'The Story in a Nutshell' gibt es auch auf Deutsch als 'Die Geschichte in Kürze',
unter: Die Muterei auf der Bounty.
The purpose of the voyage was to go to Tahiti and gather breadfruit plants for transplanting in the West Indies, to provide a cheap source of food for the slaves of the English planters there.
After many delays caused by official foot-dragging and weather, the Bounty set sail from Spithead, England, on Dec 23, 1787. Her orders were to sail to Tahiti by way of Cape Horn, but because of the delays, Captain William Bligh had requested and been granted discretionary orders to sail by way of the Cape of Good Hope, should rounding Cape Horn be deemed impracticable due to the advancing season.
Which it proved to be. After a valiant effort, Captain Bligh gave orders to turn for the Cape of Good Hope. They sailed to the Cape of Good Hope, round the southern edge of Australia and New Zealand and north to Tahiti, where they arrived on Oct 26, 1788.
They spent nearly five and a half months on Tahiti gathering plants and set sail on Apr 4, 1789, for the West Indies.
On Apr 28, 1789, part of the crew, led by Fletcher Christian, mutinied and took control of the Bounty, set Captain Bligh and 18 others adrift in the ship's launch, with only enough supplies to reach a nearby island.
But the natives on the island proved unfriendly. Indeed, one of them Bligh had earlier humiliated. (Go to Find Stuff, Islanders, Nageete.) They escaped with the loss of one man, having gained very little in the way of supplies, and, in their escape, having lost some of what they already had.
With little choice, they set sail across 3600 miles (5800 kilometers) of largely unknown ocean for Timor, where they hoped to find a European settlement, and made it. Still one of the most heroic open-boat voyages in history. (But not the only one in this story.)
Meanwhile, the mutineers had taken the Bounty to an island called Tubuai, south of Tahiti, searching for a place to settle where they might not be found. After scouting the island, they returned to Tahiti for supplies. Returning once again to Tubuai, they began building a fort, which they patriotically named 'Fort George.'
After almost three months of effort, trouble with the natives, and dissension among themselves, they agreed to abandon the effort and return to Tahiti.
Once at Tahiti, they split up; nine, including Fletcher Christian, staying with the Bounty, and the remaining 16 taking their chances by staying on Tahiti. Articles which were not necessary for sailing the ship, were divided fairly evenly.
Fletcher, his eight compadres, and some native men and women (some voluntary, some reportedly not) sailed away, not to be heard of again until an American whaler stumbled across the survivors on Pitcairn Island in 1808.
Meanwhile, the mutineers on Tahiti begat some children, built a schooner, compiled an anthropological treatise on the island and its people, compiled a vocabulary and grammar on the language, joined in some native wars and forever changed the island's history. One killed another and was himself killed in turn by the natives.
Back in England, Captain Edward Edwards was dispatched with His Majesty's Ship Pandora to the South Seas "to endeavor to recover the abovementioned Armed Vessel, and to bring in confinement to England the abovementioned Fletcher Christian and his Assocciates (a list of whose names you will receive herewith) or as many of them as have survived and you may be able to apprehend..."
Edwards sailed out to Tahiti without mishap, landed at Tahiti, and promptly gathered up the fourteen surviving mutineers. They were immediately clapped in irons without regard for the fact that Bligh himself had said that some were innocent and kept with the mutineers against their will. He had a jail built on deck, dubbed Pandora's Box, to house them.
The Pandora sailed from Tahiti May 10, 1791, in search of the Bounty and the remaining mutineers. He had confiscated the mutineers schooner, had it outfitted with proper sails and rigging, and manned by Master's Mate Oliver, a Midshipman, a Quartermaster and six crewmen. Named the Resolution by the mutineers, he renamed it the Matavy tender, and took it along to search the various islands.
Edwards sailed in the wrong direction. He found a yard, stamped 'Bounty's Driver Yard,' but no Bounty, no mutineers.
He lost the Pandora's jolly boat with Midshipman John Sival and four crewmen, one of them the Boatswain's son, never to be heard from again.
The Pandora became separated from the Matavy tender. He scoured the vicinity for two days, then broke off the search for the Bounty to return to Annamooka Island, their rendevouz point; but after waiting some time, gave her up for lost and resumed his search.
She was not lost. Oliver and his crew also sailed south for Annamooka, but having no charts and not much knowledge (Oliver was 19 when He signed on the Pandora) they came up on the wrong island. And only just in time; their resupply was on the Pandora's deck when they became separated.
The Pandora gave up the search and turned for home.
Oliver and his crew gave up waiting and stocking their 'little bark' with cocoanuts and yams, set off on their own epic voyage. Finding no opening at the Great Barrier Reef they manhandled the boat across. They actually outsailed Bligh. First they started from farther away, and second, meeting up with a ship south of Timor whose captain showed them his charts, they by-passed Timor and sailed to Surabaya in Java. Where, no surprise, the local authorities suspected they were the mutineers. After all, they answered the description, their boat was made of Tahiti wood, and Oliver, as a Master's Mate, held no commission, only a note from Captain Edwards.
There was no manhandling the Pandora over the reef. In attempting to find an opening, she struck a reef and foundered, drowning 31 of the Pandora's crew and four of her prisoners, two still in handcuffs.
They had saved four of the ship's boats, and after a couple of days on a key getting themselves together, set sail for Coupang in Timor.
Oliver and crew had convinced the local governor to let them proceed to Batavia, under escort. They reached Semarang, Java.
At Coupang, Edwards arranged for passage for his crew on a Dutch vessel, the Rembang, for Batavia.
They sailed into Semarang, Java, the day after the Matavy tender. Their reunion 'occasioned much joy.'
Like Bligh, Edwards lost more people to illness in Batavia (including the young Oliver), but eventually got what remained of his crew, and his ten prisoners back to England.
In England, a court-martial was held for the ten prisoners. Four were acquitted, five were condemned to death, one, the only one represented by counsel, got the equivalent of a mistrial. Of those condemned, two were pardoned, and three hanged.
When Bligh returned to England he published an account of the mutiny and the voyage in the launch, which made him a hero in the public's eye. This was followed two years later with a book recounting the complete voyage with a retelling of the mutiny and the voyage in the launch. He was still riding high, when, two years after the court-martial, Edward Christian, Fletcher Christian's brother and a Professor of Law, convinced Stephen Barney, William Muspratt's counsel at the court-martial, to publish his minutes, to which he, Edward, added an Appendix. This began the turn of public opinion against Bligh.
Of the mutineers who went to Pitcairn, six were murdered, one committed suicide while drunk, and two died natural deaths. The violence notwithstanding, they established a colony and have their own history.
Where you are; the story in a nutshell and what's here.
A tabular chronology of events from May 5, 1787, through Feb 6, 1808.
A graphical illustration of the dates and durations of various events from May 5, 1787, through Sep 20, 1793.
All the material I have of Fryer's is of very poor quality, and I doubt I'll ever get them completely deciphered.
Fryer was no writer, as you'll quickly discover reading what's here, and this is pretty much all there is. He wrote letters, but whether copies still exist, and where they might be I haven't been able to discover.
I've had much better luck with Mr. Morrison. I have all that he is known to have written on the subject and it is complete. There is also the report on his successful examination for Master Gunner, which he had taken prior to sailing on the Bounty.
What I have of Peter Heywood are letters. Heywood kept a journal while on Tahiti after the mutiny, but it was confiscated by Captain Edwards and apparently did not survive. I have added the portion of John Marshall's Royal Naval Biography dealing with the mutiny and the court-martial. I have omitted the first part, which is a retelling of James Morrison's Journal, and the last part, which is Heywood's subsequent career. A couple of the letters are repeated in the Biography.
This is an excerpt of a letter written by Francis Godolphon Bond, a son of Bligh's half-sister, who sailed with him on his second breadfruit expedition. Many Bligh partisans have claimed that on this voyage there was none of the behavior reported on the Bounty voyage. Bond says otherwise. This letter was mailed from St. Helena on the Providence's passage from Tahiti to Jamaica. I've added a letter to Francis from his brother Thomas, which was waiting for him at St. Helena.
This section is in four parts: the first, Admiralty,
the second, Edward Edwards, Captain of the Pandora,
the third, George Hamilton, Surgeon of the Pandora,
and the fourth, David Renouard, Midshipman of the Pandora.
The Matavy Tender was the schooner Resolution, built by the mutineers on Tahiti and put into service by Captain Edwards as a tender. During the search of the islands the two became separated, and the crew of the tender made their own epic voyage to Java.
The Minutes contain only the prosecution's side of the court-martial, not the defense, a point Bligh uses in his answer to the appendix to say that they differ from the official minutes. They consist of:
This section has the full and complete transcripts of all the court martials that resulted from the mutiny: of Bligh and others, for the loss of the Bounty; of the Carpenter, William Purcell, on charges brought by Bligh; of Edwards and others, for the loss of the Pandora; and, finally, of the mutineers, for Mutiny and Desertion. To my knowledge, this is the only full and complete transcript of the court-martial of the Bounty mutineers on the internet.
These were the Articles of War established Dec 25, 1749, and in force at the time. Bligh would have these read to the crew at various times, usually when there was some dust-up.
Pitcairn presents problems for this site. There were no writers among the nine mutineers who landed there. Young started a journal which was continued by Adams after his death. This journal was seen by some of the first people to visit the island after its rediscovery, but later disappeared. So, all that exists are reports by those visitors.
I had earlier determined to make the death of John Adams the cut-off point for this website, but I got hold of images of the Nobbs version of he Pitcairn Island Register, and as it exists nowhere else on the web, I have decided to include it.
Note: There is more Pitcairn material on my companion website Pitcairn - The Early History.
At the moment this section contains Google Maps® showing the tracks of the various ships. There are many, many Google Earth® maps scattered throughout the texts and I have thought about providing access to them here, again when I get around to it. The tracks are:
At present, this section contains only six items, but there may be others - a sort of catch-all.
This is not intended to be an exhaustive index of the site. However, it is rather complete in the following categories: Dates, Islanders, Letters, People, Pitcairners, Places, and Ships. I have separated the Islanders because of the difficulty of dealing with their names. Every Englishman spelled them differently and the Tahitians traded names, gave their names to their children and took new ones, and on and on. I have also separated the people born on Pitcairn and immigrants to the that island.
Not all pages are indexed. Some, such as Chronology, for technical reasons; browsers cannot find stuff in tables(?). And some, such as this page, which is primarily about the site.
Incomplete. I am not good at taking notes.
A fictional account of Fletcher Christian's travels and exploits after the mutiny, first published in 1796.
In 1791 William Bligh led a second expedition to Tahiti to carry breadfruit plants to the West Indies. These are the various logbooks and a narrative of that voyage.
Whatever's on your mind.