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

Account of the Mutineers of the Ship Bounty,
and their Descendants at Pitcairn's Island

Sydney Gazette July 17, 1819 p.3

      We have heretofore inserted an account of the Mutineers of the Bounty having landed on Pitcairn's Islands, where many of their descendants, from a number of women whom they took away from Otaheite, then remained. By the last arrival from the Society Islands a Gentleman of Sydney receives the following very recent account on this regretted subject: –

      "Account of the Mutineers of the Ship Bounty, and their Descendants at Pitcairn's Island. – The following account I have just received from a Taheitan woman, who was the wife of Isaac Madden, one of the mutineers. She has been apparently a good looking woman in her time, but now begins to bear the marks of age. She is marked on the left arm A S 1789 which was done by Adam Smith, to whom she attached herself at first, and sailed with him both before and after the ship was taken. She has lately arrived hither in the King George from Nugahiva, at which place she was left by an American ship, the Captain of which took her from Pitcairn's Island to the Spanish main, and afterwards left her at Nugahiva. She has resided at Nugahiva about three months, and it it is more than double that time since she left Pitcairn's Island.

      "When Fletcher Christian cut his cable and left Taheite, the following persons were on board the Bounty: Fletcher Christian, John Main, Bill M'Koy, Billy Brown, Jack Williams, Neddy Young, Isaac Madden, Matt or Matthew, and Adam Smith; nine Europeans. Teirnua, Niau (a boy), & Manarii, Taheitans. – Tarara, a Raiatean, & Oher & Titahiti, Tubuans. – The Taheitans' women were Mauatua, Christian's wife; Vahineatua, Main's wife; Teio, the wife of M'Koy, who was accompanied by her little daughter; Sarah Teatuahitea, Brown's wife; Faahotu, Williams' wife; Teraura, Young's wife; Teehuteatuaonoa or Jenny, Madden's wife, before mentioned; Obuarei, Adam Smith's wife; Tevarua, Matt's wife; Toofaiti, Tararo's wife; Mareva, common to the two Taheitans; and Tinafornea, common to the two Tubuans.

      "In their passage to Pitcairn's Island they fell in with a low lagoon island, which they call Vivini, where they got birds, eggs, and cocoa nuts. They also passed between two mountainous islands, but the wind was so strong they could not land.

      "When they arrived at Pitcairn's Island they ran the ship ashore. Fletcher Christian wanted to preserve the ship, but Matt said, 'No, we shall be discovered:' so they burnt her. The island is small; has but one mountain, which is not high but flat, and fit for cultivation. They put up temporary houses of the leaves of the tea, and afterwards more durable ones thatched with the palm, as at Taheiti. They found the bread fruit there, and all were busily engaged in planting yams, taro, plantains, and aute, of which they made cloth. The account this woman gives of their proceedings in this new country is very amusing to the Taheitans. Neddy Young taught them to distil spirits from the tea root. They made small canoes, and caught many fish. They climbed the precipices of the mountain, and got birds and eggs in abundance.

      "In the mean time many children were born. Christian had a daughter Mary; and two sons, Charley and Friday. John Main had two children, Betsy and John. Bill M'Koy had Sam and Kate. Neddy Young had no children by his own wife; but by Tararo, the wife of the Raiatean, he had three sons, George, Robert, and William. Matt has had five children, Matt, Jenny, Arthur, Sarah, and a young one that died when seven days old. Adam Smith has Dinah, Eliza, Hannah, and George, by his wife. The Taheitans, &c. have left no children. Jack Williams's wife died of a scrophulous disease, which broke out in her neck. The Europeans took the three women belonging to the natives, Toafaiti, Mareva, and Tinafarnea, and cast lots for them, and the lot falling upon Toafaiti, she was taken from Tararo, and given to Jack Williams. Tararo wept at parting with his wife, and was very angry. He studied revenge, but was discovered and Oher and him were shot. Titahiti was put in irons for some time, and afterwards released; when he and his wife lived with Madden, and wrought for him.

      "Titahiti, Niau, Teimua, and Mavarii, still studied revenge; and having laid their plan when the women were gone to the mountain for birds, and the Europeans were scattered, they shot Christian, Main, Brown, Williams, and Madden. Adam Smith was wounded in the hand and face, but escaped with his life. Ned Young's life was saved by his wife; and the other women, and M'Koy, and Matt fled to the mountain.

      "Inflamed with drinking the raw new spirit they distilled, and fired with jealousy, Manarii killed Teimua by firing three shots through his body. The Europeans and women killed Manarii in return. – Niau, getting a view of M'Koy, shot at him. Two of the women went under the pretence of seeing if he was killed, and made friends with him. They laid their plan, and at night Niau was killed by Young. Taheiti, the only remaining native man, was dreadfully afraid of being killed; but Young took a solemn oath that he would not kill him. The women, however, killed him in revenge for the death of their husbands. Old Matt, in a drunken fit, declaring that he would kill F. Christian's children, and all the English that remained, was put to death in his turn. Old M'Koy, mad with drink, plunged into the sea and drowned himself; and Ned Young died of a disease that broke out in his breast. Adam Smith therefore is the only survivor of the Europeans. Several of the women also are dead. Obuarei and Tevarua fell from the precipices when getting birds. Teatuahitea died of the dropsy, and Vahineatua was killed, being pierced by a goat in her bowels when she was with child. The others were still alive when the women left.

      "The descendants of the Europeans, for there are no descendants of the natives, are very numerous. Of Christian's family, Mary Christian remains unmarried, Charley Christian married Sarah, the daughter of Teio. She has born him Fletcher, Charley, and Sarah, and was with child again. Friday Christian has got Teraura, formerly the wife of Ned Young. She has born him Joe, Charley, Polly, Peggy, and Mary. All these descendants of Christian, together with Mauatua, or old Mrs. Christian, yet survive. John Main was killed by falling from the rocks. Betsey Main is the wife of young Matt, and has born two sons, Matt and John. Sam M'Koy has taken Sarah Matt, and has by her Sam and M'Koy. Kate M'Koy is the wife of Arthur Matt, and they have children, Arthur, Billy, and Joe. Dinah Smith is the wife of Edward Matt by Teraura. She has a young son.

      "They have hogs and fowls, and are very diligent in cultivating the ground: they dress their food like the Taheitans, having no boilers. They make cloth, and cloathe themselves like the Taheitans, the man with the maro, and tibuta, the women with the paren and tibuta. They have sent away their still, the fruitful cause of so much mischief in the American that called last; and they have obtained a boat from him, which greatly adds to their comfort. The women work hard in cultivating the ground, &c. This woman's hands are quite hard with work. They have a place of worship and old Adam Smith officiates three times every sabbath. He prays extempore, but does not read. Their ceremonies of marriage, baptism, and at funerals, are very simple. It does not appear that any of the people have learned to read. The first settlers discouraged the Taheitan language, and promoted the speaking English. This woman, however, can speak neither English nor Taheitan, but a jumble of both. They speak of seeing two ships some years ago, which kept in the offing, and did not come near the island, except Master Folger as they call him, and the two king's ships; they have seen no ship till the American that brought away Jenny. Jenny says they would all like to come to Taheiti or Eimao. We were thinking that they would be a great acquisition at Opunohu alongside of the sugar works, as they have been accustomed to labour, for the Taheitans will not labour for any payment."



      Teehuteatuaenoa was born in Polynesia, probably on Tahiti. She was evidently of noble blood, as evidenced by the “atua” in her name. Unfortunately, that is all that is known of her early life and background.

      When the Bounty first dropped anchor in Matavai Bay in 1788, she was one of the first to form an attachment, to the crewmember Alexander Smith (John Adams). She even got a tattoo on her left arm which said “AS 1789.” Their relationship lasted into the next year when for reasons not entirely clear their relationship ended, and she instead began a relationship with Isaac Martin, whom she would always after affectionately refer to as “Madden.”

      After the Bounty mutiny, Martin was among those who returned to Tahiti, and he and Teehuteatuaenoa renewed their relationship, and she departed with him to Tubuai. She was a witness to the carnage that followed, and in her later years she revealed that there was an inside plot by one of their Tahitian allies to murder the crew of the Bounty and take all they owned, which was thwarted.

      Returning to Tahiti, she elected to remain with Martin, whom she was said by now to have married. They were among the few who left on the Bounty and eventually ended up on Pitcairn Island. She and Martin settled down to what they hoped would be a quiet life, tending to their property and gardens and trying to stay out of the intrigues which soon culminated in multiple tragedies.

      Following the Tararo “rebellion,” Teehuteatuaenoa and Martin took the Tubuaian Tetahiti and his wife Tinafanea to work for them, in order to spare them from the humiliation that the other Polynesian men were suffering at the hands of the Bounty crew. Sadly, things would only get worse. Barely three years after landing on Pitcairn, the remaining Polynesian men took up arms and went on a massacre, which took the lives of all but four of the former Bounty crew. Martin was among those killed, by the Polynesian Manari’i. Distraught at the murder of her beloved “Madden,” and furious at Tetahiti for having taken a part in the massacre, Teehuteatuaenoa entered into a tense alliance with the mutineer Edward Young and some of the other women. Two of the four Polynesians were soon killed, and Teehuteatuaenoa, acting as a decoy, attracted Tetahiti into her bed, giving Young's wife Teraura the opportunity to kill him with an axe, while around the same time Young killed the final Polynesian man.

      Teehuteatuaenoa moved in with Matthew Quintal and his wife Tevarua, but she did not stay with them long. Having lost Martin, and being of an independent spirit, she stayed (at least part of the time) around Western Harbor with the woman Mareva, where she tended a breadfruit plot. Since Martin's head, and hence his skull, was completely mutilated, she received permission from Toofaiti to carry around her deceased husband, John Williams’s skull, as per custom. Young, on seeing this, as well as other women carrying the skulls of the departed, demanded all the remains be buried. Teehuteatuaenoa was notable for being the first to tell him no, and so a new rebellion began, this time with a group of the women, with Jenny leading them, fighting the four surviving mutineers and a couple of the women who supported them. In the end, Young proposed to Jenny to build a ship for her and her supporters so they could sail back to Tahiti. She agreed, and even tore down her and Martins old house to use as building materials, but Young and the other three men sabotaged the ship, and it capsized. Teehuteatuaenoa came very close to killing Young after this, but they both decided to make peace. All the remains of the killed men were buried, and life settled down, with Teehuteatuaenoa and Mareva (and possibly others) living in Western Harbor.

      Within a decade of the Bounty landing on Pitcairn, all of the Bounty mutineers except Alexander Smith had died. Around this time, Smith converted to Christianity, and so did most of the population. Teehuteatuaenoa still adhered to the spirituality of her forefathers, but at the same time adopted many of the aspects of Christianity. But she always had a longing to return to Tahiti. When the Topaz visited Pitcairn in 1808, she (and possibly Mareva) spoke to Captain Folger about passage, and he told her he hoped to return in eight months time. Due to a number of circumstances, he never did. However, in October, 1817 the ship Sultan, under the command of Captain Reynolds visited Pitcairn and gave Teehuteatuaenoa passage on to Tahiti. Her friend Mareva would not go, opting to remain on Pitcairn (she would die a couple of years later).

      After a long trip, Jenny eventually returned to Tahiti. She found it changed, and in her opinion, for the worst. However, it was here that she arguably made her greatest contribution to Pitcairn. Very shortly after arriving she was interviewed about her experiences with the Bounty and Pitcairn, which was printed in the “Sydney Gazette” in 1819. In 1824 she was interviewed by the explorer Otto von Kotzebue, but her most in-depth interview was given to a Captain Dillon and the missionary Mr. Nott, which was printed in the “United Service Journal and Naval and Military Magazine” in 1829.

      Always championing for the Pitcairn Islanders to be moved to Tahiti, this dream was eventually realized in 1831. Her old friends found her by now to be a bitter, jaded woman, but she nonetheless helped the small community as much as she could. Disease would claim a large number of them before they managed to get back to Pitcairn. Teehuteatuaenoa did not go with them. Some say she died while the Pitcairners were in Tahiti, while others say that she decided to remain there, waving them off when they departed on the American whaling ship Charles Doggett. Though the time and manner of her death is not completely known, she passed away on her homeland.

      Though she wasn't born on Pitcairn, or died on Pitcairn, Teehuteatuaenoa, or “Jenny,” as she is more commonly known as, was one of the original settlers of the present Pitcairn Island community. Her contributions to the women's independence, and the history of Pitcairn are considerable, and she is someone whom the Pitcairn people should be justly proud.

      For this induction I used the sources provided by Teehuteatuaenoa herself, namely Otto von Kotzebue's account in “A New Voyage Around the World,” Volume I (London, 1830), the article in the Sydney Gazette (July 17, 1819), and the article in the “United Service Journal and Naval and Military Magazine,” 1829 Part II. I got some of the information from Young's journal extracts in Captain Beechey's “Narrative of a Voyage to the Pacific and Beering's Strait,” (London, 1831). A thank you also to Pauline Reynolds, who gave me insight into the name of Teehuteatuaenoa, and the significance of “atua.” Also, my deepest gratitude to my elders, who over time told me stories which are not written down (at least to my limited knowledge). Finally, most importantly to Teehuteatuaenoa/Jenny is owed the greatest debt. If not for her, so much would have been lost to time.

Source: Dem Tull Newsletter website, accessed December 9, 2016.

      * The Sydney Gazette article spells her name as Teehuteatuaonoa while the Dem Tull biography spells it as Teehuteatuaenoa.


      The source of this transcription is the article "Account of the Mutineers of the Ship Bounty, and their Descendants at Pitcairn's Island" in the Sydney Gazette of July 17, 1819, p.3. See digitized version of the newspaper that is available at the National Library of Australia’s (NLA) Trove Service.

Tom Tyler, Denver, February 6, 2014