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March 1, 1813

Copy of a letter from Mr. Folger, forwarded to Wm. Croker by Rear Adml Rodham in a letter dated off New London 5 Jan 1815 with the Azimuth Compass to which it refers.

Nantucket, 1 March, 1813.                 

My Lords,

      The remarkable circumstance which look place on my last Voyage to the Pacific Ocean, will, I trust, plead my apology for addressing your Lordships at this time. In February, 1808, I touched at Pitcairn’s Island, in latitude 25°. 2’ South Longitude 130° West from Greenwich. My principal object was to procure Seal Skins for the China Market; & from the account given of the Island in Capt. Carteret’s Voyage I supposed it was Inhabited [sic], but on approaching the shore in my boat, I was met by three young men in a double Canoe, with a present, consisting of some fruit & a Hog. They spoke to me in the English language, and informed me that they were born on the Island, and their father was an Englishman that had sailed with Capt. Bligh.

      After discoursing with them a short time, I landed, & found an Englishman by the name of Alex.r Smith, who informed me he was one of the Bounty’s crew, & that after putting Capt. Bligh in the boat with half the Ship’s Company, they returned to Otaheite, where part of their crew chose to tarry, but Mr. Christian with eight others, including himself, preferred going to a more remote place, & after making a short stay at Otaheite, where they took wives & six men servants, they proceeded to Pitcairn’s Island, where they destroyed the Ship, after taking every thing out of her which they thought would be useful to them. About six years after they landed at this place, their servants attacked & killed all the English, excepting the informant, & he was severely wounded. The same night the Otaheitan widows arose & murdered all their countrymen, leaving Smith with the Widows & Children, where he had resided ever since without being visited.

      I remained but a short time on the Island, & on leaving it, Smith presented me a Time-keeper & an Azimuth Compass, which he told me belonged to the Bounty. The Time-keeper was taken from me by the governor of the Island of Juan Fernandez, after I had had it in my posession about six weeks. The Compass I put in repair on board my Ship, & made use of it on my homeward passage, since which a new card has been put to it by an Instrument maker in Boston. I now forward it to your Lordships, thinking there will be a kind of satisfaction in receiving it merely from the extraordinary circumstances attending

      Should you wish any further information respecting Pitcairn's Island or its Inhabitants, a letter directed to me at Nantucket to the care of Gideon Gardner Esqr will be carefully attended to.

I am &c..                             
                        Mayhew Folger.                 


      This transcription is taken from documents in Series 71.03 'Copy of a letter from Mr Folger, forwarded to Mr Croker by Rear Adml Rodham...' 1 March 1813. in the collection of the State Library, New South Wales.

      The overall series name is: Series 71: Papers concerning the discovery of Pitcairn Island and the mutineers of HMS Bounty, 1808-1809, 1813-1815, [1845]

      Frame numbers used for the transcription:

  • CY 3011 / 319
  • CY 3011 / 320
  • CY 3011 / 321