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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.

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 Bligh’s personal servant as much as he was the ship’s clerk.

From Tenerife, in January 1788, Bligh wrote to his wife’s 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 Bligh’s home on Samuel’s 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 mutineers.

There is no doubt that Samuel was very effective during the mutiny in gathering up as many of Bligh’s possessions as he could grab hold of and getting them into the launch past the scrutiny of the mutineers. Yet, when it came to Samuel’s 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 Quartermaster’s 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 Bounty’s 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 Simpson’s 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 Fryer’s servant.

Bligh’s 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 consort.

Skinner drowned with his hands till manacled when the Pandora went down.

SMITH, Alexander See ADAMS, JOHN, John Adams appears as Alexander Smith in the Bounty’s 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 Bligh’s 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 master’s mate when Christian was made acting lieutenant; loyalist; kept on board against his will; drowned when the Pandora foundered.

Stewart was well educated and from “a fairly good family” in the Orkneys. Bligh had been well taken care of by Stewart’s 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 Christian’s 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 mutiny.

Stewart was a good friend of Christian’s 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 Christian’s mind: “The men are ripe for anything!” It is virtually certain that Stewart meant those words to appeal to Christian’s 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 is.

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.

Bligh’s 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 “Pandora’s 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 Edward Edwards.

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. Bligh’s 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 deck.

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 went down.

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. Bligh’s 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 popa’as (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 mother’s 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 Thompson’s 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 Churchill’s 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 Christian’s 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 Parker’s 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 ship’s surgeon. Huggan bled him, his arm became infected, the infection spread, and Valentine got worse with every day.

Bligh was not told about the man’s 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 Bounty’s 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. Bligh’s 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 French.

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 ship’s clerk, Samuel, had delivered the supposedly stolen cheeses – plus a cask of vinegar and “some other things” – in the ship’s boat from Long Reach to Bligh’s 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 14).

On the Bounty, Williams had served as a sort of unofficial armorer’s 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 Bounty’s boats. The mutineers then gave in – exactly because they needed his skills – and “gave” him Tararo’s consort Toofaiti. It was this decision that triggered the bloodshed which eventually wiped out almost all males on the island.

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. Bligh’s 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.

Young’s 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 Peckover’s watch, from midnight to 4:00 a.m., the watch immediately preceding Christian’s. 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 you will!”

Young was very popular with the Tahitians and – despite the unattractive description given of him by Bligh – was a special favorite of the women.

Young’s 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 death.

With Toofaiti, Young had four children: Nancy, Georg, Robert and William. With Mauatua, Christian’s 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 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.

Adams - Christian

Churchill - Hayward

Heywood -

Millward - Quintal

Samuel -

[HMS (HMAV) Bounty] [Crew List]