Trouble in paradise
This month is the anniversary of one of the nation’s best-known naval incidents
some of the crew felt amounted to abuse and victimisation.
The ship was in the south Pacific on the evening of April 28, 1789, when Acting Lieutenant Fletcher Christian and other disaffected crewmen seized control of the ship. Bligh was set adrift with 18 other members of his crew, while 25 men remained on board the Bounty as there was no more room on the launch.
Christian and the other mutineers set sail back to Tahiti and then on to the Pitcairn Islands. Bligh, meanwhile, had to endure an epic 3,500 nautical mile journey before reaching safety in Coupang, Timor.
He reached England in April 1890 and gave his account of the incident to the Admiralty. He was exonerated of blame for the mutiny and HMS Pandora was dispatched to bring the mutineers to justice. The ship’s crew seized 14 of them in Tahiti – they were immediately imprisoned in the brig. After Pandora ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef only 10 prisoners reached England for court martial; four were acquitted, three pardoned and three hanged.
Fletcher Christian and his followers remained undiscovered on Pitcairn Island until 1808. Disease and murder accounted for most of the miscreants, but John Adams turned to God and, using the ship’s Bible, educated the islanders and taught the woman and children to read. The main settlement on Pitcairn island is Adamstown and many of the remaining islanders can trace their lineage back to the original mutineers. At Juels’ Limited we have an antique scale model of the Bounty previously displayed as part of the maritime collection. James would be interested to value or purchase any naval memorabilia at the Royal Arcade.
Above: The mutineers seize the Bounty
Below: The model of the ship in Juels’