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“Jenny” Interview

["Jenny" Encyclopedia Entry]

Two interviews with Jenny (TEEHUTEATUAONOA) have been published. They are considered more accurate relative to life on Pitcairn in the first years following the arrival of the mutineers than interviews with John Adams, given the fact that Adams had much to hide from outsiders. This interview was published in the United Service Journal in 1829:

“The day on which the Bounty returned to Otaheite, in charge of the mutineers, I went on board her at Matavai: we shortly thereafter sailed towards Tabouai, and in a few days made that island, and came to an anchor in the mouth of the harbour. Four days after, we weighed anchor and hauled the ship farther upwards, between the reef, and anchored again. We went on shore the next day, and commenced the building of a very long house and two smaller ones; also began to erect a fort.

“Part of the crew wished to destroy the ship. This was opposed by Capt. Christian and some others, who said, that if the vessel might be the means of their detection, she might also be the means of their escape. One of the Otaheitans, who belonged to the Bounty, proposed to the Tabouai people, that in case the Englishmen should settle on the island, they should unite and take the ship, murder the crew, and share the property. This coming to the ears of Christian’s wife, she informed him of the plot, but did not tell him that an Otaheitan was the contriver of it. The secret having transpired, led to a battle between the mutineers and the Tabouai people, in which the latter were defeated with considerable loss. One of the mutineers was mortally wounded with a spear.

“After this affray the mutineers were afraid to remain on Tabouai, and embarked in the Bounty, and sailed for Otaheite, where several of them proposed to stop. (The men who remained at Otaheite were taken off by Capt. Edwards, of the Pandora; some of them were brought to England and executed.)

“In a few days we reached Matavai, where some of the crew went on shore, and took a proportion of the property with them. Only nine remained on board, attracted by the native females who were in the ship, about nineteen in number, and told the women that the vessel was to proceed to Pare, the king’s district, the next morning.

“The same evening, while the women were below at supper, the mutineers cut the cable and stood to the northward. Four natives of Otaheite and two Tabouai men were then on board. When the ship got about a mile outside the reefs, one of the women leaped overboard and swam ashore. Next morning the vessel was off Tethuroa, a low island to the northwad of Otaheite, but not so near as to permit any of the women venturing to swim ashore there, which several of them were inclined to do, as they were very much afflicted at being torn from their friends and relations.

“The ship now tacked and stood to the southward, and next morning was close in with the island of Eimeo, about five or six leagues distant from Otaheite. A canoe shortly afterward came off, and six of the women, who were rather ancient, were allowed to depart in her: twelve of them remained on board. Next morning they were out of sight of land, and sailed before the wind to the westward.

“After many days had elapsed, a small island was discovered, called by the natives Purutea. A canoe came off, bringing a pig and cocoa-nuts. One of the natives ventured on board, and was much delighted at beholding the pearl-shell buttons on the jacket of Capt. Christian, who in a very friendly manner, gave the man the jacket. The latter stood on the ship’s gunwale, showing the present to his countrymen, when one of the mutineers shot him dead: he fell into the sea. Christian was highly indignant at this; but could do nothing more, having lost all authority, than reprimand the murderer severely. The other natives in the canoe immediately picked up their dead companion, and paddled towards the shore, uttering loud lamentations.

“In a few days we saw one of the Tongataboo, or Friendly Islands. Several canoes came off with abundance of hogs, yams, and poultry. The natives said that Totee (Capt. Cook) had been there, and that the horned cattle left by him were living. Continued our course to leeward, and discovered a small low island, where Christian proposed to stop. The boat was sent on shore to ascertain whether it was inhabited. Before the crew had time to land, people were seen on the beach.

“After landing and remaining awhile on shore, the boat returned to the ship with the news. Had this been an uninhabited island, Christian would have destroyed the ship and remained there. Finding the inhabitants were numerous, they sailed away that night to windward. Two months elapsed before land was again seen, during which time all on board were much discouraged: they therefore thought of returning to Otaheite.

“Pitcairn’s Island was at length discovered in the evening. It was then blowing hard, and no landing could be effected till the third day, when the boat was lowered down, and the following persons went on shore, Christian, Brown, Williams, McKoy, and three of the Otaheitan natives.

“The ship now stood out to sea, and returned towards the island the second day, by which time the boat returned. The crew reported that there were no natives on the island; that it abounded with cocoa-nuts and sea-fowl, and that they had found traces of its having been once inhabited. Charcoal, stone axes, stone foundations of houses, and a few carved boards, were discovered. Christian got the vessel under a rocky point and came to anchor.

“The mutineers began to discharge the ship by means of the boat and a raft made out of the hatches. The property from the ship was landed principally on the raft, by means of a rope fastened to the rocks. When all they wanted was brought on shore, they began to consider what they should do with the vessel. Christian wished to save her for awhile. The others insisted on destroying her, and one of them went off and set fire to her in the fore part. Shortly after two others went on board and set fire to her in different places. During the night all were in tears at seeing her in flames. Some regretted exceedingly they had not confined Capt. Bligh and returned to their native country, instead of acting as they had done. The next morning they began to build some temporary houses. Between the huts and the sea-shore were a number of trees, which concealed them from the view of any vessel that might pass.

“After a few weeks they ventured upon the high land, and began to erect more substantial buildings; to plant sweet potatoes and yams, the seed of which they brought with them. They shortly after divided the ground and allotted to each his proportion.

“The cloth plant of the South Sea Islands was discovered growing upon one of the lots, about which some squabbling took place, but they afterwards agreed to divide it equally among them. One of the women who lived with Williams died of a disease in her neck about a year after their arrival. The Taro-root plant was found on the island, and means were immediately taken to cultivate it. Christian had a son born about this time, whom he named Friday; (this differs from all other accounts. His name, according to Sir T. Staines and Capt. Folger, is Thursday October Christian) he was baptized by Brown.

“Williams, whose wife died, now proposed to take one of the Otahetian men’s wifes, there being only two among them; and lots were drawn which it should be. The chance fell on the wife of an Otaheitan, called Tararo. Williams accordingly took her from her husband, who was in consequence much afflicted, and betook himself to the hills. After three days, he returned and got his wife away, and took her to the mountains with him. The native men now proposed to kill the English, who were, however, upon their guard: three of the principals in the plot thought proper to seek refuge in the mountains.

“One of the natives who remained with the English, was sent by Christian to the mountains, for the purpose of shooting the principal conspirator, whose name was Oopee, promising to reward him handsomely if he succeeded, but, if he did not, he was to lose his own life. This man took a pistol with him as directed: he found Oopee among the craggy precipices and killed him. Tararo, who had taken his wife from Williams, and was still in the mountains, was shot by order of the Europeans: his wife now returned to Williams. After this the mutineers lived in a peaceable manner for some years, (it must be recollected there were now only four native men remaining).

“The next affair of consequence that occurred was that of Manarii, the Otahetian, who stole a pig belonging to McKoy, for which offence the English beat him severely. Teimua afterwards stole some yams, and one of the women informed of him. He was also severely chastised.

“The natives again concerted among themselves to murder the English and went about from day to day with their muskets, on a pretence of shooting wild-fowl. The mutineers did not suspect their intentions: Williams was the first man shot, while putting up a fence round his garden. The natives next proceeded to shoot Christian: they found him clearing some ground for a garden, and while in the act of carrying away some roots, they went behind him and shot him between the shoulders–he fell. They then disfigured him with an axe about the head, and left him dead on the ground.

“The natives next proceeded to another enclosure, where they found Miles and McKoy: the former was shot dead, but McKoy saved himself by flight. They now went to Martin’s house and shot him: he did not fall immediately, but ran to Brown’s house, which was not far off. He was there shot a second time, when he fell; they beat him on the head with a hammer till he was quite dead. Brown at the same time was knocked on the head with stones, and left for dead. As the murderers were going away, he rose up and ran. One of them pursued and overtook him. He begged hard for mercy, or that they would not kill him until he had seen his wife. They promised they would spare his life; however, one with a musket got behind him and shot him dead.

“Alexander Smith (alias John Adams) was next fired at in his own house; the ball grazed his neck and broke two of his fingers. He was saved by the women, who were at this time assembled. The murderers, after wounding him, permitted him to take farewell of his wife. The women threw themselves on his body, and at their entreaties his life was spared. Teimura, one of the four natives, was next shot by his countryman Manarii. McKoy and Matthew Quintil were still concealed , in the mountains. One of the mutineers was spared by the murderers, and lived with Smith and the woman.

“Manarii was now afraid of his two surviving countrymen; he therefore fled to the mountains, joined Matthew Quintil and McKoy, and told them that they must not attempt to go down, as the other two Otaheitans would be sure to kill them. He offered them his musket and said he would remain in concealment with them. One or two of the women now went in quest of McKoy and Matthew Quintil. They met with them, and strongly advised them to kill Manarii, which was accordingly done that night. The two remaining Otaheitan men next went in search of McKoy and Quintil to kill them; they found them among the mountains, shot at them, and supposed that one was wounded; this however, was not the case.

“The Otaheitans proceeded to the house where the women, with Smith and Young, were, and boasted that they had wounded McKoy. One of the women proposed to her countrymen to into the mountains, and see if this was the case, and bring them correct information. To this proposal they gladly acceded; but the real object of the woman was to advise McKoy and Quintil to come privately at a certain time that night, and assist the women to kill the two remaining natives. The Englishmen promised to do this, but did not keep their word.

“Next day the women agreed with Smith and Young to kill the two Otaheitans. About noon, while one of the Otahetian men was sitting outside of the house, and the other was lying on his back on the floor, one of the women took a hatchet and cleft the skull of the latter; at the same instant calling out to Young to fire, which he did, and shot the other native dead. Thus ended the whole of the six Tahitians and Tabouaians.

“There now remained on the island eleven Otaheitan women, and four Englishmen, viz. Alexander Smith, McKoy, Young, and Matthew Quintil. They soon began to distil a spirituous liquor from the tea-root. In a drunken affray, Matthew Quintil was killed by his three countrymen. McKoy came by his death through drinking spirits, which brought on derangement, and caused him to leap into the sea, after having tied his own hands and feet. Young died a natural death on a Christmas-day. Sunday was observed by Christian, and divine service read. He left his wife and three children: she had more children by another husband.

“A ship was seen before Matthew Quintil was killed, and after the death of Christian, when only four of the mutineers were left. A long time after, another vessel appeared, and sent a boat on shore to take off cocoa-nuts; the people on shore beckoned to the ship to send the boat a second time, she did not do so, but stood out to sea. The next ship that arrived was the Topaz, Capt. Folger. He promised to return in eight months. A vessal may anchor where the Bounty did; wind at south and south-east. The island abounds in yams, taro, tea-root, cloth-plant, bread-fruit, hogs, pultry, &c.”

["Jenny" Encyclopedia Entry]