The Mutiny on the Bounty:
|September 9, 1754
||William Bligh is
christened in Plymouth, England.
|September 25, 1764
is born in Cumberland, England.
||The West India
Committee, a group of merchants and property owners, proposes
introducing breadfruit, first discovered in the South Pacific in 1748,
to the West Indies.
||William Bligh serves
as sailing master aboard the Resolution
on Captain Cook's final voyage to Tahiti, new Zealand, and other points
in the Pacific.
|February 14, 1779
witnesses the murder of Captain Cook by natives on Hawaii.
has his first sea experience as master's mate on the Eurydice, a warship sailing to
||Prime Minister Pitt
formally announces to the West India Committee that the British
government will sponsor an expedition to the South Pacific to retrieve
breadfruit for eventual transplanting in the West Indies.
||Secretary of State
Sydney announces the purchase of a ship, to be called "the Bounty" and to be commanded by Lt.
Bligh, which will voyage to the South Pacific.
|August 16, 1787
commission as commanding officer of the Bounty commences.
|October 9, 1787
||The Bounty is taken out of the River
Thames by a pilot on the first leg of what will prove to be an historic
|Early November, 1787
||Bligh arrives in
Spithead, England to await sailing orders for the vessel Bounty.
|November 28, 1787
||Bligh takes the Bounty out to sea, but is forced to
anchor on the Isle of Wight because of bad winds.
|December 23, 1787
||After weeks of
delays, the Bounty finally
|February 17, 1788
||While in Teberife
(Canary Islands), Bligh sends a letter to Joseph Banks, the man most
responsible for organizing and supporting the Bounty's voyage.
|May 24, 1788
||After a futile
attempt to round the stormy Cape of Good Hope, the Bounty arrives at
Cape Horn, on the southern tip of Africa.
|October 26, 1788
||The Bounty arrives in Tahiti.
Bligh soon sets about his mission of arranging for the gathering of
breadfruit. Most of the men of the Bounty soon are taken into the
homes of Tahitians and settle into routines.
|January 5, 1789
||Three crewmen of the
Bounty desert. The three
men are eventually rounded up and, upon Bligh's orders, flogged on
April 5, 1789
|The Bounty, under Bligh's command and
loaded with breadfruit plants, leaves Tahiti en route for England.
|April 21, 1789
||Bligh and Fletcher
Christian exchange harsh words. Christian tells Bligh, "I have
been in hell for weeks with you."
April 27, 1789
officers, who he blames for taking coconuts from the Bounty's stash. Bligh,
according to one eyewitness account, tells Fletcher Christian and other
officers, "I'll sweat it for you rascals. I'll make half of you
jump overboard before we get through Endeavor Straits."
April 28, 1789
|The mutiny on the Bounty: Around dawn, Bligh is
seized while sleeping by a gang of mutineers. Bligh and other
loyalists are set to sea in a 24-foot launch. For the next 48
days, Bligh and his men will battle hostile natives, ferocious storms,
and dwindling provisions before arriving in Coupang, Dutch East Indies.
|May 24, 1789
||The Bounty anchors off Tubuai (350
miles south of Tahiti) with its crew intending to stay there, but sails
again a week later for Tahiti, then returns again to Tubuai, where it
remains for three months.
fight with Tubuaians over women and property, leaving 66 Tubuaians dead.
August 20, 1789
|Bligh and his
entourage leave Coupang in a purchased schooner, the Resource, bound for Batvia in
Java. After making their way to Batvia on October 1, Bligh and
his entourage will, two weeks later, board the Dutch East Indiaman, the
Vlijt, bound for the
Cape of Good Hope and Holland.
|September 21, 1789
||The Bounty, under the command of
Fletcher Christian, drops 16 shipmates at Matavai Bay, Tahiti, and then
departs Tahiti for the last time.
|January 15, 1790
||The Bounty, with 9 mutineers and 11
Tahitian women, six Tahitian men, and one child arrive at Pitcairn
Island. After possessions and goods are removed from the Bounty, it is set on fire.
|March 13, 1790
returns to England and word of the mutiny on the Bounty begins to
spread around the nation.
|Early November 1790
||The ship Pandora, commissioned to journey to
the South Pacific and retrieve as many of the Bounty mutineers as possible,
|March 23, 1791
||The Pandora arrives at Matavai Bay,
Tahiti, where a large group of mutineers remain.
|April 3, 1791
||The last of fourteen
fugitives in Tahiti are rounded up and broad on board the Pandora.
|May 8, 1791
||The Pandora leaves Tahiti with the Resolution, a schooner belonging to
the mutineers, in tow. For the next three months, the Pandora travels around the South
Pacific in a futile search for the other party of mutineers.
|August 29, 1791
||The Pandora, on its way back to
England, hits ground and sinks on a reef between New Guinea and
Australia. The surviving men take to liveboats and begin sailing
toward Coupang in the Dutch East Indies.
|September 16, 1791
||The survivors of the
Pandora's sinking, after
drinking the blood of birds and their own
urine, arrive in Coupang.
October 6, 1791
(formerly commander of the Pandora)
and his crew and prisoners depart
Coupang on a Dutch ship.
October 30, 1791
|The ship carrying
the captured Bounty mutineers
arrives on the north coast of Java where, miraculously, the Resolution, the ship built by
mutineers and which had been lost with a small crew four months earlier
in stormy seas, is found.
|December 25, 1791
||The Dutch ship Vreendenburg leaves Batvia with 27
officers and men of the Pandora
and ten surviving captured mutineers.
|April 5, 1792
some of his crew, and the captured mutineers board the British
man-of-war, the Gorgon,
at the Cape of Good Hope for the final leg of the voyage back to
|May 1, 1792
||A prayer book (with
"not a leaf of it defaced") belonging to a convict is found in the
belly of a shark caught off the side of the Gorgon. [Not critical to the
chronology, but interesting, don't you think?]
|June 19, 1792
||The Gorgon, carrying the ten men who
will soon face charges of mutiny, anchors at Spithead, England.
|September 12, 1792
||The court-martial of
ten Bounty mutineers begins
on the Duke in Portsmouth, England.
September 18, 1792
return their verdicts in the Bounty
court-martial. Six of the ten
are convicted and sentenced to be "hanged by the neck." Mercy is
recommended for two (Peter Heywood and James Morrison). Four
other defendants (Morman, Coleman, McIntosh, and Byrn) are acquitted.
|October 26, 1792
||Heywood and Morrison
learn that they have received a full and unconditional pardon from the
|October 29, 1792
mutineers (John Millward, Thomas Ellison, and Thomas Burkett) are
hanged on the Brunswick.
||According to one
plausible account, Fletcher Christian is murdered by a Tahitian male
while digging in his field on Pitcairn Island. (Other accounts
place Christian's murder somewhat later--as late as 1797.)
||An American sealer,
the Topaz, lands on
mischarted Pitcairn Island. A double canoe with three young
English-speaking men come to greet the ship. Pitcairn Island is
discovered to be home to a colongy of 35 persons--the widows and
offspring of Bounty mutineers and one surviving mutineer, Alexander
|December 7, 1817
||William Bligh dies
at the age of 64.
||Mutineer John Adams
dies at age 66 on Pitcairn Island.
||William Purcell, the
last surviving officer of the Bounty, dies.
Tahitian wife of Fletcher Christian, dies on Pitcairn Island.