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Title: The Bounty ... Pitcairn Island --- Fletcher Christian's Descendants
Source: infoplease.com
URL Source: https://www.infoplease.com/bounty-p ... letcher-christians-descendants
Published: Jan 14, 2019
Author: Borgna Brunner
Post Date: 2019-01-14 17:56:48 by BorisY
Keywords: freedom conformiTy enTropy, freedom conformiTy enTropy, freedom conformiTy enTropy
Views: 111
Comments: 5

The Bounty, Pitcairn Island, and Fletcher Christian's Descendants

April 28 marks the anniversary of the world's most famous mutiny

by Borgna Brunner

HMS Bounty

Phrases in the Pitcairnese Dialect

I starten. – I'm going.

Bou yo gwen? – Where are you going?

I gwen down Farder's morla. – I'm going down to Father's place tomorrow.

Bou yo bin? – Where have you been?

I gwen out yenna fer porpay. – I'm going out yonder for red guavas.

Foot yawly come yah? – Why did you come here?

Up a side, Tom'sa roll. – Up at that place, Tom fell down.

Source: Ray and Eileen Young, New Zealand residents descended from Midshipmen Edward Young of the Bounty.

Courtesy of the Pitcairn Island Web site.

It is not surprising that the most famous of all mutinies, that of the British HMS Bounty, has become ideal fodder for popular history and legend. The mutiny has generated five films (who can think of Fletcher Christian without picturing Marlon Brando?) as well as countless books (including a historical novel by Mark Twain, The Great Revolution in Pitcairn).

Set in the paradisiacal islands of the South Seas, the mutiny involved a host of colorful characters, including the tyrannical Captain Bligh, the aristocratic Fletcher Christian (a distant relation of William Wordsworth's), numerous uninhibited Tahitian women, and a pack of sailors made up of cockney orphans and ruffian adverturers.

Anglo-Tahitian Culture Preserved

What has also helped to perpetuate the romantic fascination with the mutiny is the existence of a small community on Pitcairn Island directly descended from the mutineers and their Tahitian wives.

Living on a 1.75 square mile volcanic speck in the South Pacific that is surely one of the most isolated places on Earth, the contemporary Pitcairn Islanders still bear the surnames of the eighteenth century mutineers (Tom Christian, for example, is the great-great-great-grandson of Fletcher). The islanders speak a dialect that is a hybrid of Tahitian and eighteenth-century English. It is as if history had been preserved in a petri dish (another admittedly romantic notion about an already widely romanticized past).


The Bounty left England on Dec. 23, 1787, and reached Tahiti in 1788. It was sent to collect a cargo of breadfruit saplings, which was then to be transported to Jamaica where the breadfruit would serve as food for slaves working on the plantations. After sailing 27,000 miles over ten months, the crew spent a sybaritic idyll on Tahiti, where they reveled in the subtropical climate, lush surroundings, and overwhelming warmth and hospitality of the Tahitians.

A scientist of the time, gladly abandoning reason for passion, claimed that the Tahitians knew "no other god but love; every day is consecrated to it, the whole island is its temple, all the women are its idols, all the men its worshippers." Many of the men found Tahitian companions, and Fletcher Christian and a Tahitian named Maimiti fell deeply in love and later married. For Christian, Maimiti had the face that launched one mutinous ship.

Breadfruit Bligh

On April 4, 1789, the Bounty embarked on the second leg of its journey with a cargo of a thousand breadfruit saplings aboard. A little more than three weeks later, near the island of Tonga, the crew, led by first mate Fletcher Christian, staged a mutiny against Captain William Bligh, under whom they claimed to suffer inhuman treatment.

Bligh and eighteen loyal sailors were set adrift in a 23-foot open boat. According to Captain Bligh's diary, the mutineers threw breadfruit after him as he was forced off the Bounty, and yelled, "There goes the Bounty bastard, breadfruit Bligh!" Miraculously, Bligh and his loyalists survived the seven-week, 3,600-mile voyage in the cramped boat, finally reaching the island of Timor.

Discovering Pitcairn

Pitcairn's coordinates are 25 04 S, 130 06 W.

After the mutiny, Christian and his sailors returned to Tahiti, where sixteen of the twenty-five men decided to remain for good. Christian, along with eight others, their women, and a handful of Tahitian men then scoured the South Pacific for a safe haven, eventually settling on Pitcairn on January 23, 1790. An isolated volcanic island 1,350 miles southeast of Tahiti, it was named after British midshipman Robert Pitcairn, who first sighted the island on July 2, 1767.

Its location had been incorrectly charted by the explorer Carteret, who missed the mark by 200 miles, and was therefore the ideal refuge for the mutineers. Although a British ship spent three months searching for them, the mutineers eluded detection. Those who had remained on Tahiti were not so lucky. They were swiftly captured and brought to trial in England, where seven were exonerated and three were hanged.

Psychoanalyzing Captain Bligh

The circumstances leading to the mutiny remain unclear. History has alternately presented William Bligh as horrifically cruel or as a disciplined captain merely running a tight ship. Scenes from movies in which he keel-hauled sailors or gave their water rations to the breadfruit plants have no historical basis, but diplomacy and compassion were clearly not his strong suits. In short, the captain is believed to have been a foul-tempered, highly critical authoritarian with a superiority complex.

Bligh himself contended that the mutineers "had assured themselves of a more happy life among the Otaheitans [Tahitians] than they could possibly have in England, which, joined to some female connections, has most likely been the leading cause of the whole business."

Bligh Climbs the Naval Ladder Rather than Walking the Plank

Certainly the stark contrast between the pleasures of Tahiti and the bleak life aboard the Bounty played a role in igniting the mutiny, but the blame seems to rest largely on Bligh's failings as a captain. The fact that Bligh was later involved in yet another mutiny and again accused of "oppressive behavior" makes the occasional attempts to rehabilitate his reputation unconvincing. In 1805 he was appointed governor of New South Wales, Britain's colony of Australia. The colonists, well accustomed to harsh leaders and conditions, found Bligh's rule intolerable. Within three years, they mutineed; Bligh was imprisoned and sent back to England.

Ironically, having two mutinies on his record did not stymie Bligh's career–he was eventually promoted to Vice Admiral. Although he was arrogant and cruel, he was also courageous and intelligent, as well as an excellent navigator, astronomer, and cartographer–he could never have survived the seven-week, 3,600-mile post-mutiny voyage otherwise.

The Ebb & Flow

of Pitcairn's Population

1790: 27

1800: 34

1806: 35

1850: 156

1856: 194

1857: 0*

1858: 17

1864: 43

1937: 233

1968: 75

1997: 54

2000: 44

2002: 47

2008: 48

2009: 48

2014: 48

* Pitcairn's population dropped to zero when all the inhabitants emigrated to Norfolk Island.

Landing on Pitcairn Island in 1790, the mutineers and Tahitians remained invisible to the world for eighteen years. Despite the fledgling society's opportunity to invent itself from scratch, island culture more closely resembled Lord of the Flies than a Rousseauvian utopia. When an American whaler discovered the island in 1808, murder and suicide had left eight of the nine mutineers dead.

Pitcairn Joins the Commonwealth

Pitcairn flourished under the leadership of the last surviving mutineer, John Adams, a Cockney orphan who had joined the Bounty under the pseudonym Alexander Smith. He reverted to his real name on Pitcairn–apparently deciding it was the sort of place where he could let his hair down. Adamstown, the capital, is named after him.

Despite his former hard-drinking days and near illiteracy, Adams emphasized the importance of religion and education to the Bounty's second generation–which included Fletcher Christian's son, Thursday October Christian, the first child born on the island.

In 1825, a British ship arrived and formally granted Adams amnesty, and on November 30, 1838, the Pitcairn Islands (which also include three uninhabited islands–Henderson, Ducie, and Oeno) were incorporated into the British Empire. Emigration to Norfolk Island

By 1855, the population had grown to nearly 200, and the tiny island, with only 88 acres of flat land, could no longer sustain its people. As a result, Queen Victoria bequeathed them Norfolk Island, a former penal colony more than 3,700 miles to the west.

On May 3, 1856, the entire population of 194 people reluctantly abandoned Pitcairn. Within 18 months, however, seventeen of the immigrants returned to Pitcairn, followed by another four families in 1864. Contemporary Norfolk has approximately 1000 Bounty descendants–about half its population–and celebrates Bounty Day (the day the Pitcairners first arrived) on June 8.

Contemporary Pitcairn


Island Mayor: Mike Warren (2007)

Population: 47

Capital: Adamstown

Religion: Seventh-Day Adventist

Languages: English (official); Anglo-Tahitian dialect

Chief Occupations: subsistence farming and fishing

Agriculture: citrus fruits, sugarcane, watermelons, bananas, yams, and beans.

Average Temperature: 55°-90°F

Major source of revenue: postage stamps and handicrafts

Currency: New Zealand dollar

Area: 1.75 square miles

Today about 50 people live on Pitcairn. All but a handful–a pastor, the schoolteacher, and others–are direct descendants of the mutineers.

The only way to reach the island is by ship, but storms and Pitcairn's dangerous harbor have sometimes prevented landings. In recent years one of Pitcairn's thrice-annual supply ships ran aground on a reef on its way from Norfolk to Pitcairn.

Mail service takes approximately three months, and for medical attention, Pitcairners must wait for a ship to transport them to New Zealand, several thousand miles to the west.

All are Seventh-Day Adventists who converted sometime after 1886, when an American missionary arrived on the island.

The islanders support themselves by producing postage stamps and making handicrafts, which they sell primarily to visitors on passing ships. Their meager revenue does not cover the enormous costs incurred in keeping the remote island running–electricity, among other things, is exhorbitant and cargo costs several thousand dollars per ton to transport.

Great Britain has until now subsidized the island, but it is uncertain whether it will continue to underwrite the expenses of its tiny but costly colony.

There are individuals and organizations around the world devoted to the Pitcairners, their genealogy, and the history of the mutiny (the genealogical tree extends to 7,500 known descendants throughout the world). Friends of the Pitcairn Islanders have even launched the island into cyberspace–the Pitcairn Island online portal, and Norfolk Island has its own site. It is now even possible to buy Pitcairn Island handicrafts through the Pitcairn Island Online Shop!

Pitcairn has also recently begun to sell its Internet domain name–".pn"–to those needing a unique URL. "Yahoo.com" may be out of the question, but "Yahoo.pn" just might be up for grabs. Islander Tom Christian originally sold the rights to the ".pn" domain to a British Internet company. When the cash-strapped islanders realized they were seeing no financial reward they fought for and eventually took back control of their domain name.

Paradise Lost

In recent years, however, a sexual abuse scandal has cast a deep shadow over the island. Accounts of the victimization of women and young girls on Pitcairn began surfacing in 1999. Seven men–more than half the adult male population of the island–were charged with 96 counts of abuse, including rape and sexual assault.

Some of the charges dated back four decades. Subject to British law, the accused faced trial in October 2004 on Pitcairn. Three judges, a number of lawyers, and legal staff members made the 3,000-mile journey to Pitcairn from New Zealand. Eight women, all former Pitcairn Islanders, testified by video link from Auckland, New Zealand.

On Oct. 29, 2004, four men were convicted of multiple sex offenses and received jail sentences of up to six years; two others were sentenced to community service. Jay Warren, the island's magistrate, was found innocent. The appeals of all four men were dismissed, and they are currently being jailed on Pitcairn and guarded by a prison staff from New Zealand.

Poster Comment:

The PasT is Prologue

socieTy in microcosm - peTri dish

under stricT laboraTory condiTions

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#1. To: All (#0)

Pitcairn islanders pay a high price for living in the past

Published: 00:14 Sunday 03 October 2004

I’LL CONFESS straight off to a long-standing fascination with Pitcairn Island, kindled when I first swooned over Marlon Brando’s scowl in the 1962 movie Mutiny on the Bounty.

Even then, though, through the haze of my teenage crush, Brando was upstaged by the scrolled script that remained onscreen after the credits finished rolling, informing wide-eyed viewers that descendents of Fletcher Christian, the other mutineers and their Tahitian consorts still lived on Pitcairn Island.

I’ve often wondered what kind of life these unlikely Pacific islanders managed to build for themselves, with little contact from the outside world and no origin myth to sustain them other than mutiny? Well now we know, since as of last week the long arm of British law is having to stretch 9,200 miles to reach Pitcairn in order to try seven islanders on more than 50 charges of sexual abuse, including rape and indecent assault against children as young as five. Mutiny leader Fletcher Christian always said that the British would eventually catch up with his descendents.

But even he, believing himself to be cursed, could hardly have envisaged the present scenario - 214 years down the line. The first signs that all was not well on Pitcairn came to light only after a police officer from Kent, on temporary secondment to the island, began uncovering allegations of sexual abuse. Criminal proceedings were set in motion in 1999 when a 15-year-old girl decided to press charges of rape.

The case, which has grown to involve 13 defendants (six of whom live in New Zealand and will be tried there next year) and 12 victims, affects almost everyone on the island, where 47 people, many of them direct descendents of the original mutineers, reside. As you might expect in a situation where most of the perpetrators of the alleged abuse are in one way or another related to many of the victims, people feel extremely conflicted.

Last week, 13 of the island women, representing three generations of Pitcairners, called a press conference aimed at diffusing tension around the case and publicly defended their menfolk. Olive Christian, whose husband Steve is mayor of Pitcairn and also first up in the dock, claimed that underage sex was a tradition on the island dating back to 1790 and that it was part of Polynesian custom.

Speaking of her girlhood, she said: "We all thought sex was like food on the table.

" Both Christian’s daughters also admitted to having had sex from the age of 12, one of them claiming that she had been "hot for it". Some of the women present, however, sat silent and sullen, as if they’d been coerced into attending the conference, and one woman, desperate to remain anonymous, later emailed a newspaper to dismiss Olive Christian’s claims as "nonsense".

The atmosphere on Pitcairn must be intimidating for those who believe that abuse was systematic and widespread, with men demanding sex by right according to a caste system that accords higher rank to those bearing surnames of greater historical status.

Such a pompous patriarchal prerogative recalls the utopian communes that sprang up in America in the 19th century around the cultish figure of an inspired leader, many of whom gleefully devoted themselves to the practice of free love.

John Humphrey Noyes’ Oneida community comes to mind, where, via something called "complex marriage", each adult was married to every member of the opposite sex within the community. As for Britain, remember John Wroe and his famous virgins.

Yet we needn’t look that far back for free-loving precedents. The Children of God community, founded in the 1960s by Californian polygamist David Berg, has long had a thriving outpost in the UK. Members live in secluded colonies, share partners and at one point, with Berg’s blessing, they reputedly engaged in incest.

But even setting aside cultish comparisons, the sheer isolation of Pitcairn has got to be unhealthy. Like some strange social experiment gone awry, the place is a human equivalent of the Galapagos, where the absence of external influence has led to all kinds of evolutionary cul-de-sacs. Take Pitcairnese, for example, a language the locals speak between themselves.

It’s a mixture of 18th-century English and Tahitian and it has zero currency anywhere else. Sister Wendy, nun and television art critic, dies aged 88 Similarly, it’s almost painful to contemplate how much defective DNA has failed to be weeded out of a tiny gene pool that’s remained stagnant through generations of inbreeding.

Yet if Pitcairn’s isolation is worn by the islanders as a badge of pride - a mark of their unique identity - it also shields unlawful practices from the prying eyes of police and social workers.

It’s little wonder that the victims in the sex abuse case only filed charges from the safe distance of New Zealand, where broad contact with contemporary culture effectively functioned as exit counselling. Indeed, one of the victims who has since returned to Pitcairn’s goldfish bowl environment now claims to have re-evaluated her sexual history and has dropped charges. The women defending the practice of underage sex seem terribly sad to me. Ironically, they remind me of those self-denying Sudanese girls who trumpet the benefits of clitoridectomy.

In both cases, the women have internalised a male-imposed ideal of female sexuality, whether it’s the fantasy that girls are "hot for it" at 12 or the belief that because all women must be hot for it, they need to be mutilated.

Pitcairners are famous for the culture of silence that pervades their small society. Now that the silence is being broken and some ugly truths are being brought home, it’s hardly surprising that some of the islanders are in denial. Their impulse is to defend themselves, their way of life and their men, and to lash out at everyone else. The British too have been painted as villains, accused of using the trials as cover for a plot to shut down the island. Talk about an inflated sense of self-importance.

Frankly, it’s time the islanders got over themselves. If there were a kinder way of yanking them into the 21st century, I’d be the first person cheering. As it is, it looks like Pitcairn will have to be dragged into it kicking and screaming.

Read more at: https://www.scotsman.com/news/pitcairn-islanders-pay-a-high-price- for-living-in-the-past-1-1398237

If you ... don't use exclamation points --- you should't be typeing ! Commas - semicolons - question marks are for girlie boys !

BorisY  posted on  2019-01-14   20:50:48 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#2. To: BorisY (#1)

You know, boris, you demonstrate reasons for additional laws and restrictions of idiots in the USA for both areas of health & publick safety. I also want a certified idiot card for your qualifications through any government agency.

You need to receive some EST to numb your problems as I really don't see any other help or solutions of and about your delusions. 100KV ought to it.

Back on the stainless steel gurney for you.

buckeroo  posted on  2019-01-14   21:26:49 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#3. To: BorisY (#0)

socieTy in microcosm - peTri dish

Boris's Island. A Big F'n Deal, says Joe Biden!

hondo68  posted on  2019-01-14   22:02:41 ET  (1 image) Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#4. To: BorisY (#0)

Today about 50 people live on Pitcairn...

Their meager revenue does not cover the enormous costs incurred in keeping the remote island running–electricity, among other things, is exhorbitant and....

Great Britain has until now subsidized the island, but it is uncertain whether it will continue to underwrite the expenses of its tiny but costly colony.

Hmmmm.... Seems to me that 50 people can get by with some solar panels & a few modest windmills... It's not like they're trying to light-up the Las Vegas strip, you know... (and they certainly don't need high-speed maglev to travel around their dinky little 1.75 acre rock in the ocean...)

Willie Green  posted on  2019-01-15   9:39:05 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#5. To: Willie Green (#4)


People - poTenTialy - like you

Occcasional - koTex

Would have The govT

Do The counTry solar

ElecTriciTy free

AT The cosT of a hundred Trillion

Makes sense in The liberal mind - world

Do The counTry solar

RealiTyless liberals



If you ... don't use exclamation points --- you should't be typeing ! Commas - semicolons - question marks are for girlie boys !

BorisY  posted on  2019-01-15   15:59:30 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

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