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Mutiny is described as an 'open revolt against constituted authority' by the Oxford English Dictionary , and could be applied to any act of insubordination or defiance by an individual, or collectively by a ship's crew. In April , 16 ships-of-the-line of the Channel fleet refused to sail, and mounted a collective mutiny at Spithead.

Their demands were concerned with improved pay and conditions, and better treatment in general. Some officers considered to ill treat their crews were sent ashore, and their permanent removal demanded. The mutiny at Spithead was conducted in a peaceful and organised manner and within a few weeks their demands had been met and a Royal Pardon granted.

The mutiny at the Nore in May was potentially more serious, as the mutineers attempted to go beyond the demands made at Spithead. They wanted more shore leave, fairer distribution of prize money, and changes to the Articles of War. When they attempted to blockade the Thames, an important trade route to London, it took a much more serious turn. The Admiralty, which must have felt it had been lenient and generous with the Spithead mutineers, was determined not to accede to any more demands.

When the government demanded the suppression of the mutiny and the Prime Minister, William Pitt the Younger, brought in a bill to outlaw the mutineers, disagreements amongst them rose to the fore. Finally, the Nore mutiny fell apart and the mutineers paid the price. Relations between Bligh and his crew deteriorated after he began handing out increasingly harsh punishments, criticism and abuse, 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. 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 and were court martialled ; four were acquitted, three were pardoned and three were hanged. Christian's group remained undiscovered on Pitcairn until , by which time only one mutineer, John Adams , 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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Royal Indian Navy mutiny - Wikipedia

No action was taken against Adams; descendants of the mutineers and their Tahitian captives live on Pitcairn into the 21st century. The generally accepted view of Bligh as an overbearing monster and Christian as a tragic victim of circumstances, as depicted in well-known film accounts, has been challenged by late 20th- and 21st-century historians from whom a more sympathetic picture of Bligh has emerged.

Nor did a cutter warrant the usual detachment of Marines that naval commanders could use to enforce their authority.


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Bounty had been acquired to transport breadfruit plants from Tahiti then rendered "Otaheite" , a Polynesian island in the south Pacific, to the British colonies in the West Indies. The expedition was promoted by the Royal Society and organised by its president Sir Joseph Banks , who shared the view of Caribbean plantation owners that breadfruit might grow well there and provide cheap food for the slaves.

The great cabin , normally the ship's captain's quarters, was converted into a greenhouse for over a thousand potted breadfruit plants, with glazed windows, skylights, and a lead-covered deck and drainage system to prevent the waste of fresh water. With Banks' agreement, command of the expedition was given to Lieutenant William Bligh , [11] whose experiences included Captain James Cook 's third and final voyage —80 in which he had served as sailing master , or chief navigator, on HMS Resolution.

After a period of idleness, Bligh took temporary employment in the mercantile service and in was captain of the Britannia , a vessel owned by his wife's uncle Duncan Campbell. Because of the limited number of warrant officers allowed on Bounty , Bligh was also required to act as the ship's purser. Bounty would thus complete a circumnavigation of the Earth in the Southern Hemisphere. Bounty' s complement was 46 men, comprising 44 Royal Navy seamen including Bligh and two civilian botanists.

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Directly beneath Bligh were his warrant officers , appointed by the Navy Board and headed by the sailing master John Fryer. These signed the ship's roster as able seamen, but were quartered with the midshipmen and treated on equal terms with them. Most of Bounty' s crew were chosen by Bligh or were recommended to him by influential patrons. Among these was the year-old Fletcher Christian , who came from a wealthy Cumberland family descended from Manx gentry.

Christian had chosen a life at sea rather than the legal career envisaged by his family. The two botanists, or "gardeners", were chosen by Banks. The chief botanist, David Nelson , was a veteran of Cook's third expedition who had been to Tahiti and had learned some of the natives' language. Among the older crew members were the year-old Peckover, who had sailed on all three of Cook's voyages, and Lawrence Lebogue, a year older and formerly sailmaker on the Britannia. Living space on the ship was allocated on the basis of rank. Bligh, having yielded the great cabin, [32] occupied private sleeping quarters with an adjacent dining area or pantry on the starboard side of the ship, and Fryer a small cabin on the opposite side.

The surgeon Thomas Huggan, the other warrant officers, and Nelson the botanist had tiny cabins on the lower deck, [33] while the master's mates and the midshipmen, together with the young gentlemen, berthed together in an area behind the captain's dining room known as the cockpit ; as junior or prospective officers, they were allowed use of the quarterdeck.

Bligh was anxious to depart quickly, to reach Cape Horn before the end of the short southern summer, [38] but the Admiralty did not accord him high priority and delayed issuing the orders for a further three weeks. When Bounty finally sailed on 28 November, the ship was trapped by contrary winds and unable to clear Spithead until 23 December. As the ship settled into her sea-going routine, Bligh introduced Cook's strict discipline regarding sanitation and diet. According to the expedition's historian Sam McKinney, Bligh enforced these rules "with a fanatical zeal, continually fuss[ing] and fum[ing] over the cleanliness of his ship and the food served to the crew.

From the start of the voyage, Bligh had established warm relations with Christian, according him a status which implied that he was Bligh's second-in-command rather than Fryer. On 2 April, as Bounty approached Cape Horn, a strong gale and high seas began an unbroken period of stormy weather which, Bligh wrote, "exceeded what I had ever met with before On 17 April, he informed his exhausted crew that the sea had beaten them, and that they would turn and head for the Cape of Good Hope—"to the great joy of every person on Board", Bligh recorded.


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  • On 24 May , Bounty anchored in False Bay , east of the Cape of Good Hope, where five weeks were spent in repairs and reprovisioning. The weather was cold and wintry, conditions akin to the vicinity of Cape Horn, and it was difficult to take navigational observations, but Bligh's skill was such that on 19 August he sighted Mewstone Rock, on the south-west corner of Tasmania and, two days later, made anchorage in Adventure Bay.

    The Bounty party spent their time at Adventure Bay in recuperation, fishing, replenishment of water casks, and felling timber. There were peaceful encounters with the native population.

    Further clashes occurred on the final leg of the journey to Tahiti. On 9 October, Fryer refused to sign the ship's account books unless Bligh provided him with a certificate attesting to his complete competence throughout the voyage. Bligh would not be coerced. He summoned the crew and read the Articles of War , at which Fryer backed down. Huggan briefly returned to duty; before Bounty' s arrival in Tahiti, he examined all on board for signs of venereal disease and found none. Bligh's first action on arrival was to secure the co-operation of the local chieftains.

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    The paramount chief Tynah remembered Bligh from Cook's voyage 15 years previously, and greeted him warmly. Bligh presented the chiefs with gifts and informed them that their own " King George " wished in return only breadfruit plants. They happily agreed with this simple request. Whether based ashore or on board, the men's duties during Bounty's five-month stay in Tahiti were relatively light. Many led promiscuous lives among the native women—altogether, 18 officers and men, including Christian, received treatment for venereal infections [70] —while others took regular partners.

    Infuriated, he wrote: "Such neglectful and worthless petty officers I believe were never in a ship such as are in this". Huggan died on 10 December. Bligh attributed this to "the effects of intemperance and indolence He was often humiliated by the captain—sometimes in front of the crew and the Tahitians—for real or imagined slackness, [70] while severe punishments were handed out to men whose carelessness had led to the loss or theft of equipment.

    Floggings, rarely administered during the outward voyage, now became increasingly common. Muspratt had recently been flogged for neglect. Among the belongings Churchill left on the ship was a list of names that Bligh interpreted as possible accomplices in a desertion plot—the captain later asserted that the names included those of Christian and Heywood. Churchill, Millward and Muspratt were found after three weeks and, on their return to the ship, were flogged.

    From February onwards, the pace of work increased; more than 1, breadfruit plants were potted and carried into the ship, where they filled the great cabin. Bligh was impatient to be away, but as Richard Hough observes in his account, he "failed to anticipate how his company would react to the severity and austerity of life at sea In their Bounty histories, both Hough and Alexander maintain that the men were not at a stage close to mutiny, however sorry they were to leave Tahiti.

    The journal of James Morrison , the boatswain's mate, supports this. Christian was a particular target, always seeming to bear the brunt of the captain's rages. On 22 April , Bounty arrived at Nomuka , in the Friendly Islands now called Tonga , intending to pick up wood, water, and further supplies on the final scheduled stop before the Endeavour Strait.

    He put Christian in charge of the watering party and equipped him with muskets, but at the same time ordered that the arms should be left in the boat, not carried ashore.


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    He returned to the ship with his task incomplete, and was cursed by Bligh as "a damned cowardly rascal". When he finally gave the order to sail, neither the anchor nor the adze had been restored.

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