Skip to comments.William Bligh: Top 10 Ten facts about the HMS Bounty lieutenant
Posted on 12/07/2017 8:29:38 AM PST by Borges
William Bligh, commanding lieutenant of HMS Bounty and victim of the notorious mutiny, died 200 years ago today on December 7, 1817.
1. William Bligh was born in 1754 and served as cabin boy and captains servant on HMS Monmouth from 1761, when he was still only six.
2. His father worked as a customs officer.
3. In 1776, he was chosen by James Cook to be sailing master on the Resolution on Cooks third and final voyage to the Pacific.
4. At the time of the mutiny in 1789, HMS Bounty was on a mission to find breadfruit plants in Tahiti and transport them to the West Indies.
5. Bligh was cast adrift with 18 loyal crewmen with enough food and water for about a week.
6. They were also given four cutlasses, a compass, and a quadrant, but no maps.
7. Bligh made it to Timor, which was more than 4,000 miles away. The journey took 47 days.
8. From 1790 to 1805, Bligh resumed his naval career and was appointed Commander or Captain of a dozen further ships.
9. He served as Governor of New South Wales from 1806-1808.
10. The ackee fruit of Jamaica was named Blighia sapida after he introduced it to the Royal Society.
11. The 42nd President of the United States was named after him.
Six year old cabin boy.
The reality was almost the opposite. While Bligh was a gruff, unfriendly, and arrogant man, he was not cruel. In fact, he would usually just yell at crew members for offenses that other captains would flog for, and would flog for offenses that other captains would hang crew for (such as desertion). People also forget that most of the sailors aboard the ship were conscripted - often given the choice between serving a jail sentence for petty crime vs. working on a ship. He had to maintain order with a crew of rabble somehow.
Also, Fletcher Christian wasn't an idealistic humanitarian hero. He was a spoiled and moody man who decided that he preferred lounging around a tropical island with native girls to work, and conspired to convince a rabble crew to do the same. In contrast, Bligh's actions on the life boat were nothing short of heroic: he managed to keep every man alive and navigate his way from Tahiti to the Australian coast with next to no tools.
The longboat voyage after the mutiny was an incredible feat of navigation and endurance. Every time they would try and go ashore, natives would attack - chasing them in war canoes with spears splashing all around. Bligh at the tiller simply said, “Row for your lives, men” - and they did.
There is a rumor that Bligh & and Christian were sodomites. The book that the movie Bounty was written from concludes that this might have been a real possibility and that jealousy was a contributing factor to the harsh treatment that Bligh meted out to Fletcher Christian.
Bligh’s navigation skills were excellent while sailing that small boat after the mutiny and all his time as an officer. He updated Royal Navy charts as to locations and water hazards with his accurate surveys. The time ashore collecting the breadfruit out of ship’s discipline ruined his crew more than any lapse or act by Bligh. The Navy kept him on after the mutiny but he never got much in the way of promotions from then on.
Sorry, wrong spelling Blyth was the Clinton spelling.
Captain Ned: Is this how men act on a man's ship? Where is your manliness? Fighting on deck is a serious breach on my articles of strict discipline! I'm afraid the guilty party is in for a very severe punishment!
Sailor #1: Captain.. I did indeed take Mr. Spunk's spot. I'm ready to accept my punishment..
First Mate Spunk: Captain! I threw the first blow. If anyone is to be punished, let it be me. I ask only that whatever you do, please don't put me in a tight-fitting Lassie costume and make me eat from a monogrammed dog dish.
Sailor #2: [ entering ] Captain, I encouraged this fight - punish me! Make me wear nipple-pinching clothespins, sir!
Sailor #3: [ entering ] Me, Captain! Punish me!
Captain Ned: Stop! I've heard enough! Your manly admission of guilt is most manful. However, as your Captain, it is I who must bear the full masculine responsibility! And therefore, I will be punished. Spunk! Take me alone! I want a boiling oil rub..
Sorry but William Bligh achieved the rank of Vice-Admiral before he retired.
Not onboard “The Raging Queen” I hope!
‘The 1960’s Mutiny on the Bounty with Trevor Howard and Marlon Brando...’
I don’t know; I thought Howard captured the arrogant, unsympathetic Bligh pretty well, as opposed to Charles Laughton in 1935; Hopkins I thought played Bligh in a too hyperbolic light, freaking out over minutiae...
hands down, the worst portrayal of Christian was Brando; an absurd performance, really...
Just read “Men Against the Sea”, Nordhoff & Hall’s wonderful novel about Bligh’s open-sea sail from Tahiti to Timor. What a guy.
The problem wasn't Howard's acting but the way that the character was written. Bligh was portrayed as a malicious sadist who delighted in depriving his crew of food and water and other needless torments, and in so doing it presents the mutiny as though it were entirely Bligh's fault.
Only bested by Shackleton..
The fact that the mutiny occurred at all was a big black mark for Bligh regardless of the cause. But he was by no means the worst Captain around by a long shot. Many Captains were sadistic bullies. Why do you think so many Brit sailors jumped ship and signed on to the US Navy?
I’ve read it 3 times. Wonderful story.
They were excellent writers. Both moved to Tahiti to live.
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