Ward's Book of Days.

Pages of interesting anniversaries.

What happened on this day in history.


On this day in history in 1817 died William Bligh.

Bligh became infamous as the British sea captain who commanded HMS Bounty when Fletcher Christian and the crew mutinied.

Bligh was a captain for whom mutiny was an occupational hazard. He suffered his first mutiny when Fletcher Christian seized the Bounty in 1787 and put Bligh and eighteen loyal officers in a longboat and left them to the mercies of the Pacific. By an extraordinary feat of seamanship, Bligh navigated 3,600 miles to reach Timor safely.

In 1797, Bligh was put ashore by the crew of his ship The Director when they joined in the mutiny of a sister ship The Nore. In 1808, when Governor of New South Wales, Bligh was arrested by his deputy and sent back to Britain.

On each occasion, Bligh was vindicated by the courts. Those mutineers of the Bounty who were later captured claimed that Bligh was overbearing and tyrannical. This was probably true but it did not save them from hanging. Bligh maintained that the crew had “assured themselves of a more happy life” with the Tahitians with whom they had sojourned for some time. “This, joined with some female connections, has been the leading cause of the whole business”.

Many of the present day inhabitants of the Pitcairn Islands claim descent from the mutineers on the Bounty.

Bligh is buried in St. Mary’s Churchyard, Lambeth. [Now the Museum of Garden History, Lambeth Palace Road, London, SE1 7LB]

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