Aug 16, 1787
Nov 20, 1787 Whereas, by an order of the late Board of Admiralty dated the 16th August 1787, Lieutenant William Bligh was appointed to command His Majesty's Armed Vessel the Bounty; and by Instructions from the said Board, dated the 20th of November following, was directed to proceed in that vessel to the Society Islands in the South Seas, in order to procure and transport from thence to some of the British Possessions in the West Indies, Bread Fruit Trees and other useful plants, the product of the said Islands.
And whereas the said Lieutenant Bligh sail'd from Spithead on the 23d of December following, in prosecution of his destined Voyage and by letter to our Secretary dated at Coupang (a Dutch Settlement in the Island of Timor) on the 10th of August 1789, acquainted us that the said vessel on her return from Otaheite with a large Cargo of those Plants in a very flourishing state, had been violently and forcibly taken from him on the 28th of April preceding by Fletcher Christian, who was Mate of her and officer of the watch, assisted by others of the inferior Officers and Men, armed with Musquets and Bayonets, and that he (the said Lieutenant Bligh) together with the Master, Boatswain, Gunner, Carpenter, Acting Surgeon and others of her Crew (being nineteen in number, including himself) were forced into the Launch and cast adrift ten leagues to the South West of Tofoa, the north westernmost of the Friendly Islands, without fire arms and with a very small quantity of Provisions and water; and that having landed at Tofoa, and been beat off by the natives with the loss of one of his Party, he bore away for New Holland and Timor and on the 15th of June following arrived at Coupang abovementioned, distant 1200 leagues from the place where the vessel was seized as aforesaid, from whence he and those who have survived are now returned to England: And whereas the Ship you command has been fitted out for the express purpose of proceeding to the South Seas in order 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, in order that they may be brought to condign Punishment; you are hereby required and directed to put to Sea, with the very first opportunity of wind and weather, & to make the best of your way to Teneriffe, where you are to take in, with the utmost dispatch, such wine and necessaries as you shall judge proper for the use of the Ship's Company, & then proceed as expeditiously as possible to the southward and shape your course round Cape Horn; and having weathered that Cape, make the most direct course to get within the limits of the Tradewind and steer for Matavai Bay or Oparré Harbour on the north side of Otaheite (one of the Society Islands) which is in Latitude 17. 29 South and about the Longitude of 149, 35 West.
On your arrival at Otaheite, and not finding the abovemention'd arm'd vessel there, you are to endeavor to get the best Information possible respecting her; carefully observing, yourself, and strictly charging your officers and Crew, to avoid saying anything in regard to the cause of the enquiry until you shall have discovered whether the Inhabitants of the said Island have a knowledge of Lieutenant Bligh's having been dispossessed of her as abovementioned, where she is, & whether any of the mutineers are on that Island.
If you shall find that the mutineers or any of them are on the Island of Otaheite, you are the first moment it shall be in your power to detain such of the chiefs as you may be able to get hold of, and, then, declaring the object of your voyage, and immediately appointing a strong party well armed to go in quest of the mutineers, require assistance and guides to direct the said Party where to find them.In case you shall not be able to gain any Information of the mutineers at Otaheite, you are to proceed to the Island of Whytootackee in Lat: 10. 52 So. and Long: 159: 41 West; calling in your way at Huaheine and Uliatea, where you need not anchor, as numbers othe the Natives may be expected to come off to you, of whom you may probably get the necessary Information, observing however that it will be always in your power to judge of their Reports by sailing round the Islands and looking into the Bays & Harbours, to discover if the abovementioned armed vessel be in any of them.
Should the mutineers not be at Whytootackee, which there is reason to think is the place of their resort, you are (before you get farther to the westward) to make a circuit of the neighbouring Islands in search of them.
Having so done, and not finding them at any of the abovementioned Islands, you are to proceed to Anamoka Road in the Friendly Islands (touching at Palmerstones and the other Islands in the way) and pursue the like means for finding them: and having succeeded, or failed, in your endeavors for that purpose, proceed on your return to England through Endeavor Straits which seperate New Guinea from New Holland; passing to the Southward of Java unto Princes Island in the Straits of Sunda; And as in the Route the prevailing Winds are to be attended to, it is necessary you should remember that the Changes of the monsoons, amongst the Islands to the Eastward of Java & about Endeavor Straits are about May and November; there being no dependence (of which we have any certain knowledge) of passing the Straits after the Month of September or beginning of October, altho' it may perhaps be accomplished in the month of November.
From Princes Island you are to make the best of your way, by the Cape of Good Hope, to England, repairing to Spithead, from whence you are to send to our Secretary an account of your arrival and Proceedings, and where you are to remain until you receive further orders.
In case you are so fortunate as to fall in with the abovementioned armed vessel and mutineers, or any of them, you are to put on board such of your officers, Petty officers and Foremastmen as you can best spare and you shall judge best qualified and most to be depended upon, to navigate her to England, furnishing her with such stores & Provisions from the ship you command as may be necessary for that purpose; and you are to keep the Mutineers as closely confined as may preclude all probability of their escaping, having however proper regard to the preservation of their lives, that they may be brought Home to undergo the Punishment due to their Demerits.
During your Passage out and home, you are to take every advantage of the Rains to keep up your stock of water; and if you find it necessary to stop for a supply on your was out, you will observe that Rio Janeiro and New Year's Harbour in Staten Island, are the most eligible places for that purpose.
List of the Mutineers referred to in the accompanying Instructions.