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Revised 2011-05-18

Court-Martial of William Bligh et al.
for the Loss of the Bounty October 22, 1790
Bligh Letter dated Coupang in Timor Aug't 18th, 1789.

Aug 18, 1789

Then a letter from Lieut. William Bligh dated Coupang in Timor August 18th 1789 addressed to Philip Stephens Esq., Secretary of the Admiralty was read as follows viz:

Coupang in Timor Aug't 18th 1789.

Sir

Apr 28, 1789

I am now unfortunately to request of you to acquaint the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty that His Majesty's armed Vessel Bounty under my command was taken from me by some of the inferior Officers and Men on the 28th of April 1789 in the following Manner. A little before Sun Rise Fletcher Christian who was Mate of the Ship, and Officer of the Watch, with the Ship's Corporal came into my Cabin while I was asleep and seizing me tied my hands with a Cord assisted by others, who were also in the Cabin, all armed with Musquets and Bayonets. I was now threated with instant Deth, if I spoke a Word. I however called for assistance and awakened every one, but the Officers who were in their Cabins were secured by Centinels at their Doors, so that no one could come to me. The Arms were all secured and I was forced on Deck in my Shirt with my hands tied and secured by a guard, abaft the Mizen Mast, during which the Mutineers expressed much joy that they would soon again see Otaheite.

I now demanded of Christian the Cause of such a violent Act, but no other answer was given but hold your Tongue Sir, or you are dead this Instant, and holding me by the Cord, which tied my hands, he as often threatened to stab me in the Breast with a Bayonet he held in his right hand. I however did my utmost to rally the disaffected villians, to a sense of their duty, but to no effect. The Boatswain was ordered to hoist the launch out and while I was kept under a guard with Christian at their head abaft the Mizen Mast, the Officers and Men, not concerned in the Mutiny were ordered into the Boat. This being done I was told by Christian, Sir your Officers and Men are now in the Boat and you must go with them and with the guard, they carried me across the deck with their Bayonts presented on every Side, when attempting to make another effort, one Villian said to the other, blow his Brains out. I was at last forced into the boat and we were then veered astern, in all nineteen souls.

Apr 4, 1789
Apr 24, 1789
Apr 26, 1789

I was at this time 10 leagues to the S.W. of Tofoa the N.W. most of the Friendly Islands, having left Otaheite the 4th of April with 1015 find bread fruit Plants and many Fruit kind in all 774 Pots 39 Tubs and 24 Boxes. These Plants were now in a very flourishing Order. I anchored at Annamooka 24th April and left it on the 26th.

The Boatswain and Carpenter with some others, while the Boat was alongside collected several necessary things and water, and with some difficulty a Compass and Quadrant was got, but Arms of no kind, or any Maps or Drawings, of which I had many very valuable ones.

The Boat was very deep and much lumbered, and in this Condition we were cast adrift with about 20 gallons of Water 150 lbs of Bread 30 lbs of Pork 6 quarts of Rum and 6 bottles of wine.

Apr 30, 1789
May 2, 1789

The Day was calm attended with light breezes and I got to Tofoa by 7 o'Clock in the Evening, but found no place to land, the shore being so steep and rocky. On the 30th I found landing in a Cove on the N.W. part of the Island and here I remained in search of supplies until 2nd of May when the Natives, discovering we had no fire arms, they made an attack on us with Clubs and stones in the course of which I had the misfortune to lose a very worthy Man John Norton Quarter Master, and most of us hurt more or less. Our getting into our boat was no security, for they followed us in Canoes, loaded with stones, which they threw with much force and exactness, happily night saved the rest of us.

I had determined to go to Amsterdam in search of Paulehow the King, but taking this Transaction as a real sample of native Dispositions, there was little hope to expect much from them, for I considered their good behaviour hitherto owing to a dread of our fire arms, which now knowing us to have none, would not be the Case and that supposing our live were in safety, our boat and every thing would be taken from us, and thereby I never should be able to return. I was also earnestly solicited by all hands to take them towards home, and when I told them no hopes of Relief remained for us, but what I might find at New Holland, until I came to Timor, a distance of 1200 leagues they all agreed to live, on one ounce of bread a day and a gill of water. Therefore after recommending this Promise forever to their memory, bore away for New Holland and Timor, across a Sea but little known and in a small boat deep loaded with 18 souls, without a single Map of any kind and nothing but my own recollection and general knowledge of the situation of Places to direct us, unfortunately we lost part of our provisions, our stock thereof only consisted of 20 lbs of Pork 3 bottles of Wine 5 quarts of Rum 150 lbs of Bread and 20 gallons of Water.

May 20, 1789

I steered to the W.N.W. with strong gales and bad weather, suffering every Calamity and Distress. I discovered many Islands and at last on the 20th of May the Coast of New Holland and entered a break of the Reef in latitude about 12.50 S, and long. 145.00 East.

Jun 24, 1789
Jul 12, 1789

I kept on in the Direction of the Coast to the Northw'd touching at such places, as I found convenient, refreshing my people by the best means in my power. These refreshments consisted of oysters and a few clams. We were however greatly benefitted by them and a few good nights rest. On the 24th of June I past the North part of New Holland and steered for Timor and made it on the 12th which was a happy sight to every one, particularly several who perhaps could not have existed a week or a day longer.

Jul 14, 1789

I followed the Direction of the South Side of the Island and on the 14th in the Afternoon saw the island Rotte and west part of Timor, round which I got that night, and took a Malay onboard to shew me Coupang where he described to me the Governor resided. On the next morning before Day I anchored under the Fort and about 11 o'Clock I saw the Governor who received me with great Humanity and Kindness. Necessary Directions were instantly given for our support and perhaps a more miserable set of Beings were never seen.

Thus happily ended, through the Assistance of divine providence without Accident a Voyage of the most extraordinary Nature, that ever in the world let it be taken either in its Extent, Duration, or so much want of necessaries of life.

The people who came in the Boat were–
John Fryer  Master
William Cole  Boatswain
William Peckover  Gunner
William Purcell  Carpenter
Thos D Ledward  Acting Surgeon
William Elphinston  Master's Mate
Thomas Hayward  Midshipman
John Hallett  Midshipman
John Samuel  Clerk
Peter Linkletter  Qu'r M'r
John Norton  killed at Tofoa
George Simpson  Boatsn's Mate
Law'ce Lebogue  Sailmaker
Robert Tinkler  AB
John Smith  AB
Thomas Hall  AB
Robert Lamb  AB
David Nelson  Botanist since dead
 N'r 18









The People who remained in the Ship were–
Fletcher Christian  Master's Mate
George Stewart  act'g Do
Peter Heywood  Mid
Edward Young  Do
Charles Churchill  Corporal
James Morrison  Bn's Mate
Jno Mills  Gunner's Do
Charles Norman*  Carp's Mate
Thomas McIntosh*  Do
Joseph Coleman*  Armourer
 *were detained against
  their consent
Thomas Burkitt  AB
John Sumner  AB
John Williams  AB
Mat'w Thompson  AB
Thomas Ellison  AB
William Mickoy  AB
John Milward  AB
Richard Skinner  AB
Matthew Quintal  AB
Michael Byrn  AB
Henry Hilbrant  AB
Isaac Martin  AB
Alex'der Smith  AB
Will'm Muspratt  AB
Will'm Brown  Botanist Assistant
 N'r 25

 

The Secrecy of the Mutiny was beyond all Conception, so that I cannot discover that any who was with me had the least knowledge of it, and the comparative lists will shew the strength of the Pirates. I found three vessels here bound for Batavia, but as their sailing would be late, I considered it to the Advantage of His Majesty's Service to purchase a vessel, to take my people to Batavia before the sailing of the Fleet for Europe in October. As no one cold be hired but at but at a Price equal to a Purchase, I therefore gave publick Notice of my Intent and assisted by the governor I got a vessel for 1000 Rix Dollars and called her the Resource.

We have not yet got our health perfectly established. Four of my people are still ill and I have had the misfortune to lose Mr. Nelson the Botanist, whose good Condiuct in the Course of the whole Voyage and manly fortitude in our late disastrous circumstances deserve this tribute to his Memory.

I have given a summary Account of my proceedings to the governor and have requested in His Majesty's Name that necessary orders and Directions may be given to their different settlements to detain the Ship wherever she may be found.

There is but little Chance that their Lordships can receive this before I arrive myself I therefore have not been as particular as I shall be in my Letter from Batavia. I shall sail in the Morning without fail, and use my utmost Exertions to appear before their Lordships and answer personally for the Loss of His Majesty's Ship.

I beg leave to acquaint their Lordships that the greatest kindness and attention has been shewn to us while here by the second governor Timotheus Wanjon, whose Zeal to render Services to His Jamesty's Subjects has been unremitting, during the sickness of the governor William Van Este who now is at the point of Death.

The Surgeon of the Fort a Mr. Max has also been ever attentive to my sick people and has daily and hourly attended them with great Care.

I have the Honor to be
Sir
Your most obeident humble
Servant
signed Wm Bligh


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