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# This entry from the Times newspaper is the earliest mention in the paper that I have found so far of the discovery of the Bounty mutineers on Pitcairn Island. It is from the 16th December 1815 issue (The story starts from the top of the second column):
It is well known that in the year 1789, his Majesty's armed vessel the Bounty, while employed in conveying the bread-fruit tree from Otaheite to the West Indies, was run away by her men, and the Captain and some of his officers put on board a boat, which, after a passage of 1,200 leagues, providentially arrived at a Dutch settlement on the island of Timor. The mutineers, 25 in number, were supposed , from some expressions which escaped them when the launch was turned adrift, to have made sail towards Otaheite. As soon as this circumstance was known to the Admiralty, Captain Edwards was ordered to process in the Pandora to that island, and endeavour to discover and bring to England the Bounty, with such of the crew as he might be able to [unreadable]. On his arrival in March, 1791, at Matavai bay, in Otaheite, four of the mutineers came voluntarily on board the Pandora to surrender themselves; and from information given by them, ten others (the whole number alive upon the island) were, in the course of a few days, taken; and, with the exception of four, who perished in the wreck of the Pandora, near Endeavour straight, conveyed to England for trial before a Court-martial, which adjudged six of them to suffer death, and acquitted the other four.
From the accounts given by these men, as well as from some documents that were preserved, it appeared that as soon as Lieutenant Bligh had been drived from the ship, the 25 mutineers proceeded with her to Toobouai, where they proposed to settle; but the place being found to hold out little encouragement, they returned to Otaheite, and having there laid in a large supply of stock, they once more took their departure for Toobouai, carrying with them eight men, nine women, and seven boys, natives of Otaheite. They commenced, on their second arrival, the building of a fort, but by divisions among themselves and quarrels with the natives, the design was abandoned. Christian, the leader, also very soon discovered that his authority over his accomplices was at an end; he therefore proposed that they should return to Otaheite; that as many as chose it should be put on shore at that island, and that the rest should proceed in the ship to any other place they might think proper. Accordingly they once more put to sea and reached Matavai on the 20th September, 1789.
Here 16 of the 25 desired to be landed, 14 of whom, as already mentioned, were taken on board the Pandora; of the other two, as reported by Coleman (the first who surrended himself Captain Edwards), one had been made a chief, killed his companion, and was shortly afterwards murdered himself by the natives.
Christian, along with the remaining eight of the mutineers, having taken on board several of the natives of Otaheite, the greater part women, put to sea on the night between the 21st and 22d September, 1789; in the morning the ship was discovered from Point Venus, steering in a north westerly direction; and here terminate the accounts given by the mutineers who were either taken or surrendered themselves at Matavai bay. They stated, however, that Christian, on the night of his departure, was heard to declare, that he should seek for some uninhabited island, and having established his party, break up the ship; but all the endeavours of Captain Edwards to gain intelligence either of the ship or her crew at any of the numerous islands visited by the Pandora, failed.
From this period, no information respecting Christian or his companions reached England for 20 years; when about the beginning of the year 1809, Sir Sidney Smith, then Commander in Chief on the Brazil station, transmitted to the Admiralty a paper, which he had received from Lieutenant Fitzmaurice, purporting to be an "Extract from the log book of Captain Folger, of the American ship Topaz," and dated "Valparaises, 10th October, 1808."
About the commencement of the present year, Rear Admiral Hotham, when cruising off New London, received a letter addressed to the Lords of the Admiralty, of which the following is a copy, together with the azimuth compass, to which it refers:-
"Nantucket, March 1, 1813. My Lord. The remarkable circumstance which took place on my last voyage to the Pacific Ocean, will, I trust, plead my apology for addressing your Lordships at this time. In February, 1808, I touched at Pitcairn's Island in lat. 25. [unreadable] S long 130. W. from Greenwich. My principal object was to procure seal skins for the China market; and from the account given of the island, in Captain Carterot's voyage, I supposed it was uninhabited; but on approaching the short in my boat, I was met by three young men in a double canoe, with a present, consisting of some [unreadable] and a hog. They spoke to me in the English language, and informed me that they were born on the island, and their father was an Englishman, who had sailed with Captain Bligh."
"After discoursing with them a short time, I landed with them, and found an Englishman of the mane of Alexander Smith, who informed me, that he was one of the Bounty's crew, and that after putting Captain Bligh in the boat, with half the ship's company, they returned to Otaheite, where part of their crew chose to tarry, but Mr Christian, with eight others, including himself, preferred going to a more remote place; and after making a short stay at Otaheite, where they took wives and [unreadable] men servints, they proceeded to Pitcairn's Island, where they destroyed the ship, after taking every thing out of her which they thought would be useful to them. About six years after they landed at this place, their sevants attacked and killed all the English, excepting the information, and he was severely wounded. The same night, the Otaheitan widows arose and murdered all their countrymen, leaving Smith with the widows and children, where he had resided ever since without being resisted."
"I remained but a short time on the island, and on leaving it, Smith presented me a timepiece, and an azimuth compass, which he told me belonged to the Bounty. The time keeper was taken from me by the Governer of the Island of Juan Fernandez, after I had it in my possession about six weeks. The compass I put in repair on board my ship, and made use of it on my homeward passage, [unreadable] which a new card has been put to it by an instrument maker in Boston. I now forward it to your Lordships, thinking there will be a kind of satisfaction in receiving it merely from the extraordinary circumstances [unreadable] it. Signed MAYHEW FOLGER."
Nearly about the same time, a further account of these interesting people was received from Vice Admiral Dixon, in a letter addressed to him by Sir Thomas Staine, of his Majesty's ship Briton, of which the following is a copy:
"Briton, Valparaiso, Oct 18 1814. Sir, I have the honour to inform your, that on my passage from the Marqueis Islands to this port; on the morning of the 17th September, I fell in with an island where none is laid down in the [unreadable], or other charts, according to the several chronometers of the Briton and Tagus. I therefore hove to, until daylight, and then chose to ascertain whether it was inhabited, which I soon discovered it to be, and to my great astonishment, found almost every individual on the island (40 in number), spoke very good English. They prove to be the descendants of the [unreadable] crew of the Bounty, which from Otaheite, proceeded to the above mentioned island, where the ship was burnt."
"Christian appeared to have been the leader and the sure cause of the mutiny in that ship. A venerable old man, named John Adams(*), is the only surviving Englishman of those who last quitted Otaheite in her, and whose exemplary conduct, and fatherly care of the whole little colony, could not but command admiration. The pious manner in which all those born on the island have been reared, the correct sense of the religon which has been installed into their young minds by this old man has given the pre-eminance over the whole of them, [unreadable-words] the father of the whole and one family."
"A son of Christian's was the first born on the island, now about [unreadable] years of age (named Thursday October Christian); the elder Christian fell a sacrifice of the doings of an Ohaietian man, within three or four years afer their arrival on the island. They were [unreadable] by six Otaheitian men and [unreadable] women; the [unreadable] were all swept away by [unreadable] between them and the Englishmen, and five of the latter have died at different periods, leaving at present only one man and several women of the original settlers."
"The island must undoubtedly be that called Pitcairn's, although erroneously laid down in the charts. We had the meridian close it it, which gave us 25 deg, 4 min 8 latitude and 130 deg [unreadable] min W longitude by chronometers of the Briton and Tagus."
"It is abundant in [unreadable], hogs, goats and fowls, but affords no shelter for a ship or vessel of any description; neither could a ship water there without great difficulty.
"I cannot refrain from offering my opinion that it is well worth the attention of our laudable religious societies, particulary that for Propogating the Christian Religion, the whole of the inhabitants speaking the Otahietian tongue as well as English."
"During the whole of the time they have been on the island, only one ship has ever communicated with them, which took place about six years ago by an American ship called the Topaz, of Boston, Maybow Folger, Master."
"The island is completely iron-bound with rocky shores, and landing in [unreadable] at all times difficult, although safe to approach within a short distance in a ship. Signed T. Staines."
(*) There was no such name in the Bounty's crew; he must have renamed it in lieu of his real name Alex Smith.
We have been favoured with some further particulars of this singular society, which, we doubt not, will interest our readres as much as they have ourselves. As the real position of the island was ascertained to be so far distant from that in which it is usually laid down in the charts, and as the Captains of the Briton and Tagus seem to have still considered it as uninhabited, they were not a little surprised, on approaching its shores, to behold plantations regularly laid out, and huts or houses more neartly constructed than those on the Marquesas Islands. When about two miles from the short, some natives were observed bringing down their canoes on their shoulders, dashing through a heavy surf, and paddling off to the ships; but their astonishment was unbounded on hearing one of them, on approaching the ship, call out in the English language, "Won't you heave us a rope, now?"
The first man who got on board the Briton soon proved who they were. His name, he said, was Thursday October Christian, the first born on the island. He was then about five and twenty years of age, and is described as a fine young man, about six feet high; his hair deep black; his countenance open and interesting; of a brownish cast, but free from that mixture of a reddish tinit which prevails on the Pacific Islands; his only dress was a piece of cloth around his loins and a straw hat, ornamented with the black feathers of the domestic fowl. "With a great shre of good humour," says Captain Pipon, "we were glad to trace in his benevolent countenance all the features of an honest English face." - "I must confess" he continues, "I could not survey this interesting person without feelings of tenderness and compassion." His companion was named George Young, a fine youth, of seventeed or eighteen years of age.
If the astonishment of the Captains was great on hearing their first salutation in English, their surprise and interest were not a little increased on Sir Thomas Staines taking the youths below and setting before them something to eat, when one of them rose up, and placing his hands together in a posture of devotion, disctinctly repeated, and in a pleasing tone and manner, "For what we are going to receive, the Lord make us truly thankful."
They expressed great surprise on seeing a cow on board the Briton, and were in doubt whether she was a great goat, or a horned sow.
The two Captains of his Majesty's ship accompanied these young men on shore. With some difficulty, and a good wetting, and with the assistance of their conductors, they accomplished a landing through the surf, and were soon met by John Adams, a man between 50 and 60 years of age, who conducted them to his house. His wife accompanied him, a very old lady blind with age. He was at first alarmed, lest the visit was to apprehend him; but on being told that they were perfectly ignorant of his existance, he was relieved from his anxiety. Being once assured that this visit was of a peacable nature, it is impossible to describe the joy these poor people manifested on seeing those whom they were pleased to consider as their countryment. Yams, cocoa nuta, and other fruits, with fine fresh eggs, were laid before them; and the old man would have killed and dressed a hog for his visitors, but time would not allow them to partake of his intended feast.
This interesting new colony, it seemed, now consisted about 46 persons, mostly grown up young people, besides a number of infants. The young men, all born on the island, were very athletic and of the finest forms, their countenances open and pleasing, indicating much benevolence and goodness of heart; but the young women were objects of particular admiration, tall, robust, and beautifully formed, their faces beaming with smiles, and unruffled good humour, but wearing a degree of modesty and bashfulness, that would do honour to the most virtuous nation on earth; their teeth, like ivory, were regular and beautiful, without a single exception; and all of them, both male and female, had the most marked English features. The clothing of the young females consisted of a piece of linen reaching from the waist to the knees, and generally a sort of mantle thrown loosely over the shoulders, and hanging as low as the ankles; but this covering appeared to be intended chiefly as a protection against the sun and the weather, as it was frequently laid aside--and then the upper part of the body was entirely exposed; and it is not possible to conceive more beautiful forms than they exhibited. They sometimes wreath caps or bonnets for the head, in the most tasty manner, to protect the face from the rays of the sun; and though, as Captain Pipon observes, they have only had the instruction of the Otahetian mother, "our dress-makers in London would be delighted with the simplicity, and yet elegant taste, of these untaught femails."
Their native modesty, assisted by a proper sense of religon and morality instilled into their youthful minds by John Adams, has hitherto preserved these interesting people perfectly chaste and free from all kinds of debauchery. Adams assured the visitors that since Christian's death there had not been a single instance of any young woman proving unchaste; nor any attempt at seduction on the part of the men. They all labour while young in the cultivation of the ground; and when possessed of a sufficient quantity of cleared land and of stock, to maintain a family, they are allowed to marry, by always with the consent of Adams, who unites them by a sort of marriage ceremony of his own.
The greatest harmony prevailed in this little society; their only quarrels, and these rarely happened, being according to their own expression, quarrels of the mouth; they are honest in their dealings, which consist of bartering different articles for mutual accommodation.
Their habitations are extremely neat. The little village of Pitcairn forms a pretty square, the houses at the upper end of which are occupied by the patriarch John Adams and his family, consisting of his old blind wife and three daughters from fifteen to eighteen years of age, and a boy of eleven; a daughter of his wife by a former husband, and a son in-law. On the opposite side is the dwelling of Thursday October Christian; and in the centre is a smooth verdant lawn, on which th epoultry are let loose, fenced in so as to prevent the intrusion of the domestic quadrupeds. All that was done was obviously undertaken on a settled plan, unlike to any thing to be met with on the other islands. In their houses too they had a good deal of decent furniture, consisting of beds laid upon bedsteads, with neat covering; they had also tables, and large chests to contain their valuables and clothing, which is made from the bark of a certain tree, prepared chiefly by the elder Otaheitan females. Adam's house consisted of two rooms, and the windows had shutters to pull to at night. The younger part of the sex, are as before stated, employed with their brothers, under the direction of their common father Adams, in the culture of the ground, which produced cocoa nuts, bananas, the bread fruit tree, yams, sweet potatoes, and turnips. They have also plenty of hogs and goats; the woods abound with a species of wild hog, and the coasts of the island with several kinds of good fish.
Their agricultural implements are made by themselves from the iron supplied by the Bounty, which, with great labour, they beat into spades, hatchets, etc. This was not all. The good old man kept a regular journal in which was entered the nature and quantity of work perofrmed by each family, what each had received, and what was due on account. There was, it seems, besides private property, a sort of genereal stock, out of which articles were issued on account to the several members of the community; and for mutual accomodation, exchanges of one kind of provision for another were very frequent, as salt for fresh provisions, vegetables and fruit for poultry, fish, etc; also, when the stores of one family were low, or wholly expended, a fresh supply wsa raised from another, or out of the general stock, to be repaid when circumstances were more favourable; all of which were carefully noted down in John Adam's journal.
# The Times reports on the pardon of Peter Heyward and James Morrison in the issue dated 30th October 1792 (top of third column). Peter and James were found guilty of the Mutiny, which carried a death sentenced but a recommendation had been made to the King that they be pardoned. This article reports on the pardon taking place (Apologies for any errors in spelling due to the hard to read article text):
Yesterday at noon Sir Andrew Hammond, the Commander in Chief at this Port, sent an order to Captain Montague, of the Hector, to release Mr Heywood and James Morrison, two of the unfortunate persons who were convicted of mutinously running away with the Bounty armed ship, commanded by Captain Bligh, in the South Seas, who, at the earnest request of the Court Martial which tried them, were pardoned by his Majesty.
After reading the order, which he did upon the quarterdeck, in the presence of his own officers and ships company, Captain Montague pointed out to the prisoners the evil of their past conduct; and in language, that drew tears from all who heard him, recommended to them to make atonement by their future good behaviour. They were both of them very sensibly affected and endeavoured, in vain, to offer their acknowledgements for the tender treatment they had experienced on board the Hector. My Heywood however, who seemed to have anticipated his inability to speak, addressed Captain Montague in a paper, which was read, to the forfollowing purport:
"Sir, when the sentence of the law was passed upon me, I received it, I trust, as become a man; and if it had been carried into execution, I should have met my fate, I hope, in a manner becoming a Christian. our admonition cannot fail to make a lasting impression on my mind. I receive with gratitude my Sovereign's mercy; for which my future life shall be faithfully devoted to his service."
William Musprat, who was sentenced to die with the above unhappy men, is respited for 14 days, till the opinion of the Judges be taken with respect to the evidence of Charles Norman (Carpenter's Mate of the Bounty, who was tried with the above, and acquitted) being admitted in his behalf.
The three unfortunate people, Burkitt, Millguard and Ellison, are to be hanged tomorrow forenoon, on board the Brunswick, in the Harbour.
From the 4th April 1792 issue of The Times (Middle of the third column) comes news of the Pandora having sunk: # From the 4th April 1792 issue of The Times (Middle of the third column) comes news of the Pandora having sunk:
The Pandora frigate is lost upon a reef off the north end of New Holland, where she was exploring a passage, having drifted upon it; her boat being sent to sound, returned on board, but too late to warn her of the danger. The greatest part of the crew were drowned. Part of those saved were working a Dutchman from Batavia to Europe, under the First Lieutenant, and the remainder were with Captain Edwards on their passage to the Cape of Good Hope.
The Providence, Captain Bligh, left the Cape for the South Seas.
Fourteen men, belonging to the Bounty, are with Capt. Edwards. They had quarrelled with the rest of the crew, who had left them upon the island; -- where Mr. Christian has carried the Bounty they could not tell.
The evidence against the mutineers of the Bounty was finally closed on Saturday last, on board the Duke :- the Court adjourned to Monday at nine o'clock in the morning, when the prisoners were to be heard in their defence.This appears at the bottom of the second column on page two of the 19th September 1792 edition (Warning: ~1MB image of the page).If anyone knows of any other references to the Bounty, the trials or Pitcairn in the newspapers of the time I'd love to hear about it.
The Pitcairn Project represents the first concentrated effort to define the formative years of the mutineer settlement of Pitcairn island. The project is unique in adopting an holistic approach, and brings both maritime and terrestrial archaeological specialists and techniques to focus on a range of Pitcairn sites. A team of archaeologists will be on the island in November and December 1998 and will simultaneously survey the remains of Bounty and excavate selected mutineer house sites at Adamstown. The group will also look at earlier Polynesian influences which may have affected the cultural landscape inherited by the mutineers.
It's one of maritime history's most infamous episodes - the mutiny against Captain Bligh aboard the 'Bounty' led by Fletcher Christian.
I first visited Pitcairn Island in 1987 and was captivated by its beauty and history. Later, while studying maritime archaeology, I realized the potential for an investigation of both the wreck site and the mutineer settlement. A reconnaissance trip in 1997 confirmed that significant remains of Bounty lay in the surf just off the Landing, the island's only harbor. That trip also revealed the potential for reconstructing aspects of mutineer lifeways after the Bounty was burned--the land is owned by direct descendants of the original settlers and its extreme isolation would have helped protect sites. Furthermore, the island is studded with place names that signpost significant activities and events: Bang Iron Valley, where the mutineers set up the Bounty anvil; Down Isaac, an area of rock pools below mutineer Isaac Martin's land; and Down the gods, the site of a pre-Bounty Polynesian sacred place, or marae, later destroyed because it was seen as an afront to the Christian beliefs of the mutineers and their descendants.
The climate is subtropical, with an average annual rainfall of about 2,000 mm spread evenly throughout the year. Henderson is somewhat drier than Pitcairn, with 1,620 mm of rainfall in 1991/92 compared with 2,170 mm on Pitcairn in the same period. Mean monthly temperatures range from 24°C in January to 19°C in July. The Southeast Trades predominate.
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