Testimony of William Cole (9/12/1792)

WILLIAM COLE, Boatswain of " Bounty," called in and sworn. Examined by the Courty

Q. Inform the Court of all the circumstances within your Knowledge respecting His Majesty's Ship" Bounty" being run away with.
A. The first of my knowing it was-one Quintal, a Seaman, called to the Carpenter (but whether Quintal was in the Cabin with the Carpenter or in the Cockpit I do not know) and said that they had mutinied and taken the Ship, and Mr. Christian had the Command; the Captain was then a Prisoner on the Quarter Deck. I was asleep and it awaked me, and I jumped out of my Cabin and says to the Carpenter, " For God's sake, I hope you know nothing of this." He told me not. There was at the same time the Sail maker, Lawrence Lebogue, lying by my Cabin in the Cockpit. I asked him what he meant to do, or what he thought of it (this passed while I was putting my Cloaths on); he told me he did not know what to do, he would do as I did. I went up the Hatchway directly and looking aft I saw Matthew Thompson, Centinel on the Main Hatchway. Mr. Heywood was then leaning over his own Hammock in the larboard Birth and Mr. Young on the Starboard Side-to the best of my knowledge Mr. Elphinstone was looking over the side of the Birth which [was boarded up; [then] upon Deck were I believe five Men under Arms about the Fore Hatchway and on the Deck Charles Churchill, William Brown, Alexander Smith, William McKoy, and John Williams. I looked aft and saw the Captain with his Hands tied behind him; there were Centinels over him John Mills, Isaac Martin, Thomas Ellison, one of the Prisoners; and Thomas Burkitt, another of the Prisoners, was on the Quarter Deck, seeing the Captain confined aft.
I jumped down the Fore Hatchway at once and I awaked Morrison, Millward, and M'Intosh, three of the Prisoners who all lay in the same Tier. I informed them of what had happened in the Ship, thinking at that time to form a Party. I asked them if they knew anything of it and they told me not. Millward, the Prisoner, said he was very sorry for it, he said he had a hand in the foolish Piece of Business before, and that he was afraid they would make him have a hand in that also.  Then Churchill came forward and called out to Millward, desired him to come upon Deck immediately to take a Musquet, or that he had a Musquet for him, I do not remember the particular Words j with that they all went up as they put their Cloaths on-and I did not see either one of the rest of them have a Musquet at that time. I went upon Deck and went aft, and asked Mr. Christian what he meant to do-he then ordered me to hoist the Boat out and shook the Bayonet, threatening me and damning me if I did not take Care. I asked him Liberty to go and speak to Mr. Fryer and he granted it. I went down below and asked him what to do, or what he thought to do, or Words to that Purport. He spoke in a low Voice to me," Stay." One of the Centinels (Sumner, I believe it was) said that he (meaning Mr. Fryer) had a wife and Family, but that would be all forgot in a few Months. Then Mr. Fryer came upon Deck and asked Mr. Christian what he was about (the particular Words I do not recollect) j he then told him that if he did not approve of the Captain's behaviour to put him under an Arrest and proceed on the Voyage. He told him that if that was all he had to say to go down to his Cabin again, for he had been in Hell for Weeks and weeks past. Then they were intending to send the Captain and they mentioned Mr. Hayward, Mr. Hallett, and Mr. Samuel was to go with them.  They had got the Bread and every thing was upon deck ready to hand into the Boat-the small Boat.  Her Bottom was stove and they made Interest with Mr. Christian for the other Cutter, she was then a Shell, her thwarts all unshipped. Coleman, Norman, and McIntosh, three of the Prisoners, with the Assistance of the Carpenter, fixed all the thwarts and got the Boat ready-she was then got out-Christian was still threatening me if I carried anything away or sprang any Yard. I then found the Captain was going to be sent from the Ship. I went Aft with the Carpenter and asked him for the Long Boat. Mr. Hallett and Mr. Hayward were upon Deck at this time. I asked Christian for the Boat three or four times before he made any Answer. Captain Bligh said, "For God's sake, Mr. Cole, do all that lays in your Power." Then the Carpenter said, "I have done nothing that I am ashamed or afraid of, I want to see my Native Country." He then granted the Launch. Then the Carpenters and Armourer, with Mr. Purcell, were employed in fitting her.
While the Boat was going over the side I saw Byrn, one of the Prisoners, in the Cutter alongside, but how he came into her I do not know; whether he was hoisted out in her or ordered into her or how he came into her I do not know. Then we were employed getting the Launch over the side. Mr. Christian gave Orders for a Bottle of rum or some other Liquor to be brought upon Deck and ordered a Dram to be given to every Man under Arms-the Liquor was brought forward by John Smith, the Servant; some of them told him to give me a Dram. I told them I would not drink it raw, and then got some Water in a Pot.  Mr. Christian was continually calling out, "Take care you carry nothing away "-threatening and shaking the bayonet. I saw Mr. Peter Heywood, one of the Prisoners, who was standing there lending a hand to get the Fore Stay fall along, and when the Boat was hooked on he spoke something to me, but what it was I do not know, for Christian was threatening me at the time, and Mr. Heywood then went below and I do not remember seeing him afterwards, whilst we were in the Ship; then we got the Boat out and were getting the things into the Boat; Norman, McIntosh, Coleman, and Morrison and several others who went in the Boat were assisting. They got the Masts, Oars, Sails, Twine, Lines, Rope, Canvas and other necessaries.
There was Churchill and Quintal walking about saying, "Damn them, they have enough." At this time, looking about, I saw William Muspratt, one of the Prisoners; with a Musquet in his Hand; I don't recollect seeing him before. I heard Churchill call out to keep somebody below, but who it was I do not know. Churchill and Quintal were forcing the people into the Boat; Coleman, one of the Prisoners, had a bag, which appeared to me to contain Iron, and he was handing it into the Boat, or it was in the Boat-Christian ordered him to be stopped, likewise the two Carpenter's Mates, Norman and McIntosh. Most of the People were then in the Boat; they were trying to get the Carpenter's Tool Chest into the Boat, when they wanted to go. Matthew Quintal said, "Damn them, if we let them have those things they will build a Vessel in a Month." The Chest was then handed into the Boat, but some of the tools were taken out of it.  The Carpenter had got his Cloaths Chest into the Boat; then they were forcing the People out of the Ship who were going and who were not on their Side-and I went into the Boat, and things laid in great Confusion in the Boat, and they were stowing them away. Then Mr. Peckover and the Botanist, Mr. Hayward and Mr. Hallett, were put into the Boat and then Captain Bligh was brought to the Side, and ordered into the Boat, as soon as they were in Almost; then we veered the Boat astern. Coleman and Norman were standing at the Gangway crying all this Time, after they were ordered not to go into the Boat, and McIntosh was standing there also and would have wished to come into the Boat-and Byrn was in the Cutter all the time crying. We dropt the Launch astern and they handed some Pieces of Pork and two or three cocoanut Shells for holding Water and a couple of Calabashes were handed in-Burkitt went and got some Cloaths for the Gunner and brought it and hove it into the Boat to him. One of the People (Sumner) demanded my Call and said it would be of no use to me where I was going. I asked him at the same time in the Indian tongue if he would give me anything for it; I sent it up to him, but got nothing for it. Norton, one of the Quarter Masters, asked for a Jacket and Skinner said, "You Bugger, if I 'had my Will I would blow your Brains out." I then told Captain Bligh that we had best cast off; he asked my reason; I told him that I thought they would fire upon us; he then called and wished to speak to Mr. Christian, but he did not come aft, to my knowledge. Coleman called out and beg'd they would take notice that he had no Hand at all in it; if ever any body should live to get to England he beg'd them to remember him to a Mr. Green in Greenwich. Then we cast the Boat off and pulled in towards Tofoa-I suppose our Boat could not be more than seven or eight Inches out of the water a Midships at that time. The last I saw was seeing Thomas Ellison loosing the Main-top Gallant Sail.

Q. How many Men did you see under Arms?
A. Nine upon Deck at first; there were two or three down the Main Hatchway as Centinels-Charles Churchill, William Brown, Alexander Smith, John Williams, William McKoy, Isaac Martin, John Mills, Thomas Burkitt, one of the Prisoners; those were upon Deck-Matthew Thompson was in the Main Hatchway. Matthew Quintal and John Sumner were over the Master's Cabin, and in the after Cockpit together; the Cooper, Henry Hilbrant, who is dead, was also under Arms on Deck-and Skinner was under Arms on Deck but I did not see him at first. William Muspratt was with a Musquet upon Deck-it was at the latter Part of the time that I saw him. Millward was aft under Arms agreeable to his Orders. Churchill called out to him saying, " Damn you, come up, here is a Musquet ready for you."

Q. You have said you were ordered by Mr. Christian to hoist the Launch out.  What Number of Men were assisting you to hoist her out?
A.  About fourteen or fifteen, those under Arms assisted me as well as the others-but they did not quit their Arms.

Q. Was you ever confined or put under any restraint or a Centinel over you?
A. I was never kept to my Cabin or below, nor was I put under any restraint.

Q. Did any of the Prisoners help to hoist the Launch out?
A. Yes-Coleman, Norman, McIntosh, "Morrison and Mr. Heywood; at the first Part of getting the Boat clear those were forward.

Q. Had you any Conversation with either of the Prisoners respecting the Consequences of the Mutiny that was going on?
A. No more than I have already said.

Q. What was the degree of Force used to those People who were ordered not to get into the Boat?
A. No further than that they were ordered and the People stood round them armed and they did not attempt breaking the Order.

Q. Did you see any attempt made by anyone of the Prisoners to put an End to the Mutiny?
A. None.

Q. You say you saw Peter Heywood overhaul the Forestay Tackle fall. Do you think he did it voluntarily or not?
A. Yes, I do.

Q. Do you think he was influenced by threats of People under Arms?
A. No.

Q. You have just said that you saw no one of the Prisoners make any attempt to put a stop to the Mutiny. Did you see anyone of them shew evident marks of disapprobation of what was going forward?
A. No, I did not.

Q. When the drams were ordered to be served did you see anyone of the, Prisoners partake of them?
A. I did not pay any attention to who drinked or not.

Q. Did you hear anyone of the Prisoners threaten to fire into the Launch before you cast off with her?
A. No-nobody but Skinner.

Q. You have said that Coleman, Norman and McIntosh were detained in the "Bounty" against their Will. Have you reason to believe that any other of the Prisoners were detained against their Inclinations?
A. I believe Mr. Heywood was, I thought all along he was intending to come away.  I did not think anything else-he had no Arms and he assisted to get the Boat out and then went below.

Q. Have you any other reason which induces you to think that Mr. Heywood was detained contrary to his Will?
A. I heard Churchill call out, "Keep them below "-who he meant I do not know.

Q. Do you think he meant Heywood?
A. I have no reason to think any other.

Q. You have said that you did not see any of the Prisoners shew marks of disapprobation of what was going on. What was the Cause of Coleman, Norman, and Michael Byrn's crying as you have represented them to be?
A. They wanted to come away; as to Byrn I do not know why he was crying. I suppose for no other reason he was blind he could not see, to my knowledge.

Q. What was Thomas Burkitt's particular situation at the time you saw him on the Deck?
A. He was on the Starboard Side of the Quarter Deck, just abreast of the wheel; he had his musquet Shouldered, to the best of my Knowledge, and there he was standing.

Q. When you awakened Morrison, Millward, McIntosh and George Simpson what did they first do when they went upon Deck?
A. Millward was ordered to take a Musquet and he went Aft-the other three were clearing the Boat of the Yams.

Q. How long was it from the time Mr. Heywood quitted the Tackle fall and went below until you was forced into the Boat?
A. I suppose it may be twenty Minutes or half an Hour.

Q. Did you see any of the Prisoners employed in forcing Mr. Bligh into the Boat or were any of them under Arms at that particular time?
A. I was in the Boat alongside and cannot tell who forced him in.

Q. In consequence of Churchill's calling out to Millward, " Damn you, come up, here is a Musquet ready for you," did Millward make any objections to going upon Deck or taking the Musquet?
A. Not to my Knowledge.

Q. You have said that Coleman, Norman and McIntosh assisted at the Tackle fall in getting the Launch out; did you suppose they meant to be of use to Captain Bligh and to accompany him in the Boat or that they were well disposed to the Mutineers and wished to get rid of their Captain?
A. I believe they wished to go with him.

Q. Do you suppose that Peter Heywood acted from the same motive when he assisted at the Tackle fall?
A. I had no reason to think otherwise; he assisted at the Tackle fall.

Q. Where about was Muspratt when you saw him under Arms?
A. Just abaft the Fore Hatchway.

Q. Did he appear to be Centinel over any particular Person or Part of the Ship?
A. No.

At four o’clock the Court adjourned till to-Morrow Morning, nine o’clock.


Mr. WILLIAM COLE called in again.

Examined by the COURT

Q. Who were the People that forced Mr. Bligh into the Boat?
A. I cannot tell. I was in the Boat, I could not see.

Cross-examined by MICHAEL BYRN

Q. When the large Cutter was hoisted out, who was the Person that throwed the fall out of her, and hooked on the fore Stay Tackle?
A. I do not remember.

Q. When the Orders were given to hoist her out did you look down the Hatchway, and see three or four People sitting abreast the Starboard Cable Tier?
A. No; I see Norton, the Man who was killed, who was getting out of his Hammock and putting his Cloaths on, and I believe the Cook was there.

Q. Do you remember ordering any Person to hook the Tackle on?
A. Not in Particular.

Q. Did you call to the People then below, to come up and lend a hand to hoist the Cutter out?
A. I do not know, but I may have done so.

Q. When the Cutter was out did you order me to stay in her, to keep her from thumping against the Ship?
A. I do not remember. I told him to haul her ahead when the Launch was going over the side.

Q. When Mr. Purcell and you came out of the Cockpit on the first Alarm did you perceive anyone sitting on a Chest on the Fore hatchway?
A. I do not remember.

Q. Did no one speak to you and Mr. Purcell in the Fore hatchway?
A. He may, but I do not remember.

Q. When you and Mr. Purcell came up did I not say the People are in Arms and the Captain's a Prisoner?
A. I do not remember seeing him, he may be there; he is a Person whom I should take very little Notice of on such an Occasion, being nearly blind.

Cross-examined by JAMES MORRISON

Q. Do you recollect, when I came upon Deck after you called me out of my Hammock, that I came to you abaft the Windlass, and said, " Mr. Cole, what is to be done? "and that your Answer was, " By God, James, I do not know, but go and help them with the Cutter?"
A. Yes, I do remember it.

Q. Do you remember that in Consequence of your Order I went about clearing the Cutter?
A. Yes.

Q. Do you remember that I did haul a Towline and Grapnel out of the Main hold and put them into the Boat?
A. I remember such Things being in the Boat, but who put them in I cannot tell.

Q. Do you remember calling me to assist you to hoist a Cask of Water out of the Hold, and at the same time threatening John Norton, the Quarter Master, that he should not go in the Boat if he was not more Attentive in getting the Things into her?
A. I remember telling Norton that, for he was frightened out of his Wits, and I have every reason to believe that Morrison was employed on that Business.

Q. Do you recollect that I came to you when you was getting your own Things which were tied up in part of your Bedding, into the Boat, and telling you that the Boat was then overloaded, and that Captain Bligh had begged that no more People should go into her, and that in consequence of that I would take my Chance in the Ship, and that you then shook me by the Hand and said, " God bless you, my Boy, I will do you justice if ever I reach England?”
A. I remember shaking Hands with him and he telling me that he would take his Chance in the Ship. I had no other Reason to believe, but that he was intending to quit the Ship. I do not remember the whole of our Conversation; I may have said that I would do him Justice when I got to England I make no doubt but I did.

Q. Was my Conduct such during the Voyage and particularly on that Day, as to give you reason to suppose that I was concerned in the Mutiny?
A. I had no reason to suppose it.

By the COURT

Q. Did you hear Morrison, the Prisoner, say that Captain Bligh had desired that no other Men might come into the Boat, as she was deeply Laden already?
A. I remember taking him by the Hand, but from the Confusion I do not remember the Conversation.

Q. Did you at that time believe that the Prisoner Morrison would have gone with you into the Boat, if it had not been apprehended that the Boat was too deeply laden?
A. I had no reason else but to believe it; he was giving his Attention, and whatever 1 told him to do he obeyed it.

Q. What was the Prisoner Morrison doing when you desired him to clear the Cutter?
A. To the best of my Knowledge, he was standing upon the Booms.

Q. Doing nothing?
A. No--he was just come up then.

Q. You have said that Morrison assisted in getting out that Boat; did you consider all those that assisted in getting out that Boat to be of the Captain's Party?
A. No, some were under Arms.

Q. Do you consider those who were not under Arms at that time to have been of the Captain's Party?
A. I certainly did think that they had no hand in the Mutiny.

Q. Do you think that all Mr. Christian's Party were entrusted with Arms?
A. I do not know, because some of them took up Arms afterwards. Mr. Young carne upon Deck with a Musquet.

Q. Name those whom you saw take up Arms afterwards?
A. Mr. Young and Muspratt, after the first Boat was hoisted out.

Q. Did you on that Day consider the Prisoner Morrison as a Person that was awed by the People under Arms to assist in hoisting the Boat out, or did you consider him as one that was aiding and assisting them in their Design?
A. I do not think he seemed to be much in Awe of the People- I do not think he was aiding and assisting them in their Design.

Q. Did you hear the Prisoner James Morrison express any Desire to come into the Boat, and was he prevented from so doing?
A. He did not express a Desire to me, nor was he prevented that I know.

Cross-examined by THOMAS ELLISON

Q. Are you certain when you came upon Deck and looked round you, whether it was I who was Armed, or the Man who stood before me, as I stood at the Wheel.
A. To the best of my knowledge, I thought he was under Arms; there were four on the Quarter Deck who were under Arms: Thomas Ellison, John Mills, Isaac Martin, and Thomas Burkitt.

Q. Are you certain whether it was me or not, as I was then a Boy, and scarcely able to lift a Musquet at that time?
A. He stood by Captain Bligh the best Part of the time on the Quarter Deck with a Musquet and I believe there was a Bayonet fixed.

Q. In what Position did I stand at that time?
A.  I cannot tell.

Cross-examined by THOMAS Burkitt

Q. When you came aft to get the Compass out of the Binnacle on the Starboard side of the Quarter Deck, did not Matthew Quintal come and say he would be damned if you should have it; you said, then, " Quintal, it is very hard you'l not let us have a Compass, when there is plenty more in the Store Room," then did you not look hard at me, and did I say, " Quintal, let Mr. Cole have it, or anything else that will be of Service to him?"
A. I know that Quintal objected to let the Compass go, and I said, " It is very hard when there are nine conditioned Compasses below," but I do not remember that Burkitt said anything, but he was standing up there. I do not remember what passed; the Confusion was so great that it was impossible that I could take notice of every thing particularly.

Q. Do you recollect seeing me that Morning during the time that you say I was under Arms-giving any Orders, or hear me make use of any bad Language or laugh, or make Game of any Person whatever?
A. I do not; I only observed he was under Arms, and when Mr. Peckover asked for some Cloaths, Burkitt got it for him.

Q. Do you recollect my coming aft, after the Boat was veered astern, and asking if any body wanted any things that I could get them, and Mr. Peckover told me to get his Pocket Book out of his Cabin and likewise some Cloaths?
A. I cannot charge my Memory, whether he asked if any body wanted any thing or not-but he brought the Cloaths.

Cross-examined by JOHN MILLWARD

Q. Can you positively say whether I took the Musket according to Churchill's orders?
A. I do not know whether it was by Churchill's Orders or not he took the Musquet.

Q. Do you recollect speaking to me as I stood by the Windlass, when you came up the Fore Hatchway, and asked me what I was doing, and my telling you, "nothing," and your telling me to lend a Hand to clear the large Cutter? A. No.

By the Court

Q. Were all the People who were put into the Boat bound, or were they at liberty in going into her?
A. They were not, but they marched them who were below up with Centinels at different times.

Q. Were there no other Arms in the Ship but those in the Arm Chest in the Main Hatchway?
A. Not to my knowledge.

Q. Was it Burkitt's Watch upon Deck in the Morning after the Mutiny?
A. To the best of my knowledge it was.

Q. Was it Muspratt's?
A. I do not know whether he was watched at all or not.

Q. What duty did he do?
A. I believe he assisted the Cook.

Q. Was it Ellison's Watch on Deck?
A. To the best of my knowledge, he was in that Watch.

Q. Was it Norman's?
A. I do not remember what Watch he was in.

Q. Was it Byrn's?
A. I do not think it was.

Q. Was he upon Deck at the time you first came up?
A. I do not remember.

Q. Was it Coleman's Watch upon Deck?
A. No.

Q. Was he upon Deck when you first came up?
A. I did not see him at first.

Q. At what time did the Day break on that morning?
A. I suppose about a quarter before 5 o’clock or half past 4; I cannot recollect exactly.

Cross-examined by MICHAEL BYRN

Q. When you were in the Boat and all the People, did you not hear me speaking to some of the Men who were forward in the Launch's Bow as I was in the large Cutter's stern?
A. I do not remember; -you may.

Q. Did you ever hear any of the People in the Launch say that I had spoke to them?
A. Yes, I believe I have heard Mr. Purcell say so.

Q. Did you hear nobody else say so?
A. I do not remember.