When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few.
April 28, 1789 Mutiny on the HMS Bounty
The HMS Bounty had left England in 1787 on a mission to collect and transport breadfruit plants from Tahiti to the West Indies. A five-month layover in Tahiti, during which many of the men lived ashore and formed relationships with native Polynesians, led many men to be less amenable to military discipline. Relations between Lieutenant William Bligh, and his crew deteriorated after he began handing out increasingly harsh punishments, criticism and abuse, Acting Lieutenant Fletcher Christian being a particular target. After three weeks back at sea, Christian and others forced Bligh from the ship. Twenty-five men remained on board afterwards, including loyalists held against their will and others for whom there was no room in the launch.
After Bligh reached England in April 1790, the Admiralty dispatched HMS Pandora to apprehend the mutineers. Fourteen were captured in Tahiti and imprisoned on board Pandora, which then searched without success for Christian’s party that had hidden on Pitcairn Island. After turning back towards England, Pandora ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef, with the loss of 31 crew and four prisoners from Bounty. The 10 surviving detainees reached England in June 1792 and were court-martialed; four were acquitted, three were pardoned and three were hanged.
Christian’s group remained undiscovered on Pitcairn until 1808, by which time only one mutineer remained alive. Almost all his fellow-mutineers, including Christian, had been killed, either by each other or by their Polynesian companions.
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