Testimony of William Purcell (9/13/1792)
Mr. PURCELL, Carpenter of the" Bounty," called in and sworn.
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?
Q: Was Quintal under Arms?
Q: Was Sumner under Arms?
Q: When you came upon Deck
did you see anyone of the Prisoners?
Q: Did you see Mr. Heywood?
Q. Had you any Conversation
Q: At any other time?
Q: Did you see Mr. Heywood
standing upon the Booms?
Q: Had he a Cutlass in his
Q: Do you know what Number
of Men laid down their Arms to assist in hoistiing the Boat out?
Q: Did Mr. Heywood assist in
hoisting the Boat out?
Q: What number of Men did
you see with Pistols?
Q: Do you recollect seeing
any of the other Prisoners on Deck?
Q: Had you Conversation with
any of them?
Q. Relate to the Court what
you remember of Coleman on that Day.
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?
Q: Did Mr. Heywood hand any
of his own Things into the Boat?
Q: What do you know of
Q: Relate all you remember
of the Conduct and Behavior of Morrison an that Day?
Q: Did you hear any
Conversation between him and Mr. Fryer?
Q: Did he appear to you at
that time to be in League with the Mutineers?
Q: Relate all you remember
Q: Relate all you recollect
Q: Had you any Conversation
Q: Relate all you know
Q: Relate what you know
Q: Do you mean that was at
the time the Dram was ordered?
Q: Relate everything you
remember of Thomas Burkitt?
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?
Q: Relate all you remember
of Millward's Behavior?
Q: When you all went into
the Boat, was there any Centry at the Gangway?
Q: Who was that Centry?
Q: Were you forced into the
Boat, suddenly, or did it take up some time for every body to go in?
Q: Was it generally known
throughout the Ship that the Boat was going to put off?
Q: Did you hear any body
call out that they wished to go in her, except those you have already
Q: Did Norman and McIntosh
shew any Disposition or express a Wish to do any thing to recover the
Q: Did you propose any such
thing to them?
Q: Did any One of the other
Prisoners shew any such Disposition, or express such Wish?
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?
Q: What reason had you far
supposing that he was so confused, as not to know that his Hand was an
Q: Were there any People
Armed near Mr. Heywood at that time?
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?
Q: How long was it after the
Launch was hoisted out before she went from the Ship?
Q: Do you think then that
Mr. Heywood was so long employed in collecting his Things as you have
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?
Q; How long did the Launch
remain alongside after Mr. Heywood did go below?
Q: Were the Booms of the"
Bounty" above the Deck?
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?
Q: Describe the Position in
which he was standing with the Cutlass?
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?
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?
Q: Do you know whether any
of the Mutineers took notice of Mr. Heywood's having a Cutlass?
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?
Q: What is your Reason?
Q: Was the Arm Chest near
Mr. Heywood's Birth?
Q: Did you go upon Deck
before the Prisoner Heywood or after him?
Q: Did you see him leave his
Birth and go upon Deck?
Q. Can you say then that he
might not have carried the Cutlass upon Deck with him?
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
Q: Did you see Mr. Heywood
in his Birth previous to your going upon Deck?
Q: Had you any Conversation
Q. Did you know at that time
whether he knew of the Mutiny then in the Ship?
Q: Did the Centry or any
other Person prevent his going upon Deck [with] the Boatswain, had he
shown an Inclination so to do?
Q: Did you see anybody
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?
Q: Do you think that the
Mutineers noticed Mr. Heywood having the Cutlass in his Hand the manner
you have described?
Q: Would they have permitted
you, the Master, or any well-disposed Person to the Captain, to have
touched a Cutlass?
Q: Did it appear to you
after they got Possession of the Shi p that they were Careless of their
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?
Q: Was he during that time
deliberate or frightened, and in what manner did he behave himself?
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?
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?
Q: Did he know that you was
going out of the Ship?
Q: Did you know that Captain
Bligh was going in the Boat?
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?
Q: Did he know what caused
you to go out of the Ship?
Q: Did the Prisoner Mr.
Heywood express any Desire or Inclination to follow his Commander along
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?
Q: Was there any Bulk Head
or Screen round Mr. Heywood's Birth?
Q: If the Screen was let
down how did you see Mr. Heywood on going on Deck?
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?
Q: Were any of the Prisoners
amongst those who opposed your going into the Boat?
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
Q: Did you see him prevented?
Q: How do you know that he
gave that Order?
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?
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?
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?
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?"
At four o’clock the Court adjourned till tomorrow morning, nine o’clock.