The Plough Boy Journals

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19th Century American Whaling

Bonin Islands

Pitcairn's Island

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Ashley's Glossary of
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Dana's Dictionary of
Sea Terms

The First Account of the Discovery of the Mutineers' Settlement on Pitcairn's Island

An Extract from the Journal of Captain Mayhew Folger, of the Boston Ship Topaz
by Lieutenant William Fitzmaurice,
Valparaiso, Oct 10, 1808.

The Mutineers of the Bounty.

      As the fate of Christian and his companions was never ascertained, we are glad of the opportunity of presenting to our readers the following interesting article on that subject: --

      Extract from the log-book of Captain Folger, of the American ship Topaz, of Boston.


      "Capt. Folger relates, upon landing upon Pitcairn’s Island (or Incarnation, of Quiros), in lat. 25 deg. 2 min. long. 130 deg. by lunar observation, he found there an Englishman by the name of Alexander Smith, the only person remaining of nine that escaped in his Majesty’s late ship Bounty, Capt. W. Bligh. -- Smith relates, that after putting Captain Bligh in the boat, Christian, the leader of the mutiny, took the command of the ship and went to Otaheite, where great part of the crew left the ship, except himself, Smith and seven others, who each took wives, and six Otaheitan men as servants, and shortly arrived at this Island, where they ran the ship on shore, and broke her up. This event took place in the year 1790. About four years after their arrival, a great jealousy existing, the Otaheitans secretly revolted and killed every Englishman except himself, whom they severely wounded in the neck with a pistol ball. The same night, the widows of the deceased Englishmen rose and put to death the whole of the Otaheitans, leaving Smith the only man alive upon the island, with eight or nine women, and several small children. He, when he recovered, applied himself to tilling the ground, so that it now produces plenty of yams, cocoa nuts, bananas and plantains, hogs and poultry in abundance.

      "There are now some grown up men and women, children of the mutineers, on this island, the whole population amounting to 35, who acknowledge Smith, as father and commander of them all. They all speak English, and have been educated by him, Capt. Folger represents, in a religious and moral way. -- The second mate of the Topaz asserts, that Christian, the ring-leader, became insane shortly after their arrival on the island, and threw himself off the rocks into the sea; another died of fever, before the massacre took place. -- The island is badly supplied with water, sufficient only for the present inhabitants, and no anchorage. Smith gave to Captain Folger a chronometer made by Kendall, which was taken from him by the Governor of Juan Fernandez.

"Wm Fitzmaurice, Lieut.


      This newspaper article was transcribed from: The Lincoln, Rutland and Stamford Mercury (Stamford, England), Friday, May 19, 1809; pg. 2; Issue 4078. (British Library Newspapers, Part IV: 1732-1950.)