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Revised 2013-11-13

Memorandum and Particulars respecting the Bounty and her Crew

[The date this was written is uncertain, probably 1792.]

Memorandum and Particulars


the Bounty

and her


The Bounty was a Ship rigged Vessel of 200 Tons Merchants measurement; She was a flush decked Vessel.

Off Cape Horn, the swell of the Sea was so great as to obscure the Sun at that time 20° above the Horizon. The Bounty on the same Day of the Year made the same Longitude & Latitude that the Centurion Commodore Anson was in.

Say Memory for 'tis those alone can tell,
What dire mishaps a fated Ship befell.
     Falconer's Shipwreck

Vidi et Scio
[I saw and I know.]

Dec 23, 1787

The Bounty armed Vessel Lieut. William Bligh Commander, sailed from Spithead on 23 December 1787, having on board 46 Men including the Commanding Officers, a Botanist and Gardener/Assistant bound to the Island of Otaheite (or as the natives from [? ?] it Taheite) for the purpose of purchasing Breadfruit Plants and conveying them to the West Indies.

Dec 27, 1787

On the 27th She was overtaken by a heavy gale of wind, in which she lost her spare Topsail yard, Topgallant yard and two Sweeps off the Quarter. The Boats chock was lost and most of the Planks of the large Cutter, ripped from the stern by a Sea breaking on Board. Another Sea Stove in a part of the Stern and wet some Bags of bread in the Cabbin, but did very little damage. The Carpenter soon secured the breach and the Bread was dried and immediately used.

Jan 6, 1788

Nothing material happened till the arrival at Tennariff Map on the 6th Jan 1788; when she completed her water and took on board some wine, for the Ships use (and a number of Casks marked for Gentlemen in England and the West Indies) some pumpions and four quarters of miserable Beef, which was all the place afforded (refreshment of every kind being very scarce) except a Goat and Kid which Lieut Bligh purchased for his own use and which died soon after.

Jan 11, 1788

As soon as the hold was compleat and the Boats stowed, she sailed on the 10th or 11th (pr Log.) and stood to the S.West-ward with a fine Breeze and pleasant weather and Lieut Bligh ordered the Ships Company, to be put in three watches and at the same time informing them, that uncertainty of the length of the voyage, required that he should be careful to make the Provisions hold out, and therefore ordered that the whole should be put to 2/3 Allowance of Bread, this was cheerfully received, and the small Beer being out he ordered Grog to be served.

Some several Days of the weather being fine, the Cheese was got up to the air, when on opening the Casks, two Cheeses were deduced to be stolen, the Cooper affirmed that the Cask had been opened by Mr Samuels Order, and the cheese sent to Mr Bligh's House, while the Ship was in the River. Mr Bligh without enquiring any further into the Affair, ordered the Allowance of Cheese to be stoped from Officers & men, till the deficiency was made good, and at the same time told the Cooper he would give him a damned good flogging if he heard him say so any more.

These orders were punctually obeyed by Mr Samuel who was both Clerk & Steward, and on the next servings Butter only was issued. This the Seamen refused to take, alledging that their acceptance of it would be a tacit confession of the supposed Theft, and John Williams said that he had carried the Cheese to Mr Blighs house, with some other things and a Cask of vinegar which were sent in the Boat. However as they persisted in the refusal, the Butter was kept also.

As the Ship approaced the Equator the Pumpions began to spoil being in general too large for the Lieut Bligh, he ordered them to be issued to the Ship's Company in lieu of bread, which was accordingly done but on enquiring of Mr Samuel at what rate the Exchange was to be, he informed them that they were to have one pound of Pumpions, in lieu of two Pounds of Bread. This was refused and Mr Samuel informed Lieut Bligh of it, who came up in a Passion, and ordered Mr Samuel to call the first Man of every Mess and let him see who would dare refuse it, or any thing else that he should order, saying — You damned infernal Scoundrels, I'll make you eat Grass before I have done with you, or any thing you can get.

This speech enforced his Orders, every one took it, as called, Officers not excepted and tho' it was in their Eyes, an impression, they said nothing about it; however it was plain to be seen that they felt it more severely than the Men who had previous to the sailing of the Ship from Spithead got in large quantities of Potatoes which were not yet expended.

This affair was drop'd and the Pumpions issued every other Day, till all was expended and would in all probability have ended with it, had nothing else intervened, but the Beef and Pork now began to appear very light, and as there never had been any weighed, the people in a regular & quiet Complaint made the same known to the Master, and begged redress.

As soon as Lieut Bligh was informed of the Complaint, he ordered all hands aft and informed them, that every thing relative to the Provisions, was transacted by his orders, and it was therefore needless to complain, as they would get no redress and further added, that he would flog the first severely who should attempt to make any Complaint. The seamen seeing that no redress could be had, before the End of the Voyage, resolved to bear it with patience, and no complaint was ever offered after.

Not so, the Officers bore the Diminution of their Allowance, and frequently seeing all the biggest and best Pieces culled out for Mr Blighs Table whilst they were forced to take their chance of what remained in common with the men, nor were they calculated to stand the wrangle in the Galley, for their Pease and Oat-meal which were also served in sparing quantities; so sparing that the Lieutenants Hogs would have starved, but for Bread & Indian Corn which were purchased for his Pantry.

The usual allowance of pease was Seven Quarts for the men and which they all partook, and of Oatmeal 9 Quarts, each Banyan Day—In the Pease was frequently boiled four Cakes of portable Broth and some sour-krout. The Butter & Cheese being expended, oil was served in lieu, but this was served in a proportion of one half pint of Oil, to one pound of Butter and one ounce of Sugar to one man's allowance of Cheese for a Banyan Day.

Mar 23, 1788

In this manner things past, untill the 23d of March, when on making the Land off Terra del fuego Map one of the Sheep died, upon which the Lieut ordered it to be issued to the Ship's Company, in lieu of their Pork & Pease, declaring it would make a delicious Meal, and that it weighed fifty Pounds: it was received & chief part of it committed to the deep, being nothing but skin and bones, and some dry shark supplied in place, for a Sunday's Dinner.

The weather being now very sharp and every one hoping, that he would soon get into a more plentiful and Hospitable Country, and Lieut Bligh ordering the Rum to be served without water, partly from the request of the Seamen, and partly to save water, they were in high Spirits and thought nothing of hardship and fatigue.

Lieut Bligh now ordered wheat to be boiled for Breakfast one morning and Barley another in lieu of Burgoue, but in such small quantities that it was no uncommon thing for the men in a Mess to throw lots for the Breakfast and divide their Bread by the well know method of "who shall have this."

The Quantity of wheat was one gallon for 46 men, and Barley 2 lb. for the like Number and of which all partook; this scanty Allowance caused frequent Broils and disputes at the Coppers where it was divided, in one of which Churchill had his hand scalded and at another time Thos Hall the Cook had two of his Ribs broke, and at last it became necessary that one of the Masters Mates should superintend the Division of it.

After a tedious and fatiguing trial to double Cape Horn Map it was found ineffectual, and Lieut Bligh called all hands aft, and informed them of his Intention of bearing away for the Cape of Good Hope, at the same time expressing his entire approbation of their behaviour and strict adherence to their late fatiguing duty; he ordered the yards to be squared and the Helm a weather, this order was returned with three Cheers & instantly obeyed.

Apr 18, 1788

On 18th Apr. a Hog was killed and served to the Ships Company in lieu of their Allowance, which, tho' little better than the Sheep, was greedily devoured.

Apr 22, 1788
May 25, 1788

The wind veering to the Northward induced him to try again, after having run near 2° or 120 miles to the Eastward, but again veering to the West he again bore away on the 22d and arrived at False Bay Map on 25th May.

The Oil and Sugar was now stopped, but that in a Fort where provisions could be had, was not missed, the Pease and Oatmeal were likewise stopped, and no more allowed but for Breakfast on Mondays & this at the peoples request was served by the Cook for thickening the Broth.

While the Ship lay here, the Seine was hauld frequently with Success: the Rigging was refitted, the ship caulked, by the Carpenter, his Mate and two Dutch Caulkers; the water filled and the Hold stowed, and some addition of Flour & fruit made to the former stock, and some Bread, Spirits & wine, also several Boats full of Ballast got on board and two Barrels of Dutch Gun powder; Jul 1, 1788 the Armourer repaired all the Iron work & on the first Day of July she sailed from the Cape of [for] Van Diemens Land, So Point of New Holland and being at Sea again, the old method of living was renewed & now more severly felt than ever.

Sep 11, 1788

About the 10th or 11th Sepr she anchored at Adventure Bay in New Holland Map & immediately set about fitting [filling] water & cutting wood; here at the Ships Companys request, full allowance of Bread was issued, while she lay in the Bay & was discontinued as soon as at Sea, and here were sown seeds of eternal discord between Lieut Bligh & the Carpenter; and it will be no more than [?] say, with all the Officers in general. He found fault with them, respecting their in attention to their Duty, this made the Men exert themselves the more, to keep the storm from bursting on themselves, & privately rejoiced at their good success, by that means escaped it.

Sep 22, 1788

The wood and water being completed, she sailed about 22d from [for] the Island of Tahite, and soon after Mr Bligh & his Mess-mates parted and each messed by themselves afterwards, during this Passage, they had frequent Broils—and previous to make Otaheite Lieut Bligh called all hands and read the Articles of War and such of the General Instructions as related to his and the Masters Duty & then produced some Books and Papers and ordered the Master to Sign them before all Hands, the Master then took the Pen and said, I sign in obedience to your orders, he signed the Papers & the people were dismissed.

James Valentine Seaman departed this Life, on this passage & now several of the men, particularly the oldest Seamen, began to have complaints of weakness & Pains in their Limbs & once appearance of the Scurvy was observed in several, however they soon recovered from their Complaints, when they got refreshement from the Shore.

Oct 25, 1788

She anchored in Maatavay Bay in the Island of Taheite Map on 25th of Octr and the Natives soon brought off supplies of Provisions such as the Country produced, with abundance of Cocoa-Nuts, of which the infirm were desired to drink plentifully & which contributed much to their Recovery.

Lieut Bligh gave orders that no Person should purchase any thing, but Provisions, and this was most strictly adhered to, by the Seamen, whose fancy was not attracted by any thing so much, as roasted Pigs & breadfruit.

It would be an endless story to recount all the Transactions, during her stay at this Island, which was between 5 & 6 months, some few however may not be unwise, as they tend to the Thread of the Narration.

The first object that presents itself was the curing of Pork, and as the natives had amply supplied the Ship, with large fat Hogs, it was immediately set about, while this was in hand, the Ships Company lived very well, being allowed 2 lb pr man pr Day of the Bones and such parts as were not fit for salting, which with what they could purchase themselves, every other species of Provisions being stop'd except Grog, on her arrival, enabled them to make out very well.

The Botanist and his assistant were sent on shore, with a party, under the command of Mr Christian, to protect them from the insults of the natives, should they offer any; they set about collecting the plants, and every thing seemed in a prosperous way.

While we lay here sometime in Decr Mr Thomas Huggin Surgeon departed this Life & was interred near point Venus.

The market for Hogs beginning to slack, Mr Bligh seized upon all that came to the Ship, whether dead or alive, taking them as his own property and serving them as the Ships Allowance, at one lb. pr man pr Day. If any should doubt as to the Truth of this, let them enquire of Mr John Fryer late Master of the Bounty, who can inform them, that Lieut Bligh did seize his Hogs and serve them to the Ships Company, telling Mr Fryer, at the same time, that he would convince him, that every thing was his, as soon as it was on board, and that he Lieut Bligh would take nine tenths of any mans property, & show him who dared say to the contrary. Those belonging to the Seamen were seized without ceremony, and it was thought a favour, for a man to get a Pound extra, of his own Hog.

To rememdy this, the natives were more diligent in watching all opportunities to bring the Provisions when Lieut Bligh was on shore. To prevent which a Book was kept on the Pinnace to take a account of every Hog that came on board, whether alive or dead, and this was to be noted by the Officers of the Watch, notwithstanding which, their sagacity was a match for the Lieutenants industry, and they found means of conveying the dried pork on board without being perceived.

About Christmas half the Allowance of Rum was stop'd, but this was not felt as the Cocoa-nut milk was esteemed as good as beer and the Natives kept their friends well supplied with them, notwithstanding the frequent seizures which Mr Bligh made, by ordering all the Nuts aft, on the Quarter Deck, for his own use.

Numberless other facts might be here noted without the least exaggeration of Circumstances however, for the present, let this suffice.

Apr 4, 1789
Apr 23, 1789

The Plants being all ready & in a promising state, she sailed from Otaheite on the 4th April 1789: and the people having taken on board a quantity of Plantains, they were served & issued in lieu of bread at the rate of six plantains pr Day, and when they were out, Tarro, a Root inferior to Yams, was substituted at 2 lb pr Day which with a few Yams, served till she arrived at Annamooka on 23d of the same month. This is one
[top of page completely blacked out]

Apr 26, 1789
Apr 28, 1789

Here she completed her water, got some wood and a large quantity of Yams for Sea store with some Cocoa-Nuts & Plantains, some few Hogs & fowls and sailed on 26th with a light Breeze and fair weather, and stood W.N.W. being little wind, she had scarce reached the Island Tofoa by the 28th when she was taken by Fletcher Christian and some of the Crew, who put the Lieut with 18 more into the Longboat, and set them adrift & proceeded to Otaheite with the Ship. Map

It may not here be improper, to go back a few Days and recollect, that while the Ship was watering, a Grapnel was stolen from the large Cutter on account of which Lieut Bligh seized on three of their Chiefs and detained them till the Ship was under way & several leagues from the land, when finding it useless to keep them and seeing no hopes of recovering the Grapnel, he made each a present & dismissed them, but they did not leave the Ship, but with evident marks of dissatisfaction of their Treatment while Prisoners. Capt Bligh made these three Chiefs peel Cocoa Nuts for him, while he was at Dinner. This is looked on as the greatest affront, you can possibly offer to them, none but the lowest of the people are employed in this office, who strip the rind off with their Teeth. Some of the Natives of Annamooka were so affected at seeing their Chiefs used so indignantly, that they cut themselves with Sharks Teeth, & one would have cut his fingers off if he had not been prevented.

Capt Bligh met the youngest of the Chiefs again at Tofoa —his name was Nageete—there is no doubt but he meditated the Death of Bligh, as a revenge for the Insults he had received from him. Vide ['See'] Bligh's Narrative.

Apr 27, 1789

In the afternoon of the 27th a number of Cocoa Nuts were missed by Mr Bligh from the Quarter Deck upon which, all the Officers were called and on their declaring, that they had not seen any person take them, he told them they were all thieves alike. He particularly called Christian a Thief and a Villain, and challenged him with the Theft of the nuts. That they assisted the Ships Company to rob him, and after a great deal of abuseful words, told Mr Samuel to stop the Grog and to serve no more than half a pound of Yams for tomorrow, saying, I suppose you'll steal my Yams next. You Villains, I'll make half of you jump over board before I get through Endeavour Streights; He then ordered Mr Elphinstone to go down and send every Cocoa Nut aft, that was in the Ship,—°which was obeyed.

It was now feared by the people that their Yams would next be ordered aft as the Lieut desired that every [?] purchased all they were able, but the Officers had other thoughts.

It may her be proper to give Christians account of this affair as he expressed it before the Boat was out of Sight.

Finding himself much hurt by the ill treatment he had received from Lieut Bligh, he determined to quit the Ship; that very Night, he informed Messrs Cole, Purcell, Stewart and Hayward of his Resolution; and got some Nuts, Brads and other articles of trade which, together with a roasted pig, he put into a Bag, and prepared two staves for Rudder intending to take a large [?] Plank which lay on the Starboard Hog-Stye. He intended to make this attempt, in the first watch, but finding the people in motion, he could not effect it, without being seen, he came up several times, but could get no opportunity favourable for his Design and at last went below & fell asleep, where he remained till the Quartermaster called him at 4 o'clock. He went up and relieved the Watch. Stewart then told him, he was glad he had not deserted, for the mens minds were in a Situation to attempt any thing. Much agitated in mind and finding Mr Hallet did not come up, and that Mr Hayward went to sleep, as soon as he was on Deck, he determined to seize upon the Ship; he informed Quintrell of his intention, who went to Churchill and told him; it was soon agreed on and as soon put into execution; & it is probable Mr. Hayward would have remained asleep, during most of the Transaction, had not Chas Norman waked him to look after a Shark, which then made his appearance.

It will no doubt be wondered at, that a Ship with 44 Men on board, should be taken by so small a number as 10 or 11 which were the whole that ever appeared in arms; on that Day 10 muskets, 2 Cutlasses & 2 Pistols were all that appeared to have been in use when the Boat put off— But no resistance was made.

It will here be asked why? It may be answered, that the Officers were not on such good terms with their Commander, as to risk thier Lives in his service, and the Service of their Country was not at their Hearts.

They had in the former parts of their Voyage been base enough to sign false Survey-Books, and papers to the prejudice of his Majesty & Government & perhaps now, strong with remorse, thier Courage fled the Love of their Country was gone before.

That it may not be supposed that this account has no foundation, the Bills do exist at the Cape of Good Hope, will prove that Wm Muspratt and Thos Hayward, both belonging to the Bounty, have signed as respectable Merchants of that place.

It is also well known to every Officer and Seaman that belonged to the Bounty that there never were any Mast Yards or Sails lost except those herein mentioned or any purchases in their stead, or any Provisions lost or condemned by Survey— nor any Stores of any kind except those herein specified purchased or received on board after the said Ship sailed from Spithead.

The fate of those who were brought home prisoners is well known, nothing further need be said about them, but let those who feel anxiety for their fate say "Surely there is a God that judgeth the Earth and from whom no Secrets are hid."

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