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Revised 2012-06-20

Peter Heywood
Midshipman, HMAV Bounty

Jun 6, 1772 Peter Heywood was born on the Isle of Man on June 6, 1772. Little is known of his early life, except that he was educated, by a clergyman at Nantwich, in Chelsea. He entered the Royal Navy in October, 1786, at age 14, so we know that any formal education ended then. He boarded the Bounty ten months later at the age of 15; the berth acquired through family connections with Bligh. This must have been an exceptional young man. During his two stints on Tahiti, on the breadfruit mission and after the Mutiny, he produced a vocabulary and grammar of the Tahitian language that was the authority for years afterwards; it was used by the first missionaries to the islands. If you check the sketch of the Pandora foundering in his letter to his sister from Batavia you'll find he was also a fair artist; and a poet, the following was written at Batavia:

Lest I should bend beneath this weighty load,

And ne'er enjoy thy promised blest abode,

Attend, thou Hope, on me, and be my guide,

Thro' all my sorrows, walking by my side:

Keep in my eyes that distant happy spot

Where sweet content shall be my future lot.

Free from ambition or desire of gain,

Living in peace, exempt from mental pain;

My food, the fruits with my own culture grown,

The world forgetting, by the world unknown:'

There tasting pleasure void of care's alloy,

Crowning afflictions past with present joy!

"March, 1791.


The Heywood Manuscript Letters are the Heywood family letters concerning Peter's involvement in the mutiny and the subsequent court-martial collected and copied by his eldest sister Mary. (Some, not all, of the other letters are duplicated in the manuscript. The manuscript is the ultimate source.)

Heywood Manuscript Letters
Letter from Peter Heywood to his Mother from Batavia (1791)
Letter Peter Heywood wrote to his Mother from the Hector (1792)
Peter Heywood Letter to his Sister with Sketches of Pandora Foundering and Survivors Encampment
Two Short Letters from Bligh to Heywood Family (1790)
Letter from John Hallett to Peter Heywood's Sister (1792)
Peter Heywood's first Letter after his Conviction (1792)
Peter Heywood Letter to his Sister, Refuting the Points on which he was Convicted
Letter from Peter Heywood to Edward Christian (1792)
Excerpt with Letter from Peter Heywood to Captain Beechey (1830)

Royal Naval Biography - John Marshall

The Mutiny, At Tahiti
The Pandora, Return to England
The Defense

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