Sunday, 28 April 2019

a foul-weather commander and fair-weather friends

The population of Pitcairn and Norfolk islands being descendants of the mutineers and their Tahitian consorts, master’s mate Fletcher Christian seized control from Lieutenant William Bligh on this day in 1789 and expelled him from the HMS Bounty whilst on a mission to transport breadfruit to the West Indies.
Christian and his conspirators had grown weary of Bligh’s rather harsh regimen and became rather enamoured with the Polynesian way of life and the women that they had encountered. Attempts to permanently settle in Toubouai were rebuffed by natives and in January of 1790, and they landed—divided and with a significant amount of infighting and violence, on the unpopulated, remote Pitcairn group.  The British Admiralty dispatched ships to bring these fugitives to justice but were only able to retrieve a few survivors of the original crew, stranding their children and mothers on the deserted island, the Bounty having been cannibalised and set ablaze shortly after arrival.