The Plough Boy Journals

The Journals and Associated Documents

The Plough Boy Anthology

19th Century American Whaling

Bonin Islands

Pitcairn's Island

Dictionaries & Glossaries

Ashley's Glossary of
Whaling Terms

Dana's Dictionary of
Sea Terms

Sir Thomas Staines' Early account of the Rediscovery of the Colony on Pitcairn's Island in 1814:
The Visit of H.M.S. Briton.

Thomas's Massachusetts Spy, or Worcester Gazette
(Worcester, Massachusetts), May 22, 1816.

(From late English papers.]


      Most of our readers have heard of the mutiny of the crew of the Bounty, Capt. Bligh, In 1789. – The captain and others were put on board the launch, and the mutineers sailed for Otaheite. – Those who remained there, met with various unfortunate fates – fourteen of them were taken into custody by the vessel sent out after them by the Admiralty, and three of them were actually hanged. But Christian, the leader of the mutiny, with eight followers, and several natives of Otaheite, mostly women, sailed from the island in September, 1789: from that period to 1800, no information reached England concerning them. In the beginning of the last mentioned year, Sir Sidney Smith transmitted a paper from Captain Folger, an American, which stated that he had touched at Pitcairn's Island, in latitude 25 degrees, 2 min. south, long. 130 degrees west from Greenwich, supposed to be uninhabited; but on which he met three young men, who spoke English, and who informed him that they were descended from an Englishman who sailed with Captain Bligh. Nearly about the name time, a particular account of this interesting colony was sent by Sir Thomas Staines, of the Briton. This officer stated that he fell in with an island not laid down in the charts, but which is undoubtedly Pitcairn's Island, and which he supposed was uninhabited; but, to his great astonishment, found that it was peopled by English, (forty in number.) They proved to be descendants of the crew of the Bounty. A venerable old man, named John Adams, is the only surviving Englishman of those who last visited Otaheite, in company with Christian, They were accompanied to the island by six Otaheitan men and twelve women – the men were all swept away by desperate contentions; five of the Englishmen died, and Christian, the leader, fell a sacrifice to the jealousy of an Otaheitan, whose wife he had deprived him of; so that only one man and seven women remained of the original settlers. The first man who got on board the Briton was named Thursday October Christian; he was the first born of the island, and son to Christian. He was about twenty-five years of age, six feet high, with black hair and fine dark complexion; his countenance open and interesting; his only dress was a piece of cloth round his loins, and a straw hat ornamented with feathers; his appearance bespoke him to be good-humoured, honest, and benevolent. The astonishment of the captain and crew was great, on hearing this young man exclaim, from the canoe, before getting on board the Briton, "Won't you heave us a rope now?" But their surprise and interest were not a little increased when they saw this fine young man, on being taken below in company with another, a fine youth of 17, rise up before partaking of food, and repeat in a pleasing tone, "For what we are going to receive, the Lord make us thankful." On accompanying these young men on shore, the admiration of the captain and party increased. They were met by John Adams, and conducted to his house, which was neatly fitted up, and furnished with beds and other conveniences. The colony now consisted of about 40 persons. – The young men all athletick, and of the finest forms. The young women were tall and beautifully shaped; their faces beaming with smiles and good humour, and their whole demeanour modest and bashful. Their clothing consisted of a simple petticoat from the waist to the knees, and a tasteful head-dress. The greatest harmony prevailed in this little society, who all looked up to John Adams as a father, and entirely followed his direction. When a youth is possessed of land sufficient to maintain a family, he is married by the patriarch Adams; and such is their purity of morals, that no instance of want of chastity has occurred since Christian's death. Religion and morality have been carefully instilled into their minds by Adams, who has in every respect behaved must admirably, and well redeemed his errors as a mutineer. Their agricultural implements are made by themselves from iron supplied by the Bounty. The good old man keeps a regular journal, and account of the work by each family, what each has received, and what is due on account. When the stores or one family are low, they are assisted from the general stock, which is repaid when circumstances proceed more favourably. – Adams seemed to have a wish to visit England; but the young men and women flocked around him, and with tears entreated that their father and protector might not be torn from them. It is almost needless to add that Sir Thomas Staines lent a willing ear to their supplications.


      The following newspaper was the source of this transcription: "From Late English Papers: Mutineers of the Bounty", Thomas's Massachusetts Spy, or Worcester Gazette (Worcester, Massachusetts), May 22, 1816, page [4]. Readex: America's Historical Newspapers. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.

      These newspapers also printed what is essentially the same article:

  • "From a London Paper: Mutineers of the Bounty", Burlington Gazette (Burlington, Vermont), May 24, 1816, page [1]. Readex: America's Historical Newspapers. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.

  • "From a Late English Paper: Mutineers of the Bounty", Spooner's Vermont Journal (Windsor, Vermont}, May 27, 1816, page [1]. Readex: America's Historical Newspapers. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.