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A British warship commanded by Captain Lord Edward Russell. It was the arrival at Pitcairn of the Actaeon on January 10, 1837, and Lord Russell’s exposure of Joshua Hill as an impostor, which broke Hill’s dictatorial power on the island. (See the entries for PITCAIRN ISLAND and HILL, JOSHUA.)
Name of the center of the settlement on Pitcairn Island. It is by no means a town, and today – with the population of Pitcairn below 50 – it could barely be called a small village. It consists of a widely spread cluster of houses and gardens, some occupied, some abandoned. These dwellings extend along the path that runs from Bounty Bay along the Edge (a narrow plateau approximately 200 feet above the Bay) and continue westward for about two thirds of a mile.
In the center of Adamstown is Bounty Square where one of the anchors of the Bounty is displayed. It was found and recovered by the crew of the Yankee under the command of Captain Irving Johnson in 1957. In the square is also a ship’s bell which can be heard from far away; various strikes announce a call to prayer or to public work or other community activties; five strikes signify the arrival of a ship.
The square is bordered on three sides by one-story, verandah-shaded buildings. To the west is the court house, but as there is no crime to speak of on the island this is something of a misnomer. The building is used for community functions and for the meetings of the Island Council. To the south are the post office, library, and dispensary. The Seventh-day Adventist Church stands to the east; inside, mounted in a display cabinet, is the Bounty Bible. (Christian’s Bible is in the rare book collection of the New York Public Library.)
The north side of the square is formed by a long bench where you can sit and socialize or just while the hours away dreaming.
One of the unforgettable moments of author Sven Wahlroos’ life was when the Expedition Flag of his club, the Adventurers’ Club of Los Angeles, was hoisted on the flagpole in front of the Courthouse in Adamstown on April 17, 1987.
Afterwards the Flag was signed by Andrew Clarence Young, the eldest direct descendant of the mutineers – fifth generation from Midshipman Edward Young of the Bounty. Andrew Young passed away on Thursday, March 17, 1988, one month before his eighty-ninth birthday. Everyone who met him will always remember him.
Captain Beechey commanded HMS Blossom in which he visited Pitcairn for sixteen days in December 1825. At that time there were thirty-six men and thirty women on Pitcairn; only six remained of the original settlers from the Bounty – five Tahitian women and John Adams who was then fifty-eight years old.
Beechey described his visit in Narrative of a Voyage to the Pacific . . . in His Majesty’s Ship Blossom (1831). His story of the mutiny and of the early history of Pitcairn is considered among the most reliable. This is because Adams – who provided most of the information and had previously told contradictory stories – by this time knew that he would not be taken back to England for trial and therefore had no reason to consciously distort facts.
Beechey saw, and partially copied, Edward Young’s journal which soon afterwards became lost.
Lady Belcher, nee Jolliffe, was born in 1806 and became the stepdaughter of Peter Heywood. She married Admiral Sir Edward Belcher, who as a lieutenant visited Pitcairn Island in 1825 on HMS Blossom, commanded by Captain Beechey. Upon the death of her stepfather she inherited one of the Morrison manuscripts (perhaps two). In 1870 she published The Mutineers of the Bounty and Their Descendants in Pitcairn and Norfolk Islands. She died in 1890.
British warship of 44 guns and with a complement of 300 officers and men, commanded by Captain Sir Thomas Staines.
The Briton and her consort HMS Tagus were on a mission to track down the U.S. Frigate Essex, under Commander David Porter, which had been attacking British shipping in the Pacific, when they sighted Pitcairn Island in the early morning of September 17, 1814. After establishing contact with the inhabitants they left the island the same evening.
On board the Briton was Lieutenant John Shillibeer who later wrote a narrative of the voyage.
Buffett was an English sailor born in Bristol on July 16, 1797. On December 10, 1823, he arrived at Pitcairn aboard the London whaler Cyrus. When John Adams, the only surviving mutineer, asked Captain Hall if one of his crew could stay on the island to help with the education of the children, Buffett volunteered; one of his shipmates, John Evans, jumped ship and also remained on Pitcairn. They were the first immigrants on Pitcairn since the arrival of the Bounty almost thirty-four years earlier.
Exactly two months later, on February 10, 1824, Buffett married Dorothy (“Dolly”) Young, daughter of Edward Young and Christian’s widow, Mauatua. She bore him five sons. “On the side,” however, he was intimate with Mary (“Big Melly”) Christian, the daughter of Thursday October Christian and Tevarua. She bore him first a daughter and later two sons. The daughter was born after Adams died, so the old mutineer – who professed to have become very religious – may well have regretted that Buffett had stayed on the island.
During the Hill dictatorship on Pitcairn 1832-1837 (see PITCAIRN ISLAND and HILL, JOSHUA) Buffett was sentenced to three dozen lashes (he received two dozen, necessitating his taking to bed for two weeks) and was ordered off the island. Hill’s excuse for imposing this punishment was Buttett’s extramarital relationship with Big Melly.
Buffett (together with John Evans and George Nobbs) sailed to Tahiti in March 1834 on the whaling ship Tuscan. He returned three months later in the barque Pomare in order to pick up his family; they settled on Tahiti for the time being, from where Buffett wrote to the British Government about Joshua Hill’s usurpation of power on Pitcairn. On September 16, 1834, being certain that Hill’s rule would now be short-lived, Buffett and his family returned to Pitcairn on the American brig Olivia.
John Buffett died on Norfolk Island on May 5, 1891, at the age of ninety-five.
Carteret (1738-1796) sailed as first lieutenant of the Tamar in Bryon’s expedition; as captain of HMS Swallow he accompanied Samuel Wallis on his expedition to the South Seas 1766-1769; his “Account of a Voyage Round the World” in Hawkesworth’s Account of the Voyage by Byron, Wallis, Carteret, and Cook was published in 1773.
Captain Wallis in HMS Dolphin and Captain Carteret in the sloop Swallow encountered heavy storms in the Straits of Magellan and spent four months before they reached the Pacific on April 10, 1767. On the following day, however, the two ships became separated in a fog and the Swallow was thought to have foundered. Actually she had been saved by Carteret’s superb seamanship and sailed westward on the 25th parallel south of the equator.
Carteret is important in the story of the Bounty, because on July 2, 1767, he discovered Pitcairn (which he named for the young midshipman who had seen the island first). It was Cartaret’s account of this discovery in Hawkesworth’s “Voyages” that persuaded Christian to look for Pitcairn as the ultimate hide-out. The island turned out to be even more ideal for this purpose than Christian could have hoped, because Carteret had put its position more than 200 miles west of where it actually is!
The Swallow was, in Carteret’s words, “an old ship, having been in the service thirty years, and was in my opinion by no means fit for a long voyage.”
Sir Peter Buck (Te Rangi Hiroa) says in his small but excellent volume Explorers of the Pacific (1953): “Though Carteret added little to Polynesian discovery, his voyage was one of the pluckiest in history. Not only should the Swallow have been relegated to the scrap heap instead of being sent out on an expedition, the Admiralty has refused to supply Carteret with an anvil and other and other equipment for repairs. The story of how he circumnavigated the world in a leaky tub and kept her afloat for two years and seven months will ever remain a record for endurance, courage, and skill.
American brig, a 110-ton whaler from Salem commanded by Captain William Driver. The Charles Doggett carried the Pitcairners back to their island from Tahiti after the disastrous emigration attempt in 1831 (see PITCAIRN ISLAND).
Parkin (George Parkin Christian) is a direct descendant of Fletcher Christian. In 1933, Parkin Christian brought up the rudder of the Bounty from six fathoms of water.
Tom (Thomas Coleman Christian), M.B.E., was for many years the radio officer on Pitcairn Island; he is also a ham radio operator (VP6TC), and long-time Elder of the Pitcairn Island Seventh-day Adventist Church. He is the son of Fred and Flora Christian and is married to Betty Christian. Tom is an honorary member of the Adventurers’ Club of Los Angeles.
British sloop-of-war commanded by Captain Alexander A. Sandilands. The Comet escorted the transport barque Lucy Ann which moved the population of Pitcairn to Tahiti in 1831.
A British whaler from London commanded by Captain John Hall. The Cyrus called at Pitcairn on December 10, 1823; two of its crew, John Buffett and John Evans, became Pitcairn’s first immigrants since the arrival of the Bounty almost thirty four years earlier.
The commander of the Salem whaler Charles Doggett. Captain Driver has gone down in history for two reasons: (1) He transported the sixty-five survivors of the disastrous 1831 migration from Pitcairn to Tahiti back to their home island. The ship was so small (110 tons) that Captain Driver slept on deck during the voyage (August 14 to September 4, 1831) in order to accommodate his passengers. (2) Captain Driver is said to have originated the term “Old Glory” for the American flag.
Captain Elliott is important in the history of Pitcairn in that he helped establish an island government after the infamous dictatorial reign of the imposter Joshua Hill.
Elliott arrived at Pitcairn in November 1838 as commander of the British warship Fly. He formally declared the island to be under the protection of the British Crown on November 29, 1838.
A unique feature of the ‘regulations’ drawn up by Elliott was that women were given the franchise. Pitcairners, then, was the first political entity in the world where women were guaranteed the right to vote. It was also the first to institute compulsory education.
At the age of nineteen, John Evans arrived at Pitcairn on December 10, 1823, aboard the whaler Cyrus of London. When his friend and shipmate John Buffett volunteered to stay on Pitcairn to help in the education of the children, Evans hid on the island until the Cyrus had left, thus becoming one of the two first immigrants since the arrival of the Bounty almost thirty-four years earlier.
On November 26, 1824, Evans married Rachel Adams, the daughter of John Adams and Vahineatua. She bore him three sons and three daughters.
Joshua Hill, the dictator on Pitcairn from 1831 to 1837 (see PITCAIRN ISLAND and HILL, JOSHUA), tried to persuade Rachel to leave her husband and to live with him instead, which infuriated both her and Evans. Later, when Evans requested a copy of Hill’s “laws” for the island, the dictator flew into a rage and sentenced him to one dozen lashes.
Together with John Buffett, Evans left Pitcairn in March 1834 for Tahiti, returning three months later to pick up his family. For the time being they settled on Mangareva, 300 miles northwest of Pitcairn, together with George Nobbs and his family. After Nobbs had received a petition from the Pitcairners asking for his return, they all sailed for their home island on the American brig Olivia, arriving on October 13, 1834, against Hill’s violent protests.
Evans died on Norfolk Island on December 30, 1891, “at a very advanced age.”
Tahitian for “Good Land,” the name the Polynesian companions of the Bounty Mutineers gave to Pitcairn Island.
British warship commanded by Captain Russell Elliott; arrived at Pitcairn in November 1838. See ELLIOTT, RUSSELL.
Captain of the American sealer Topaz. Folger was a skipper from Nantucket who worked for Messrs Boardman and Pope, dealers in seal skins. With their ship Topaz he had left Boston harbor on Sunday, April 5, 1807, to hunt for seals in the South Pacific.
On February 6, 1808, his entry in the log book reads:
At ½ past 1 P.M. saw land bearing SW by W1/2 steared for the land. . . . at 2 A.M. the Isle bore south 2 leagues dis. Lay off & on till daylight. At 6 A.M. put off two boats to Explore the land and look for seals. On approaching the Shore saw a Smoke on the land at which I was very surprised it [Pitcairn] being represented by Captain Carteret as destitute of Inhabitants, on approaching Still more the land – I discovered a boat paddling towards me with three men in her.
The boat was a Tahitian-style canoe and the dark-skinned “natives” hailed the captain in English:
“Who are you?”
“This is the ship Topaz of the United States of America. I am the master, Captain Mayhew Folger, and American.
“You are an American?” “You come from America?” “Where is America?” “Is it in Ireland?”
Folger was too taken aback by the “natives” speaking English to answer. Instead he asked:
“Who are you?”
“We are Englishmen.”
“Where were you born?”
“On that island which you see.”
“How can you be Englishmen if you were born on that island?”
“We are Englishmen because our father is an Englishman.”
“Who is your father?”
“Aleck” (referring to Alexander Smith whose real name was John Adams, but who on the island was known as Aleck).
“Who is Aleck?”
“Don’t you know Aleck?”
“How should I know Aleck?”
“Well, then, do you know Captain Bligh of the Bounty?”
All seafaring men knew about the Bounty, about the mutiny, and about Bligh’s open-boat voyage. But no one in the world knew what had happened to Christian and the mutineers who had followed him in his quest for an island of refuge.
Imagine then the feelings that must have possessed Captain Folger when he realized that he was the first person in the world to find the hide-out of the mutineers of the Bounty! At the moment he did not know that all of them had died except one. He did not know whether he was in a dangerous situation or not. But the lads in the outrigger seemed so friendly and his curiosity overcame him. He told the youngsters in the canoe to ask “Aleck” to come on board.
The canoe went ashore, but soon returned without an extra passenger. Folger shouted:
“Where is Aleck?”
“Aleck does not want to come on board!”
No wonder. Folger immediately understood why “Aleck” would not want to come on board: he was afraid he would be arrested and taken to England to be hanged. But the youngsters in the canoe had an invitation:
“You are welcome to come ashore, Sir. Aleck and the women have prepared a meal for you.”
Folger was somewhat apprehensive himself, but again his curiosity won out. He remembered how often he and his friend, Amasa Delano, had discussed the mystery of the missing mutineers of the Bounty. He decided to go ashore. His log reads as follows:
I went on shore and found there an Englishman by the name of Alexander Smith, the only person remaining out of the nine that escaped on board the ship Bounty, Captain Bligh, under the command of the archmutineer Christian. Smith informed me that after putting Captain Bligh in the long boat and sending her adrift, their commander – Christian – proceeded to Otaheiti, then all the mutineers chose to Stop except Christian, himself and seven others; they all took wives at Otaheiti and Six men as Servants and proceeded to Pitcairn’s Island where they landed all their goods and Chattles, ran the Ship Bounty on Shore and Broke her up, which took place as near as he could recollect in 1790 – soon after which one of their party ran mad and drowned himself another died with a fever, and after they had remained about four years on the Island their Men Servants rose upon and killed Six of them, Leaving only Smith and he desperately wounded with a pistol Ball in the neck, however he and the widows of the deceased man arose and put all the Servants to death which left him the only Surviving man on the island with eight or nine women and Several Small Children. . . . he Immediately went to work tilling the ground so that it now produces plenty for them all and the[re] he lives very comfortably as Commander in Chief of Pitcairn’s Island, all the Children of the deceased mutineers Speak tolerable English, some of them are grown to the Size of men and women, and to do them Justice I think them a very humane and hospitable people, and whatever may have been the Errors or Crimes of Smith the Mutineer in times Back, he is at present in my opinion a worthy man and may be useful to Navigators who traverse this immense ocean, such the history of Christian and his associates.
The garbled history in this account must be due partly to Adams hiding the truth (he was to tell widely differing stories to subsequent visiting sea captains) and partly to Folger’s own distortions of memory.
Adams was understandably reluctant to talk about the mutiny. But he was eager to find out what had happened in England since he left it more than twenty years ago. And Captain Folger told him about the important changes in Europe over the last two decades: the French Revolution, Napoleon’s rise to power, and the tremendous and protracted war against France. When he came to describe England’s glorious victory in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, Adams rose and swung his hat three times over his head and called out: “Old England forever? Huzzah!”
Unfortunately, Folger remained at Pitcairn for only ten hours. As a parting gift, Adams presented him with the Bounty’s azimuth compass and with the Kendall chronometer which had served Bligh – and later Christian – so well. (An oft-repeated, but false, claim in the Bounty literature is that this chronometer had been used by Captain Cook in the Resolution on the third voyage. The fact is that Cook’s chronometer was the only one today referred to as K (Kendall) 1; the Bounty chronometer was K2.)
Folger sailed eastward to Juan Fernandez (Robinson Crusoe’s Island) where the compass and the chronometer were both, for some unexplained reason, confiscated by the Spanish governor. Long afterwards, in 1840, the Nautical Magazine published this account of the chronometer, by Captain R. A. Newman of HMS Sparrowhawk:
May 18th, 1840, Mr Mouat, chronometer-maker, &c, at Valparaiso
Received from Captain Herbert, of H.M.S. Calliope, the chronometer
Larcum Kendall, London. A.D. 1771
This chronometer was in H.M. late ship the Bounty, at the time of the mutiny, and has been in Chili since the time of the arrival of the American ship that first touched at Pitcairns Island, after the mutineers settled themselves there. It was stolen from the American captain on the ship’s passage from Juan Fernandez to Valparaiso; and next made its appearance at Concepcion, where it was purchased for three doubloons by an old Spaniard by the name of Castillo, who kept it in his possession till his death, which happened lately at Santiago; when his family sent it to Cpt. Herbert, to be conveyed to the British Museum. Capt. Herbert sent it to Mr Mouat to be put in order, and from his relation I am enabled to give these particulars.
On the chronometer being taken to pieces it was found to be in a complete state of preservation. . . .
The chronometer is six inches in diameter, with three dials on its face – one for hours, one for minutes, and one for seconds; with an outer silver case, made as the outer cases of pocket watches were sixty or seventy years ago; so that its appearance is that of a gigantic watch. . . .
On this day (23rd of June,) it was delivered to Capt. Herbert, being then fast on Greenwich mean time Oh. Om. 26.5s. and losing daily 3.5 seconds. . . .
The Calliope sailed from Valparaiso for China, on the 1st of July, 1840; and thus will this, now very interesting instrument, in all probability, return to the place of its construction. . . .
The Bounty chronometer is today in the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.
The Spanish governor on Juan Fernandez kept Folger and his crew in jail until some months later a new governor arrived and set the Americans free.
When Folger finally arrived in Valparaiso, he reported his momentous discovery to Lieutenant William Fitzmaurice of the Royal Navy who was serving on the naval station in Chile. Fitzmaurice forwarded this report, together with an extract of the log of the Topaz, to the commander of the British naval station in Brazil on October 10, 1808. The British Admiralty received the report on May 14, 1809.
The general public did not become aware of the discovery until March 1810 when a report of it appeared in the English Quarterly Review (Bligh was still in New South Wales then). The extract of the logbook of the Topaz also appeared in the Sydney Gazette for October 27, 1810 (two days after Bligh arrived in England).
Puzzled over the fact that the British Admiralty seemed to pay no attention to his discovery, Folger wrote a letter to Rear Admiral Hotham on March 1, 1813, in which he gave a more detailed report of his visit to Pitcairn and added: “I am sending you the azimuth compass which I received from Alex. Smith. I repaired and made use of it on my homeward passage. I now forward it to your lordship.” It is clear, however, that the Admiralty considered the report unimportant and it was simply forgotten until 1814 when two British warships, HMS Briton (Captain Staines) and HMS Tagus (Captain Pipon) again “rediscovered” Pitcairn.
Captain Folger died on September 4, 1828, in Massillon, Ohio, without publishing his discovery. But his friend since 1800, Captain Amasa Delano, did publish what Folger had told him as part of his book A Narrative of Voyages and Travels (1817).
Author of many books about the South Seas; co-author (with Charles Nordhoff) of the magnificent trilogy Mutiny on the Bounty, Pitcairn’s Island, and Men Against the Sea, all published in the early 1930s.
Hall was born in Iowa on April 22, 1887. During the first world war he served as a pilot in the famous Escadrille Lafayette. He achieved three combat victories and spent six months as a prisoner of war. After the war he was assigned the duty of writing a history of the Corps together with Charles Nordhoff who was destined to become his friend for life. In 1920 they left for Tahiti and – with an almost immediate intuitive understanding of the islands and the islanders – wrote what, in author Sven Wahlroos’ opinion, is one of the best books ever written about Eastern Polynesia: Faery Lands of the South Seas.
Although both authors also wrote independently, their best works were produced jointly: the Bounty trilogy, The Hurricane, The Dark River, and No More Gas. They made a perfect writing team and integrated their material so skillfully that it seemed to have flown from one and the same mind.
In 1925 Hall married Sarah Marguerite Sophie Teraireia Winchester, the beautiful daughter of a Tahitian mother and an English sea captain. Sarah, affectionately called Lala, was only sixteen and Hall was thirty-eight when they met. With her he had a son, Conrad Lafcadio, and a daughter, Nancy Ella. In 1928 they moved into the house in Arue which may still be standing.
The Tahitians knew that Hall loved them, and they loved him for his kindness and modesty and nobility of spirit. His death on July 6, 1951, was a cause for island-wide mourning, and older Tahitians revere his memory to this day.
Hall was buried on Herai (Ferai) Hill above his home on a spot from where one can see Matavai Bay where the Bounty anchored in thirteen fathoms of water on Sunday, October 26, 1788.
Lala had a bronze plaque made for her husband’s grave, the inscription is a verse he himself had written:
Look to the northward, stranger,
Just over the hillside, there;
Have you in your travels seen
A land more passing fair?
Because of Hall and Nordhoff, the Bounty will sail forever in our imagination. In 1932, their editor, Ellery Sedgwick, wrote in his introduction to Mutiny on the Bounty: “. . . that story is of the primeval stuff that Romance is made of” and “Here is the book they have written. Read it, and you, too, will know that Romance has come into her own.”
Hall’s wife, Lala, lived until 1985. His son Conrad is now a cinematographer in Hollywood; his daughter Nancy lives in Tahiti and Hawaii.
The dictator of Pitcairn from 1832 to 1837; his self-proclaimed title was “President of the Commonwealth.” He was born on April 15, 1773.
Under PITCAIRN ISLAND there is a summary of Hill’s dictatorial reign (see also BUFFET, EVANS and NOBBS). But how did Hill happen to come to Pitcairn?
Hill had left England in June 1830. In Hawaii he had been refused a grant of land by the governor of Maui. He left for Tahiti where he arrived in October 1831, a few weeks after the Pitcairners had left for home after their disastrous attempt at emigration. Moerenhout describes Hill’s behavior in Tahiti (at the same time getting in some digs against his arch-enemy Pritchard):
The man gave himself airs of importance, and pretended to have been sent by the British Government to arrange for the transportation of the Pitcairners to some other island, and let it be understood that he was in charge of some secret mission, concerning the state of all the islands. The missionaries, Pritchard more than the rest, believed him to be a person of importance. He was presented to the queen, and, with the missionaries as interpreters, questioned her concerning her government with all the gravity of a diplomatic envoy. . . . This man, during his residence at Tahiti, showed a childlike vanity, a boundless pride, a dangerous fanaticism, and an implacable hatred for whosoever dared to oppose him. As he gave the least proof concerning his pretended mission, people came to realize he was an imposter; but for more than a year, he lived wholly at Pritchard’s expense, who was even obliged to pay his laundress. At last he got rid of the man when an English captain offered to take him to Pitcairn where Hill had long wanted to go.
This describes the psychopathic confidence artist par excellence. If Hill could dupe the sophisticated Pritchard, who was soon to become the Consul of Britain, how easy must it have been for him to gain power over the trustful Pitcairners who could not even imagine that anybody would lie.
Hill’s psychopathology, however, went beyond the tricks of a skillful confidence artist, as shown by the fact that when Charlotte Quintal (the daughter of Matthew Quintal’s youngest son, Arthur) had stolen some yams, Hill sentenced her to be executed; she was twelve years old! (Her father prevented the sentence from going into effect.)
As to Hill’s later activities, Robert B. Nicolson in The Pitcairners (1965) tells us that Hill was put ashore at Valparaiso and eventually made his way back to England.
In 1841 Captain Hill wrote another “Memorandum,” this time to the British Government, claiming payment for the time he had spent attending to the needs of the Pitcairn Islanders. In this document he included a vitriolic attach on George Hunn Nobbs and John Buffett, accusing them of the most outrageous deeds since they had arrived on the island.
The last public record of Joshua Hill appears to be in 1844, when at the age of seventy-one he wrote to the Government a bitter condemnation of the morals of the missionaries who had been at Tahiti during his visit there twelve years before.
Perhaps Hill never heard of the pot and the kettle.
On Pitcairn: the steep slope extending from Bounty Bay to the plateau called The Edge. The path leading up this “hill” can today be negotiated by terrain motorcycles.
The earth oven was what the settlers on Pitcairn used to prepare their food and the custom survived long after the last original Tahitian settler had died. (Maohi means indigneous to the archipelago; Tahitian. In an extended sense it means Polynesian.)
According to Teuira Henry, the old Tahitian name for Pitcairn. The literal meaning is “border of passing clouds.”
A Pitcairn Island dish made of mashed bananas with manioc, prepared for baking or sometimes frying. It is similar to the Tahitian po’e from which it most probably stems.
The British warship which, under the command of Captain H. W. Bruce, arrived at Pitcairn on December 6, 1837, and removed Joshua Hill, the “dictator of Pitcairn,” to Valparaiso.
The ironwood referred to in books on the Bounty and Pitcairn is actually the beefwood (Casuarina equisetifolia; in Tahitian toa or ‘aito), a hard wood excellent for carving. Many of the artifacts made on Pitcairn are of this material.
Nickname given by the Bounty mutineers to TEEHUTEATUAONOA.
Captain of the brigantine Yankee. Johnson was born on July 4, 1905, in Hadley, Massachusetts. He sailed around Cape Horn in the for-masted barque Peking in 1929 and was mate of Shamrock V, Lipton’s America’s Cup challenger, on her voyage home in 1930.
Owner and master, first of the schooner and then of the brigantine Yankee, Johnson and his family sailed seven times around the world, taking with them a crew of young sailing enthusiasts. On each voyage Johnson made a point of visiting Pitcairn and helping the islanders get miro wood (for carving curios) from Henderson Island. In February 1957 he raised the anchor of the Bounty which is now mounted in the little square in Adamstown on Pitcairn. Irving Johnson’s name is, and will be for generations, remembered with great affection on the island.
Together with his wife Electa, Johnson has written several books about the voyages of the Yankee. His earlier books, Around the Horn in a Square-rigger and Shamrock V’s Wild Voyage Home, can be counted among the classics of the sea.
British government barque of 213 tons from Sydney. Commanded by Captain J. Currey and escorted by HMS Comet, the Lucy Ann carried the entire population of Pitcairn (86) to Tahiti in 1831, leaving Pitcairn on March 7 and arriving in Papeete on March 23.
On the voyage a daughter, named Lucy Ann after the ship, was born to Arthur Quintal (son of mutineer Matthew Quintal and his consort Tevarua) and Catherine McCoy (daughter of mutineer William McCoy and Teio). However, like so many of the Pitcairners, little Lucy Ann died on Tahiti (April 25, 1831).
The ship Lucy Ann sailed into literary history under the name of Julia in Herman Melville’s novel Omoo. On August 9, 1842, Melville escaped from the Taipi (“Typee”) valley in the Marquesas and boarded the Lucy Ann which carried him to Tahiti, arriving on September 20. There was, according to Melville, a mutiny on board – it amounted to some of the crew refusing to obey further orders and insisting on staying in Tahiti. They were then put into the “Calabooza Beretanee” (British jail) where Melville – contrary to what he claims in Omoo – joined them voluntarily.
Manarii was one of the three Tahitian men who joined Christian and his fellow mutineers in their quest for an island refuge (two men from Tubuai and one from Raiatea also came along). When Pitcairn was sighted, Manarii and the other two Tahitians Joined Christian in his exploratory shore party.
With the other two men from Tahiti he had to share Mareva. When the two Tubuaians and the man from Raiatea conspired to kill the mutineers at the end of the first year on the island, Manarii participated in killing two of them. On Massacre Day, September 20, 1793, it was he who killed Brown after Teimua had tried to save the gardener’s life by shooting at him with a powder charge only and telling him to pretend to be dead. Brown moved too soon and Manarii clubbed him to death with the butt of his musket.
Soon afterwards, Manarii shot Teimua to death when the latter was accompanying Teraura’s singing on his nose flute. The motive was clearly jealousy. After the murder, Manarii ran to the mountains and joined Quintal and McCoy who were still in hiding, fearing for their lives. Some quarrel arose between them, however, and the two mutineers killed Manarii.
Manarii, like the other Polynesians on the island, left no children.
The closest inhabited island to Pitcairn. Mangareva is the main island in the Gambier group and is situated at 23 degrees 7 minutes South, 134 degrees 57 minutes West, 306 miles northwest of Pitcairn. Mangareva and three other inhabited islands in the group are enclosed by a barrier reef almost forty miles in circumference.
Mangareva is near the center of the vast Lagoon; the twin-peaked Mount Duff, which rises to 1,447 feet, gives the island a highly distinctive and unforgettable appearance. The main port and settlement is Rikitea on the eastern side of the island.
Mangareva was discovered by Captain James Wilson in the Duff (the ship which brought the first missionaries to Tahiti) on May 23, 1797. The first European to land on the island was Captain Frederick W. Beechey in HMS Blossom on December 29, 1825. There were then 9,000 inhabitants altogether on the four islands comprising the group.
On July 16, 1834, Father Louis Jacques Laval, a priest of the Picpus order, arrive on Mangareva and managed to make himself virtual dictator on the island. He ordered the population to start building churches, one more magnificent than the other. The church in Rikitea, for example, looks like Notre Dame in Paris and is three times larger than the cathedral in Papeete. It seats 1,200 people.
Father Laval did not only use the population in slave labor; he also starved and worked them to death. They were forbidden to fish or to work their gardens: all their time had to be devoted to building these edifices for the glory of the Christian God. As a result, the inhabitants died like flies; it is estimated that over 5,000 perished as a direct result of Father Laval’s fanaticism. When a visitor from Tahiti called this to his attention, he said: “True, they are dead, but they have gone to Heaven more quickly!” The Catholic Church waited until 1871 before it moved Father Laval to Tahiti where he died in 1880. He stands as a symbol for the destruction so many missionaries brought to these lovely islands, where they should have gone to learn instead of to teach.
Mangareva today has only 550 inhabitants and that is counting all four islands in the group. In a sense, the French were continuing the work of Father Laval by conducting their atomic tests on nearby Mururoa atoll. To “protect” the population of Mangareva they built a barn-like structure, so huge that you can hardly see from one end to the other. Into this ugly building the whole population of the four islands was herded – and there they stayed for days – while the French exploded their bombs. Some sprinklers in the roof constituted the alleged protection against radiation.
In 1987, for the first time in history, a Pitcairn longboat made the voyage to Mangareva and back. The boat, christened Tub, was a gift from Great Britain and the most sophisticated craft the Pitcairners had ever had, being equipped with dual propellers and also capable of being sailed.
A marae is a Polynesian open-air temple.
The men of the Bounty had many occasions to observe ceremonies held at maraes. The missionaries made it a point to destroy all the maraes. Only in the last decades have some of them been restored.
Most of the restored maraes are in the Leeward islands, primarily on Huahine and Raiatea, where the Holy Land of the old Polynesians was located. This important work was conceived and supervised by the eminent archeologist Yosihiko H. Sinoto of the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in Honolulu. It is worth a trip to the Leeward islands just to see the magnificant results of Professor Sinoto’s work.
Mareva may or may not have been kidnaped by the mutineers when the Bounty left Tahiti for the last time. On Pitcairn she was shared as a consort by the three Tahitians, Manarii, Teimua, and Niau.
After the Tahitians had been killed, Mareva, together with Tinafanaea, moved into the household of Vahineatua and John Adams. She died sometime between the visit of the Topaz (1808) and the Briton and the Tagus (1814). She left no children.
The barque, commanded by Captain Thomas Ebriel, on which Joshua Hill arrived at Pitcairn on October 28, 1832.
The 100-ton brigantine which, commanded by a Captain Wilson, brought the first two families back to Pitcairn from Norfolk after the emigration of the whole population of Pitcairn in 1856.
The Mary Ann left Norfolk on her way to Tahiti on December 2, 1858, and arrived at Pitcairn on January 17, 1859. On board were the families of Moses and Mayhew Young, sixteen in all.
They arrived in the nick of time. Only a few days after their homecoming a French men-of-war approached the island with the purpose of annexing it to France. Seeing the Union Jack hoisted, however, the French changed course and left Pitcairn alone.
The returning families found that several homes had been destroyed in their absence. They found a slate in the schoolroom which explained the mystery. On it were written the names of seamen who had used the island as a refuge after their ship, the American clipper Wild Wave, 1,540 tons, commanded by Captain Josiah Knowles, had foundered on the reef of Oeno atoll seventy-six miles north-west-by-north of Pitcairn. From the planks of the houses and some trees that they felled they had built a boat named John Adams, not to honor the mutineers but the President of the United States. Incredibly they managed to reach Nukuhiva in this craft, over a thousand miles to the north-west.
Christian’s consort. We do not know when Mauatua was born, but she claimed to remember Cook’s first arrival in Tahiti (1769), so she must have been at least twenty-three or twenty-four when the Bounty arrived in 1788. There is no evidence that Christian had a serious attachment to her before the mutiny (in fact, it is unlikely), but she did follow him both to Tubuai and later to Pitcairn.
When the loyalists and half of the mutineers had gone ashore on Tahiti on September 22, 1789, Christian left the island the same night. The reason was that Mauatua had found out about a plot among the Tahitians to overpower the nine mutineers and take over the ship (the plot may even have been incited by one or more loyalists, although Morrison does not mention anything about it). If she had not learned about the scheme, or had not told Christian, the Bounty story could have had a very different ending and Pitcairn might not be inhabited today.
Mauatua bore Christian two sons, Thursday October and Charles, before he was murdered on Massacre Day, September 20, 1793, and one daughter, Mary Anne, born after his death.
When Christian died, Mauatua became Edward Young’s consort (actually she shared him with Toofaiti) and bore him three children: Edward, Polly, and Dorothea.
Mauatua survived the disastrous attempt to migrate to Tahiti in 1831, but saw her first-born child, Thursday October, succumb to the diseases then rampant there to which the Pitcairners had no immunity. She herself died on Pitcairn ten years later – September 19, 1841 – of an epidemic brought by a visiting ship. Of the original settlers on the island, she was survived only by Teraura. In her later years, she was known affectionately as “Maimas,” and abbreviation of Mainmast.
E mea poiri rumaruma I te ra’au nui o taua mau marae ra; e o te hau roa I te ra’a o te miro ia, oia te amara.
It was dark and shadowy among the great trees of those marae; and the most sacred of them all was the miro which was the sanctifier.
The miro or Tahitian rosewood (Thespesia populnea) was a sacred tree, as shown in the above old marae chant. The main property of the miro (and of the aito and the tamanu) was that the gods preferred to communicate with the human beings through the rustling of its leaves. It therefore grew on or close to the sites of the maraes. Holding a branch of the miro in his hand, the tahu’a (priest) could communicate more directly with the gods.
Being a very hard and a very beautiful wood, the miro also had its secular uses. But mainly it was used for ornamental purposes because of its striking dark-red color and exquisite grain.
When the missionaries had destroyed the veneration for nature which was an essential part of Tahitian religion, the miro trees were cut down for commercial use without any attempt at preservation. As a result the miro is virtually extinct on Tahiti today.
The miro also used to grow in abundance on Pitcairn and the most beautiful of the artifacts carved on the island are fashioned from this wood. Although the Pitcairners are trying to preserve the few trees they have left and plant new ones, the miro can still be consider virtually extinct on the island. To obtain this wood for their carvings the Pitcairners therefore are forced to go to Henderson Island, 107 miles distant.
The name given by Nordhoff and Hall to denote Manarii’s consort. There was no woman called Moetua on Pitcairn; Manarii’s consort was Mareva whom he shared with Teimua and Niau.
The three-masted, full-rigged, 830-ton “emigrant ship” which, under the command of Captain Joseph Mathers, brought the entire population of Pitcairn to Norfolk in 1856.
The Morayshire sailed from Pitcairn on May 3 and arrived at Norfolk on June 8. On baord were 194 Pitcairners who were soon joined by a baby born on May 9. Altogether there were: 38 Christians, 48 Quintals, 21 Youngs, 18 Adamses, 16 McCoys, 20 Buffetts, 13 Nobbses, 11 Evanses.
They brought with them a cannon and the anvil from the Bounty, both of which can be seen on Norfolk Island today.
An atoll in the Tuamotus at 21 degrees 50 minutes South, 138 degrees 55 minutes West. It is about fifteen miles long and eight miles wide. Mururoa was discovered by Lieutenant Philip Carteret in HMS Swallow in 1767, just a few days after he had discovered Pitcairn. He named Mururoa “Bishop of Osnaburgh Island.”
Mururoa has become famous – or, rather, infamous – for the atomic testing that the French conducted on the atoll beginning in the early 1960s. Because of the atomic tests there were in 1989 about 3,000 inhabitants on Mururoa of whom 700 were Polynesians.
It was on Mururoa atoll that the whaler Matilda foundered the night of February 24, 1792 . . . The crew managed to get to Tahiti and Bligh took many of them with him when he sailed from the island on his second breadfruit expedition.
The name used by Nordhoff and Hall for Titahiti’s consort. Actually there was no woman named Nanai on Pitcairn. Titahiti’s consort was Tinafanaea whom he shared with Oha.
Niau was one of the three Tahitian men who accompanied Christian and the other mutineers to Pitcairn (two Tubuaian men and a man from Raiatea were also on board). He seems to have been the youngest of the six Polynesians.
When Pitcairn was sighted, Niau and the other two Tahitians joined Christian in the short party that explored the island before the decision was made to settle there.
Niau had to share Mareva with the two other Tahitians. He participated in the murders of Tararo and Oha. Before Massacre Day, September 20, 1793, Niau and Teimua had stolen some muskets and hidden them in the hills. Sometime after the five mutineers had been killed, Edward Young murdered Niau in cold blood; his reasons for the murder are unknown. Teehuteatuaonoa tells us that “while looking at Young loading his gun, which he [Niau] supposed was for the purpose of shooting hogs, and requested that he put in a good charge, . . . he received the deadly contents.”
As was the case for all the Polynesian men on Pitcairn, Niau left no offspring.
Nobbs was an English adventurer who claimed he was born in 1799 as an illegitimate son of the Marquis of Hastings and Jemima Ffrench, daughter of an Irish baronet. He arrived at Pitcairn on November 5, 1828, in a 20-ton sloop from Callao together with a Captain Noah Bunker. Because Bunker was severely ill, John Adams (the old mutineer was still alive, although in bad health) allowed both men to stay and the old, leaking sloop was beached.
On October 18, 1829, Nobbs married Sarah (“Big Salah”) Christian, the daughter of Fletcher Christian’s second son, Charles, and Sully, the full-blooded Polynesian daughter of Teio. She bore him eleven children, seven boys and four girls. One of them, Ann Naomi Nobbs, lived until 1931.
Nobbs soon became a rival of John Buffett, the English sailor who had offered his services as a teacher in 1823 and remained on Pitcairn. The island population split in their loyalty and two schools and two religious services were conducted simultaneously.
When Joshua Hill established his dictatorship on the island in 1832 (see HILL, JOSHUA), Nobbs and Buffett became closer since they were both victimized. Together with Buffett’s friend Jack Evans they sailed for Tahiti in the whaler Tuscan in March 1834. From there they wrote a petition to Commodore Mason in command of the South American Station, complaining of Hill’s usurpation of power. In June they returned to Pitcairn in the ship Pomare to pick up their families; the Nobbses and the Evanses settled temporarily on Mangareva, the Buffetts on Tahiti.
Nobbs and Evans and their families returned to Pitcairn on October 13, 1834, in the American brig Olivia which had brought back the Buffetts a month earlier. In 1837, even before Hill was deported, Nobbs was elected schoolmaster by the whole population.
Nobbs sent to England in 1852-1853 to be ordained chaplain. With him was his daughter Jane, the first native-born Pitcairner ever to visit England. He thenceforth acted as pastor, surgeon, and schoolmaster for the whole population. He died on Norfolk Island on November 5, 1884, aged eighty-five, leaving a widow, ten children (one had died), sixty-five grandchildren, and nineteen great-grandchildren.
Nordhoff was born in London on February 1, 1887, but his family was American and soon returned to the States, where they settled in California in the early 1890s. He graduated from Harvard in 1909 and together with his father founded a successful tile- and porcelain-manufacturing business in San Diego.
In 1916, before the United States declared war on Germany, Nordhoff went to France where at first served as an ambulance driver. He soon became interested in flying, however, and joined the Foreign Legion to get schooling in military aviation. In December 1917 he joined the Escadrille Lafayette.
Nordhoff met James Norman Hall after the end of the war; they had been assigned to write a history of the Corps together. The work on the book was the start of a friendship which was to end only with Nordhoff’s death in 1947.
Together they traveled to Tahiti in 1920 in search of Adventure. At the end of the year, on December 4, Nordhoff married a nineteen-year-old Tahitian (actually half-Danish) girl, Christianne Vahine Tua Tearae Smidt, affectionately referred to as Vahine. They settled in the district of Punaauia, about twenty miles from Hall’s home in Arue.
Vahine bore Nordhoff seven children. The fourth child was their first-born son, Charles Bernard Jr. When the boy was three and a half years old, he died from an infection which was treated by an incompetent French physician. Nordhoff never fully recovered from this tragedy, and it may have played a role in the subsequent divorce.
Nordhoff’s fame as a writer is primarily based on his co-authorship with Hall, but he also had considerable success on his own, writing adventure books for boys, such as The Pearl Lagoon (1920) and The Derelict (1928).
After divorcing Vahine, Nordhoff had three children with his mistress Teuria; they were all sons whom he never legally recognized. In 1940 he left Tahiti, never to return. On June 12, 1941, he married Laura Grainger Whiley in Santa Barbara, California. His creative writing days, however, were over. On April 11, 1947, Nordhoff died of an apparent heart attack. Hall, who happened to be in the States at the time, attended the funeral service in Santa Barbara and wept over the fate of his friends.
Oha was Titahiti’s companion; both were from the same district in Tubuai and both joined Christian and his men.
On Pitcairn Oha shared Tinafanaea (who may also have been from Tubuai) with Titahiti. When Adams’ consort died within a year of the arrival on the island, the mutineers “gave” Tinafanaea to him. This triggered a conspiracy between the two Tubuaians and Tararo (the Raiatean whose consort had also been “given” away) to kill the mutineers. The women betrayed this plan to the white men who sent out the three Tahitians with muskets and orders to kill the conspirators. Oha and Tararo were killed, Titahiti surrendered. Oha, like the other Polynesian men on Pitcairn, left no children.
American brig from Boston commanded by Captain C. Kendal. It was the Olivia which (in September 1834) brought John Buffett and his family and (in October 1834) George Nobbs and John Evans and their families back to Pitcairn after their having been exiled by the “dictator of Pitcairn,” Joshua Hill.
The current Tahitian name for Pitcairn (Petania also means Seventh-day Adventist).
Commander of the British frigate Tagus which, together with HMS Briton, under Commander Thomas Staines, was combing the Pacific for the U.S. Frigate Essex which had been attacking British shipping in the area. In the early morning of September 17, 1814, the ships sighted Pitcairn Island.
Folger’s discovery of the last hiding place of the mutineers (see FOLGER, MAYHEW) had been reported to the Admiralty but forgotten as unimportant. The men on the ships were therefore surprised when they saw that the island wa inhabited, because Carteret, who had discovered it in 1767, had said it was uninhabited. Also, they did not at first realize it was Pitcairn they were seeing. When Carteret calculated its position his defictive chronometer caused him to place it almost 200 miles further westward.
Captain Pipon later wrote an article called “The Descendants of the Bounty’s Crew,” in which he described the arrival:
As Pitcairn Island was described as uninhabited, we naturally conjectured this in view could not be the place, particularly when, in bringing to, two or three miles off the shore, we observed the natives bring down their canoes on their shoulders, and shortly after darting through a heavy surf and paddling of to the ships; but our astonishment may be better conceived than described on finding that the inhabitants spoke the English language perfectly well.
Among the “natives” coming out in canoes were Thursday October Christian, almost twenty-four years old now and married to Teraura, and George Young, son of Edward Young and Toofaiti, about seventeen or eighteen years old. Both spoke English well and gave a good impression to the officers and men of the ships. Pipon describes Thursday October as:
. . . about twenty five years of age, a tall fine young man about six feet high, with dark black hair, and a countenance extremely open and interesting. He wore no clothes except a piece of cloth round his loins, a straw hat ornamented with lack cock’s feathers, and occasionally a peacock’s, nearly similar to that worn by the Spaniards in South America, though smaller.
Adams should have been about forty-seven years old at this time. The visit of the warships must have caused him a great deal of anxiety, because the British Navy was not known for showing mercy to mutineers and there was no statute of limitations on mutiny. Indeed, if someone like Bligh or Edwards had been in command of the ships, Adams would have been taken to England for trial and, once there, could not have expected any mercy: the law was the law and mutineers were to be hanged.
Luckily for Adams, both Staines and Pipon were compassionate, cultured, and reasonable men who could immediately see that Adams was important for the community and had accomplished a great deal in raising its children to fine human beings (the fact that most of the credit belonged to the Tahitian mothers escapes Bounty authors to this day). Adams did volunteer to go back to England, but the community showed such sorrow over that possibility, that the commanders of the ships insisted that he stay.
Perhaps to justify this humane decision to an unfeeling Admiralty, Pipon wrote:
. . . had we been inclined even to seize an old Adams, it would have been impossible to have conveyed him on board; again, to get to the boats, we had to climb such precipices as were scarcely accessible to any but goats, and the natives and we had enough to do in holding on by the different boughs and roots of trees, to keep up on our feet. Besides, from the nature of the island, the inhabitants might retire to such haunts as to defy our utmost search; a measure which we would naturally have had recourse to the moment any intention of seizing any of them had been manifested.
It was an important visit, although it lasted only from morning to evening, because from now on Pitcairn “got on the map” (Folger’s discovery had not become widely known). Also, from now on Adams could be reasonably sure that he would not be taken away from the island.
When the Pitcairners had been converted to the Seventh-day Adventist faith in the late 1880s, the church realized that it would need some reliable way to keep contact with the islanders. For this purpose a two-masted schooner was built in Benicia, California, and christened Pitcairn. The vessel was 90 feet long with a beam of 27 feet, in other words, about the size of the Bounty.
On her first voyage to Pitcairn, the schooner carried a crew of eight, commanded by Captain J. M. Marsh of Nova Scotia, and five passengers. (The Bounty had a complement of 46.) She sailed out of San Francisco Bay on October 20, 1890, and arrived at Pitcairn on November 25.
After several voyages to Pitcairn and one to Norfolk Island, among a number of others, the Pitcairn was sold in 1899.
With the help of the British government a cutter, also named Pitcairn, was then purchased for the purpose of developing some trade with Mangareva, 306 miles to the north-west. She was manned entirely by Pitcairners and employed in carrying produce to the Mangarevans who paid for it with money they earned in their pearl fisheries. The venture ended, however, when the Pitcairn foundered in 1904.
Again with the help of the British government, a cutter named John Adams was purchased for £274. She proved unseaworthy, however, and had to be sold – for £60.
The Pitcairners themselves then built a 25-ton schooner in 1919. Named Messenger, she made several trips to Tahiti, but on a return voyage from Mangareva on April 11, 1920, in sight of Pitcairn, she encountered a hurricane and was dismasted. The vessel foundered, but the crew was miraculously saved by the American steamship Sassenach which just happened by. Fred Christian, who had gone out to the Sassenach and taken part in the rescue, said later, “Before we reached Bounty Bay the Messenger had sunk, and good riddance. She was a terrible job, with a heavy nose, and she went just as fast sideways as forward!”
Pitcairnese is a language which the Pitcairners use among themselves. It is a mixture of eighteenth-century English and Tahitian, although the Tahitian element is almost unrecognizable, except for the names of plants and fish and a few other words. Harry L. Shapiro describes the probable origin of Pitcairnese in The Heritage of the Bounty (1936):
In many ways the dialect seems as if it had its origin in the efforts of the mutineers to teach the Tahitians the English language. The grammatical breakdown suggests this, as well as the elisions of sound. I find that it is a common tendency for most of us when confronted with a foreigner, who has little English, to shout a horribly debased kind of English, as though bad grammar and a loud voice could render the language intelligible. (Listen to a customer in a Chinese laundry.) But whatever its precise origin, the Pitcairn dialect today consists of mispronounced English and Tahitian words with a spattering of coined words, the whole employed in a degenerate English syntax.
Here are some examples of Pitcairnese:
I don’t know
It’s a lie
A little sullun
Bout yawly gwen?
Where are you going?
It’s getting dark
I no ben see-um
I haven’t seen him
I see yawl-ey scows segoin’out ah big ship
I see your boats going out to the big ship
Fut you ally comey diffy and do daffy?
Why do you come and behave that way?
Aimata was born on February 28, 1813, as the “illegitimate” (in the eyes of the missionaries) daughter of Pomare II and his consort Teremoemoe. She was the half-sister of Pomare III.
Aimata was only fourteen years old when her half-brother died and she became Queen Pomare IV in 1827. She was not yet interested in the duties of a monarch; on the contrary, she wanted to do what the missionaries seemed to hate most: sing and dance and have fun. Moreover, she was pretty and flirtatious, happy and cheerful, and she loved sports and games: in other words, she was the incarnation of sin.
To cure her, she was given into the tutelage of George Pritchard, a missionary who had arrived in Tahiti in 1824. She was lucky. Pritchard was not the typical hypocritical do-gooder that described the average missionary; he was a compassionate and perceptive realist who soon learned to understand the Tahitian psyche and, in the process, learned to speak Tahitian fluently. He was also somewhat of a politician and later became the British Consul on the island.
Under the instruction of Pritchard, Queen Pomare developed into a wise and responsible monarch, even though the fact that she never gave up her informal Tahitian levity often made her seem frivolous to the average visitor.
Queen Pomare, only eighteen years old at the time, was very kind to the Pitcairners when they migrated to Tahiti in 1831. She gave them a large piece of land and did everything to make them feel comfortable and at home. It was not her fault that Tahiti at that time was riddled with diseases brought in by the multitude of ships then visiting the island or that, despite the pious efforts of the missionaries, it had become a rather wild and roisterous place with drunk whalers roaming the streets of Papeete and everything being for sale, including women.
Twelve of the Pitcairners died on Tahiti soon after their arrival and five more succumbed later to illnesses contracted there. The Queen, Pritchard, and several European residents and Tahitians, helped the Pitcairners charter a schooner to take them home. The Pitcairners themselves paid for most of the passage with copper fittings they had brought from the Bounty.
We do not know whether Puarai was kidnapped by Christian and his men or not, but she arrived at Pitcairn as the consort of John Adams who then called himself Alexander Smith.
Within the first year after the arrival, Puarai fell to her death from a precipice while gathering birds or birds eggs. She left no children.
A name sometimes used to denote PITCAIRN.
A steep cliff face on the south-east coast of Pitcairn.
Captain Sandilands commanded HMS Comet when she escorted the transport barque Lucy Ann which carried the population of Pitcairn to Tahiti in 1831. For his two brief reports of this operation see Robert B. Nicolson, The Pitcairners (1965).
Sarah was a nickname used by the mutineers for both TEVARUA and SULLY, Teio’s daughter. Some sources also claim that Teatuahitea was called Sarah, in which case there must have been a great deal of confusion on Pitcairn: three out of thirteen Polynesian females referred to as Sarah!
On March 15, 1830, the British warship Seringapatam, commanded by Captain the Honourable William Waldegrave, visited Pitcairn. She brought clothing and agricultural tools as gifts from the British government.
Waldegrave wrote a private journal in which he sates: “In the evening we walked to see Christian’s and Adams Graves. They are at some distance from each other – the grave of the former near the spot where he fell, murdered, about one third from the summit of the island; the latter is buried by the side of his Otaheitan wife, at the end of his cottage-garden.”
This is interesting, because the spot where Christian was buried is unknown today. The fact that the grave of the leader of the mutineers could not be pointed out to later visitors has been used to support the theory which holds that Fletcher Christian escaped the island and returned incognito to England.
Lieutenant of the Royal Marines on board HMS Briton. When the Briton, accompanied by HMS Tagus, visited Pitcairn on September 17, 1814, Shilliber did not go ashore, but he interviewed the young men who came out to the ship. Among them was Thursday October Christian, Fletcher Christian’s first born son, and Shilliber drew a sketch of him, the only one known to exist. Below the sketch he wrote “Friday October Christian.”
The international date line was not officially established until 1883. Nevertheless the Bounty had gained a day by sailing eastward to the Pacific, and Thursday October’s name should therefore have been “Wednesday October!” Someone had miscalculated somehow. “Friday October” soon went back to his given name and also named his third son Thursday October (although we do not know if he was born a Thursday in October).
Shilliber later wrote A Narrative of The Briton’s Voyage, to Pitcairn’s Island (1817) which, unfortunately, is not very reliable when it deals with past events on Pitcairn but is nevertheless interesting in it is description of the visitors on board and their behavior.
On Pitcairn Island: a sharp pinnacle of rock rising to 700 feet on the east side of Bounty Bay.
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.
Commander of the British warship Briton which, together with her consort HMS Tagus, was on a mission to track down the U.S. Frigate Essex, under Commander David Porter, which had been attacking British shipping in the Pacific. In the early morning of September 17, 1814, the two ships sighted Pitcairn Island.
The arrival and some other circumstances are described under the entry PIPON, PHILIP (the commander of the Tagus who wrote an account of the voyage).
Both captains went ashore, getting thoroughly wet in the never-ceasing murderous surf in Bounty Bay, and met John Adams, the last surviving mutineer of the Bounty. Sir Thomas later wrote that Adams’
Exemplary conduct and fatherly care of the whole of the little colony, would not but command admiration. The pious manner in which all those born on the island have been reared, the correct sense of religion which has been instilled into their young minds by this old man [Adams was about 47 at the time!], has given him the pre-eminence over the whole of them, to whom they look up as the father of the whole and one family.
Adams lied to the visiting captains that he had been sick in bed during the mutiny, but they probably saw through this very understandable deception and yet felt that they should not go “by the book” and arrest him and take him to England to be hanged. They told him that he should stay on the island and continue to take care of the community. In their humanity these captains probably represented the best of the officers of the Royal Navy.
The ships spent only one day at the island and sailed in the evening.
The schooner which brought the second wave of returnees from Norfolk Island to Pitcairn after the second migration of the total population of Pitcairn (see PITCAIRN ISLAND). The St. Kilda sailed from Norfolk on December 18, 1863, and arrived at Pitcairn on February 2, 1864.
On board were four families. Among them was Thursday October Christian II with his wife and nine children and Mrs. Christian’s mother, Elizabeth Young (nee Mills) who was returning to the land of her birth to see her son, Mayhew, who had been named in honor of the re-discoverer of Pitcairn, Captain Mayhew Folger.
The other families were Robert Buffett and his wife; Samuel Warren and his wife (the daughter of Thursday October II); and Simon Young and his family.
Samuel Warren was a sailor from Providence, Rhode Island, who had jumped a whaler and joined the colony at Norfolk. The descendants still lived on Pitcairn in 1989: in December 1987 there were twelve Warrens on the island (one forth of the total population).
The return of these families, in addition to the sixteen Pitcairners who returned earlier in the Mary Ann, guaranteed the survival of the Pitcairn community.
Sully was the daughter of Teio and a Tahitian man. We do not know her real name, nor the name of her father. She was only ten months old on arrival at Pitcairn, the only child on board. Island lore has it that she was ferried ashore from the Bounty in a barrel.
Sully grew up to marry Fletcher Christian’s second son, Charles, in 1810. She bore him eight children: Fletcher, Edward, Charles Jr., Isaac, Sarah, Maria, Mary and Margaret.
On March 7, 1826, before reaching her thirty-seventh birthday, Sully died of an unknown causes, leaving Charles with four sons and four daughters ranging in age from about fifteen to a little over a year old.
American whaler from Boston commanded by a Captain Reynolds. The Sultan, as far as can be determined, was the fourth ship to touch at Pitcairn. She arrived sometime in 1817 and the captain traded some iron bars and stores for copper bolts which had been recovered from the Bounty. When she left, Teehuteatuaonoa (“Jenny”) was on board. Via Chile and the Marquesas she returned to Tahiti, the first of the original settlers to leave the island and the only one who never returned.
The 14-gun sloop with a complement of ninety in which Captain Philip Carteret sailed around the world, discovering Pitcairn in the process. The Swallow was old, having been in service many years, and was not fit for a long voyage. She sailed so poorly that Bougainville, when he overtook her in the Boudeuse on February 26, 1769, remarked, “His (Carteret’s) ship was very small, went very ill, and when we took leave of him, he remained as if it were at anchor. How much he must have suffered in so bad a vessel, may well be conceived.”
British warship commanded by Captain Philip Pipon and accompanying HMS Briton on a mission to track down the U.S. frigate Essex, under Commander David Porter, which had been attacking British shipping in the Pacific. In the early morning of September 17, 1814, the two ships sighted Pitcairn Island. After establishing contact with the inhabitants they left the same evening. Captain Pipon later wrote a narrative of the voyage.
See the entries for PIPON and SHILLIBEER (lieutenant on the Briton).
Tararo was from Raiatea; some sources claim he was a chief. He had been in Tahiti when Christian sailed and he decided to join.
On Pitcairn, he was the only Polynesian who had a consort of his own, Toofaiti who was also from the Leeward Islands. But when Williams’ consort died within a year of the arrival on the island, the mutineers decided to “give” Toofaiti to him, which of course enraged Tararo. The consort shared by the Tubuaians Titahiti and Oha had also been “given” away, and the three Polynesians now hatched a plan to kill the mutineers. They made the mistake of confiding their scheme to some of the women, however, who informed the mutineers about the conspiracy. The latter sent the three Tahitians on the island, armed with muskets, to kill the conspirators. Tararo was the first one killed (Oha was next, and Titahiti surrendered). The place where Tararo was murdered is still called Talaloo’s Ridge. Tararo, like the other Polynesian men on Pitcairn, left no children.
Nordhoff’s and Hall’s name for Edward Young’s consort TERAURA.
Teatuahitea may or may not have been kidnapped by the mutineers when they left Tahiti for the last time. She arrived at Pitcairn as the consort of William Brown, the gardener on the Bounty.
After Brown was killed on Massacre Day, September 20, 1793, Teathuahitea moved in with Teio in the McCoy household. She died of “the dropsy” sometime between the visit of the Topaz (1808) and the Briton and the Tagus (1814). She left no children.
Before 1956, our knowledge of what happened with Christian and his companions after they left Tahiti for the last time was based primarily on the accounts of sea captains who had visited Pitcairn and interviewed the last surviving mutineer, John Adams. For some inscrutable reason, no one seems to have interviewed the surviving women who, after all, spoke a passable English. It is possible, of course, that Adams did not want the women to be interviewed; he wanted to present what happened in such a way that he did not endanger himself.
Adams, then, told different and conflicting stories to his interviewers who themselves may not have been very careful in their notetaking. We had no check on Adams’ stories until 1956 when Professor Henry E. Maude discovered two newspaper articles based on interviews with Teehuteatuaonoa, the first of the settlers – and the only one of the original settlers – to leave Pitcairn permanently.
The first article was by an anonymous author and appeared in the Sydney Gazette July 17, 1819. The second article was based on an account dictated to Reverend Henry Nott in the presence of Captain Peter Dillon who had it published in the Bengal Hurkaru of October 2, 1826. Teehuteatuaonoa had also been interviewed by Otto von Kotzebue in March 1824.
Teehuteatuaonoa’s accounts are more reliable than those Adams gave, if for no other reason than that she had nothing to hide. She seems to have been a very intelligent woman and a leader of the women on Pitcairn.
Teehuteatuaonoa was originally the consort of Adams and followed him to Tubuai. In fact, her left arm was tattooed “AS 1789,” AS standing for Alexander Smith, the alias of John Adams. On arrival at Pitcarn, however, she was the consort of Isaac Martin and stayed with him until his death on Massacre Day, September 20, 1793. She was very unhappy on the island, perhaps because she had no children, and she left it in 1817 on the whaler Sultan in order to go back to her native Tahiti.
We do not know whether Teehuteatuaonoa was still living when the population of Pitcairn briefly emigrated to Tahiti in 1831. Perhaps not, because von Kotzebue indicated that she was homesick for Pitcairn and, if so, she could have gone “home” with the others.
Teimua was one of the three Tahitian men who accompanied Christian and the other mutineers to Pitcairn (there were also two Tubuaian men and one man from Raiatea on the Bounty).
With the other two Tahitians and a few mutineers, Teimua joined Christian in the exploratory shore party when Pitcairn was first sighted.
Teimua had to share Mareva with the other two Tahitians. When the Tubuaians and the Raiatean conspired to kill the mutineers at the end of the first year, he participated in the murders of two of the conspirators.
On Massacre Day, September 20, 1793, it was Teimua who tried to save Brown’s life by shooting at him only with a powder charge and telling him to play dead (Brown moved too soon and was beaten to death by Manarii). Sometime afterwards he was sitting with Teraura, accompanying her singing on his nose flute, when he was shot to death by Manarii who was probably jealous.
As was the case with all the Polynesian ment on Pitcairn, Teimua left no progeny.
Teio went to Tubuai as the consort of Thomas McIntosh who was a loyalist and stayed on Tahiti when the Bounty sailed away for the last time. Teio was on board, however, but we do not know whether she came along willingly or was kidnapped. She arrived at Pitcairn as the consort of William McCoy and she was the only woman who brought a child with her, a baby daughter whose Tahitian name we do not know, but who was called “Sully” by the mutineers. Sully had had a Tahitian father.
Teio bore McCoy two children: Daniel and Kate. McCoy committed suicide in 1797 by throwing himself off a cliff during an attack of delirium tremens, and we do not know much about what Teio did during the next few years. Sometime after the turn of the century John Adams’ consort Vahineatua died and Teio then when to live with him. She bore him his only son George. When Captain Beechey visited the island in 1825, he formally married Teio and Adams.
Teio died only nine days after Adams on March 14, 1829.
We do not know whether Teraura was one of the Tahitian women who were kidnapped by Christian and his companions when the Bounty sailed from Tahiti for the last time. She arrived at Pitcairn as the consort of Edward Young.
When the women on the island took their revenge for having lost their male consorts on Massacre Day, Teraura was the one who cut off Tetahiti’s head with an axe while he was sleeping with Teatuahitea.
She bore Young no children and when he tired of her, preferring Mauatua and Toofaiti, she seems to have taken up with – or been forced to take up with – Matthew Quintal. We do not know whether this was before or after Quintal’s consort Tevarua fell to her death from a precipice in 1799. Teraura was pregnant with Quintal’s child when he was murdered later that year by Adams and Young; the child was a boy who was named Edward.
Six years after Young’s death, in 1806, she married Fletcher Christian’s elder son, Thursday October, when he was sixteen and she was past thirty. She bore him six children: Charles, Joseph, Thursday October II, Mary, Polly, and Peggy.
Teraura survived the disastrous attempt of the population to emigrate to Tahiti in 1831, but she lost her husband there to the diseases against which the Pitcairners had no immunity. She became the last survivor of the original settlers and lived to see the first celebration of Bounty Day, the sixtieth anniversary of the burning of the ship, on January 23, 1850. She died half a year later, on July 15, 1850, almost twenty years after her husband.
Tevarua was the consort of Matther Quintal who called her “Sarah.” Even though she had accompanied him to Tubuai, it is likely that she was one of the Tahitian women who were kidnapped by the mutineers in Tahiti when they left the island for the last time; she must have known Quintal’s brutal nature by then. She arrived at Pitcairn as his consort and bore him five children: Matthew, Jenny, Arthur, Sarah and a boy who died unnamed a week after his birth.
Tevarua was without a doubt the most abused woman on Pitcairn. Island tradition has it that Quintal once bit off her ear when she did not bring home enough fish. Even if the story is apocryphal, being Quintal’s consort must have been hell on earth.
Tevarua died in 1799 by falling – or more probably, throwing herself – from a precipice.
Tinafanaea must have been from Tubuai and it is likely that she came along voluntarily when the Bounty sailed from Tahiti for the last time. On Pitcairn, she was shared as a consort by the two Tubuaians, Titahiti and Oha. (Some sources claim she was Titahiti’s wife but that he shared her with Oha.)
When Adams’ consort Puarai died towards the end of the first year on Pitcairn, Tinafanaea was “given” to Adams. Earlier, Tararo’s consort Toofaiti had been “given” to Williams. This was more than the Tubuaian men and Tararo could tolerate, and the two outrages combined to set off the bloodshed that eventually wiped out almost all men on the island.
Tinafanaea seems to have stayed in Adams’ household even when he, after Mills was killed on Massacre Day, took Vahineatua as his consort.
Tinafanaea died sometime between the visit of the Topaz (1808) and the Briton and the Tagus (1814). She left no descendants.
. . . Before the Hawaiians taught the Tahitians this use, or abuse, of the “Tree of Sin” (as the missionaries called the okolehao, or ti plant), the Bounty mutineer William McCoy had come upon the secret all by himself on Pitcairn. McCoy had earlier worked in a brewery in Glasgow and was what is sometimes referred to as a “chronically thirsty” man. After much experimentation, he succeeded in distilling a strong liquor from the ti-root, in other words, okolehao. . . .
The abuse of okolehao, then (although it was not known by that name), accounted for at least McCoy’s death, but probably also Quintal’s, since he seems to have gone totally out of control after starting on the okolehao and this was the reason he was “executed” by Adams and Young.
The word abuse should be stressed, because okolehao is no more dangerous than any other spirits and can taste just as good although – like any other liquor – it can also taste like liquid sandpaper. Captain Charles Fremantle who visited Pitcairn in HMS Challenger in 1833 wrote: “It was not unlike whisky and very good!”
Titahiti’s original name was Ta’aroamiva. He was from Tubuai, the youngest brother of Ta’aroatohoa, the chief of Natieva (the district is now called Taahuaia. Ta’aroamiva followed Christian and his men to Tahiti (where he changed his name to Titahiti) and to Pitcairn.
On Pitcairn, Titahiti shared Tinafanaea (who may also have been from Tubuai) with his compatriot Oha until she was “given” by the mutineers to Adams whose consort had died within a year of the arrival.
Titahiti was one of the three Polynesians (two from Tubuai, one from Raiatea) who conspired to kill the mutineers towards the end of the first year on the island. The mutineers found out about the plot through the women and sent the three Tahitians to kill the conspirators. Two were killed, but Titahiti surrendered and henceforth lived on the plantation of Isaac Martin as a virtual slave.
On Massacre Day Titahiti borrowed a musket from Martin under the pretext that he was going to shoot a pig for supper. He then joined Teimua and Niau who had stolen some muskets when they fled to the mountains. Some time after the murder of the five mutineers, Titahiti was himself killed by Young’s consort Teraura as an act of revenge.
Like the other Polynesian men on Pitcairn, Titahiti left no progeny.
We do not know whether Toofaiti was kidnapped by Christian and the other mutineers or whether she came along willingly. On the arrival at Pitcairn, she was the consort of Tararo. Both of them were from the Leeward Islands, she from Huahine, he from Raiatea.
Toofaiti was “given” to John Williams after his consort died; this was the incident that triggered the interracial strife and bloodshed on Pitcairn. According to an island tradition, it was Toofaiti who sang the song
Why does black man sharpen axe?
To kill the white men.
which warned the mutineers of the plot by the Tubuaians and the Raiatean Tararo to exterminate them.
After Williams was killed on Massacre Day, September 20, 1793, Toofaiti and Mauatua seem to both have been consorts of Edward Young to whom Toofaiti bore three sons, George, Robert, and William, and one daughter, Nancy.
When the whole population of Pitcairn migrated to Tahiti in 1831, Toofaiti was one of the seventeen who died from a disease contracted on the island. Her death occurred on June 9, 1831.
A Boston sealer owned by Messrs. Boardman and Pope and commanded by Captain Mayhew Folger.
The Topaz sailed from Boston on Sunday, April 5, 1807. The main purpose of the voyage was of course to procure seal skins, but the ship also carried gin and rum with which to trade in New Holland (Australia). She arrived in Hobart Town on October 27. Interestingly, Bligh was aware of her dealings, at least afterwards, because in his dispatch to Viscount Castlereagh on June 30, 1808, (in which he reports on his arrest), Bligh includes the report
That the officers of the Porpoise when at the Derwent, commanded by Lieutenant Symons, received from the American Ship Topaz . . . upwards of Eight hundred gallons of Rum, and one hundred and fifty of Gin, that about three hundred was only on account of the Ship, for which Bills were drawn on their own private account, and afterwards Sold by them at two and three pounds per gallon.
The Topaz continued her voyage into the South Pacific and on February 6, 1808, sighted Pitcairn Island. See also FOLGER, MAYHEW.
A 300-ton British whaler which, under the command of Captain Thomas Stavers, arrived at Pitcairn on March 8, 1834, and carried George Nobbs, John Buffett, and John Evans to Tahiti, the three having been exiled by Joshua Hill, the “dictator” of Pitcairn.”
The surgeon on board the Tuscan, Dr. Frederick D. Bennett, has left a fascinating account of the visit in his chapter on Pitcairn in A Narrative of a Whaling Voyage Round the Globe (1840).
The nuts of the candlenut tree (Aleurites triloba) are rich and oily and about the size of a walnut. In old Tahiti they were used for lighting (tutui means to kindle a fire or set fire to something). Several nuts were threaded on a rib of a coconut frond, forming a taper which would burn like a candle. Seasoned in black mud the tutui takes a high polish and is used for jewelry, especially in Hawaii where the nut is called kukui.
Even as recently as half a century ago the tutui was used on isolated islands, as reported by H. L. Shapiro in The Heritage of the Bounty (1936):
In the evening, which comes soon after six o’clock on Pitcairn [the] snug interiors were illuminated by the faltering light of the doodoee or candle nut. The use of these nuts for lighting once widespread in Polynesia today still lingers on remote islands such as Rapa. . . .
. . . as one nut burnt low the next would be ignited, thus producing a candle-like illumination satisfactory except for the cracking and spitting that Beechey found disconcerting.
A reddish brown dye made from the inner bark of the candlenut tree is used to decorate tapa cloth and the sap of the tree is used to waterproof it.
We do not know whether Vahineatua was kidnapped by the mutineers or not, but she arrived at Pitcairn as the consort of John Mills to whom she bore two children: Betsy (Elizabeth) and John. The boy died from a fall at a young age.
After Mills had been murdered on Massacre Day, Vahineatua went to live with Adams to whom she bore three daughters: Dina, Rachel, and Hannah. She was pregnant with a fourth child when, according to Teehuteatuaonoa, “she was killed, being pierced in her bowels by a goat.”
The first steamship to visit Pitcairn (January 27, 1853). The visit ended tragically. When the Pitcairners wanted to fire one of the Bounty’s cannons in a farewell salute, the ramrod happened to contain a nail which caused a spark that ignited the power in the cannon, killing the Island Magistrate, Matthew McCoy.
Captain of HMS Seringapatam. Waldegrave described his visit to Pitcairn in 1830 in a most interesting article entitled “Recent Accounts of the Pitcairn Islanders.” (Royal Geographical Society Journal, volume 3, 1833). See SERINGAPATAM.
In 1988 Brian Young, a direct descendant of midshipman Edward Young of the Bounty was Pitcairn Island’s magistrate. His Norwegian-born wife, Kari (nee Boye), has written an interesting book about Pitcairn called Den siste mysterist (The Last Mutineer), published in Norwegian in 1982.
Elizabeth (Betsy) Mills was born in 1791 or 1792, the daughter of mutineer John Mills and Vahineatua. In 1811 she married Matthew Quintal II who died in 1814. In 1823 she married William Young, the son of mutineer Edward Young and Toofaiti; he died in 1839.
All through her life, Betsy remembered and told of the terror she had experienced as a child in witnessing the murder of Matthew Quintal.
Betsy survived both migrations, to Tahiti in 1831 and to Norfolk in 1856. She was in the second group of Pitcairners who, in the schooner St. Kilda, returned from Norfolk Island on February 2, 1864.
Betsy lived to be the last survivor of the children of the mutineers. She died on November 6, 1883, at the age of ninety-one or ninety-two.
Text from Mutiny and Romance in the South Seas: A Companion to the Bounty Adventure by Sven Wahlroos. Used by permission. See Book Recommendations for more information about this book.
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