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  • Title
    Series 71: Papers concerning the discovery of Pitcairn Island and the mutineers of HMS Bounty,1808-1809, 1813-1815, [1845]
  • Level of description
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  • Physical Description
    9 items of textual material
  • Scope and Content
    Following the mutiny on HMS Bounty on 28 April 1789,William Bligh and his followers were forced off the ship intoa longboat in which they successfully navigated their passagevia Torres Strait to Timor. The mutineers, lead by Fletcher Christian,returned to Tahiti to collect livestock and other provisions.Then sailed to the Tubuai Islands returning to Tahiti after someweeks. Here 16 of Christian's party elected to remain where theywere picked up by Captain Edward Edwards in the Pandora in March1791.

    Christian and his followers determined to leave Tahitifor a less obvious and therefore safer destination. Taking withthem a group of Tahitians, mostly women, they sailed from Tahitiin September 1789.

    Nothing further was known of the mutineers who hadremained on the Bounty until the arrival at Pitcairn Island in1808 of the American ship Topaz, Captain Mayhew Folger. When Folgerlanded at Pitcairn Island he was surprised to meet the Englishand Tahitian speaking descendants of the mutineers and the onesurviving member of the Bounty crew, Alexander Smith, now knownas John Adams. Adams was able to relate the fate of the mutineerson Pitcairn who had remained undetected for so long because ofan error in charting the location of the island.

    After arriving at the island and removing anythingthat could be useful, the Bounty was burnt to help avoid detectionand, presumably, defection. All the mutineers had been killed,including Christian, by the jealous male Tahitians about fouror five years after settling on the island. Adams alone surviveddespite injuries. The Tahitian men in turn were killed by thewomen in vengeance for the deaths of their English husbands.

    Despite this loss, the Pitcairn community had grownto around 35 or 40 people under the benevolent guidance of Adams.

    On 17 September 1814 the ships Briton, Captain SirThomas Staines, and Ingus, Captain P. Pipon, arrived unexpectedlyat Pitcairn Island. Staines and Pipon were equally impressed bythe state of the community and by its patriarch John Adams. Staines,in reporting the visit to the Admiralty, recommended that Adamsbe allowed to remain on Pitcairn for the good of the people underhis care.
  • General note

    Document 1 in this series was previously locatedat ML A84. It was part of an accession of Banks papers purchasedfor the Mitchell Library from Sotheby's, London, in May 1929.

    The remaining documents in this series, documents2-9, were previously located at ML A77. They were purchased in1884 from Lord Brabourne by Sir Saul Samuel, the Agent-Generalfor New South Wales and transferred to the Mitchell Library in1910. They were part of the accession which became known as theBrabourne collection.
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