Testimony of William Purcell (9/13/1792)

Mr. PURCELL, Carpenter of the" Bounty," called in and sworn.

Examined by the COURT-

Q: Inform the Court of all the Circumstances within your Knowledge respecting His Majesty's Ship" Bounty" being run away with?

A: 0n the Morning of the Mutiny, the 28th of April, I think Matthew Quintal, Seaman, came down to my Cabin and awaked me, and said, " Mr. Purcell, you and Mr. Coleman 8 go on deck and do as you think proper, for we have Mutinied and taken the Ship, and Mr. Christian has the Command-the Captain is confined; all resistance will be in vain; if you attempt it you are a Dead Man." I then called Mr. Cole and went up the Hatchway and saw Thompson standing Centry armed in the Main Hatchway. Mr. Heywood, the Prisoner, and Mr. Stewart were in their Birth abreast of the Main Hatch way on the Larboard Side. John Williams came down the Fore hatchway Armed and accompanied us upon Deck-when I saw Captain Bligh with his Hands lashed behind him, standing on the Quarter Deck, and Mr. Christian standing over him with a naked Bayonet, and seeing the small Cutter alongside, I asked Alexr Smith what they meant to do. He answd. they meant to put the Captain, Mr. Hayward, Mr. Hallett, and Mr. Samuel into her to put the Captain on shore. I then told Mr. Christian I hoped he would not send anybody in that Boat, as her Bottom being eaten out by the Worms; she would not swim to the Land. There was an Altercation took place between Christian, Churchill and some others, concerning whether they should suffer another Boat to be hoisted out, which being determined, Mr. Christian ordered m_ to get the large Cutter ready. I hesitated obeying his orders, when he immediately said, " Do you get the Boat ready directly." Mr. Cole was then gone down below to turn those People, which were in their Hammocks upon Deck. I then called McIntosh and Norman, two of the Prisoners, and desired them to go down to my Storeroom and hand the Knees and Geer Bolts etc. of the Cutter up, to get her ready for hoisting out, which they immediately complied with; in the Interim we were clearing the Cutter of the Yams, and Cocoanuts, and other Lumber that were in her. When we got her ready she was ordered to be hoisted out by Mr. Christian; being hoisted out, Mr. Cole and I went aft to Mr. Christian to intercede for the Launch, when I asked Mr. Christian if he meant to turn us adrift in the Boat, to let us have the Launch and not make a Sacrifice of us, as I had done nothing to be either ashamed or afraid of, and would wish to see my native Country. He then ordered Mr. Cole to hoist her out, but to be careful he carried nothing away. The Boat being hoisted out, I went down to my Cabin in order to procure such Things as I thought would be useful. I desired McIntosh and Norman to fill a Bucket of Nails of different sizes, and hand a crosscut and whip Saw out of the Storeroom, which they did.  I then got my Cloaths Chest, put a Looking Glass and several other Articles into it, got it upon Deck and into the Launch. We then got up several Boats' Sails, a lower Studding Sail, Twine, Remnants of Canvas, and several other Articles. I then went and asked Mr. Christian for my Tool Chest, Whip, and Cross cut saw, which after much Altercation he granted, after Churchill the Master at Arms had opposed it, and had taken such Things as he thought proper out of it. Prior to' this, I had been down to Mr. Fryer's Cabin, when he desired me to ask Christian to let him come on Deck; when he came on Deck, he and Captain Bligh had some Discourse, but I was not near enough to hear it. Alexr. Smith, one of the Mutineers who was Armed, desired me not to come aft. Mr. Fryer then addressed Churchill and three or four others that were upon the Quarter Deck at the time Armed who' were Alexander Smith, Isaac Martin, John Mills, Thomas Ellison the Prisoner, Thomas Burkitt the Prisoner, desiring them in the Name of God to lay down their Arms, what they were about, and if the Captain had done anything to confine him-when Churchill replied, "No, Damn you, you ought to have done that Months ago," and used a great deal of other abusive Language to' the Captain. Mr. Fryer was then ordered down to his Cabin. The Captain attempting to speak, Mr. Christian replied, "Hold your Tongue and I'll not hurt you; it is too' late to consider now, I have been in Hell for weeks past with you." I then went forward to' get what Necessaries were handed upon Deck into the Boat. I went then into the Boat myself to' stow them, my Chest and several other Articles. Martin, one of the Mutineers, came into the Boat with a Bag; I asked him what he did there; he said he was going in the Boat; I replied if ever we get to England, I'll endeavor to hang you myself. Quintal and Churchill hearing of me, immediately presented their Pieces and desired him to come out of the Boat, which he did. The People were then collecting together to get into the Boat. Mr. Christian not being determined whether he would keep me, several of them apposed my going in the Boat, expressing that I should be the last to' leave the Ship, if they had their Wills, who should be suffered to go out of her, and that they might as well give us the Ship as to' suffer us to' take ]Tools, for we should have another Vessel in a Month. I then went into the Boat to receive a Cask of Water-some empty Beakers, the Captain's Case, and several other Articles that were handed into the Boat. We were then all of us ordered to get into the Boat, and veered astern, after using a great deal of abusive Language by the People in general to the Captain, threatening to blow his Brains out j after we were under the Stern they called for the Boatswain's Call, and hove us up some Pieces of Pork and Gourds of Water in Lieu, and they chucked Mr. Peckover some Cloaths, and several other Articles were thrown into the Boat. Mr. Cole asked the Captain if he should cast off the Boat, as some of the People were talking of firing into her; which the Captain gave orders for, when we quitted the Ship, keeping right Astern to prevent her Guns from bearing on us, being nineteen People. When the Boat left the Ship she had about 7 1/2 Inches Amidships above water.

Q: Was Churchill under Arms?
A: Yes. 

Q: Was Quintal under Arms?
A: Yes. 

Q: Was Sumner under Arms?
A: Yes. The People mentioned in this List were under Arms-Christian, Mills, Skinner, Martin, Alexr Smith, Quintal, Williams, Thompson, McKoy, Brown, Ellison the Prisoner, Burkitt the Prisoner, Millward the Prisoner, Young, Churchill, Sumner, and Hilbrant. Those were the Persons that I saw under Arms at the different Times. I forgot to mention a Circumstance, respecting one of the Prisoners, Millward; when Mr. Cole turned the Hands up that were in their Hammocks, Millward came up and said to me, " Mr. Purcell, I assure you I know nothing of this Business, but as I had a hand in the former Foolish Affair, I suppose they will oblige me, or force me," (I am not positive which were the Words) " to be concerned in this." 

Q: When you came upon Deck did you see anyone of the Prisoners?
A: I did. 

Q: Did you see Mr. Heywood?
A: No. 

Q. Had you any Conversation with him?
A: Not at that time. 

Q: At any other time?
A: Yes. 

Q: Did you see Mr. Heywood standing upon the Booms?
A: Yes. 

Q: Had he a Cutlass in his Hand?
A: He was leaning the Flat Part of his Hand on a Cutlass on the Booms, when I exclaimed, "In the Name of God, Peter, what do you do with that 1 " when he instantly dropped it. One or two of the People had previous to that laid down their Cutlasses, being armed with Cutlasses and Pistols, to assist in hoisting the Launch out. 

Q: Do you know what Number of Men laid down their Arms to assist in hoistiing the Boat out?
A: 0ne or two-their Cutlasses, but not their Pistols. 

Q: Did Mr. Heywood assist in hoisting the Boat out?
A: Yes. 

Q: What number of Men did you see with Pistols?
A: About four with Pistols and Cutlasses, the rest were Armed with Musquets and Bayonets-their Bayonets fixed. 

Q: Do you recollect seeing any of the other Prisoners on Deck?
A: Yes I saw them all on Deck.

Q: Had you Conversation with any of them?
A; No, except what I have related. 

Q. Relate to the Court what you remember of Coleman on that Day.
A. I remember hi's assisting in getting the Boats ready, and handing the Things into the Boat after she was hoisted out, and wanting to come with us-but was not suffered by the Mutineers, and his desiring me to take notice that he had no hand in the Conspiracy. 

Q: Relate to the Court all you know of Mr. Heywood's Conduct on that Day from the beginning of the Mutiny until you left the Ship?
A: When I came upon Deck he was in his Birth; I did not see him on Deck until the Launch was ordered to be hoisted out, when he was standing on the Booms resting his Hand on a Cutlass-I exclaimed, " in the Name of God, Peter, what do you do with that1" when he instantly dropped it and assisted in hoisting the Launch out and handing the Things into the Boat, my Chest and all the other Articles, and then went down below, when I heard Churchill call to Thompson to keep them below, but could not tell whom he meant. I did not see Mr. Heywood after that. 

Q: Did Mr. Heywood hand any of his own Things into the Boat?
A: Not to my knowledge; I can't tell. 

Q: What do you know of Michael Byrn?
A: The first thing I observed of him was his being in the large Cutter to keep her from the side, in which Situation he remained when we left the Ship, but was crying and said if he was with us he could be of no manner of Service to us-he being Blind; he was not Armed. 

Q: Relate all you remember of the Conduct and Behavior of Morrison an that Day?
A: The first I saw of Morrison was when Mr. Cole went dawn to turn the Hands up, who were in their Hammocks. I do not remember his being Armed, but I saw him assist in hoisting the Launch out. 

Q: Did you hear any Conversation between him and Mr. Fryer?
A: I did not.

Q: Did he appear to you at that time to be in League with the Mutineers?
A: Na. 

Q: Relate all you remember of Norman?
A: I called him out of his Hammock and ordered him to go and fetch the Boat’s Knees and Geer, which he did, he then gave me every assistance during the whale Transaction that laid in his Power, and was crying when we came away, and desired me to take Notice that he had no Hand in the Conspiracy. 

Q: Relate all you recollect of Ellison?
A: When I came on Deck, he was standing near the Gangway on the Larboard Side, Armed with a Musquet and Bayonet; in that Situation he was during the whale time to the best of my Knowledge in different parts of the Ship. 

Q: Had you any Conversation with him?
A: None. 

Q: Relate all you know respecting McIntosh?
A: I called him out of his Hammock, desiring him to go with Norman, down to the Storeroom, to get the Boat’s Knees and Geer, which he did, and gave me every Assistance during the whale Transaction as laid in his Power, and desired me to take Notice that he had no hand in the Conspiracy. 

Q: Relate what you know respecting Muspratt?
A: I can't Charge my Memory with any particular Circumstance respecting Muspratt. I do not remember seeing him in Arms. I saw him once handing same of the Captain's, or Mr. Fryer's Things up, and I think he handed some Liquor up to the Ship's Company. 

Q: Do you mean that was at the time the Dram was ordered?
A: Yes. 

Q: Relate everything you remember of Thomas Burkitt?
A: When I came on Deck, Burkitt was standing by the Windlass, Armed with a Musquet and Bayonet, and he soon afterwards went aft on the Quarter Deck; to the best of my knowledge was there during the whole of the Transaction, still in Arms. 

Q: Did Thomas Burkitt make any Answer to the Master, when he desired him and the other Men that were armed abaft for God's sake to lay down their Arms?
A: Not as I heard. 

Q: Relate all you remember of Millward's Behavior?
A: When I came on Deck Millward was one of those People that were in their Hammocks, which Mr. Cole turned up; when he came on the Booms he said, " Mr. Purcell, I assure you I know nothing 'Of this Business, but as I had a hand in the former foolish Affair I suppose they will oblige me, or force me, "-I can't positively say which-" to take a part in this." I saw Millward afterwards down the after Ladder by Mr. Fryer's Cabin Armed with a Musquet, but don't recollect his having a Bayonet fixed in it; I don't recollect seeing him afterwards until we were in the Boat, when I saw him look over the Taffrail but can't tell whether he was Armed or not. 

Q: When you all went into the Boat, was there any Centry at the Gangway?
A: Yes. 

Q: Who was that Centry?
A: Matthew Quintal and Richard Skinner were standing by the Gangway Armed, but I can't say that they were placed as Centinels. 

Q: Were you forced into the Boat, suddenly, or did it take up some time for every body to go in?
A: I don't think it was more than ten Minutes from the time the Things were in the Boat. 

Q: Was it generally known throughout the Ship that the Boat was going to put off?
A: I think it must be, as we were a long time collecting the Necessaries that were to go in the Boat. 

Q: Did you hear any body call out that they wished to go in her, except those you have already named?
A: I can't say that I did. 

Q: Did Norman and McIntosh shew any Disposition or express a Wish to do any thing to recover the King's Ship?
A: No.

Q: Did you propose any such thing to them?
A: No. 

Q: Did any One of the other Prisoners shew any such Disposition, or express such Wish?
A: Na. 

Q: In what light did you look up an Mr. Heywood at the time you say he drop'd the Cutlass up an your speaking to him?
A: I looked upon him as a person confused and that he did not know that he had the Weapon in his Hand, or his Hand being on it, far it was not in his Hand. 

Q: What reason had you far supposing that he was so confused, as not to know that his Hand was an it?
A: By his instantly dropping it and assisting in hoisting the Boat out, which convinced me, in my own Mind, that he had no hand in the Conspiracy. 

Q: Were there any People Armed near Mr. Heywood at that time?
A: I don’t recollect there were. 

Q: After the Launch was hoisted out, you have said Mr. Heywood went below, and you saw no more of him; did he of your Knowledge go below of his any Accord or was he compelled to go below by any 'Of the Mutineers?
A: I think he went by his own Accord, in order to collect some of his Things to put into the Boat. 

Q: How long was it after the Launch was hoisted out before she went from the Ship?
A: I think it must be near two Hours. 

Q: Do you think then that Mr. Heywood was so long employed in collecting his Things as you have before supposed?
A: Na, he was assisting me and the rest, to get the Necessaries into the Boat, which I suppose prevented him from collecting any thing of his awn until that time. 

Q: You have just said that you saw nothing mare of Mr. Heywood after he went below; did he go below immediately after the Boat was hoisted out?
A: Na. 

Q; How long did the Launch remain alongside after Mr. Heywood did go below?
A: I can't be positive, but it could not be but a very short time, ten Minutes or a Quarter ofan hour. 

Q: Were the Booms of the" Bounty" above the Deck?
A: They were off the Deck an Chocks. 

Q: When you represent Mr. Heywood to have been leaning his Hand on a Cutlass, was that Cutlass leaning against it, or supported by anything else?
A: I can't be positive, as the Booms were full of Lumber. 

Q: Describe the Position in which he was standing with the Cutlass?
A: He was leaning his Hand on it open; it might be supported on some of the Lumber, as we had a deal upon the Booms at that time. 

Q: Do you upon the Solemn Oath you have taken, believe that Mr. Heywood by being Armed with a Cutlass at the time you have mentioned, by any thing that you could collect from his Gestures or Speeches, had any intention of Opposing or joining others that might Oppose to stop the Progress of the Mutiny?
A: No. 

Q: Except the Cutlass, upon which you saw the Hand of Mr. Heywood, did you see any Cutlasses upon the Deck, other than those which were in the Hands of the Mutineers?
A: I can't say that I did at that time; once I think I saw one of the People lay his Cutlass down for a short time, while he assisted to hoist the Launch out. 

Q: Do you know whether any of the Mutineers took notice of Mr. Heywood's having a Cutlass?
A: No. 

Q: Have you any reason to believe that the Cutlass you saw in the Possession of the Prisoner Mr. Heywood was placed upon the Booms accidentally and that he did not furnish himself with it?
A: I have reason to think he did not furnish himself with it. 

Q: What is your Reason?
A: As Thompson was standing over the Arm Chest, and Mr. Heywood in his Birth, had he meant to have Armed himself, he certainly might have done it before 1 came upon Deck. 

Q: Was the Arm Chest near Mr. Heywood's Birth?
A: It stood directly in the Center of the Main Hatchway, between the two Births, at the Aft part of the Birth. 

Q: Did you go upon Deck before the Prisoner Heywood or after him?
A: Before him; he was in his Birth when I went on Deck. 

Q: Did you see him leave his Birth and go upon Deck?
A: No. 

Q. Can you say then that he might not have carried the Cutlass upon Deck with him?
A: I have reasons to think he did not. 

Q: What Reason?

A: As Thompson was Centry over the Arm Chest, and knew Mr. Cole and I was not of the Conspiracy, and knew Mr. Heywood was in his Birth and did not attempt to Arm himself before he went upon Deck, he must certainly have suspected that Mr. Heywood wanted to procure Arms to assist us in the retaking of the Ship.

Q: Supposing it possible that Mr. Heywood being inclined to join in the Mutiny, would he have armed himself before you and Mr. Cole?

A: I should have supposed not, as he might have Armed himself before we were called up, as Thompson was Centry over the Arm chest and he in his Birth at the time I went upon Deck, had he any Intention of being with the Party of Mutineers.

Q: From the after part of the Midshipmen's Birth forward, was there any other Centry except Thompson?
A: There were two more when I went upon Deck, the Man who accompanied me up and called me up; Quintal and John Williams came to the foot of the lower Deck Ladder and followed us up. 

Q: Did you see Mr. Heywood in his Birth previous to your going upon Deck?
A: I saw him in his Birth as I was going up the Cockpit Ladder in camp any with Mr. Cole; I will not be positive whether he was sitting or lying over his Hammock; his Hammock was hanging at the time. 

Q: Had you any Conversation with him?
A: No. 

Q. Did you know at that time whether he knew of the Mutiny then in the Ship?
A: I think he must, as the Centry was, over the Arm Chest close to their Birth; whether the Centry was over the Arm Chest or their Birth I can't tell, as it was between bath Births. 

Q: Did the Centry or any other Person prevent his going upon Deck [with] the Boatswain, had he shown an Inclination so to do?
A: I can't tell. 

Q: Did you see anybody oppose it?
A: I did not. 

Q: When you saw Mr. Heywood dropt the Cutlass, did it fall down upon his taking his Hands from it, or did he lay it down?
A: I think it did fall, to the best of my Knowledge he did not lay it down. 

Q: Do you think that the Mutineers noticed Mr. Heywood having the Cutlass in his Hand the manner you have described?
A: I don't know, as I was busy myself to get the Boat out, that I had not time to make any Observations at that time. 

Q: Would they have permitted you, the Master, or any well-disposed Person to the Captain, to have touched a Cutlass?
A: I can't tell, as they were Armed with Pistols, but I should imagine not. 

Q: Did it appear to you after they got Possession of the Shi p that they were Careless of their Arms?
A: No, by no means, except in that Instance of assisting to hoist the Boat out. 

Q: In the time that Mr. Heywood was assisting you to get the Things into the Boat, did he in any degree whatever manifest a Disposition to assist in the Mutiny?
A: No. 

Q: Was he during that time deliberate or frightened, and in what manner did he behave himself?
A: I had not an opportunity of observing his every Action, being myself at that time engaged in getting several things into the Boat, which I was apprehensive the Mutineers might have stopped, such as Nails, that I cannot tell. 

Q: Putting every Circumstance together on your going into the Boat, declare to this Court on the Oath you have taken, how you considered his Behavior, whether as a Person joined in the Mutiny, or as a Person wishing well to Captain Bligh?
A: I by no means considered him as a Person concerned in the Mutiny or Conspiracy. 

Q: At the time Mr. Heywood was assisting you in putting things into the Boat did he know it was the Intention of the Mutineers to send the Commander of the" Bounty" and several of the Officers and Men away in that Boat?
A: I can't tell.

Q: Did he know that you was going out of the Ship?
A: He certainly must think so, seeing me get my Chest and Things into the Boat. 

Q: Did you know that Captain Bligh was going in the Boat?
A: Yes. 

Q: Can you suppose that there was anyone Man on board the Ship who did not know that the Captain was to go into the Boat?
A: I do not suppose that there might be. 

Q: Did he know what caused you to go out of the Ship?
A: Everybody must have known at the time that was on Deck, he must have known that I meant to follow my Commander to go with him. 

Q: Did the Prisoner Mr. Heywood express any Desire or Inclination to follow his Commander along with you?
A: Not to me. 

Q: Was Mr. Bligh confined upon the Quarter Deck in such a Situation as that he must necessarily have been seen by the Prisoner Mr. Heywood, either when he was on the Booms or assisting you in handing Things into the Boat?
A: I think he was in such a Situation, as he must have been seen by Every Person on the Deck. 

Q: Was there any Bulk Head or Screen round Mr. Heywood's Birth?
A: It was half boarded and half Canvas to the best of my Knowledge, the Screen let down. 

Q: If the Screen was let down how did you see Mr. Heywood on going on Deck?
A: The Screen was not let down then. 

Q: Did it appear to you that at the time you saw Mr. Heywood's Hand on the Cutlass that it might have been used to Advantage, had he been Disposed rather to have given it to you, or to have made use of it himself?
A: No, by no means, as there were fourteen Men on the Deck all Armed at that time, and the Officers all being confined to the Cockpit and their various Cabins, and most of the Mutineers or all of them, had either Musquets or Pistols.

Q: Were any of the Prisoners amongst those who opposed your going into the Boat?
A: No.

 Q: You said that the Prisoner Morrison did not seem to be leagued with the Mutineers; did he express to you any Desire to follow the Fate of his Commander in the Boat?
A: He desired me to take Notice in the face of the whole of the Mutineers that he was prevented from coming into the Boat. 

Q: Did you see him prevented?
A: I did not see any body personally prevent him-but Christian had given an Order before that neither Coleman, Norman nor McIntosh should quit the Ship. 

Q: How do you know that he gave that Order?
A: I heard him myself. 

Cross-examined by MICHAEL BYRN-

Q: When you were first alarmed and came from below with Mr. Cole, did you observe anyone sitting on a Chest in the Fore hatchway a Midships?
A: I did not.

Q: When you was in the Launch receiving the Things from some body on board did I not speak to you out of the Stern of the large Cutter?
A: I recollect no such things, no otherwise than his desiring everyone of us to take Notice that if he went with us he could be of no Service, and he was crying in the Boat.

Q: Before the Captain and Mr. Fryer and several of the other Officers and People were in the Boat, was you not down in the Launch?
A: I was several times in and out of the Launch to stow the Things in her and receiving the Things from on board.

Q: Do you recollect my saying, "Mr. Purcell, if you live to go home I hope you will go to my Friends and let them know, I know nothing of this Transaction, nor had any hand in it?"
A: No. 

At four o’clock the Court adjourned till tomorrow morning, nine o’clock.