"Portsmouth. Decr 4, 1787. By some unaccountable fortune the Surgeon's Mate did not go on board the Bounty, & she put back a day or two ago on the Winds coming to the Westward, & Capt Blyth now wishes me to go with him if possible. She is not allowed any Surgeon's Mate, so that I am to enter as A.B.; but the Captain is almost certain that I shall get a first Mate's pay, & shall stand a great chance of immediate promotion & if the Surgeon dies (& he has the character of a drunkard) I shall have a Surgeon's acting order."
"On board the Bounty at St. Helens. 10 Decr 1787. The La Nymphe was paid off about a Week ago, & I immediately agreed with Captn Blythe of the Bounty to go with him to Otaheite to transplant Bread fruit trees to Jamaica; we go by Cape Horn and return by Cape of Good Hope. The Navy board has not allowed her a Surgeon's Mate; but the Captn was unwilling to trust the lives of 45 men so far from home, with only one Medical person on board. I therefore do the duty of a Surgeon's Mate, though only entered as an able Sailor."
After describing "a continual series of the most violent and distressing weather that ever was experienced," he goes on:—
"Mr. Huggan, our Surgeon, fell down and dislocated his Shoulder, which I reduced with great satisfaction & I hope credit.... The Ship laboured so much that there was danger of rendering her unfit for the further prosecution of the Voyage. The Captain was therefore obliged to bear away, & I have no doubt will gain much credit by his resolution & perserverance & by the extreme care he took of the Ship's company."
"June 9th 1788. I have hitherto kept a Journal of the Voyage; but as I find we must deliver up every thing of the kind on our return to England, or expect no further promotion in the Navy, I believe I shall not carry it on any further. The reason of this is that a very accurate account of it will be published by the Captain under the Auspices of the Admiralty, & to enhance the value of the publication, all care will be taken that no other account can come out before it."
"My Dear Uncle,—I am extremely thankful to God that I am able to inform you that we arrived safe at Batavia, and that we shall sail in a Dutch Indiaman in the course of a fortnight or three Weeks for Europe; so that I am not certain but I shall have the pleasure of seeing you before the receipt of this letter.
"You Will be surprised when you hear I am deprived of my own Ship with every individual thing I took out with me, besides effects to a considerable amount which I purchased at the Surgeon, Mr. Huggan's, Death, viz., the Medicine Chests, Set of Instruments, Medical Books, the furniture of his Cabbin &c., all of which were Articles necessary upon my commencing Acting Surgeon.
"The Ship was taken from us on the 28 of April 89 by our people off one of the Friendly Islands, & we sailed to Timor in one of the Ship's open Boats, a passage of more than 1200 leagues, in somewhat more than six Weeks. During this time we were constantly wet; had only the weight of a small Muskett Bullett of Biscuit, & a gill of Water twice a Day; after a Month however we allowed ourselves the same quanitity three times a Day, because we found the former allowance would never do.
"When I arrived at Timor I was so weak, I could not walk, so that had we been at sea two or three Days longer I should certainly have perished; & it was full six weeks before I gained any tolerable firmness.
"The sad affair happened early in the Morning Watch; as soon as I was informed fully how the matter stood, I instantly declared I would go with the Captain, let the consequence be what it would, & not stay among Mutineers. As the particulars of what followed to our arrival at this place will be immediately in the public papers, I shall say nothing further of them at present, but leave them untill I have the long wished for pleasure of seeing you & my Aunt.
"But I have been at great & unavoidable expenses; first at Timor, where I arrived among the Dutch naked, who I must say behaved exremely well to us; & secondly at this place, which is extremely dear. I am now at the only Inn, where strangers are entertained, along with the rest of the Officers, & one would not wish to appear like an Outcast or a Beggar. When I am paid off for the Ship, if I can only clear 50 pounds I shall think myself very well off.
"There is one thing I must mention which is of consequence; the Captain denied me, as well as the rest of the Gentlement who had not Agents, any Money unless I would give him my power of Attorney & also my Will, in which I was to bequeath to him all my property; this he called by the name of proper security. This unless I did, I should have got no money, though I shewed him a letter of Credit from my Uncle & offered to give him a Bill of Exchange upon him. In case of my Death I hope this matter will be clearly pointed out to my relations.
"I hope you & my Aunt have been in good health since I left England, which I hope in God again to see in about seven Months; please to give my respectful Duty to her & believe me to be with the greatest truth,
"Your Dutiful Nephew
Thos. Denman Ledward.
"Batavia, Octobr 12th, 1789."