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Important Pitcairn Events

  • July 1767 First known European sighting of Pitcairn Island is made by Robert Pitcairn, a midshipman on HMS Swallow. Captain Philip Cartaret, the ship’s commander, names it Pitcairn’s Island honoring the one who first sighted it.

  • December 1787 HMAV Bounty, under the command of William Bligh, sails from Spithead in England. Her mission is to collect breadfruit from Tahiti to be taken to the West Indies to feed slaves on plantations there.

  • March 1788 Fletcher Christian, master’s mate of the Bounty, is promoted to acting Second Lieutenant.

  • October 26, 1788 HMAV Bounty arrives at Tahiti. It will be at the island for 5 ½ months.

  • April 28, 1789 Under Fletcher Christian’s leadership, many of the Bounty’s sailors mutiny and cast Captain Bligh with 18 sailors loyal to him adrift in the ship’s cutter.

  • May 1789 The Bounty, with the mutineers sailing her, arrives at Tubuai, but leaves after just three days at the island.

  • June 6, 1789 Returning to Tahiti, the Bounty takes aboard a number of Polynesian men, women, and a baby. Livestock is also put aboard.

  • June 23, 1789 With it’s mutineer crew and Polynesians aboard, the Bounty returns to Tubuai.

  • September 22, 1789 The Bounty returns to Tahiti again. A decision is made to search for a safe hiding place. A total of 16 of the mutineers decide to take their chances at safety at Tahiti. Nine others, along with six Polynesian men, 12 women, and a baby girl set sail to seek a safe haven.
  • January 1790 Pitcairn Island is sighted. After inspection of the island by Christian it is decided to settle there. A factor in the decision is that the island has been misplaced on Admiralty maps and would thus be hard to find.

  • January 23, 1790 Whether by plan or by accident, HMAV Bounty is set afire. The unburned portion of the ship sinks in what is now called Bounty Bay.

  • 1790 Two of the Polynesian men brought to the island - Puarei and Tinafanaea -die. Two others - Oha and Tararo - are murdered.

  • September 1793 In one day four of the mutineers - Fletcher Christian, John Mills, Isaac Martin, John Williams - are killed by Polynesian men.

  • 1798 Drunk on a locally distilled brew, mutineer William McCoy commits suicide.

  • 1799 Mutineers Edward Young and John Adams, believing their lives are in danger from the man, kill mutineer Matthew Quintal.

  • December 1800 When Edward Young dies on Christmas Day, John Adams becomes the last of the mutineers alive on Pitcairn Island.

  • February 6, 1808 Pitcairn is re-discovered along with the mutineers’ presence on the island by Captain Mayhew Folger of the American sealing ship Topaz.

  • September 17, 1814 HMS Briton and HMS Tagus unexpectedly call at Pitcairn. Captains of the ships correct the calendar error made when the Bounty crossed the international date line.

  • March 5, 1829 John Adams, last of the mutineers on Pitcairn, dies. He is 65 years old. His wife, Teio (Mary) follows him in death nine days later.

  • March 1831 The people of Pitcairn move to Tahiti for resettlement. Disease strikes quickly with death felling 12 of the Pitcairners, including Fletcher’s eldest son, Thursday October Christian. The people decide to return to their Pitcairn home.

  • September 3, 1831 The 65 Pitcairners arrive at their island home on the American ship Charles Doggett, Captain William Driver. On his ship flies the U.S. “Stars and Stripes” flag to which Driver gives the name “Old Glory,” a title that will be adopted nationally in America.

  • June 1856 The Pitcairners - all 193 of them – immigrate to Norfolk Island - in the ship Morayshire. A baby is born during the voyage.

  • 1859 Homesick for Pitcairn, 16 of the Pitcairners are brought back to the island in the Mary Ann.

  • 1864 Four more families return to Pitcairn from Norfolk.

  • 1886 After learning the tenets of the faith, most of the Pitcairn people embrace the Seventh-day Adventist faith, setting aside the Church of England faith they had embraced from earlier times.

  • 1890 The missionary schooner Pitcairn, with Adventist missionaries who would carry their faith to many islands of the Pacific aboard. Most of the adults on Pitcairn are baptized, formally making them members of the Adventist faith.

  • 1914 Pitcairn becomes a stopping point on the direct Panama to New Zealand shipping route when the Panama Canal opens.

  • 1940 The first issue of Pitcairn Islands stamps. Income from the world-wide sale of these popular postal adhesives will begin to fund operations and provide subsidies for Pitcairn and her people.

  • 1957 An anchor of HMAV Bounty is raised from Bounty Bay, Pitcairn Island.

  • January 1990 Celebrations marking the bicentennial of the settlement of Pitcairn are held.

  • January 8, 1999 What could be the last of the few cannons that were aboard HMAV Bounty is raised from the wreck site.

--Adapted from Guide to Pitcairn, available for purchase through the Study Center. To order: $20.00 plus $3.00 packaging & shipping in the U.S.; $5.00 packaging & shipping overseas. Only U.S. dollars, checks in U.S. dollars or VISA, MasterCard or Discover credit cards accepted. Phone credit card orders to 707-965-6625, or 707-965-2047. FAX orders to 707-965-6504. Send orders through mail to:

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