--Text from Mutiny and Romance in the South Seas: A Companion to the Bounty
Adventure by Sven Wahlroos. Used by permission. See Book
Recommendations for more information about this book.
MILLWARD, John Able-bodied seaman on the Bounty;
mutineer; stayed on Tahiti; survived the wreck of the Pandora;
found guilty at the court-martial and hanged. Millward was born
in Plymouth and was twenty-one years old when he mustered on the
Bounty. He was one of the more literate of the seamen on
Blighs description of Millward, written after the mutiny,
reads as follows:
[JOHN MILLWARD] 22 years, 5 feet 5 inches high. Brown complexion.
Dark hair, strong made. Tattooed under the pit of the stomach
with a taoomy or breastplate of Otaheite.
Millward deserted on Tahiti together with Churchill and Muspratt
and, when caught, received forty-eight lashes in two installments
with just enough time in between (January 23 to February 4, 1789)
for a thin scab to have formed on the exposed flesh of the grisly
In the beginning of the mutiny Millward had been reluctant to
join in, at one point saying to Churchill: No, Charles, you
brought me into one Predicament already, and Ill take Care
you dont bring me into another. However, although he
wavered in choosing sides, he did take up a musket and never made
any attempt to get into the launch.
Millward preferred to take his chances on Tahiti rather than go
to some unknown island with Christian. He was very friendly with
one of chief Poinos wives and actually had a son with her.
He was one of the ten men who helped Morrison build the schooner
Resolution and he took part in the military campaigns designed
to help Teina (Mate) gain supremacy over the other districts on
When the Pandora arrived, Milward was one of the men who
made the futile attempt to hide in the mountains. He survived the
wreck of the Pandora only to be found guilty at the court-martial
and hanged. His speech before the execution was quoted in the October
1792 commentary in Part I.
MORRISON, James Boatswains mate on the Bounty;
loyalist; stayed on the Bounty; survived the wreck of the
Pandora, returned to England; found guilty at the court-martial;
received the Kings pardon.
Morrison was born in London and was twenty-seven years old when
he mustered on the Bounty. He was of good birth
and well educated. In 1782 he had been a midshipman in HMS Termagant,
a sloop of war (whose commander, Captain Charles Stirling, was later
to write a character reference for Morrison during his court-martial).
The main reason Morrison accepted a lesser position on the Bounty
seems to have been his desire to sail to the South Seas.
After the mutiny, Bligh described Morrison as follows:
[JAMES MORRISON] Boatswains Mate, 28 years, 5 feet 8 inches
high. Sallow complexion. Long black hair. Slender made. Lost the
use of the first joint of the forefinger of the right hand. Tattooed
with star under his left breast and a garter round his left leg,
with the motto honi soit qui mal y pense. Has been wounded
in one of his arms with a musket ball.
Morrison was in Fryers watch. At the court-martial, the
Bountys sailing master described him in just a few
words: A steady, sober, attentive, good, Man.
Bligh always portrayed himself as being a perfect commander and
his ship as being the happiest that ever sailed an ocean. It is
thanks to Morrison that we have a check on Blighs accuracy.
The cheese incident was referred to in the February
1788 commentary in Part I. Bligh never mentioned it in his log or
journal, but Morrison did. Most of Blighs comments about the
crew of the ship have to be read with grains of salt. Take, for
example, Blighs entry for March 23, 1788, the day the Bounty
started her valiant but unsuccessful attempt to round the horn:
In the morning I killed a sheep and served it to the ships
company, which gave them a pleasant meal.
Morrisons corresponding entry reads:
One of the sheep dying, this morning Lieut. Bligh orderd
it to be issued in lieu of the days allowance of pork and
pease, declaring that it would make a delicious meal and that
it weighed upwards of fifty pounds; it was divided and most part
of it thrown overboard, and some dried shark supplyd its place
for Sundays dinner, for it was no other than skin and bone.
Morrison did not take part in the mutiny. Later, at the court-martial,
he was to say that he had stayed on board in the hope of forming
a party to retake the ship. No attempt to do so seems to have been
made, however. Christian, by the way, promoted Morrison to boatswain
on the Bounty.
Morrison was an excellent amateur anthropologist and ethnographer
and a natural storyteller. The narrative he later wrote about his
experiences on Tahiti and his observations of life of the Tahitians
has become a treasure trove of information for all who are interested
It was Morrison who initiated and supervised the building of a
European-type ship on Tahiti (see the November 1788 and March and
July 1790 commentaries in Part I). In this he was assisted by his
taio Poino, the chief of Haapape.
On the open-boat voyage after the wreck of the Pandora
Morrison appears to have been the only one of the prisoners who
dared speak up against Edwards incredibly harsh treatment
of the Bounty men:
On the 9th [September] I was laying on the oars talking to McIntosh
when Captain Edwards ordered me aft. Without assigning any cause,
he ordered me to be pinnioned with a cord and lasshd down
in the boats bottom. Ellison who was then asleep in the
boats bottom was ordered to the same punishment. I attempted
to reason and enquire what I had now done to be thus cruelly treated,
urging the distressd situation of the whole, but received
for answer, Silence, you murdering villain are you
not a prisoner? You piratical dog, what better treatment do you
I then told him that it was a disgrace to the captain of a British
man o war to treat a prisoner in such an inhuman manner,
upon which he started up in a violent rage, and snatching a pistol
which lay in the stern sheets threatened to shoot me. I still
attempted to speak, when he sword By God! If you speak another
word Ill heave the log with you!
Finding that he would hear no reason and my mouth eing parched
so that I could not move my tongue, I was forced to be silent
and submit; and was tyed down so that I could not move.
In this miserable situation, Ellison and I remained for the
rest of the passage, nor was McIntosh suffered to come near or
speak to either of us.
During the court-martial Morrison, like Heywood, was badly damaged
by the testimonies of Hayward and Hallett. The fact that he received
a Kings pardon after being found guilty and condemned to death
was certainly not due to family influence. It may, at least in part,
be due to the fact that he had written to Reverend Howell (see the
December 1792 commentary in Part I), who probably circulated Morrisons
writings among the Navy personnel stationed at Portsmouth. Or it
may simply be that Morrison and Heywood were recommended to mercy
because the court was favorably impressed by them and uncertain
about the validity of the evidence against them.
If Morrisons writings had been published, they would have
proved quite embarrassing not only to Bligh, but indirectly also
to Sir Joseph Banks.
Similarly, Morrisons charges against Edwards could have
created a scandal, and it was not in the national interest to have
the extraordinary harshness of some Navy commanders exposed, especially
at a time when mutiny was in the air (erupting only
a few years later in the spectacular mutiny at the Nore). Morrisons
pardon may even have involved an unofficial agreement that he was
not to publish his narrative during his lifetime (he had planned
to publish it in February 1793), although this is pure speculation.
Morrison was a good friend of Peter Heywood and gave him a copy
of his narrative which, after Heywods death, was published
in part by Heywoods stepdaughter, Lady Diana Belcher, in her
book The Mutineers of the Bounty and their Descendants in Pitcairn
and Norfolk Islands (1870). Extracts had appeared in 1799, 1825
Morrison stayed in the Navy. He made his last voyage as chief
gunner in HMS Blenheim, the 740gun flagship of Admiral Sir
Thomas Troubridge which was based at Penang in the East India Station.
The ship went down with all hands in a violent gale off the Isle
of Bourbon (Reunion) on February 1, 1807.
MUSPRATT, William Able-bodied seaman, tailor, and assistant to the cook on the Bounty; mutineer; stayed on Tahiti; survived the wreck of the Pandora; was found guilty and condemned to death at the court-martial; released on appeal of verdict.
Muspratt was born in Yarmouth and was twenty-seven years old when he signed on the Bounty. Blighs description of him, written after the mutiny, reads as follows:
[WILLIAM MUSPRATT] 30 years, 5 feet 6 inches high. Dark complexion, brown hair, slender made. Very strong black beard under his scarred chin. Tattooed in several places.
On Tahiti Muspratt was the third seaman to be flogged. On December 27, 1788, he received a dozen lashes for an unspecified neglect of duty. Nine days later, he deserted together with Churchill and Millward. On being caught towards the end of January, he received two dozen lashes on a back that could hardly have been healed by then, and the punishment was repeated on February 4: sixty lashes in less than six weeks. The desertion is described in the January 1789 commentary in Part 1
On the morning of the mutiny Muspratt and the cook, Thomas Hall, were sitting by the starboard fore scuttle splitting wood for the falley. Muspratt joined the mutineers and armed himself with a musket when ordered to do so by Churchill, although he would later claim at his trial that he had done so only with a view to helping in any attempt the officers might have made to put down the mutiny. He appears to have been vacillating in his loyalty.
Muspratt remained on Tahiti when Christian sailed away for good. He helped Morrison in the building of he schooner Resolution and he took part in the military operations designed to help chief Teina (Mate) become supreme ruler over Tahiti.
When the Pandora arrived, he and most of the mutineers fled to the mountains in the vain hope of escaping capture. He survived the wreck of the Pandora and reached England to stand trial for his role in the mutiny.
Although he, assisted by his excellent attorney Stephen Barney (there is no indication anywhere of how he, alone, among the common seamen, was able to afford an attorney), put on an excellent defense, he was found guilty and sentenced to be hanged. The story of his appeal and its result was told in the September and October 1792 and the February 1793 commentaries in Part 1.
The fate of Muspratt after he was freed is unknown to [Wahlroos].
[At http://www.lareau.org/muspratt.html, Paul Lareau provides this additional information on Muspratts fate: On 19 Aug 1793, he made and executed a will naming his brother, Joseph, as his executor. This will went through limited probate in Jan 1798, indicating that William was deceased, and had most recently been serving on the HMS Bellerophon.]
NELSON, David Botanist on theBounty; loyalist; went with Bligh; died on Timor. The Kings intention to send out an expedition for the purpose of gathering breadfruit plants for the West Indies was spelled out in a letter to the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty written by Lord Sydney, a Principal Secretary of State. The letter was dated May 5, 1787, and contained the following paragraph:
Mr David Nelson and Mr William Brown, Gardeners by Profession, have from their Knowledge of Trees and Plants been hired for the Purpose of selecting such as appear to be of a proper Species and Size and it is His Majestys Pleasure that your Lordships do order those Persons to be received on board the said Vessel and to be borne for Wages and Victuals during the voyage.
Nelson knew Bligh from before: they had both sailed with Cook on his third voyage (1776-1780), Nelson on the Discovery and Bligh as sailing master in the Resolution. He was originally a Kew gardener and had been selected as botanist on Cooks voyage by Sir Joseph Banks who personally paid for his expenses. Captain Charles Clerke, who commanded the Discovery, wrote to Banks that Nelson was one of the quietest fellows in nature.
Nelson also knew Peckover, of course, that lover of the South Seas who had been on all three of Cooks voyages.
During the voyage Nelson simply went about his business, collecting plants of all sorts in addition to the breadfruit shoots. He seems to have been liked by everyone on board, even by Bligh.
During the mutiny Nelson was kept below deck under guard. Alexander McKee in H.M.S. Bounty (1962) quotes Nelson as saying to William Peckover, the veteran gunner: The ship is taken. It is by our own people, and Mr. Christian at their head. But we know whose fault it is. (See also Du Rietz, 1965, pp. 22-23 and 59.)
Both men choose to go into the launch with Bligh. On the open-boat voyage Nelson was among the weakest and almost died before Timor was reached. On July 20, 1789, Nelson died in Coupang from a tropical fever. Bligh wrote:
. . . I have had the Misfortune to loose Mr. Nelson the Botanist
whose good Conduct in the course of the whole Voyage and Manly
fortitude in our late disastrous circumstances deserves this tribute
to his Memory.
NORMAN, Charles Carpenters mate on the Bounty; loyalist; kept on board against his will; survived the wreck of the Pandora; acquitted at court-martial. Norman was born in Portsmouth and was twenty-four years old when the Bounty sailed from Spithead. He was married and had children. His physical description, given by Bligh after the mutiny, reads as follows:
[CHARLES NORMAN] Carpenters Mate, 26 years, 5 feet 9 inches high. Fair complexion, light-brown hair, slender made. Pitted by the smallpox, and has a remarkable motion with his head and eyes.
At the court-martial, William Purcell, the Bountys carpenter and Normans immediate superior, described him as sober, diligent, and attentive.
Norman was in Christians watch during the mutiny and was observing the movements of an enormous shark, unaware that the mutineers were arming themselves. Actually the fact that Norman spotted the shark provided Christian with the perfect excuse to get the key to the arms chest from armorer Coleman: he simply said he was going to shoot a shark.
Christian did not want to force Purcell, the carpenter, to stay on board; Purcell was a very stubborn and difficult man to deal with, as Bligh had found out to his chagrin. But carpenters were needed on board and this is why Norman and McIntosh, both carpenters mates, were forced to stay (it is possible that only one would have been kept, if the launch had not been so deeply laden already). Both of them called out to Bligh to remember that they had been kept on board against their will.
On Tahiti, Norman and McIntosh were extremely helpful to Morrison in his ship-building project and they certainly deserve a great deal of the credit for the schooner turning out so well.
When the Pandora arrived, Norman was as shocked as the other loyalists when he was put in irons, especially since he and McIntosh had specifically called out to Bligh to remember that they were innocent. The only advantage he received on the Pandora and it may have saved his life was that he, together with McIntosh and Coleman (the three whom Bligh had specified as deserving mercy), was released to help in manning the pumps when the ship was foundering.
Norman experienced no real difficulties during the court-martial and was acquitted of all complicity in the mutiny. Indirectly and unwittingly, he was instrumental in effecting Muspratts release on a technicality. Muspratt had asked that Norman, against whom there was no evidence, be released so that he could given testimony in Muspratts behalf. The court had refused, Muspratt claimed his rights had been violated, and his verdict was overturned on appeal.
Normans activities after the court-martial are unknown to
NORTON, John Quartermaster on the Bounty; loyalist; went with Bligh; killed by natives on Tofua. Norton was born in Liverpool and was thirty-four years old when the Bounty sailed from Spithead. He was one of the six me on board who had sailed with Bligh before and one of the four (the others being Christian, Lebogue, and Ellison) who had been with Bligh in the merchant ship Britannia.
Norton went with Bligh in the launch during the mutiny but was killed by the natives of Tofua in the Tonga islands on May 2, 1789, as he attempted to unfasten the sternline of the launch in which Bligh and the loyalists tried to escape. The natives overpowered him and beat him to death with rocks. It was in large part due to his sacrifice that the escape was successful.
According to Purcell, the carpenter, the launch had only a seven and a half inch freeboard and was often in danger of being swamped on the voyage to Timor. No wonder, then, that the Reverend James Bligh, one of the captains relatives, later wrote:
I have heard Captain Bligh say it was, with respect to the boats crew, a fortunate circumstance, for he [Norton] was the stoutest man in the ship, which circumstance would very materially have interfered with the boats progress and the allowance of provisions.
The place where Norton was killed was henceforth known as Murderers
Cove. As the surgeon of the Pandora later remarked:
Murderers Cove, in the Friendly Isles, is saying a volume
on the subject.
PECKOVER, William Gunner on the Bounty; loyalist;
went with Bligh; arrived safely in England. Peckover was the real
old South Seas hand on board the Bounty. He had
been on all three of Cooks voyages and, since Cook visited
Tahiti four times (twice on the second voyage), his visit on the
breadfruit expedition was his fifth, this of course, was the reason
why Bligh put Peckover in charge of all trading with the Tahitians.
He spoke the language fluently and had an excellent understanding
of Tahitian customs and ways of thinking.
On the night of the mutiny, Peckover was in charge of the watch from midnight to 4:00 a.m., the one preceding Christians. When the mutiny broke out he was kept below deck under guard until it was time for the loyalists to go into the launch.
Peckover was a brave man. On Tofua, when ordered by Bligh to single-handedly take the ships log from the cave to the launch through a hostile crowd of natives armed with spears and slings, he did so without hesitation, boldly pushing his way through the warriors who, judging the book to be something of value, made repeated attempts to wrestle it from him. He succeeded in breaking through with the log; if he had not, we would have known less about the whole affair today, and a brave man would have met a premature death.
At the court-martial, Peckover was one of the witnesses who confirmed Heywoods innocence. Even though Heywood was convicted, it is likely that Peckovers testimony contributed to his being given a Kings pardon. Later he was to declare that the facts, as given in Edward Christians Appendix, were substantially accurate.
Peckover loved Tahiti and the South Seas. Even though he did not
particularly care for Bligh, he applied for a position as gunner
on the Providence, but Bligh turned him down. In a letter
to Sir Joseph Banks dated July 17, 1781 (two weeks before Bligh
sailed on the second breadfruit expedition), he writes:
Should Peckover my late Gunner ever trouble you to render him further services I shall esteem it a favor if you will tell him I informed you he was a vicious and worthless fellow He applied to me to render him service & wanted to be appointed Gunner of the Providence but as I had determined never to suffer an officer who was with me in the Bounty to sail with again, it was for the cause I did not apply for him.
The vicious and worthless fellow had been highly esteemed by Captain Cook. The letter shows Blighs vindictiveness in sharp focus and it had nothing to do with Peckovers testimony in favor of Heywood, nor with his confirmation of the facts in Edward Christians Appendix, since Bligh sailed long before the accused mutineers were brought to England.
Peckovers later fate is unknown to me.
PURCELL, William Carpenter on board the Bounty; loyalist; went with Bligh; arrived safely in England. In the Bounty literature, Purcell has uniformly been portrayed as a cantankerous man, a perpetual trouble-maker, and somewhat of a sea-lawyer. It is possible that such was the case and there is no doubt that Purcell was a constant thorn in his captains side. However, we only have Blighs description of him, and Bligh disliked him so intensely that he could hardly be seen as an objective judge of Purcells character and personality. It is just as possible that Purcell simply was his own man, conscious of his competence and his dignity as a human being, and would not let himself be intimidated by Bligh an attitude which of course would have infuriated the captain.
Purcell was a loyalist only in the sense that the paid allegiance to the Crown and thereby to Blighs uniform but certainly not to Bligh as a person, a man whom he detested.
Purcell was proud of his profession and of his skills and, like Fryer, he was not about to take Blighs abuse lying down. In fact, what enraged Bligh the most during the entire voyage apart from the mutiny of course was Purcells assertion on Sunday Island: I am as good a man as you.
Bligh was a vindictive and petty man, so Purcell was probably not too surprised when Bligh brought charges against him: six counts of misconduct, insubordination, refractory behaviour, etc. The verdict of the court, which met immediately after Blighs brief court-martial on October 22, 1790, was that the charges had been proven in part, and Purcell was therefore reprimanded.
During the court-martial of the accused mutineers, Purcell damaged Heywoods case by saying that he had seen the acting midshipman with his hand on the hilt of a cutlass. However, his impression was that Heywood was confused at the time. Also, Heywood had dropped the cutless immediately when Purcell had asked: In the name of God, Peter, what do you do with that? He did not consider Heywood a mutineer.
After the court-martial, Purcell was helpful to Edward Christian
in the latters attempts to gather all the facts pertaining
to the mutiny that had been omitted by Bligh. His later pursuits
are unknown, but Sir John Barrow, in The Eventful History of the
Mutiny and Piratical Seizure of HMS Bounty, claims Purcell
was in a madhouse in 1831, and George Mackaness, in
The Life of Vice-admiral William Bligh, says he died at Haslar Hospital
on March 10, 1834, the last survivor of the Bounty.
QUINTAL, Matthew Able-bodied seaman on the Bounty; mutineer; went with Christian; murdered by Adams on Pitcairn. The description Bligh wrote of Quintal after the mutiny reads as follows:
[MATTHEW QUINTAL] seaman, age 21 years, 5 feet 5 inches high, fair complexion, light brown hair, strong made; very much tatowed on the backside, and several other places.
Quintal, a Cornishman from Padstow, was twenty-one years old when he mustered on the Bounty. Together with his crony, William McCoy, he had transferred from HMS Triumph which was anchored at Spithead at the time.
Quintal had a brutal nature and was one of the troublemakers on the Bounty, the first one to be flogged. On March 11, 1788, Bligh wrote in his logbook:
Until this afternoon I had hopes I could have performed the voyage without punishment to any one, but I found it necessary to punish Matthew Quintal with 2 dozen lashes for insolence and mutinous behaviour.
The insolence and mutinous behaviour had actually been directed at the sailing master, John Fryer, rather than at Bligh.
Quintal could not have had any real animosity towards Fryer, however, because on Nomuka he saved his life. On April 26, 1789 (two days before the mutiny), Fryer headed a watering party on the island. Natives were crowding around the men when Quintal suddenly shouted: Mr. Fryer, theres a man going to knock you down with his club. Fryer turned around and the native lowered his club and ran away.
Quintal was in Christians watch. He was the second man Christian turned to with his plan to take over the ship (Isaac Martin had initially refused cooperation). He was immediately for the idea and started to recruit others among the men that he thought could be counted on. He and McCoy and Churchill were probably the most active among the mutineers.
Quintal, unlike Christian, was a born mutineer. Not only was he the first to be flogged on the Bounty for insolence and mutinous behavior, but he, together with John Sumner, was also the first to oppose Christian. He and Sumner had gone ashore on Tubuai without leave, and they had spent the night. When they returned to the ship, Christian asked what their reason had been to disobey orders. They then answered, The ship is moord and we are now our own masters. To show them who was master, Christian had them clapped into irons until the next day.
It was Quintal who set fire to the Bounty only five days after the arrival at Pitcairn and before the settlers had had a chance to remove everything of value from the ship.
On Pitcairn, Quintal was the leader in the oppression of the Polynesians. On Massacre Day, September 20, 1793, he barely escaped being killed by the Polynesians by fleeing to the mountains together with McCoy.
Quintal was not only cruel to the Polynesian men but he also abused his consort Tevarua. In her book on the history of the island, Rosalind Young tells the story handed down through the years that Tevarua one day went fishing and did not catch enough to satisfy him, whereupon he punished her by biting off her ear. He could well have been drunk at the time, because he and McCoy were the chief consumers of the ti-root brandy which the latter had succeeded in distilling. Tevarua fell or, more probably, threw herself off a cliff and died in 1799.
Captain Beechey, who was the only visitor ever to see Edward Youngs journal (in 1825), states that Quintal was executed by Adams and Young later in 1799 after having made an attempt against their lives (another account claimed he had threatened to kill the children Mauatua had had with Christian).
With Tevarua (Sarah), Quintal had two sons (Matt and
Arthur) and two daughters (Jenny and Sarah). A fifth child died
at the age of seven days. Quintal also had a posthumous son, Edward,
with Teraura.,Youngs original consort. At the time of writing
(September 1988) there are no Quintals on Pitcairn, but many of
the descendants have made their home on Norfolk Island and in New
[HMS (HMAV) Bounty] [Crew List]