--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.
SAMUEL, John Clerk on the Bounty; loyalist; went
with Bligh; arrived safely in England. Samuel was born in Edinburgh
and was twenty-six years old when the Bounty left England.
He seems to have been universally disliked on board. In practice
he was Blighs personal servant as much as he was the ships
From Tenerife, in January 1788, Bligh wrote to his wifes
uncle, Duncan Campbell: . . . as my Pursing [Bligh was also
purser on board] depends on much circumspection and being ignorant
in it with a worthless clerk, I have some embarrassment, but as
I trust nothing to anyone and keep my accounts clear, if I fail
in rules of office I do not doubt of getting the better of it.
The worthless clerk is Samuel who actually was very
efficient and whom Bligh was later to praise in his journal. The
embarrassment refers almost certainly to the cheese
incident (see the February 1788 commentary in Part I). When
Bligh said two cheeses had been stolen, Hillbrant said they had
been taken to Blighs home on Samuels orders, a statement
which threw Bligh into one of his frequent uncontrollable rages.
It is probable that Bligh in his letter wanted to lay the grounds
for blaming Samuel if the details of the pursing ever
were to be questioned by the Admiralty.
At the time of the mutiny, the idea seems to have been only to
get rid of Bligh, Hayward, Hallett, and Samuel, the most disliked
men on board. The plan had to be abandoned, however, when it turned
out that many others preferred leaving the ship to being considered
There is no doubt that Samuel was very effective during the mutiny
in gathering up as many of Blighs possessions as he could
grab hold of and getting them into the launch past the scrutiny
of the mutineers. Yet, when it came to Samuels turn to enter
the launch, he had to be forced overboard.
When Bligh left Batavia on the Vlydte, he took only Samuel and
John Smith (his steward and personal cook) with him.
SIMPSON, George Quartermasters mate on the Bounty;
loyalist; went with Bligh; arrived safely in England. Simpson was
born in Kendal, Westmorland, and was twenty-seven years old when
the Bounty sailed from Spithead. He is not mentioned much
in the literature about the mutiny, but we do know that he was part
of the anti-Bligh group in the Bountys
launch. Although he returned to England, he was not present at the
court-martial of the accused mutineers, and Heywood mentioned specifically
in the summary of his defense that Simpsons absence militated
against the successful prosecution of his case.
SKINNER, Richard Able-bodied seaman and barber on the Bounty;
mutineer; stayed on Tahiti; drowned when the Pandora sank.
Skinner was born in Tunbridge Wells and was twenty-one when he mustered
on the Bounty. Among his other duties on board he seems to
have been Fryers servant.
Blighs description of Skinner, written after the mutiny,
reads as follows:
[RICHARD SKINNER] 22 years, 5 feet 8 inches high. Fair complexion,
light-brown hair, very well made. Scars on both ankles and on
right shin. It is tattooed, and by trade a Hair Deeper.
Skinner was badly hurt at Cape Town but does not seem
to have received any permanent injury.
He was an active mutineer and seemed to have been on the point
of shooting into the launch, probably aiming at Bligh, when someone
next to him knocked his musket aside.
Skinner stayed on Tahiti when Christian and his party sailed in
search of an island refuge. He had a daughter with his Tahitian
Skinner drowned with his hands till manacled when the Pandora
SMITH, Alexander See ADAMS, JOHN, John Adams appears as
Alexander Smith in the Bountys muster book. Why he
chose to sail under this alias will probably never be known (some
have assumed he did so in order to hide a criminal past). The somewhat
delicate question was apparently not raised by any of the sea captains
who interviewed him, or, if it was, the answer was not recorded.
SMITH, John Able-bodied seaman and Blighs servant
on the Bounty; loyalist; went with Bligh; arrived safely
in England. Smith was thirty-six years old when he mustered on the
Bounty. He was born in Sterling.
During the mutiny, Christian ordered smith to serve rum to everyone
under arms. It must have galled Bligh to see his own servant being
ordered to cater to the mutineers. There is little mention, otherwise,
of Smith in the Bounty literature. He sailed home to England
with his master in the Vlydte.
At the court-martial of the accused mutineers, Smith testified
that he had seen neither Heywood, nor Morrison, under arms.
His later fate is unknown to me.
STEWART, George Midshipman on the Bounty, promoted
to acting masters mate when Christian was made acting lieutenant;
loyalist; kept on board against his will; drowned when the Pandora
Stewart was well educated and from a fairly good family
in the Orkneys. Bligh had been well taken care of by Stewarts
family when the Resolution called at the Orkneys on the way
home from the South Pacific, and Bligh had then promised to see
what he could do for young George. He seems to have written to the
family offering a berth to George when it became clear that he would
lead the breadfruit expedition. Initially, Bligh considered Stewart
a good seaman who had always borne a good character.
Stewart was twenty-one years old when he joined the Bounty.
On board, he ate in Christians mess together with Peter Heywood
and Robert Tinkler.
On Tahiti, Stewart seems to have fallen in love with a woman he
called Peggy, the daughter of a prominent chief called
Tepahu. Yet there is absolutely no indication that he wanted to
remain on the island or in any way supported or approved of the
Stewart was a good friend of Christians and did his best
to dissuade him from putting his suicidal plan to escape on a raft
into effect. It was in this connection, however, that he uttered
those fatal words which probably triggered the idea of mutiny in
Christians mind: The men are ripe for anything!
It is virtually certain that Stewart meant those words to appeal
to Christians sense of duty: he, as the most popular officer
on board, was needed to control the men.
Heywood, who knew Stewart well and spent a year and a half with
him on Tahiti, always became incensed when anyone insinuated that
Stewart had meant to suggest mutiny to Christian. Heywood considered
it a slur on the memory of a fine officer and so it was and so it
During the Mutiny, Stewart was kept under guard below deck. Bligh
was later to claim that, when the launch was cast off, he saw Stewart
come on deck and dance a Tahitian dance. No one else saw it.
Blighs description of Stewart, written after the mutiny,
reads as follows:
[GEORGE STEWART] midshipman, 23 years, 5 feet 7 inches high.
Good complexion, dark hair, slender made, narrow-chested and long-necked
on his left breast tattooed a star and also one on his
left arm, on which likewise is tattooed heart with darts
tattooed on backside very small features.
After the mutiny Christian appointed Stewart his second in command.
The fact that Stewart accepted shows only a sober appraisal of reality;
he was needed to navigate the ship, and was not involved in any
agreement with Christian in the act of mutiny. He was not very popular
with the men, because he was a very strict disciplinarian.
Stewart kept a journal which was later partly abstracted by Captain
Edwards; the original was lost with the Pandora.
On Tahiti, Stewart and Heywood developed a close relationship.
Stewart was formally married in the Tahitian manner to Peggy (we
do not know her Tahitian name) and had a daughter with her.
In the April 1791 commentary in Part I of this book we have described
the heart-rending scenes that occurred when Stewart and the rest
of the Bounty men were confined in Pandoras
box and when the ship left. We will never know if Stewart
would have been acquitted or condemned to death at the court-martial,
had he survived, but his death with still manacled hands when the
Pandora foundered will remain an eternal disgrace to Captain
SUMNER, John Able-bodied seaman on the Bounty; mutineer;
stayed on Tahiti; drowned when the Pandora foundered. Sumner
was born in Liverpool and was twenty-two years old when he signed
on the Bounty. Blighs description of Sumner, written
after the mutiny, reads as follows:
[JOHN SUMNER] 24 years, 5 feet 8 inches high. Fair complexion,
brown hair. Slender made, a scar on the left cheek and tattooed
in several places.
The first significant mention of Sumner in the Bounty literature
is on April 12, 1789, sixteen days before the mutiny, when he was
given twelve lashes for an unspecified neglect of duty.
It was the last flogging on board before the mutiny.
Sumner took an active part in the insurrection; he and Quintal
stood guard over Fryer and also kept Peckover and Nelson from coming
On Tubuai, Sumner and Quintal were the first to disobey orders
from Christian (by spending the night on shore without leave) and
were, as punishment, clapped into irons for one day.
Sumner elected to stay on Tahiti when Christian sailed from the
island for the last time. He accepted an invitation by chief Temarii
to settle in Papara and took part in the military campaigns designed
to help Pomare I (then called Mate) gain supremacy over Tahiti.
When the Pandora arrived, he joined the other mutineers in
running to the mountains to hide.
John Sumner drowned with his hands still manacled when the Pandora
THOMPSON, Matthew Able-bodied seaman on the Bounty;
mutineer; killed on Tahiti. Thompson was born on the Isle of Wight
and was thirty-seven years old when he signed on the Bounty.
Blighs description of Thompson, written after the mutiny,
reads as follows:
[MATTHEW THOMPSON] A.B. 40 years, 5 feet 8 inches high. Very
dark complexion, short black hair. Slender made. Has lost the
joint of the great toe of his right foot. Is tattooed.
Thompson was perhaps the most brutal man on the Bounty
and that is saying much when one considers that Churchill and Quintal
and McCoy were also on board.
On Tahiti, Thompson was given twelve lashes with the cat-o-nine-tails
for insolence and disobedience of orders.
During the mutiny Thompson was one of the first to join Christian.
It was he who kept guard over the arms chest to prevent the loyalists
from arming themselves.
Thompson does not seem to have been liked by anyone on the Bounty.
Churchill, also a brutal man but with some capacity for friendship,
seems to have tolerated him, however, and the two were often seen
together on Tahiti.
Thompson may have been the only Bounty man who did not
have a taio and the women, sensing his brutal nature, probably shunned
him. On February 8, 1790, Thompson tried to rape the daughter of
a chief. His brother ran to her assistance, knocked Thompson down,
and ran off. Thompson in his rage swore that he would kill the first
Tahitian he saw. When he came to his hut, there was the usual crowd
assembled around it, curious about the doings of popaas (white
men) and Thompson told them to disperse. Not understanding him,
the crowd remained. Thompson then took his musket and shot into
the crowd, killing a father and a baby he was holding and breaking
the mothers jaw.
Thompson, fearing reprisals, fled to Taiarapu where Churchill
was living with his taio, chief Vehiatua. The chief soon died without
leaving any male offspring and, in accordance with old Tahitian
custom, Churchill succeeded him.
Thompson, incapable of any real friendship, soon became envious
of Churchill and moved to another district. Not trusting Thompson,
Churchill ordered his servants to steal Thompsons muskets,
which they did. Thompson suspected Churchill right away and went
to confront him. Churchill swore that he knew nothing about it and
the two became friends again.
One day, however, Churchill had beaten his servant Maititi mercilessly
for some minor offense, and the latter took revenge by telling Thompson
the truth about the theft of the muskets. Thompson then killed Churchill.
The killing of a chief had to be avenged, however, so the Tahitians
who had been Churchills subjects after lulling Thompson
into security by pretending that they now recognized him as their
new chief jumped him when he was off guard and bashed his
head in with a rock.
TINKLER, Robert Able-bodied seaman on the Bounty;
loyalist; went with Bligh; arrived safly in England. Tinkler was
born at Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk, in 1770, so he was seventeen
years old when he joined the Bounty. He was the youngest
brother-in-law of the sailing master, John Fryer. Bligh refers to
Tinkler as Boy, but he seems to actually have occupied
a position halfway between able-bodied seaman and midshipman and
was called Mr. Tinkler by the other seamen. He was in Christians
mess together with Stewart and Heywood.
There is little mention of Tinkler in the Bounty literature.
He seems to have been in the anti-Bligh group on the open-boat voyage.
Bligh claims that, while at Coupang, Tinkler had been impertinent
to William Cole, the boatswain, and that Fryer on that occasion
had told his brother-in-law to stick his knife into Cole! The story
sounds highly improbable, but perhaps both Tinkler and Fryer were
drunk at the time.
Tinkler was present at the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801 as first
lieutenant in the Isis while Fryer was sailing master in Admiral
Parkers flagship London and Bligh commanded the Glatton. Tinkler
was promoted to commander after the engagement.
VALENTINE, James Able-bodied seaman on the Bounty;
died from an infection on October 9, 1788, a few weeks before the
ship reached Tahiti.
Valentine was born in Montrose and was twenty-eight years old
when he joined the Bounty. He was one of the youngest and
healthiest seamen on board. When the Bounty stopped at Adventure
Bay, however, he had felt somewhat indisposed (he may have been
suffering from asthma) and made the mistake of consulting Dr. Huggan,
the alcoholic ships surgeon. Huggan bled him, his arm became
infected, the infection spread, and Valentine got worse with every
Bligh was not told about the mans serious condition until
he was dying, an example of how incredibly poor communication was
on board the small ship. Valentine was buried at sea with
all the decency in our power, he was the first of the Bountys
crew to die.
WILLIAMS, John Able-bodied seaman on the Bounty;
mutineer; went with Christian; was killed on Pitcairn. Williams
was twenty-six years old when he signed on the Bounty. Although
he put down Stepney in east London as his home, he had grown up
in Guernsey and spoke French. Blighs description of him, written
after the mutiny, reads as follows:
[JOHN WILLIAMS] seaman, aged 25 years, 5 feet 5 inches high,
dark complexion, black hair, slender made; has a scar on the back
part of his head; is tatowed, and a native of Guernsey; speaks
Williams was involved in the famous cheese incident
(see the February 1788 commentary in Part I). He did not speak up
during the confrontation, but it was he who, on the orders of the
ships clerk, Samuel, had delivered the supposedly stolen cheeses
plus a cask of vinegar and some other things
in the ships boat from Long Reach to Blighs home.
On entering False Bay near Cape Town in South Africa, Bligh found
fault with Williams performance in heaving the lead and sentenced
him to six lashes. (Even six lashes left a nasty wound in the back.)
Williams took an active part in the mutiny. On Tubuai, he voted
with Christian and he stayed on the Bounty when Christian
left Tahiti on his search for an island refuge. He was one of the
three mutineers who, with three Polynesians, accompanied Christian
on his preliminary exploration of Pitcairn.
Williams arrived at Pitcairn with his consort Faahotu whom he
called Fasto. However, she died less than a year after
the arrival from a scrophulous disease which broke out in
her neck. Williams then demanded that he be given
another woman, taken from a Polynesian man.
The mutineers, who, at least in the beginning, seemed to have
voted on matters affecting the community, realized that granting
Williams request would cause severe problems and they turned
it down, suggesting instead that he wait until Sully, the baby girl,
reached adulthood (which for a Polynesian meant an age of 13 or
On the Bounty, Williams had served as a sort of unofficial
armorers mate, which made his services very important to the
mutineers. So vital did Christian feel that the skills of an armorer
were that he had even tried to kidnap Coleman when sailing from
Tahiti (see the September 1789 commentary in Part I). On Pitcairn,
Williams was kept constantly busy with the anvil of the Bounty
and was therefore exempted from any communal work.
However, he was not about to wait for over a decade for Sully
to grow into womanhood and he threatened to leave the island in
one of the Bountys boats. The mutineers then gave in
exactly because they needed his skills and gave
him Tararos consort Toofaiti. It was this decision that triggered
the bloodshed which eventually wiped out almost all males on the
On Massacre Day, September 20, 1793, Williams was the first of
the mutineers to be killed. He left no children by Faahotu, nor
by her replacement, Toofaiti. The anvil from the Bounty,
however, survives on Norfolk Island.
YOUNG, Edward ("Ned") Midshipman on the Bounty; mutineer;
went with Christian; died on Pitcairn. Young was born on St. Kitts
in the West Indies. He was the nephew of Sir George Young and was
probably a mulatto. He was twenty-one years old when he signed on
the Bounty. Blighs description of him, written after
the mutiny, reads as follows:
[EDWARD YOUNG] midshipman, 22 years, 5 feet 8 inches high. Dark
complexion and rather a bad look. Dark-brown hair strong
made has lost several of his fore teeth, those that remain
are all rotten. A small mole on the left side of the throat, and
on the right arm is tattooed a heart and dart through it with
E.Y. underneath, and the day of the year 1788 or 1789,
we are not sure.
Youngs role in the mutiny is a mystery to this day. He does
not seem to have been involved in any of the friction on the Bounty
and he was the only office who joined Christian. On the night of
April 27, 1789, the night before the mutiny, he was on Peckovers
watch, from midnight to 4:00 a.m., the watch immediately preceding
Christians. He seems to have been sleeping when the mutiny
broke out; most accounts do not mention him as being on deck.
Some authors see Young as the mastermind behind the mutiny. Madge
Darby in Who Caused the Mutiny on the Bounty? (1965) thinks
that the mutiny must have been planned, that there must have been
a cool, clear brain behind it, that it had to be an
officer, and that the officer was Young. However, she does not address
herself to the question of what Young would have had to gain from
the mutiny. Other authors have suggested that Young may have joined
Christian only after the mutiny was an accomplished fact.
On Tubuai, Young voted with Christian and, when the latter made
his emotional speech about sailing away alone in the Bounty
(see the September 1789 commentary in Part I), Young was the one
who said: We shall never leave you, Mr. Christian, go where
Young was very popular with the Tahitians and despite the
unattractive description given of him by Bligh was a special
favorite of the women.
Youngs consort when he arrived at Pitcairn was Teraura,
but he had no children with her. On Massacre Day, when five mutineers
were killed by the Polynesian men, Young was not attacked. Some
accounts claim he was hidden by the women, but it highly unlikely
that he could have been hidden for any length of time. Incredible
as it seems, although he may not have masterminded the mutiny on
the Bounty, there are indications that he may have masterminded,
or at least had foreknowledge of, the massacre on Pitcairn (see
the September 1783 commentary in Part I).
In his last years, Young kept a journal which has become lost
but was seen by Captain Beechey in 1825. Before his death, he taught
the almost illiterate Adams to read and write, thus enabling the
latter to educate the children to the extent which the early visitors
to Pitcairn found so amazing. Young died of asthma (or perhaps tuberculosis)
on Christmas Day 1800, the first man on Pitcairn to die a natural
With Toofaiti, Young had four children: Nancy, Georg, Robert and
William. With Mauatua, Christians widow, he had three children:
Edward, Polly and Dorothea. His descendants still live on Pitcairn.
The last direct fifth-generation male descendant of the mutineers,
Andrew Clarence Young, died on March 17, 1988, almost eighty-nine
years old. Other Young descendants live on Norfolk Island and in
[HMS (HMAV) Bounty] [Crew List]