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Bounty's Crew Encyclopedia

[HMS Bounty]
[Crew List]

Adams - Christian

Churchill - Hayward

Heywood -

Millward - Quintal

Samuel -

--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 board.

Bligh’s 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 wound.

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 I’ll take Care you don’t 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 Poino’s 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 the island.

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 Boatswain’s 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 King’s pardon.

Morrison was born at Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland 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] Boatswain’s 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 Fryer’s watch. At the court-martial, the Bounty’s 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 Bligh’s 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 Bligh’s comments about the crew of the ship have to be read with grains of salt. Take, for example, Bligh’s 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 ship’s company, which gave them a pleasant meal.

Morrison’s corresponding entry reads:

One of the sheep dying, this morning Lieut. Bligh order’d it to be issued in lieu of the day’s 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 in Polynesia.

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 lassh’d down in the boat’s bottom. Ellison who was then asleep in the boat’s 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 distress’d 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 expect?”

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 I’ll heave the log with you!”

Finding that he would hear no reason and my mouth being 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 King’s 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 Morrison’s 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 Morrison’s writings had been published, they would have proved quite embarrassing not only to Bligh, but indirectly also to Sir Joseph Banks.

Similarly, Morrison’s 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). Morrison’s 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 Heywod’s death, was published in part by Heywood’s 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 and 1831.

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. Bligh’s 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, Paul Lareau provides this additional information on Muspratt’s 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 King’s 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 Majesty’s 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 Cook’s 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 Cook’s 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 Carpenter’s 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] Carpenter’s 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 Bounty’s carpenter and Norman’s immediate superior, described him as “sober, diligent, and attentive.”

Norman was in Christian’s 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 carpenter’s 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 Muspratt’s release on a technicality. Muspratt had asked that Norman, against whom there was no evidence, be released so that he could given testimony in Muspratt’s behalf. The court had refused, Muspratt claimed his rights had been violated, and his verdict was overturned on appeal.

Norman’s activities after the court-martial are unknown to me.

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 captain’s relatives, later wrote:

I have heard Captain Bligh say it was, with respect to the boat’s crew, a fortunate circumstance, for he [Norton] was the stoutest man in the ship, which circumstance would very materially have interfered with the boat’s 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 Cook’s 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 Christian’s. 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 ship’s 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 Heywood’s innocence. Even though Heywood was convicted, it is likely that Peckover’s testimony contributed to his being given a King’s pardon. Later he was to declare that the facts, as given in Edward Christian’s 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 Bligh’s vindictiveness in sharp focus and it had nothing to do with Peckover’s testimony in favor of Heywood, nor with his confirmation of the facts in Edward Christian’s Appendix, since Bligh sailed long before the accused mutineers were brought to England.

Peckover’s 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 captain’s side. However, we only have Bligh’s description of him, and Bligh disliked him so intensely that he could hardly be seen as an objective judge of Purcell’s 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 Bligh’s 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 Bligh’s abuse “lying down.” In fact, what enraged Bligh the most during the entire voyage – apart from the mutiny of course – was Purcell’s 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 Bligh’s 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 Heywood’s 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 latter’s 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, there’s 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 Christian’s 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 moor’d 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 Young’s 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.,Young’s 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 Zealand.

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--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.
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Adams - Christian

Churchill - Hayward

Heywood -

Millward - Quintal

Samuel -

[HMS (HMAV) Bounty] [Crew List]