in the Bounty’s launch. According to Alexander McKee in HMS Bounty (1962), Linkletter and Purcell had both seen Bligh appropriate extra rations for himself during the voyage and told Bligh so to his face. Bligh retaliated by imprisoning them on a ship in the harbor of Coupang.
Linkletter died of a tropical disease (probably malaria) in Batavia within a fortnight after Bligh’s departure for England.
Able-bodied seaman on the Bounty; mutineer; went with Christian; died on Pitcairn. Martin was born in Philadelphia and was probably American. “Probably,” because there is also a small English community near Durham called Philadelphia. He was thirty years old when he signed on the Bounty. Bligh’s description of Martin, written after the mutiny, reads as follows:
[ISAAC MARTIN] 30 years, 5 feet, 11 inches high. Sallow complexion, short brown hair, raw-boned. Tattooed on his left breast, with a star.
Martin was flogged on Tahiti for striking a native. Bligh’s orders to the men were of the “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” variety. A man would be flogged if he let a native steal something, but would also be flogged if he struck one of the thieves. The latter was the case with Martin: he had struck a Tahitian in his effort to get back an iron hoop that the islander had stolen. Bligh sentenced him to twenty-four lashes but reduced them to nineteen after chief Teina and his wife Itia had interceded on Martin’s behalf.
A British sailor accepted even severe punishment if he considered it just and did not think less of his commander for it. But if the punishment was unfair, as in Martin’s case, it must have left a lingering resentment. During the subsequent mutiny Martin vacillated. He was in Christian’s watch and the first man that Christian approached with his plan to take over the ship. Martin refused cooperation. However, after Christian had succeeded in talking Quintal and Churchill into the idea, Martin changed his mind and joined the mutineers.
When Bligh was under guard on the quarterdeck, Martin fed him with a shaddock to relieve his parched mouth with its juice. Bligh later wrote:
Isaac Martin, one of the guard, I saw I had brought to a sense of his duty, and as he fed me with shaddock . . . we explained to each other by our eyes reciprocally our wishes. This was, however, observed, and Martin was instantly removed from me whose inclination then was to leave the ship, but for a threat of instant death if he did not return out of the boat.
It is possible, even probable, that Martin would not have vacillated, and would have remained a loyalist had it not been for the unfair punishment he had been subjected to in full view of the Tahitians (during an era when a white man’s prestige had to be preserved at all times). As it was, he would have remained in the boat if Churchill and Quintal had not threatened to shoot him unless the came back on board.
At Tubuai Martin voted with Christian and joined him on the quest which would finally lead to Pitcairn.
Martin’s consort was Teehuteatuaonoa; she had no children with him. On Massacre Day, September 20, 1793, he was the fourth mutineer to be killed by the Polynesians.
Able-bodied seaman on the Bounty; mutineer; went with Christian; died on Pitcairn. The spelling McCoy has been used throughout this book, because that is how the descendants spell it. In the muster book of the Bounty, however, the name is spelled Mickoy.
McCoy was twenty-three years old when he joined the Bounty. Together with his buddy Matthew Quintal, he had transferred from HMS Triumph. He was a violent man and had been involved in many fights, as evidenced by several scars on his body and face. His physical description, given by Bligh after the mutiny, reads as follows:
[WILLIAM MICKOY] seaman, aged 25 years, 5 feet 6 inches high, fair complexion, light brown hair, strong made; a scar where he has been stabbed in the belly, and a small scar under his chin; is tatowed in different parts of his body.
The first significant mention we have of McCoy in the Bounty literatures is that Bligh, in one of his hysterical outbursts, threatened to shoot him if he did not pay attention (to Bligh’s incoherent tirade). This was right after the Bounty had left Nomuka, in other words, shortly before the mutiny.
McCoy was one of the first to join Christian and took an active part in the mutiny. On Tubuai he voted with Christian and went with him to Pitcairn.
McCoy was one of the three mutineers (the others were Brown and Williams) who, with three Polynesians, went ashore with Christian to explore the island. His consort was Teio whom he called Mary and with whom he had two children, Daniel and Kate. He and Quintal were notorious for the brutality with which they treated the Polynesians.
On Massacre Day, September 20, 1793, McCoy narrowly escaped being murdered and, together with Quintal, fled to the mountains. Together they killed Manarii after he had joined them (see the September 1793 commentary in Part I). Once they had received proof of the death of the remaining Polynesians, they rejoined the village.
McCoy had worked in a brewery in Glasgow and, after much experimentation, he succeeded in distilling a strong liquor from the ti-root. The first bottle was ready for consumption on April 20, 1797. This introduced an era of wild drunkenness on the island. McCoy, especially, became totally addicted to the “Demon’s Rum” and developed delirium tremens. Before the end of the year he was dead; during one of his attacks he tied a stone around his neck and jumped to his death from a precipice.
Carpenter’s crew on board the Bounty; loyalist; kept on board against his will; survived the wreck of the Pandora; acquitted at court-martial.
McIntosh was born in North Shields and was twenty-six years old when he joined the Bounty. The description Bligh later gave of him reads as follows:
[THOMAS McINTOSH] Carpenter’s Crew. 28 years, 5 feet 6 inches high. Fair complexion, light-brown hair, slender made. Pitted by smallpox.
McIntosh and Norman were kept on board the Bounty by Christian who needed their skills as carpenters; he did not want to force the dour and strong-willed Purcell to remain. Neither one had taken part in the mutiny, and both called out to Bligh to remember that they were kept on board against their will.
McIntosh had a woman on Tahiti whom he called Mary. Mary followed him to Tubuai and back and bore him a daughter. When Christian left with the Bounty, McIntosh was the first one that Morrison approached with his plan to build a ship and he, together with Norman, were of invaluable help in carrying through with the project.
When the Pandora arrived, McIntosh was the only loyalist who ran up into the mountains to hide with the mutineers. We will never know why. Perhaps he had become attached to his wife and daughter and wanted to remain on Tahiti.
His attempted escape evidently did not count against him. He was one of the three prisoners on the Pandora who were released to work the pumps when the ship struck the reef and, once back in England, he did not experience any significant trouble in being acquitted at the court-martial.
When Bligh returned to Tahiti on the second breadfruit expedition, he was approached by “Mary,” McIntosh’s consort, who showed him a beautiful little girl, about eighteen months old, whose name was Elizabeth and who was McIntosh’s daughter. Whether Bligh ever tried to let his former crew-member know about this encounter when he returned to England, is unknown. It seems most unlikely; Bligh could be sentimental about himself but he had little understanding of the feelings of others.
I do not know what happened to McIntosh after the court-martial.
Gunner’s mate on the Bounty; mutineer; went with Christian; was killed on Pitcairn. Mills was born in Aberdeen. David Silverman in Pitcairn Island (1967) writes:
The few scraps of Mills’ pre-“Bounty” history gleaned from the record suggests a sadistic bully-boy. On the “Mediator,” under Collingwood, Mills was known to send midshipmen on fools’ errands in order to steal their food. Once he extracted tribute for retrieving a midshipman’s cap from the pump well where he had got the mess boy to hide it.
Captain Bligh described Mills’ physical appearance as follows:
[JOHN MILLS] gunner’s mate, aged 40 years, 5 feet 10 inches high, fair complexion, light brown hair, strong made, and raw boned; a scar on his right arm-pit, occasioned by an abscess.
Mills was one of the oldest men on board the Bounty. On October 19, 1788, he and William Brown, the gardener, had refused to dance (the daily exercise ordered by Bligh) and had had their grog ration stopped as a consequence. Apart from that incident, there is hardly any mention of Mills in the Bounty literature until the day of the mutiny.
Mills was in Christian’s watch on that fateful morning, conning the ship with Ellison at the helm. He was one of the men who went below with Christian to arrest Bligh.
On Tubuai, Mills was one of the eight mutineers who voted with Christian and who later sailed with him to Pitcairn. He could hardly have felt much loyalty to Christian, however, because while the latter was ashore exploring the island, he suggested that those aboard the Bounty make sail for Tahiti and leave Christian and those who had gone ashore with him to their fate.
Mills was one of the mutineers who treated the Polynesians brutally. His consort was Vahineatua whom he called Prudence and with whom he had two children, Elizabeth and John Jr.
On Massacre Day, September 20, 1793, Mills was the third of the mutineers to be killed.
John Mills Jr. fell from a steep precipice and died when he was twenty-one years old. He had not been married, so the name Mills died out on Pitcairn.
Elizabeth Young, daughter of John Mills, was born in 1792 and witnessed the murder of Quintal in 1799. She migrated to Tahiti in 1831 and to Norfolk in 1856, but she returned to, and died on, Pitcairn at the age of ninety-one on November 6, 1883. She was the last of the second generation descendants of the mutineers.
Able-bodied seaman on the Bounty; mutineer; stayed on Tahiti; survived the wreck of the Pandora; found guilty at the court-martial and hanged. Millward was born in Plymouth and was twenty-one years old when he mustered on the Bounty. He was one of the more literate of the seamen on board.
Bligh’s description of Millward, written after the mutiny, reads as follows:
[JOHN MILLWARD] 22 years, 5 feet 5 inches high. Brown complexion. Dark hair, strong made. Tattooed under the pit of the stomach with a taoomy or breastplate of Otaheite.
Millward deserted on Tahiti together with Churchill and Muspratt and, when caught, received forty-eight lashes in two installments with just enough time in between (January 23 to February 4, 1789) for a thin scab to have formed on the exposed flesh of the grisly wound.
In the beginning of the mutiny Millward had been reluctant to join in, at one point saying to Churchill: “No, Charles, you brought me into one Predicament already, and I’ll take Care you don’t bring me into another.” However, although he wavered in choosing sides, he did take up a musket and never made any attempt to get into the launch.
Millward preferred to take his chances on Tahiti rather than go to some unknown island with Christian. He was very friendly with one of chief Poino’s wives and actually had a son with her. He was one of the ten men who helped Morrison build the schooner Resolution and he took part in the military campaigns designed to help Teina (Mate) gain supremacy over the other districts on the island.
When the Pandora arrived, Milward was one of the men who made the futile attempt to hide in the mountains. He survived the wreck of the Pandora only to be found guilty at the court-martial and hanged. His speech before the execution was quoted in the October 1792 commentary in Part I.
Boatswain’s mate on the Bounty; loyalist; stayed on the Bounty; survived the wreck of the Pandora, returned to England; found guilty at the court-martial; received the King’s pardon.
Morrison was born at Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland and was twenty-seven years old when he mustered on the Bounty. He was “of good birth” and well educated. In 1782 he had been a midshipman in HMS Termagant, a sloop of war (whose commander, Captain Charles Stirling, was later to write a character reference for Morrison during his court-martial). The main reason Morrison accepted a lesser position on the Bounty seems to have been his desire to sail to the South Seas.
After the mutiny, Bligh described Morrison as follows:
[JAMES MORRISON] Boatswain’s Mate, 28 years, 5 feet 8 inches high. Sallow complexion. Long black hair. Slender made. Lost the use of the first joint of the forefinger of the right hand. Tattooed with star under his left breast and a garter round his left leg, with the motto honi soit qui mal y pense. Has been wounded in one of his arms with a musket ball.
Morrison was in Fryer’s watch. At the court-martial, the Bounty’s sailing master described him in just a few words: “A steady, sober, attentive, good, Man.”
Bligh always portrayed himself as being a perfect commander and his ship as being the happiest that ever sailed an ocean. It is thanks to Morrison that we have a check on Bligh’s accuracy. The “cheese incident” was referred to in the February 1788 commentary in Part I. Bligh never mentioned it in his log or journal, but Morrison did. Most of Bligh’s comments about the crew of the ship have to be read with grains of salt. Take, for example, Bligh’s entry for March 23, 1788, the day the Bounty started her valiant but unsuccessful attempt to round the horn:
In the morning I killed a sheep and served it to the ship’s company, which gave them a pleasant meal.
Morrison’s corresponding entry reads:
One of the sheep dying, this morning Lieut. Bligh order’d it to be issued in lieu of the day’s allowance of pork and pease, declaring that it would make a delicious meal and that it weighed upwards of fifty pounds; it was divided and most part of it thrown overboard, and some dried shark supplyd its place for Sundays dinner, for it was no other than skin and bone.
Morrison did not take part in the mutiny. Later, at the court-martial, he was to say that he had stayed on board in the hope of forming a party to retake the ship. No attempt to do so seems to have been made, however. Christian, by the way, promoted Morrison to boatswain on the Bounty.
Morrison was an excellent amateur anthropologist and ethnographer and a natural storyteller. The narrative he later wrote about his experiences on Tahiti and his observations of life of the Tahitians has become a treasure trove of information for all who are interested in Polynesia.
It was Morrison who initiated and supervised the building of a European-type ship on Tahiti (see the November 1788 and March and July 1790 commentaries in Part I). In this he was assisted by his taio Poino, the chief of Haapape.
On the open-boat voyage after the wreck of the Pandora Morrison appears to have been the only one of the prisoners who dared speak up against Edwards’ incredibly harsh treatment of the Bounty men:
On the 9th [September] I was laying on the oars talking to McIntosh when Captain Edwards ordered me aft. Without assigning any cause, he ordered me to be pinnioned with a cord and lassh’d down in the boat’s bottom. Ellison who was then asleep in the boat’s bottom was ordered to the same punishment. I attempted to reason and enquire what I had now done to be thus cruelly treated, urging the distress’d situation of the whole, but received for answer, “Silence, you murdering villain – are you not a prisoner? You piratical dog, what better treatment do you expect?”
I then told him that it was a disgrace to the captain of a British man o’ war to treat a prisoner in such an inhuman manner, upon which he started up in a violent rage, and snatching a pistol which lay in the stern sheets threatened to shoot me. I still attempted to speak, when he sword “By God! If you speak another word I’ll heave the log with you!”
Finding that he would hear no reason and my mouth being parched so that I could not move my tongue, I was forced to be silent and submit; and was tyed down so that I could not move.
In this miserable situation, Ellison and I remained for the rest of the passage, nor was McIntosh suffered to come near or speak to either of us.
During the court-martial Morrison, like Heywood, was badly damaged by the testimonies of Hayward and Hallett. The fact that he received a King’s pardon after being found guilty and condemned to death was certainly not due to family influence. It may, at least in part, be due to the fact that he had written to Reverend Howell (see the December 1792 commentary in Part I), who probably circulated Morrison’s writings among the Navy personnel stationed at Portsmouth. Or it may simply be that Morrison and Heywood were recommended to mercy because the court was favorably impressed by them and uncertain about the validity of the evidence against them.
If Morrison’s writings had been published, they would have proved quite embarrassing not only to Bligh, but indirectly also to Sir Joseph Banks.
Similarly, Morrison’s charges against Edwards could have created a scandal, and it was not in the national interest to have the extraordinary harshness of some Navy commanders exposed, especially at a time when mutiny was “in the air” (erupting only a few years later in the spectacular mutiny at the Nore). Morrison’s pardon may even have involved an unofficial agreement that he was not to publish his narrative during his lifetime (he had planned to publish it in February 1793), although this is pure speculation.
Morrison was a good friend of Peter Heywood and gave him a copy of his narrative which, after Heywod’s death, was published in part by Heywood’s stepdaughter, Lady Diana Belcher, in her book The Mutineers of the Bounty and their Descendants in Pitcairn and Norfolk Islands (1870). Extracts had appeared in 1799, 1825 and 1831.
Morrison stayed in the Navy. He made his last voyage as chief gunner in HMS Blenheim, the 740gun flagship of Admiral Sir Thomas Troubridge which was based at Penang in the East India Station. The ship went down with all hands in a violent gale off the Isle of Bourbon (Reunion) on February 1, 1807.
Able-bodied seaman, tailor, and assistant to the cook on the Bounty; mutineer; stayed on Tahiti; survived the wreck of the Pandora; was found guilty and condemned to death at the court-martial; released on appeal of verdict.
Muspratt was born in Yarmouth and was twenty-seven years old when he signed on the Bounty. Bligh’s description of him, written after the mutiny, reads as follows:
[WILLIAM MUSPRATT] 30 years, 5 feet 6 inches high. Dark complexion, brown hair, slender made. Very strong black beard under his scarred chin. Tattooed in several places.
On Tahiti Muspratt was the third seaman to be flogged. On December 27, 1788, he received a dozen lashes for an unspecified “neglect of duty.” Nine days later, he deserted together with Churchill and Millward. On being caught towards the end of January, he received two dozen lashes on a back that could hardly have been healed by then, and the punishment was repeated on February 4: sixty lashes in less than six weeks. The desertion is described in the January 1789 commentary in Part 1
On the morning of the mutiny Muspratt and the cook, Thomas Hall, were sitting by the starboard fore scuttle splitting wood for the falley. Muspratt joined the mutineers and armed himself with a musket when ordered to do so by Churchill, although he would later claim at his trial that he had done so only with a view to helping in any attempt the officers might have made to put down the mutiny. He appears to have been vacillating in his loyalty.
Muspratt remained on Tahiti when Christian sailed away for good. He helped Morrison in the building of he schooner Resolution and he took part in the military operations designed to help chief Teina (Mate) become supreme ruler over Tahiti.
When the Pandora arrived, he and most of the mutineers fled to the mountains in the vain hope of escaping capture. He survived the wreck of the Pandora and reached England to stand trial for his role in the mutiny.
Although he, assisted by his excellent attorney Stephen Barney (there is no indication anywhere of how he, alone, among the common seamen, was able to afford an attorney), put on an excellent defense, he was found guilty and sentenced to be hanged. The story of his appeal and its result was told in the September and October 1792 and the February 1793 commentaries in Part 1.
The fate of Muspratt after he was freed is unknown to [Wahlroos].
[At http://www.lareau.org/muspratt.html, Paul Lareau provides this additional information on Muspratt’s fate: “On 19 Aug 1793, he made and executed a will naming his brother, Joseph, as his executor. This will went through ‘limited probate’ in Jan 1798, indicating that William was deceased, and had most recently been serving on the HMS Bellerophon.”]
Botanist on theBounty; loyalist; went with Bligh; died on Timor. The King’s intention to send out an expedition for the purpose of gathering breadfruit plants for the West Indies was spelled out in a letter to the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty written by Lord Sydney, a Principal Secretary of State. The letter was dated May 5, 1787, and contained the following paragraph:
Mr David Nelson and Mr William Brown, Gardeners by Profession, have from their Knowledge of Trees and Plants been hired for the Purpose of selecting such as appear to be of a proper Species and Size and it is His Majesty’s Pleasure that your Lordships do order those Persons to be received on board the said Vessel and to be borne for Wages and Victuals during the voyage.
Nelson knew Bligh from before: they had both sailed with Cook on his third voyage (1776-1780), Nelson on the Discovery and Bligh as sailing master in the Resolution. He was originally a Kew gardener and had been selected as botanist on Cook’s voyage by Sir Joseph Banks who personally paid for his expenses. Captain Charles Clerke, who commanded the Discovery, wrote to Banks that Nelson was “one of the quietest fellows in nature.”
Nelson also knew Peckover, of course, that lover of the South Seas who had been on all three of Cook’s voyages.
During the voyage Nelson simply went about his business, collecting plants of all sorts in addition to the breadfruit shoots. He seems to have been liked by everyone on board, even by Bligh.
During the mutiny Nelson was kept below deck under guard. Alexander McKee in H.M.S. Bounty (1962) quotes Nelson as saying to William Peckover, the veteran gunner: “The ship is taken. It is by our own people, and Mr. Christian at their head. But we know whose fault it is.” (See also Du Rietz, 1965, pp. 22-23 and 59.)
Both men choose to go into the launch with Bligh. On the open-boat voyage Nelson was among the weakest and almost died before Timor was reached. On July 20, 1789, Nelson died in Coupang from a tropical fever. Bligh wrote:
. . . I have had the Misfortune to loose Mr. Nelson the Botanist whose good Conduct in the course of the whole Voyage and Manly fortitude in our late disastrous circumstances deserves this tribute to his Memory.
Carpenter’s mate on the Bounty; loyalist; kept on board against his will; survived the wreck of the Pandora; acquitted at court-martial. Norman was born in Portsmouth and was twenty-four years old when the Bounty sailed from Spithead. He was married and had children. His physical description, given by Bligh after the mutiny, reads as follows:
[CHARLES NORMAN] Carpenter’s Mate, 26 years, 5 feet 9 inches high. Fair complexion, light-brown hair, slender made. Pitted by the smallpox, and has a remarkable motion with his head and eyes.
At the court-martial, William Purcell, the Bounty’s carpenter and Norman’s immediate superior, described him as “sober, diligent, and attentive.”
Norman was in Christian’s watch during the mutiny and was observing the movements of an enormous shark, unaware that the mutineers were arming themselves. Actually the fact that Norman spotted the shark provided Christian with the perfect excuse to get the key to the arms chest from armorer Coleman: he simply said he was going to shoot a shark.
Christian did not want to force Purcell, the carpenter, to stay on board; Purcell was a very stubborn and difficult man to deal with, as Bligh had found out to his chagrin. But carpenters were needed on board and this is why Norman and McIntosh, both carpenter’s mates, were forced to stay (it is possible that only one would have been kept, if the launch had not been so deeply laden already). Both of them called out to Bligh to remember that they had been kept on board against their will.
On Tahiti, Norman and McIntosh were extremely helpful to Morrison in his ship-building project and they certainly deserve a great deal of the credit for the schooner turning out so well.
When the Pandora arrived, Norman was as shocked as the other loyalists when he was put in irons, especially since he and McIntosh had specifically called out to Bligh to remember that they were innocent. The only advantage he received on the Pandora – and it may have saved his life – was that he, together with McIntosh and Coleman (the three whom Bligh had specified as “deserving mercy”), was released to help in manning the pumps when the ship was foundering.
Norman experienced no real difficulties during the court-martial and was acquitted of all complicity in the mutiny. Indirectly and unwittingly, he was instrumental in effecting Muspratt’s release on a technicality. Muspratt had asked that Norman, against whom there was no evidence, be released so that he could given testimony in Muspratt’s behalf. The court had refused, Muspratt claimed his rights had been violated, and his verdict was overturned on appeal.
Norman’s activities after the court-martial are unknown to me.
Quartermaster on the Bounty; loyalist; went with Bligh; killed by natives on Tofua. Norton was born in Liverpool and was thirty-four years old when the Bounty sailed from Spithead. He was one of the six me on board who had sailed with Bligh before and one of the four (the others being Christian, Lebogue, and Ellison) who had been with Bligh in the merchant ship Britannia.
Norton went with Bligh in the launch during the mutiny but was killed by the natives of Tofua in the Tonga islands on May 2, 1789, as he attempted to unfasten the sternline of the launch in which Bligh and the loyalists tried to escape. The natives overpowered him and beat him to death with rocks. It was in large part due to his sacrifice that the escape was successful.
According to Purcell, the carpenter, the launch had only a seven and a half inch freeboard and was often in danger of being swamped on the voyage to Timor. No wonder, then, that the Reverend James Bligh, one of the captain’s relatives, later wrote:
I have heard Captain Bligh say it was, with respect to the boat’s crew, a fortunate circumstance, for he [Norton] was the stoutest man in the ship, which circumstance would very materially have interfered with the boat’s progress and the allowance of provisions.
The place where Norton was killed was henceforth known as “Murderers’ Cove.” As the surgeon of the Pandora later remarked: “Murderers’ Cove, in the Friendly Isles, is saying a volume on the subject.”
Gunner on the Bounty; loyalist; went with Bligh; arrived safely in England. Peckover was the real “old South Seas hand” on board the Bounty. He had been on all three of Cook’s voyages and, since Cook visited Tahiti four times (twice on the second voyage), his visit on the breadfruit expedition was his fifth, this of course, was the reason why Bligh put Peckover in charge of all trading with the Tahitians. He spoke the language fluently and had an excellent understanding of Tahitian customs and ways of thinking.
On the night of the mutiny, Peckover was in charge of the watch from midnight to 4:00 a.m., the one preceding Christian’s. When the mutiny broke out he was kept below deck under guard until it was time for the loyalists to go into the launch.
Peckover was a brave man. On Tofua, when ordered by Bligh to single-handedly take the ship’s log from the cave to the launch through a hostile crowd of natives armed with spears and slings, he did so without hesitation, boldly pushing his way through the warriors who, judging the book to be something of value, made repeated attempts to wrestle it from him. He succeeded in breaking through with the log; if he had not, we would have known less about the whole affair today, and a brave man would have met a premature death.
At the court-martial, Peckover was one of the witnesses who confirmed Heywood’s innocence. Even though Heywood was convicted, it is likely that Peckover’s testimony contributed to his being given a King’s pardon. Later he was to declare that the facts, as given in Edward Christian’s Appendix, were substantially accurate.
Peckover loved Tahiti and the South Seas. Even though he did not particularly care for Bligh, he applied for a position as gunner on the Providence, but Bligh turned him down. In a letter to Sir Joseph Banks dated July 17, 1781 (two weeks before Bligh sailed on the second breadfruit expedition), he writes:
Should Peckover my late Gunner ever trouble you to render him further services I shall esteem it a favor if you will tell him I informed you he was a vicious and worthless fellow – He applied to me to render him service & wanted to be appointed Gunner of the Providence but as I had determined never to suffer an officer who was with me in the Bounty to sail with again, it was for the cause I did not apply for him.
The “vicious and worthless fellow” had been highly esteemed by Captain Cook. The letter shows Bligh’s vindictiveness in sharp focus and it had nothing to do with Peckover’s testimony in favor of Heywood, nor with his confirmation of the facts in Edward Christian’s Appendix, since Bligh sailed long before the accused mutineers were brought to England.
Peckover’s later fate is unknown to me.
Carpenter on board the Bounty; loyalist; went with Bligh; arrived safely in England. In the Bounty literature, Purcell has uniformly been portrayed as a cantankerous man, a perpetual trouble-maker, and somewhat of a “sea-lawyer.” It is possible that such was the case and there is no doubt that Purcell was a constant thorn in his captain’s side. However, we only have Bligh’s description of him, and Bligh disliked him so intensely that he could hardly be seen as an objective judge of Purcell’s character and personality. It is just as possible that Purcell simply was “his own man,” conscious of his competence and his dignity as a human being, and would not let himself be intimidated by Bligh – an attitude which of course would have infuriated the captain.
Purcell was a loyalist only in the sense that the paid allegiance to the Crown and thereby to Bligh’s uniform – but certainly not to Bligh as a person, a man whom he detested.
Purcell was proud of his profession and of his skills and, like Fryer, he was not about to take Bligh’s abuse “lying down.” In fact, what enraged Bligh the most during the entire voyage – apart from the mutiny of course – was Purcell’s assertion on Sunday Island: “I am as good a man as you.”
Bligh was a vindictive and petty man, so Purcell was probably not too surprised when Bligh brought charges against him: six counts of misconduct, insubordination, “refractory behaviour,” etc. The verdict of the court, which met immediately after Bligh’s brief court-martial on October 22, 1790, was that the charges had been proven in part, and Purcell was therefore reprimanded.
During the court-martial of the accused mutineers, Purcell damaged Heywood’s case by saying that he had seen the acting midshipman with his hand on the hilt of a cutlass. However, his impression was that Heywood was confused at the time. Also, Heywood had dropped the cutless immediately when Purcell had asked: “In the name of God, Peter, what do you do with that?” He did not consider Heywood a mutineer.
After the court-martial, Purcell was helpful to Edward Christian in the latter’s attempts to gather all the facts pertaining to the mutiny that had been omitted by Bligh. His later pursuits are unknown, but Sir John Barrow, in The Eventful History of the Mutiny and Piratical Seizure of HMS Bounty, claims Purcell was in a ‘madhouse’ in 1831, and George Mackaness, in The Life of Vice-admiral William Bligh, says he died at Haslar Hospital on March 10, 1834, “the last survivor of the Bounty.”
Able-bodied seaman on the Bounty; mutineer; went with Christian; murdered by Adams on Pitcairn. The description Bligh wrote of Quintal after the mutiny reads as follows:
[MATTHEW QUINTAL] seaman, age 21 years, 5 feet 5 inches high, fair complexion, light brown hair, strong made; very much tatowed on the backside, and several other places.
Quintal, a Cornishman from Padstow, was twenty-one years old when he mustered on the Bounty. Together with his crony, William McCoy, he had transferred from HMS Triumph which was anchored at Spithead at the time.
Quintal had a brutal nature and was one of the troublemakers on the Bounty, the first one to be flogged. On March 11, 1788, Bligh wrote in his logbook:
Until this afternoon I had hopes I could have performed the voyage without punishment to any one, but I found it necessary to punish Matthew Quintal with 2 dozen lashes for insolence and mutinous behaviour.
The “insolence and mutinous behaviour” had actually been directed at the sailing master, John Fryer, rather than at Bligh.
Quintal could not have had any real animosity towards Fryer, however, because on Nomuka he saved his life. On April 26, 1789 (two days before the mutiny), Fryer headed a watering party on the island. Natives were crowding around the men when Quintal suddenly shouted: “Mr. Fryer, there’s a man going to knock you down with his club.” Fryer turned around and the native lowered his club and ran away.
Quintal was in Christian’s watch. He was the second man Christian turned to with his plan to take over the ship (Isaac Martin had initially refused cooperation). He was immediately for the idea and started to recruit others among the men that he thought could be counted on. He and McCoy and Churchill were probably the most active among the mutineers.
Quintal, unlike Christian, was a born mutineer. Not only was he the first to be flogged on the Bounty for insolence and mutinous behavior, but he, together with John Sumner, was also the first to oppose Christian. He and Sumner had gone ashore on Tubuai without leave, and they had spent the night. When they returned to the ship, Christian asked what their reason had been to disobey orders. They then answered, “The ship is moor’d and we are now our own masters.” To show them who was master, Christian had them clapped into irons until the next day.
It was Quintal who set fire to the Bounty only five days after the arrival at Pitcairn and before the settlers had had a chance to remove everything of value from the ship.
On Pitcairn, Quintal was the leader in the oppression of the Polynesians. On Massacre Day, September 20, 1793, he barely escaped being killed by the Polynesians by fleeing to the mountains together with McCoy.
Quintal was not only cruel to the Polynesian men but he also abused his consort Tevarua. In her book on the history of the island, Rosalind Young tells the story handed down through the years that Tevarua one day went fishing and did not catch enough to satisfy him, whereupon he punished her by biting off her ear. He could well have been drunk at the time, because he and McCoy were the chief consumers of the ti-root brandy which the latter had succeeded in distilling. Tevarua fell – or, more probably, threw herself – off a cliff and died in 1799.
Captain Beechey, who was the only visitor ever to see Edward Young’s journal (in 1825), states that Quintal was executed by Adams and Young later in 1799 after having made an attempt against their lives (another account claimed he had threatened to kill the children Mauatua had had with Christian).
With Tevarua (“Sarah”), Quintal had two sons (Matt and Arthur) and two daughters (Jenny and Sarah). A fifth child died at the age of seven days. Quintal also had a posthumous son, Edward, with Teraura.,Young’s original consort. At the time of writing (September 1988) there are no Quintals on Pitcairn, but many of the descendants have made their home on Norfolk Island and in New Zealand.
Clerk on the Bounty; loyalist; went with Bligh; arrived safely in England. Samuel was born in Edinburgh and was twenty-six years old when the Bounty left England. He seems to have been universally disliked on board. In practice he was Bligh’s personal servant as much as he was the ship’s clerk.
From Tenerife, in January 1788, Bligh wrote to his wife’s uncle, Duncan Campbell: “. . . as my Pursing [Bligh was also purser on board] depends on much circumspection and being ignorant in it with a worthless clerk, I have some embarrassment, but as I trust nothing to anyone and keep my accounts clear, if I fail in rules of office I do not doubt of getting the better of it.”
The “worthless clerk” is Samuel who actually was very efficient and whom Bligh was later to praise in his journal. The “embarrassment” refers almost certainly to the “cheese incident” (see the February 1788 commentary in Part I). When Bligh said two cheeses had been stolen, Hillbrant said they had been taken to Bligh’s home on Samuel’s orders, a statement which threw Bligh into one of his frequent uncontrollable rages. It is probable that Bligh in his letter wanted to lay the grounds for blaming Samuel if the details of the ‘pursing’ ever were to be questioned by the Admiralty.
At the time of the mutiny, the idea seems to have been only to get rid of Bligh, Hayward, Hallett, and Samuel, the most disliked men on board. The plan had to be abandoned, however, when it turned out that many others preferred leaving the ship to being considered mutineers.
There is no doubt that Samuel was very effective during the mutiny in gathering up as many of Bligh’s possessions as he could grab hold of and getting them into the launch past the scrutiny of the mutineers. Yet, when it came to Samuel’s turn to enter the launch, he had to be forced overboard.
When Bligh left Batavia on the Vlydte, he took only Samuel and John Smith (his steward and personal cook) with him.
Quartermaster’s mate on the Bounty; loyalist; went with Bligh; arrived safely in England. Simpson was born in Kendal, Westmorland, and was twenty-seven years old when the Bounty sailed from Spithead. He is not mentioned much in the literature about the mutiny, but we do know that he was part of the “anti-Bligh group” in the Bounty’s launch. Although he returned to England, he was not present at the court-martial of the accused mutineers, and Heywood mentioned specifically in the summary of his defense that Simpson’s absence militated against the successful prosecution of his case.
Able-bodied seaman and barber on the Bounty; mutineer; stayed on Tahiti; drowned when the Pandora sank. Skinner was born in Tunbridge Wells and was twenty-one when he mustered on the Bounty. Among his other duties on board he seems to have been Fryer’s servant.
Bligh’s description of Skinner, written after the mutiny, reads as follows:
[RICHARD SKINNER] 22 years, 5 feet 8 inches high. Fair complexion, light-brown hair, very well made. Scars on both ankles and on right shin. It is tattooed, and by trade a Hair Deeper.
Skinner was “badly hurt” at Cape Town but does not seem to have received any permanent injury.
He was an active mutineer and seemed to have been on the point of shooting into the launch, probably aiming at Bligh, when someone next to him knocked his musket aside.
Skinner stayed on Tahiti when Christian and his party sailed in search of an island refuge. He had a daughter with his Tahitian consort.
Skinner drowned with his hands till manacled when the Pandora went down.
See ADAMS, JOHN, John Adams appears as Alexander Smith in the Bounty’s muster book. Why he chose to sail under this alias will probably never be known (some have assumed he did so in order to hide a criminal past). The somewhat delicate question was apparently not raised by any of the sea captains who interviewed him, or, if it was, the answer was not recorded.
Able-bodied seaman and Bligh’s servant on the Bounty; loyalist; went with Bligh; arrived safely in England. Smith was thirty-six years old when he mustered on the Bounty. He was born in Sterling.
During the mutiny, Christian ordered smith to serve rum to everyone under arms. It must have galled Bligh to see his own servant being ordered to cater to the mutineers. There is little mention, otherwise, of Smith in the Bounty literature. He sailed home to England with his master in the Vlydte.
At the court-martial of the accused mutineers, Smith testified that he had seen neither Heywood, nor Morrison, under arms.
His later fate is unknown to me.
Midshipman on the Bounty, promoted to acting master’s mate when Christian was made acting lieutenant; loyalist; kept on board against his will; drowned when the Pandora foundered.
Stewart was well educated and from “a fairly good family” in the Orkneys. Bligh had been well taken care of by Stewart’s family when the Resolution called at the Orkneys on the way home from the South Pacific, and Bligh had then promised to see what he could do for young George. He seems to have written to the family offering a berth to George when it became clear that he would lead the breadfruit expedition. Initially, Bligh considered Stewart a good seaman who “had always borne a good character.”
Stewart was twenty-one years old when he joined the Bounty. On board, he ate in Christian’s mess together with Peter Heywood and Robert Tinkler.
On Tahiti, Stewart seems to have fallen in love with a woman he called “Peggy,” the daughter of a prominent chief called Tepahu. Yet there is absolutely no indication that he wanted to remain on the island or in any way supported or approved of the mutiny.
Stewart was a good friend of Christian’s and did his best to dissuade him from putting his suicidal plan to escape on a raft into effect. It was in this connection, however, that he uttered those fatal words which probably triggered the idea of mutiny in Christian’s mind: “The men are ripe for anything!” It is virtually certain that Stewart meant those words to appeal to Christian’s sense of duty: he, as the most popular officer on board, was needed to control the men.
Heywood, who knew Stewart well and spent a year and a half with him on Tahiti, always became incensed when anyone insinuated that Stewart had meant to suggest mutiny to Christian. Heywood considered it a slur on the memory of a fine officer and so it was and so it is.
During the Mutiny, Stewart was kept under guard below deck. Bligh was later to claim that, when the launch was cast off, he saw Stewart come on deck and dance a Tahitian dance. No one else saw it.
Bligh’s description of Stewart, written after the mutiny, reads as follows:
[GEORGE STEWART] midshipman, 23 years, 5 feet 7 inches high. Good complexion, dark hair, slender made, narrow-chested and long-necked – on his left breast tattooed a star and also one on his left arm, on which likewise is tattooed heart with darts – tattooed on backside – very small features.
After the mutiny Christian appointed Stewart his second in command. The fact that Stewart accepted shows only a sober appraisal of reality; he was needed to navigate the ship, and was not involved in any agreement with Christian in the act of mutiny. He was not very popular with the men, because he was a very strict disciplinarian.
Stewart kept a journal which was later partly abstracted by Captain Edwards; the original was lost with the Pandora.
On Tahiti, Stewart and Heywood developed a close relationship. Stewart was formally married in the Tahitian manner to Peggy (we do not know her Tahitian name) and had a daughter with her.
In the April 1791 commentary in Part I of this book we have described the heart-rending scenes that occurred when Stewart and the rest of the Bounty men were confined in “Pandora’s box” and when the ship left. We will never know if Stewart would have been acquitted or condemned to death at the court-martial, had he survived, but his death with still manacled hands when the Pandora foundered will remain an eternal disgrace to Captain Edward Edwards.
Able-bodied seaman on the Bounty; mutineer; stayed on Tahiti; drowned when the Pandora foundered. Sumner was born in Liverpool and was twenty-two years old when he signed on the Bounty. Bligh’s description of Sumner, written after the mutiny, reads as follows:
[JOHN SUMNER] 24 years, 5 feet 8 inches high. Fair complexion, brown hair. Slender made, a scar on the left cheek and tattooed in several places.
The first significant mention of Sumner in the Bounty literature is on April 12, 1789, sixteen days before the mutiny, when he was given twelve lashes for an unspecified “neglect of duty.” It was the last flogging on board before the mutiny.
Sumner took an active part in the insurrection; he and Quintal stood guard over Fryer and also kept Peckover and Nelson from coming on deck.
On Tubuai, Sumner and Quintal were the first to disobey orders from Christian (by spending the night on shore without leave) and were, as punishment, clapped into irons for one day.
Sumner elected to stay on Tahiti when Christian sailed from the island for the last time. He accepted an invitation by chief Temarii to settle in Papara and took part in the military campaigns designed to help Pomare I (then called Mate) gain supremacy over Tahiti. When the Pandora arrived, he joined the other mutineers in running to the mountains to hide.
John Sumner drowned with his hands still manacled when the Pandora went down.
Able-bodied seaman on the Bounty; mutineer; killed on Tahiti. Thompson was born on the Isle of Wight and was thirty-seven years old when he signed on the Bounty. Bligh’s description of Thompson, written after the mutiny, reads as follows:
[MATTHEW THOMPSON] A.B. 40 years, 5 feet 8 inches high. Very dark complexion, short black hair. Slender made. Has lost the joint of the great toe of his right foot. Is tattooed.
Thompson was perhaps the most brutal man on the Bounty and that is saying much when one considers that Churchill and Quintal and McCoy were also on board.
On Tahiti, Thompson was given twelve lashes with the cat-o’-nine-tails for “insolence and disobedience of orders.”
During the mutiny Thompson was one of the first to join Christian. It was he who kept guard over the arms chest to prevent the loyalists from arming themselves.
Thompson does not seem to have been liked by anyone on the Bounty. Churchill, also a brutal man but with some capacity for friendship, seems to have tolerated him, however, and the two were often seen together on Tahiti.
Thompson may have been the only Bounty man who did not have a taio and the women, sensing his brutal nature, probably shunned him. On February 8, 1790, Thompson tried to rape the daughter of a chief. His brother ran to her assistance, knocked Thompson down, and ran off. Thompson in his rage swore that he would kill the first Tahitian he saw. When he came to his hut, there was the usual crowd assembled around it, curious about the doings of popa’as (white men) and Thompson told them to disperse. Not understanding him, the crowd remained. Thompson then took his musket and shot into the crowd, killing a father and a baby he was holding and breaking the mother’s jaw.
Thompson, fearing reprisals, fled to Taiarapu where Churchill was living with his taio, chief Vehiatua. The chief soon died without leaving any male offspring and, in accordance with old Tahitian custom, Churchill succeeded him.
Thompson, incapable of any real friendship, soon became envious of Churchill and moved to another district. Not trusting Thompson, Churchill ordered his servants to steal Thompson’s muskets, which they did. Thompson suspected Churchill right away and went to confront him. Churchill swore that he knew nothing about it and the two became “friends” again.
One day, however, Churchill had beaten his servant Maititi mercilessly for some minor offense, and the latter took revenge by telling Thompson the truth about the theft of the muskets. Thompson then killed Churchill.
The killing of a chief had to be avenged, however, so the Tahitians who had been Churchill’s subjects – after lulling Thompson into security by pretending that they now recognized him as their new chief – jumped him when he was off guard and bashed his head in with a rock.
Able-bodied seaman on the Bounty; loyalist; went with Bligh; arrived safly in England. Tinkler was born at Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk, in 1770, so he was seventeen years old when he joined the Bounty. He was the youngest brother-in-law of the sailing master, John Fryer. Bligh refers to Tinkler as “Boy,” but he seems to actually have occupied a position halfway between able-bodied seaman and midshipman and was called Mr. Tinkler by the other seamen. He was in Christian’s mess together with Stewart and Heywood.
There is little mention of Tinkler in the Bounty literature. He seems to have been in the anti-Bligh group on the open-boat voyage. Bligh claims that, while at Coupang, Tinkler had been impertinent to William Cole, the boatswain, and that Fryer on that occasion had told his brother-in-law to stick his knife into Cole! The story sounds highly improbable, but perhaps both Tinkler and Fryer were drunk at the time.
Tinkler was present at the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801 as first lieutenant in the Isis while Fryer was sailing master in Admiral Parker’s flagship London and Bligh commanded the Glatton. Tinkler was promoted to commander after the engagement.
Able-bodied seaman on the Bounty; died from an infection on October 9, 1788, a few weeks before the ship reached Tahiti.
Valentine was born in Montrose and was twenty-eight years old when he joined the Bounty. He was one of the youngest and healthiest seamen on board. When the Bounty stopped at Adventure Bay, however, he had felt somewhat indisposed (he may have been suffering from asthma) and made the mistake of consulting Dr. Huggan, the alcoholic ship’s surgeon. Huggan bled him, his arm became infected, the infection spread, and Valentine got worse with every day.
Bligh was not told about the man’s serious condition until he was dying, an example of how incredibly poor communication was on board the small ship. Valentine was buried at sea “with all the decency in our power,” he was the first of the Bounty’s crew to die.
Able-bodied seaman on the Bounty; mutineer; went with Christian; was killed on Pitcairn. Williams was twenty-six years old when he signed on the Bounty. Although he put down Stepney in east London as his home, he had grown up in Guernsey and spoke French. Bligh’s description of him, written after the mutiny, reads as follows:
[JOHN WILLIAMS] seaman, aged 25 years, 5 feet 5 inches high, dark complexion, black hair, slender made; has a scar on the back part of his head; is tatowed, and a native of Guernsey; speaks French.
Williams was involved in the famous “cheese incident” (see the February 1788 commentary in Part I). He did not speak up during the confrontation, but it was he who, on the orders of the ship’s clerk, Samuel, had delivered the supposedly stolen cheeses – plus a cask of vinegar and “some other things” – in the ship’s boat from Long Reach to Bligh’s home.
On entering False Bay near Cape Town in South Africa, Bligh found fault with Williams’ performance in heaving the lead and sentenced him to six lashes. (Even six lashes left a nasty wound in the back.)
Williams took an active part in the mutiny. On Tubuai, he voted with Christian and he stayed on the Bounty when Christian left Tahiti on his search for an island refuge. He was one of the three mutineers who, with three Polynesians, accompanied Christian on his preliminary exploration of Pitcairn.
Williams arrived at Pitcairn with his consort Faahotu whom he called “Fasto.” However, she died less than a year after the arrival from “a scrophulous disease which broke out in her neck.” Williams then demanded that he be “given” another woman, taken from a Polynesian man.
The mutineers, who, at least in the beginning, seemed to have voted on matters affecting the community, realized that granting Williams’ request would cause severe problems and they turned it down, suggesting instead that he wait until Sully, the baby girl, reached adulthood (which for a Polynesian meant an age of 13 or 14).
On the Bounty, Williams had served as a sort of unofficial armorer’s mate, which made his services very important to the mutineers. So vital did Christian feel that the skills of an armorer were that he had even tried to kidnap Coleman when sailing from Tahiti (see the September 1789 commentary in Part I). On Pitcairn, Williams was kept constantly busy with the anvil of the Bounty and was therefore exempted from any communal work.
However, he was not about to wait for over a decade for Sully to grow into womanhood and he threatened to leave the island in one of the Bounty’s boats. The mutineers then gave in – exactly because they needed his skills – and “gave” him Tararo’s consort Toofaiti. It was this decision that triggered the bloodshed which eventually wiped out almost all males on the island.
On Massacre Day, September 20, 1793, Williams was the first of the mutineers to be killed. He left no children by Faahotu, nor by her “replacement,” Toofaiti. The anvil from the Bounty, however, survives on Norfolk Island.
Midshipman on the Bounty; mutineer; went with Christian; died on Pitcairn. Young was born on St. Kitts in the West Indies. He was the nephew of Sir George Young and was probably a mulatto. He was twenty-one years old when he signed on the Bounty. Bligh’s description of him, written after the mutiny, reads as follows:
[EDWARD YOUNG] midshipman, 22 years, 5 feet 8 inches high. Dark complexion and rather a bad look. Dark-brown hair – strong made – has lost several of his fore teeth, those that remain are all rotten. A small mole on the left side of the throat, and on the right arm is tattooed a heart and dart through it with “E.Y.” underneath, and the day of the year 1788 or 1789, we are not sure.
Young’s role in the mutiny is a mystery to this day. He does not seem to have been involved in any of the friction on the Bounty and he was the only office who joined Christian. On the night of April 27, 1789, the night before the mutiny, he was on Peckover’s watch, from midnight to 4:00 a.m., the watch immediately preceding Christian’s. He seems to have been sleeping when the mutiny broke out; most accounts do not mention him as being on deck.
Some authors see Young as the mastermind behind the mutiny. Madge Darby in Who Caused the Mutiny on the Bounty? (1965) thinks that the mutiny must have been planned, that there must have been a “cool, clear brain” behind it, that it had to be an officer, and that the officer was Young. However, she does not address herself to the question of what Young would have had to gain from the mutiny. Other authors have suggested that Young may have joined Christian only after the mutiny was an accomplished fact.
On Tubuai, Young voted with Christian and, when the latter made his emotional speech about sailing away alone in the Bounty (see the September 1789 commentary in Part I), Young was the one who said: “We shall never leave you, Mr. Christian, go where you will!”
Young was very popular with the Tahitians and – despite the unattractive description given of him by Bligh – was a special favorite of the women.
Young’s consort when he arrived at Pitcairn was Teraura, but he had no children with her. On Massacre Day, when five mutineers were killed by the Polynesian men, Young was not attacked. Some accounts claim he was hidden by the women, but it highly unlikely that he could have been hidden for any length of time. Incredible as it seems, although he may not have masterminded the mutiny on the Bounty, there are indications that he may have masterminded, or at least had foreknowledge of, the massacre on Pitcairn (see the September 1783 commentary in Part I).
In his last years, Young kept a journal which has become lost but was seen by Captain Beechey in 1825. Before his death, he taught the almost illiterate Adams to read and write, thus enabling the latter to educate the children to the extent which the early visitors to Pitcairn found so amazing. Young died of asthma (or perhaps tuberculosis) on Christmas Day 1800, the first man on Pitcairn to die a natural death.
With Toofaiti, Young had four children: Nancy, Georg, Robert and William. With Mauatua, Christian’s widow, he had three children: Edward, Polly and Dorothea. His descendants still live on Pitcairn. The last direct fifth-generation male descendant of the mutineers, Andrew Clarence Young, died on March 17, 1988, almost eighty-nine years old. Other Young descendants live on Norfolk Island and in New Zealand.
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