William Bligh's Logbook | State Library of New South Wales

William Bligh's Logbook

Captain William Bligh's Logbook
William Bligh's Official HMS Bounty Log, 16 Aug. 1787 - 20 Aug. 1789

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> Read Log of the Proceedings of His Majesty's Ship Bounty, by Lieut. William Bligh Commander, 1789-1790, via the Library's catalogue Link to the Library's catalogue 

Transcript: HMS Bounty Log, April 1789 (SAFE 1/47)

Page Title: Rems Tuesdy at Sea 28 April 1789

[page 54]

Light Winds and cloudy Nr Wind NE-E & WE
I kept near ogodoo untill 5 O'Clock this afternoon in hopes to have had some cannoes off but I saw none Therefore directed my course to the West & went to the Southward of Tofoa - Mr Sayer The Master had the first watch. Mr Pickover The Gunner the middle' and Mr Christian one of the Mates who I had given an acting order to' the Morning watch. - This was the tour of duty for the Night - But I am now unhappily to relate one of the most atrocious acts of Piracy ever committed.
Just before Sunrise Mr Christian & The Master at Arms & several officers came into my cabbin while I was fast asleep' and seizing me tyed my hands with a Cord & threatened instant death if I made the least noise' I however' having a reverie' called sufficiently loud to alarm the officers' who found themselves equally secured by Centinels at their Doors - There were now three men at my Cabbin Door & four inside (a) - Mr Christian had a Cutlass & the others were armed with Musquets & Bayonets - I was now carried on Deck in my shirt' in torture with a severe bandage round my wrists behind my back' where I found no man to rescue to me. I ask'd The reason for such a violent act' but I was threatned to be put to death if I said a word. Mr Hayward & Hallet were in Mr Christian's watch' but had no idea that any thing was doing untill they were all armed - The Arms were all secured' so that no one could get near them for Centinels - Mr Elphinston The Mate was secured in his Hammock Mr Nelson & '

(a) Fletcher Christian - (a) Chas Churchill (a) Thos Burkitt' (a) Jno Mills - Alexander Smith Jno Sumner - Mathew Quintal assisted under Arms on the outside


[page 55]

& Peckover in their Cabbins. The fore Hatchway guarded by Centinels through which the Boatswain and Carpenter were admitted on Deck where they saw me standing abaft the Mizen Mast with my hands tyed behind my back' under a Guard with Christian at their head - The Boatswain was now ordered to hoist the small cutter out' with a threat if he did not do it instantly to take care of himself:- but on a representation that this boat was very leaky he was directed to hoist the Launch out which was done. Mr Hayward and Hallet midshipmen and Mr Samuels Clerk were now ordered into the Boat' upon which I assumed my authority & demanded the cause of such an order' endeavouring to bring some one to a sense of his duty' but it was to no effect "Hold your tongue Sir or you are dead this Instant" was constantly repeated to me.
The Master by this time had sent to be allowed to come on deck and was permitted' and as soon was ordered back to his Cabbin again' where he returned. --
I continued to endeavor to change the Tide of Affairs when Christian changed the Cutlass he had in his hand for a Bayonet that was brought to him' and holding me with a strong grip by the Cord that tied my hands' he continued to threaten me with instant death if I did not be quiet.- The Villains round me had their pieces Cocked & Bayonets fixed' and particular People were now called on to go into the Boat' and were hurried over the side' and with those people I concluded of course I was to be set a drift' I therefore in making another effort to bring about a change expressed myself loudly in such a a manner' as to be saluted with "blow his Brains out"


[page 56]

The Boatswain and Seamen who were to go in the Boat set to work and collected canvas twine' lines' sails and cordage and an eight and twenty Gallon Cask of Water with four empty Beakers and the Carpenter got his Tool Chest.- - Mr Samuels got abt 150 lbs of Bread with a small quantity of Rum and Wine and was allowed to take a Quadrant and Compass into the Boat' but forbad on pain of death of touching any Map whatever - Ephemerise Book of Astronomical observations Sextants or Time Keeper' or any of my drawings or Surveys. The Mutineers were now hurrying every one into the Boat' and the most of them being in' Christian directed a dram to be served to each of his Crew: - I was now exceedingly fatigued and [indecipherable] unhappily saw I could do nothing to effect the recovery of the Ship - every endeavor was threatened with death' and the following People were now in the Boat:
John Fryer - - Master
Thos. Ledward -- Surgeon
David Nelson -- Botanist
Wm Peckover -- Gunner
Wm Cole -- Boatswain
Wm Purcell -- Carpenter
Wm Elphinston -- Masts Mate
Thos Hayward - Mid.
Jno Hallet - Mid.
Jno Norton -- Qur Master
Peter Linkletter -- Qur Master
Lawrence Lebogue -- Sail Maker
Jno Smith -- Ab
Thos Hale -- Ab
Geo. Simpson -- Qur Master's Mate
Rob Tinkler -- Ab
Rob Lamb -- Ab
Mr Samuels -- Clerk


[page 57]

There remained on board as Pirates and under Arms -
Fletcher Christian {Mate & acting {Lieutenant
George Stewart acting Masr Mate
Peter Haywood 2nd Mid
Edward Young 2nd Mid
Charles Churchill Ship's Corporl
Jno Mills Gunner's Mate
Jas Morrisson Boatn Mate
Thos Burkitt Ab
Math. Quintal Ab
Jno Sumner Ab
Jno Millward Ab
Wm McKoy Ab
Heny Hillbrandt Ab & Cooper
Wm Muspratt Ab & Taylor
Alex Smith Ab
Jno Williams Ab
Thos. Ellison Ab
Isaac Martin Ab
Richd Skinner Ab & Mastr Sevrt Ship's Barber
Mathew Thompson Ab
Wm Brown Botanist assistant
Michl Byrn Ab Fidler Boat Keeper & worthy of mercy
22 besides these were kept contrary to their inclinations
Josh Coleman Armourer
Chas Norman Carp. Mate
Thos McIntosh do. Crew
In all 25 Hands
This is briefly the statement of the Case. - The officers were called & forced into the Boat while I was under a Guard abaft the Mizen Mast' Christian holding me by the bandage that secured my hands with one hand' & a Bayonet in his other. The Men under arms around me had their pieces


[page 58]

cocked' which so enraged me against those ungratefull Wretches that I dared them to fire and they uncocked them.
Isaac Martin one of the Guard I saw I had brought to a sense of his duty' and as he fed me with Shaddock' (my lips being so parched in endeavoring to bring about a change in my situation)' we explained to each other by our Eyes reciprocally our wishes. This was however observed' & Martin was instantly removed from me whose inclination then was to leave the Ship' but for a threat of instant death if he did not return out of the Boat.
The Armourer Joseph Coleman & two Carpenters McIntosh & Norman were kept contrary to their inclination' and they begged of me (in a flood of tears) to remember' before every one that they had no hand in this transaction. Michl Byrne the Fidler who is half blind I am told had no knowledge of what was done and wanted to leave the Ship. These unfortunate Men therefore are deserving of Mercy.
It is of no moment for me to recount my endeavors to rally & bring to a sense of their duty the offenders - all I could do was by speaking to every one in general' for none one was suffered to come near me. I did my duty as far as it was possible to save the Ship' and they knew me too well to put much in my power and therefore bound me very securely' whilst every one else except the Master' Doctor' Botanist' Gunner


[page 59]

and Mr Samuels my clerk who were confined to their Cabbins' were at liberty.- To the latter who got leave to quit his Cabbin I am indebted for securing my Journals' my commission and some material ship papers' also my uniforms and some cloaths without the former I had nothing to certify what I had done' and my honor and character would have been in the power of calumny' without a proper document to have defended it - All This was done with great resolution being guarded & strictly watched - He attempted to save the Time Keeper and my Maps & Drawings (b) for 15 years past which were numerous when he was hurried away with "damn your Eyes you are well off to get what you have".- (a)
The Masters Cabbin was opposite to mine. He saw them in my Cabbin for our eyes met each other through his Door Window' and he had a pair of Ships Pistols loaded and Ammunition in his Cabbin. a firm resolution might have made a good use of them - These Pistols I had ordered for the use of the Officer of the Watch since the (c) 24th Jany and they were at first kept in the Binnacle' but upon consideration That there they might be stolen from thence' they were ever after kept in the Masters Cabbin. - After he had sent twice or thrice to Christian to be allowed to come on deck' he was at last permitted' and his question to Christian then was' will you let me remain in the Ship? - "No" - have you any objections Captn Bligh? - I whispered to him knock him down Martin is good' for this was just before Martin
(a) I was frequently saluted with' "blow his brains out" There was not one however who had resolution to do it.
(b) Among which were my original surveys of West Coast of America and the Sandwich & Friendly Islands done with Capt. Cook [then?] for 15 Years past
(c) Publish orders issued this day. See order Book


[page 60]

that was removed from me - Christian however pulled me back' and the Master went away with orders to go again to his Cabbin & I saw no more of him untill he was put into the Boat. - He afterwards told me' in my questioning him' he could find no body to act with - that by staying on the Ship he hoped to have had it in his power to have retaken her; and that as to the Pistols he was so flurried & surprised that he did not recollect he had them.- His Brother said' on my enquiring how the Keys of the Arm Chest came out of his Cabbin' that the (a) person who attended on him had taken them away' which was certainly the case - (a) Richard Skinner.
As for the officers who cabbins were in the Cockpit' there was no relief for them - They endeavored to come to my assistance' but were not allowed to put their heads about the Hatchway.
The Boatswain & Carpenter were fully at liberty - The former was employed on pain of Death to hoist the boats out' but the latter I saw acting the part of an Idler with an impudent and ill looking countenance which led me to believe he was one of the Mutineers' untill he was among The rest ordered to leave The Ship for it appeared to me to be a doubt with Christian at first' whether he should detain the Carpenter or his Mates' but knowing the former to be a troublesome fellow he determined on the latter.


[page 61]

was therefore ordered into the Boat upon which he got his Toolchest with little difficulty over the side.
     Much altercation took place among the mutinous crew during This whole transaction - some swore "I'll be damned if he does not get home if he gets any thing with him" - others when The Carpenters Chest was going carrying away' "Damn my Eyes he will have a Vessel built within a month'" whilst others laughed at the situation of the Boat' being very deep & not room for those who where in her. As for Christian he seemed to be plodding instant distraction on himself & everyone' for of all diabolical looking men he exceeded every possible description.
     I asked for arms' but they laughed at me & said I was well acquainted where I was going and therefore did not want them.- Four Cutlasses were however thrown into the Boat after being veered a stern.
     When the officers and Men were put into the Boat' (with whom I was suffered to have no communication) they only then waited for me' and the Master at Arms' or rather Ships Corporal informed Christian of it' who then told me - "Come Captain Bligh your officers and Men are now in The Boat and you must go also: If you attempt to make the least resistance you will instantly be put to death" and forcing me before him' holding by the Cord that grapped my hands behind my back & a Bayonet in his other' with a tribe of armed Ruffians about me I was forced over the side where they untied my


[page 62]

hands' and being in the Boat was veered a stern by a Rope. A few pieces of Pork was now thrown into us' and some old cloaths' and after having undergone a great deal of ridicule' we were at last cast a drift in the open ocean.- Having little or no wind we rowed pretty fast towards Tofoa' & while the ship was in sight she steered to the WNW but I considered that as a blind to me' for when we came away - Huzza for Otaheite was frequently heard among the Mutineers.
     Christian The Capt of the Mutineers is of a respectable family in the North of England' & from my connection with a part of them I had taken this Young Man to bring him forward in life' at least to qualify him for an Officer. This was the third Voyage he had made with me' and as I found it necessary to keep my ships company at three watches' I gave him an order to keep the third his abilities being thoroughly equal to the Task' & by this means My Master & Gunner were not at watch & watch.
     Hayward is also of a respectable family in the North of England and a Young Man of abilities as well as Christian' and is connected with a most respectable officer in our service Capt Thos Paisley. This young man was recommended to me by my Father who had been sollicited by his Friends to induce me to take him' and therefore being very infirm & the chance that


[page 63]

he could not live to see me again on my return' asked it as the last favor he could might ever receive from me - These two became therefore objects of my attention' and with much unwearied Zeal I instructed them for I considered them very worthy of every good I could render to them' and they really promised as professional Men to be an honor to their Country.
     Young - was a person recommended to me by Sir George Young & a relation of his - he appeared to be an able & stout Seaman & therefore I took him he however always proved a worthless wretch.
Stewart was a young Man of creditable parents in the Orkney Islands and connected with Captain Graham in the service. - He was a seaman and bore a good Character. - This person became recommended to me by the generous conduct and behaviour of the people of Orkney when we returned with the Resolution & Discovery the last Voyage of Captain Cook in the Resolu year 1780.
Here we may observe to what a height the baseness of human nature may arrive at' not only ingratitude in its blackest dye' but eternal criminality against their country and connections.
I had scarce got a furlong on our way when I began to reflect on the vissitude of human affairs; but in the midst of all I felt an inward happyness and peculiar pleasure which prevented any depression of my Spirits. Conscious of my own integrity and anxious solicitude for the good of the service I was on. I found my mind most wonderfully supported and began


[page 64]

to conceive hopes notwithstanding so heavy a calamity' to be able to account to my King and Country for my misfortune.
     What Man's situation could be so peculiarly flattering as mine twelve hours before. - I had a Ship in the most perfect order and well stored with every necessary both for service and health - by early attention to those particulars I had acted acted against the power of chance in case I could not get through Endeavor Streights' as well as against any accident that might befall me in them; and to add to this I had most successfully got my plants in a most flourishing and fine order' so that upon the whole the Voyage was two thirds completed and the remaining part no way doubtfull. Every person was in the most perfect health' to establish which I had taken the greatest pains and bore a most anxious care through the whole course of my Voyage.
     It is certainly true that no effect could take place without a cause; but here it is equally certain that no cause could justify such an effect. It however may very naturally be asked what could be the reason for such a revolt' in answer to which I can only conjecture that they have ideally assured themselves of a more happy life among the Otaheitians than they could possibly have in England' which joined to some female connections' has most likely been the leading cause of the whole busyness. -


[page 65]

The Women are handsome - mild in their manners and conversation possessed of great sensibility' and have every sufficient delicacy to make them admired and beloved. The Chiefs have acquired such a liking to our people' that they rather have encouraged their stay among them than otherwise' and even made promises of large possessions. Under these and many other attendant circumstances equally desirable' it is therefore now not to be wondered at (tho' not possible to be forseen) That a set of sailors' led by officers' and void of connections' or if they have any' not possessed of natural feelings sufficient to wish themselves never to be separated from them; should be led by such powerfull inducements. But equal to this' what a temptation it is to such wretches when they find it in their power' (however illegally it can be got at) to fix themselves in the midst of Plenty on the finest Island in the World where they need not labour; and where the allurements of dissipation are more than equal to any thing that can be conceived.
Desertions have happened more or less from the Ships that have been at the Society Isles' but it has ever been in the Commander's power to make the Chiefs return their people - They therefore knew such a plan could never succeed' and perhaps suggested that never so small a Ship' and so Elligible


[page 66]

an opportunity would offer them again. -
     It now remained with me what was best to be done; and I determined that after getting a supply of Breadfruit & Water at Tofoa to sail for Amsterdam and there risk a sollicitation to Paulehow The King to equip my Boat & grant a supply of water & provisions so as to enable me to return home.
     The secrecy of this mutiny is beyond all conception & surprising it is that out of thirteen of the party who came with me & lived always forward among the People & the Messmates of Christian' Stewart' Hayward & Young' could not discover some symptoms of bad intentions among them. - This Mutiny or designs against The Ship has however been long planned if I may with propriety take the Cutting of the Cable as a beginning in the 6th of Feby' for that act was certainly done by some of these people to strand the Ship' altho at that time I naturally thought it was done by the Indians' but who it now appears were certainly innocent . With such deep laid plans of Villany & my mind free of any suspicions it is not wonderful that I have been got the better of; b but had I had one judicious officer' which most likely would have been the case if the establishment would have allowed a Lieutenant' it perhaps would never have happened.- Even if I had had manned a Centinel at my Cabbin door might have prevented it' for I slept with it allways open for the officer of the Watch to have access to me on all occasions. But the possibility of such a


[page 67]

Catastrophe was ever the farthest from my thoughts. - Christian was to have dined with me and supped the preceeding Evening' but he desired to be excused as he found himself unwell' about which I was concerned rather than suspecting his integrity & honor.
     The exact quantity of Provisions I found they had got in the Boat was 150 lbs Bread 16 pieces of Pork - 6 Quarts of Rum. 6 Bottles of Wine with 28 Galls of Water and four Empty Breakers
     When we left the ship Tofoa bore NE about 10 leagues -