Jan 262016
 

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On this date in 1808 the governor of New South Wales, William Bligh, was deposed by the New South Wales Corps under the command of Major George Johnston, working closely with John Macarthur, 20 years to the day after Arthur Phillip founded European settlement in Australia (celebrated now as Australia Day http://www.bookofdaystales.com/australia-day/ ). Afterwards, the colony was ruled by the military, with the senior military officer stationed in Sydney acting as the Lieutenant-Governor of the colony until the arrival from Britain of Major-General Lachlan Macquarie as the new Governor at the beginning of 1810.

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William Bligh, well known for his overthrow in the mutiny on the Bounty (http://www.bookofdaystales.com/mutiny-bounty/ ), was the fourth Governor of New South Wales. He succeeded Governor Philip Gidley King in 1805, having been offered the position by Sir Joseph Banks. It is likely that he was selected by the British Government as governor because of his reputation as a hard man. He stood a good chance of reining in the maverick New South Wales Corps, something which his predecessors had not been able to do. Bligh left for Sydney with his daughter, Mary Putland, and her husband while Bligh’s wife remained in England.

Even before his arrival, Bligh’s style of governance led to problems with his subordinates. The Admiralty gave command of the store ship Porpoise and the convoy to the lower ranked Captain Joseph Short and Bligh took command of a transport ship. This led to quarrels which eventually resulted in Captain Short firing across Bligh’s bow in order to force Bligh to obey his signals. When this failed, Short tried to give an order to Lieutenant Putland, Bligh’s son-in-law, to stand by to fire on Bligh’s ship. Bligh boarded the Porpoise and seized control of the convoy.

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When they arrived in Sydney, Bligh, backed up by statements from two of Short’s officers, had Short stripped of the captaincy of the Porpoise – which he gave to his son-in-law – cancelled the 240-hectare (600-acre) land grant Short had been promised as payment for the voyage and shipped him back to England for court martial, at which Short was acquitted. The president of the court, Sir Isaac Coffin, wrote to the Admiralty and made several serious accusations against Bligh, including that he had influenced the officers to testify against Short. Bligh’s wife obtained a statement from one of the officers denying this and Banks and other supporters of Bligh lobbied successfully against his recall as Governor.

Soon after his arrival at Sydney, in August 1806, Bligh was given an address of welcome signed by Major Johnston for the military, by Richard Atkins for the civilian officers, and by John Macarthur for the free settlers. However, not long after, he also received addresses from the free and freed settlers of Sydney and the Hawkesbury River region, with a total of 369 signatures, many made only with a cross, complaining that Macarthur did not represent them, as they blamed him for controlling the market in sheep so as to raise the price of mutton.

John Macarthur

John Macarthur

One of Bligh’s first actions was to use the colony’s stores and herds to provide relief to farmers who had been severely affected by flooding on the Hawkesbury River, a situation which had disrupted the barter economy in the colony. Supplies were divided up according to those most in need and provisions were made for loans to be drawn from the store based on capacity to repay. This earned Bligh the gratitude of the farmers but the enmity of traders in the Corps who had been profiting greatly from the situation.

Bligh, under instructions from the Colonial Office, attempted to normalize trading conditions in the colony by prohibiting the use of spirits as payment for commodities. Bligh communicated his policy to the Colonial Office in 1807, with the advice that his policy would be met with resistance. Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh, Secretary of State for War and the Colonies wrote back to Bligh, his instructions being received on 31 December 1807. The instructions were to stop the barter of spirits. It is likely that the enmity of the monopolists within the colony stemmed from this and other policies which counteracted the power of the rich and promoted the welfare of the poor settlers. Bligh ceased the practice of handing out large land grants to the powerful in the colony; during his term he granted just over 1,600 hectares of land, half of it to his daughter Mary Putland and himself.

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Bligh also upset some people by allowing a group of Irish convicts to be tried for revolt, by a court that included their accusers, and then when six out of the eight were acquitted, he kept them under arrest anyway. He dismissed D’Arcy Wentworth from his position of Assistant Surgeon to the Colony without explanation, and sentenced three merchants to a month’s imprisonment and a fine for writing a letter which he considered offensive. Bligh also dismissed Thomas Jamison from the magistracy, describing him in 1807 as being “inimical” to good government. Jamison was the highly capable (though devious) Surgeon-General of New South Wales. He had accumulated significant personal wealth as a maritime trader and was a friend and business partner of Macarthur’s. Jamison never forgave Bligh for sacking him as a magistrate and interfering with his private business activities, and he supported Bligh’s later deposition.

In October 1807 Major George Johnston wrote a formal letter of complaint to the Commander-in-Chief of the British Army, stating that Bligh was abusive and interfering with the troops of the New South Wales Corps. It is clear that Bligh had made enemies of some of the most influential people in the colony. He also antagonized some of the less wealthy when he ordered those who had leases on government land within Sydney to remove their houses.

Macarthur had arrived with the New South Wales Corps in 1790 as a lieutenant, and by 1805 he had substantial farming and commercial interests in the colony. He had quarreled with Bligh’s predecessor governors and had fought three duels. Bligh and MacArthur’s interests clashed in a number of ways. Bligh stopped Macarthur from cheaply distributing large quantities of rum into the Corps. He also halted Macarthur’s allegedly illegal importation of stills. Macarthur’s interest in an area of land granted to him by Governor King conflicted with Bligh’s town-planning interests. Macarthur and Bligh were also engaged in other disagreements, including a conflict over landing regulations. In June 1807, a convict had stowed away and escaped Sydney on one of Macarthur’s vessels, and in December 1807, when that vessel returned to Sydney, the bond held to ensure compliance by shipping was deemed to be forfeited.

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Bligh had the Judge-Advocate, Richard Atkins, issue an order for John Macarthur to appear on the matter of the bond on 15 December 1807. Macarthur disobeyed the order and was arrested and bailed to appear for trial at the next sitting of the Sydney Criminal Court on 25 January 1808. The court was constituted of Atkins and six officers of the NSW Corps. Macarthur objected to Atkins being fit to sit in judgment of him because he was his debtor and inveterate enemy. Atkins rejected this, but “Macarthur’s protest had the support of the other six members of the court, all officers of the Corps. Without the Judge-Advocate, the trial could not take place and the court dissolved.”

Bligh accused the six officers of what amounted to mutiny and summoned Major George Johnston to come and deal with the matter. Johnston replied that he was ill, as he had wrecked his gig on the evening of the 24th on his way back home to Annandale after dining with officers of the Corps.

On the morning of 26 January 1808, Bligh again ordered that Macarthur be arrested and also ordered the return of court papers, which were now in the hands of officers of the Corps. The Corps responded with a request for a new Judge-Advocate and the release of Macarthur on bail. Bligh summoned the officers to Government House to answer charges made by the judge and he informed Major Johnston that he considered the action of the officers of the Corps to be treasonable.

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Johnston, instead, had gone to the jail and issued an order releasing Macarthur, who then drafted a petition calling for Johnston to arrest Bligh and take charge of the colony. This petition was signed by the officers of the Corps and other prominent citizens but, according to Evatt, most signatures had probably been added only after Bligh was safely under house arrest. Johnston then consulted with the officers and issued an order stating that Bligh was “charged by the respectable inhabitants of crimes that render you unfit to exercise the supreme authority another moment in this colony; and in that charge all officers under my command have joined.” Johnston went on to call for Bligh to resign and submit to arrest.

At 6:00 pm, the Corps, with full band and colors, marched to Government House to arrest Bligh. They were hindered by Bligh’s daughter but Captain Thomas Laycock finally found Bligh, in full dress uniform, behind his bed where he claimed he was hiding papers. During 1808 Bligh and his daughter, Mary Putland, were confined to Government House, under house arrest. Bligh refused to leave for England until lawfully relieved of his duty.

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Johnston appointed Charles Grimes, the Surveyor-General, as Judge-Advocate and ordered Macarthur and the six officers be tried; they were found not guilty. Macarthur was then appointed as Colonial Secretary and effectively ran the business affairs of the colony. Another prominent opponent of Bligh, Macarthur’s ally Thomas Jamison, was made the colony’s Naval Officer (the equivalent of Collector of Customs and Excise). Jamison was also reinstated as a magistrate, which enabled him and his fellow legal officers to scrutinize Bligh’s personal papers for evidence of wrongdoing. In June 1809 Jamison sailed to London to bolster his business interests and give evidence against Bligh in any legal prosecutions that might be brought against the mutineers. Jamison died in London at the beginning of 1811, however, so he did not have an opportunity to testify at Johnston’s court martial, which was not conducted until June of that year.

Following Bligh’s overthrow Johnston had notified his superior officer, Colonel William Paterson, who was in Tasmania establishing a settlement at Port Dalrymple (now Launceston), of events. Paterson was reluctant to get involved until clear orders arrived from England. When he learned in March that Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Foveaux was returning to Sydney with orders to become acting Lieutenant-Governor, Paterson left Foveaux to deal with the prevailing situation.

Joseph Foveaux

Joseph Foveaux

Foveaux arrived in July and took over the colony, which annoyed Macarthur. Since a decision was expected from England, and feeling that Bligh’s behavior had been insufferable, Foveaux left Bligh under house arrest and turned his attention to improving the colony’s roads, bridges and public buildings, which he felt had been badly neglected. When there was still no word from England, he summoned Paterson to Sydney in January 1809 to sort out matters. Paterson sent Johnston and Macarthur to England for trial, and confined Bligh to the barracks until he signed a contract agreeing to return to England. Paterson, whose health was failing, then retired to Government House at Parramatta and left Foveaux to run the colony.

In January 1809 Bligh was given the control of HMS Porpoise on condition that he return to England. However, Bligh sailed to Hobart in Tasmania, seeking the support of the Tasmanian Lieutenant-Governor David Collins to retake control of the colony. Collins, however, did not support him and on Paterson’s orders Bligh remained cut off on board the Porpoise, moored at the mouth of the River Derwent south of Hobart, until January 1810.

The Colonial Office finally decided that sending naval governors to rule the colony was untenable. Instead the NSW Corps, now known as the 102nd Regiment of Foot, was to be recalled to England and replaced with the 73rd Regiment of Foot, whose commanding officer would take over as Governor. Bligh was to be reinstated for 24 hours, then recalled to England, Johnston sent to England for court martial, and Macarthur tried in Sydney. Major-General Lachlan Macquarie was put in charge of the mission after Major-General Miles Nightingall fell ill before departure. Macquarie took over as Governor with an elaborate ceremony on 1 January 1810.

Lachlan Macquarie

Lachlan Macquarie

Governor Macquarie reinstated all the officials who had been sacked by Johnston and Macarthur and cancelled all land and stock grants that had been made since Bligh’s deposition, though to calm things down he made grants that he thought appropriate and prevented any revenge. When Bligh received the news of Macquarie’s arrival, he sailed to Sydney, arriving on 17 January 1810 to collect evidence for the forthcoming court martial of Major George Johnston. He departed for the trial in England on 12 May, arriving on 25 October 1810 aboard the Hindostan.

Having informally heard arguments from both sides, the government authorities in England were not impressed by either Macarthur and Johnston’s accusations against Bligh, or by Bligh’s ill-tempered letters accusing key figures in the colony of unacceptable conduct. Johnston was court-martialed, found guilty and cashiered, the lowest penalty possible. He was then able to return as a free citizen to his estate, Annandale, in Sydney. Macarthur was not tried but was refused permission to return to NSW until 1817, since he would not admit his wrongdoing.

Bligh’s promotion to rear admiral was held up until the end of Johnston’s trial. Afterward it was backdated to 31 July 1810 and Bligh took up a position that had been kept for him. He continued his naval career in the Admiralty, without command, and died of cancer in 1817.

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The term “Rum Rebellion” is commonly used now, but it was generally known as the “Great Rebellion” for much of the 19th century. Rum imports and taxes were certainly at issue, but they were not the main cause of the revolt. At stake were numerous financial issues that divided factions within the colony. Bligh was clearly unable to keep the peace between headstrong and powerful people. Obviously people are given to wonder from time to time how Bligh could have suffered mutiny on the Bounty, been exonerated, been rebelled against in NSW, exonerated again, then served as rear and vice admiral, but without command. Based on my own reading of primary texts over the years I’d say that Bligh was always technically correct in his actions, and therefore above legal censure, but was petulant, ill tempered, undiplomatic, and vindictive, thus earning the dislike of all who served under him. It seems to me that the Royal Navy treated Bligh more than fairly by refusing to condemn his actions in Australia, but also by never giving him command again.

I gave a recipe for rum baba here, http://www.bookofdaystales.com/prohibition-ends/ and it’s quite possible to give countless recipes for desserts that use rum. But rum is perfectly serviceable in savory dishes too. Here it is as the liquid base for a marinade for chicken based on a Jamaican recipe. I use leg parts in preference for grilling, because they can grill long enough to cook through, yet retain moistness. For this recipe I usually just buy a big pack of thighs.

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Rum Marinated Chicken

Ingredients

8 shallots, finely chopped
8 garlic cloves, crushed or pounded
1 medium-sized knob ginger (about half a thumb)
1 handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 handful fresh coriander, finely chopped
2 limes, juice only
2 lemons, juice only
2 oranges, juice only
1 scotch bonnet pepper, finely chopped
4 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 handful fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 tbsp English mustard
1 tsp ground allspice
½ cup dark rum
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp ground sea salt
2 tbsp olive oil
10 chicken pieces

Instructions

Put all the ingredients except the chicken in a large bowl and mix well. Divide the chicken between sealable plastic bags so that they can lie flat in one layer. Divide the marinade between the bags, press out all the air, seal, and refrigerate overnight.

Next day, remove the chicken pieces to a platter and pour the marinade into a bowl. Grill the chicken pieces over hot coals, constantly basting with the marinade until the skin is crisp and dark. Serve with rice and a green salad.

Serves 4 to 6

Apr 282014
 

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The Mutiny on the Bounty was a mutiny aboard the British Royal Navy ship HMS Bounty on 28 April 1789. The mutiny was led by Master’s Mate and Acting Lieutenant Fletcher Christian against their captain, Lieutenant William Bligh. Even today scholars still dispute the causes of the mutiny. Some hold that it was Bligh’s exceptionally harsh treatment of the men that led to the revolt, while others suggest that the men were unable to adjust to the rigors of naval life following their idyllic five-month stint on Tahiti. I have come to the conclusion after reading many of the documents of the era, and following Bligh’s subsequent career, that it was a combination of the two. Bligh was a petty, cruel man, but there were many like him in the Royal Navy who did not have to deal with mutiny. The Bounty crew might have lived with his tyranny were it not for their sojourn on Tahiti which showed them the alternative to vile food, cramped shipboard conditions, rats, and the cat o’ nine tails. Nor should it be forgotten that Christian was a headstrong man with a talent for leadership. What is beyond dispute is that Bligh, despite his flaws was a superb seaman. When he was set adrift with eighteen loyal seamen in a23-foot (7 m) open launch, equipped only with a quadrant and pocket watch and without charts or compass, he navigated them on a 47-day voyage to Timor in the Dutch East Indies. He recorded the distance as 3,618 nautical miles (6,701 km; 4,164 mi).

HMS Bounty began her career as the collier Bethia, a small vessel built in 1784 at the Blaydes shipyard in Hull. On 26 May 1787 she was bought by the Royal Navy for £2,600, refitted, and renamed Bounty. Bligh was appointed commanding lieutenant of Bounty on 16 August 1787, at the age of 32, after a career that included a tour as sailing master of James Cook’s HMS Resolution during Cook’s third and final voyage (1776–79).

The Royal Navy bought the ship for a single mission in support of an experiment: she was to travel to Tahiti, pick up breadfruit plants, and transport them to the West Indies, in the hope that they would grow well there and become a cheap source of food for slaves. The experiment, promoted through a prize offered by the Royal Society, was proposed by Sir Joseph Banks (Cook’s botanist), who recommended Bligh as commander, Banks at the time being the unofficial director of Kew Gardens.

In June 1787, Bounty was refitted at Deptford. The captain’s cabin was converted to house the potted breadfruit plants, and glazed windows were fitted to the upper deck, while a lead lining was installed on the deck to catch and re-use run-off to water the plants. Bligh was quartered in a small cramped cabin next to crew and officers.

HMS Bounty II

HMS Bounty II

On 23 December 1787, Bounty sailed from Spithead for Tahiti with a crew of 46 officers and men. For a full month, she attempted to round Cape Horn, but adverse weather blocked her. Bligh ordered her turned about, and proceeded east, rounding the Cape of Good Hope and crossing the width of the Indian Ocean. During the outward voyage, Bligh demoted the ship’s sailing master, John Fryer, replacing him with Fletcher Christian. This act seriously damaged the relationship between Bligh and Fryer, and Fryer would later claim Bligh’s act was entirely personal. Bounty reached Tahiti on 26 October 1788, after ten months at sea.

Bligh and his crew spent five months in Tahiti, then known as “Otaheite,” collecting and preparing a total of 1,015 breadfruit plants. This layover was unplanned, but was required to allow the plants to reach the point of development where they could be safely transported by ship. Bligh allowed the crew to live ashore and care for the potted breadfruit plants where they became socialized to the customs and culture of the Tahitians. Many of the seamen and some of the “young gentlemen” (boys of high birth destined as officers) had themselves tattooed in native fashion. Master’s Mate and Acting Lieutenant Fletcher Christian married Maimiti, a Tahitian woman. Other warrant officers and seamen of the Bounty were also said to have formed “connections” with native women.

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Bligh was not surprised by his crew’s reaction to the Tahitians. He later recorded his analysis:

The women are handsome … and have sufficient delicacy to make them admired and beloved – The chiefs have taken such a liking to our people that they have rather 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 … that a set of sailors led by officers and void of connections … should be governed by such powerful inducement … to fix themselves in the midst of plenty in the finest island in the world where they need not labour, and where the allurements of dissipation are more than equal to anything that can be conceived.

Despite the relaxed atmosphere, relations between Bligh and his men, and particularly between Bligh and Christian, deteriorated whilst in Tahiti. Christian was routinely humiliated by the captain—often in front of the crew and the native Tahitians—for real or imagined slackness, while severe punishments were handed out to men whose carelessness had led to the loss or theft of equipment. Floggings, rarely administered during the outward voyage, now became a common occurrence. As a consequence, crewmen Millward, Muspratt, and Churchill deserted the ship. They were quickly recaptured, and a search of their belongings revealed a list of names which included those of Christian and Peter Heywood. Bligh confronted the pair and accused them of complicity in the desertion plot, which they strenuously denied. Without further corroboration, Bligh could not act against them.

As the date for departure grew closer, Bligh’s outbursts against his officers became more frequent. One witness reported: “Whatever fault was found, Mr. Christian was sure to bear the brunt.” Tensions rose among the men, who faced the prospect of a long and dangerous voyage that would take them through the uncharted Endeavour Strait, followed by many months of hard sailing. But Bligh was impatient to be away. On 5 April, Bounty finally weighed anchor and made for the open sea with its breadfruit cargo.

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The mutiny occurred on 28 April 1789, 23 days out and 1,300 miles west of Tahiti. Fletcher Christian had that morning contemplated making a raft and deserting the ship by paddling around 30 nautical miles (56 km/35 mi) to the nearby island of Tofua. Instead he and several of his followers entered Bligh’s cabin, which he always left unlocked. They awakened Bligh and pushed him on deck wearing only his nightshirt, where he was guarded by Christian holding a bayonet. When Bligh entreated Christian to be reasonable, Christian would only reply, “I am in hell, I am in hell!” Despite strong words and threats on both sides, the ship was taken bloodlessly and apparently without struggle by any of the loyalists except Bligh himself. Of the 42 men on board aside from Bligh and Christian, 18 joined the mutiny, two were passive, and 22 remained loyal to Bligh. The mutineers ordered Bligh, the ship’s master, two midshipmen, the surgeon’s mate, and the ship’s clerk into Bounty’s launch. Several more men voluntarily joined Bligh rather than remaining aboard, as they knew that those who remained on board would be considered de jure mutineers under the Articles of War, and, thus, could be hanged.

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In all, 18 of the loyal crew were in the launch with Bligh; 4 other loyalists were forced to stay with the 18 mutineers and 2 passive crew. Bligh and his crew headed for Tofua (in a bay that they subsequently called “Murderers’ Cove”) to augment their meager provisions. The only casualty during this voyage was a crewman, John Norton, who was stoned to death by some locals of Tofua. Bligh then navigated the 23-foot (7 m) open launch on a 47-day voyage to Timor. Equipped with a quadrant and a pocket watch and with no charts or compass, he recorded the distance as 3,618 nautical miles (6,701 km; 4,164 mi). He was chased by locals in what is now known as Bligh Water in Fiji, and passed through the Torres Strait along the way, landing in Kupang, Timor, on 14 June. Shortly after the launch reached Timor, the cook and botanist died. Three other crewmen died in the coming months.

Bligh returned to Britain and reported the mutiny to the Admiralty on 15 March 1790, 2 years and 11 weeks after leaving England. Meanwhile, the mutineers sailed for the island of Tubuai, where they tried to settle. After three months of being attacked by the island’s locals they returned to Tahiti. Twelve of the mutineers and the four loyalists who had been unable to accompany Bligh remained there, taking their chances that the Royal Navy would not find them and bring them to justice. Two of the mutineers died in Tahiti between 1789 and 1790. Matthew Thompson shot Charles Churchill and was subsequently stoned to death by Churchill’s Tahitian family in an act of vendetta.

HMS Pandora, under the command of Captain Edward Edwards, was dispatched on 7 November 1790 to search for Bounty and the mutineers. Pandora carried twice the normal number of master’s mates, petty officers, and midshipmen, as it was expected that the extras would man Bounty when she was recovered from the mutineers. Pandora reached Tahiti on 23 March 1791. Four of the men from Bounty came on board Pandora soon after her arrival, and ten more were arrested within a few weeks. These fourteen, mutineers and loyal crew alike, were imprisoned in a makeshift cell on Pandora’s deck, which they derisively called “Pandora’s Box.” On 8 May 1791, Pandora left Tahiti, spending about three months visiting islands to the west of Tahiti in search of Bounty and the remaining mutineers, without finding anything except flotsam (including some spars and a yard on Palmerston Island). Heading west through the Torres Strait, Pandora ran aground on a reef (part of the Great Barrier Reef) on 29 August 1791. The ship sank the next morning, and 31 of the crew and four of the prisoners (Skinner, Sumner, Stewart, and Hillbrandt) were lost. The remaining 89 of the ship’s company and ten prisoners (released from their cell at the last moment by William Moulter, a boatswain’s mate on the Pandora) assembled in four small launches, and sailed for Timor, in a voyage similar to that of Bligh. They arrived at Timor on 16 September 1791.

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After being repatriated to Britain, the ten surviving prisoners were tried by a naval court. During the trial, great importance was attached to which men had been seen to be holding weapons during the critical moments of the mutiny, since under the Articles of War, failure to act when able to prevent a mutiny was considered no different from being an active mutineer. In the judgment delivered on 18 September 1792, four men whom Bligh had designated as innocent were acquitted. Two were found guilty, but pardoned; one of these was Peter Heywood, who later rose to the rank of captain himself; the second was James Morrison, who also continued his naval career and died at sea. Another was reprieved due to a legal technicality and later also received a pardon. The other three men were convicted, and hanged aboard HMS Brunswick on 29 October 1792. In other trials, both Bligh and Edwards were court-martialed for the loss of their ships (an automatic proceeding under British naval law, and not indicative of any particular suspicion of guilt). Both were acquitted.

Bligh resumed his naval career and went on to attain the rank of Vice Admiral. His career was marked by another insurrection. In 1808, while Bligh was Governor of New South Wales, troops of New South Wales arrested him in an incident known as the Rum Rebellion. This insurrection confirms many scholars’ belief that, in an era when tyrannical and cruel leaders were common and harsh punishments were normal, Bligh was a terrible commander.

Immediately after setting sixteen men ashore in Tahiti in September 1789, Fletcher Christian, eight other crewmen, six Tahitian men, and 18 women, one with a baby, set sail in the Bounty hoping to elude the Royal Navy. According to a journal kept by Edward Young, one of the mutineers, all but three of the Tahitian women had been kidnapped when Christian set sail without warning them. Bounty passed through the Fiji and Cook Islands, but feared that they would be found there. Continuing their quest for a safe haven, on 15 January 1790, they rediscovered Pitcairn Island, which had been misplaced on the Royal Navy’s charts. After the decision was made to settle on Pitcairn, livestock and other provisions were removed from Bounty. To prevent the ship’s detection, and anyone’s possible escape, the ship was burned on 23 January 1790 in what is now called Bounty Bay. Some of  the ship’s remains, such as her ballast stones, are still partially visible in its waters. Her rudder is displayed in the Fiji Museum in Suva. An anchor of Bounty was recovered by Luis Marden in Bounty Bay in 1957. The map below shows the voyage of the Bounty under Bligh (in red), the voyage under Christian (in yellow), and Bligh’s course by launch to Timor (in green).

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The Pitcairn Island community began life with bright prospects. There was ample food, water, and land for everyone, and the climate was mild. Although many of the Polynesians were homesick, and the Britons knew they were marooned on Pitcairn forever, they settled into life on Pitcairn fairly quickly. A number of children were born. At the time the community on Pitcairn was first visited by outsiders, John Adams was the sole surviving mutineer.

Little is agreed upon regarding Fletcher Christian’s role once the mutineers were established on Pitcairn Island. Adams claimed “Christian was always cheerful” but also claimed Christian would “retreat and brood [in a cave, and] had by many acts of cruelty and inhumanity, brought on himself the hatred and detestation of his companions.” Adams variously claimed that Christian had been killed “in a single massacre that occurred on the island about four years after arrival” and that Christian had committed suicide. Adams at another point claimed the “mutineers had divided into parties, seeking every opportunity on both sides to put each other to death.” While the details were inconsistent, Adams usually agreed with the journal of Young that Christian died as the result of a massacre: “The massacre … had taken place in several waves of violence, and principally arose from the fact that the Englishmen had come to regard their [Tahitian] friends as slaves.” The women, “passed around from one ‘husband’ to the other, as men died and the balance of power shifted,” eventually rebelled as well. Their descendents still live on Pitcairn, but some resettled to Norfolk Island off the east coast of Australia in 1856 when Pitcairn became too small for the growing population.

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What else could I recommend but breadfruit to commemorate this day? It is not easy to find fresh, but can be bought, in season, in Caribbean markets in Europe and North America. There are also websites that offer it frozen, such as http://www.sams24-7.com/foods/BREADFRUIT-FROZEN-12-OZ.aspx I did locate one site that offered fresh breadfruit, but it turned out to be a commercial site and I would have had to order several tons. I’ll admit it was cheap!

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There are many ways to cook breadfruit. In Sri Lanka, it is either cooked as a curry using coconut milk and spices, or plain boiled and served with a sambal of shaved coconut and hot peppers. Fritters of breadfruit are also a local delicacy of coastal Karnataka. In Seychelles, it was traditionally eaten as a substitute for rice, as an accompaniment to the main dish. It would either be boiled (friyapen bwi) or grilled (friyapen griye), where it would be put whole in the wood fire used for cooking the main meal. It is also eaten as a dessert, called ladob friyapen, where it is boiled in coconut milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. It is often said in Seychelles, that travelers who visit Seychelles will always come back if they eat breadfruit cooked in Seychelles.

In Puerto Rico, it is traditionally eaten boiled with bacalao (salted codfish). It is also used to make rellenos de pana (mashed breadfruit filled with seasoned meat), mofongo, tostones de pana (double fried breadfruit), and even lasagna de pana (cooked mashed breadfruit layered with meat and topped with cheese). There is also a popular dessert made with sweet ripe breadfruit: flan de pana (breadfruit custard/flan).

If you are curious, visit this site: http://www.ntbg.org/breadfruit/ It will tell you all that you need to know about breadfruit including a host of recipes, new and old.  Pretty much any recipe for potatoes or sweet potatoes can be adapted for breadfruit.  It is usually sold unripe or semi-ripe in markets outside the tropics, which must be cooked. Fully ripe breadfruit can be eaten raw.  It has a taste reminiscent of freshly baked bread, hence the name.