The Mutiny on the Bounty is how it is most well known, but it definitely deserves a place in story books rather than history.
In 1789 27 dissatisfied crewmen mutinied aboard the British Royal Navy ship HMS Bounty, and sent 19 loyal members of the crew out to sea in a launch (small boat pictured above) so that they could remain on the island of Tahiti. The island was for the sailors, a paradise. Compared to life on ship or life in England it was seen as a much preferable alternative. However, the mutineers didn’t quite have the life of luxury they wanted, well, except one.
Remarkably the small ship in which the loyal crew were cast away travelled 4000 miles (6500 km) to reach safety, and arrived in England just a year after the mutiny, once they had arrived they set about to enact revenge on those they believed to be living a life of luxury on the island. A ship, Pandora, was dispatched to Tahiti to capture those who had mutinied. Upon arrival, only fourteen of the mutineers were to be found however and the Pandora had to return home. In another unlikely series of events, the Pandora was grounded on the great barrier reef, and 31 of its crew and four of the prisoners that had been living a life of luxury on the island died. This was the first deaths among the mutineers but certainly wasn’t the last. When the ten surviving detainees reached England, three were hanged and seven sent free. So the stats for the mutineers from 1782, just three years after events, were as follows:
4 Mutineers drowned because of the Great Barrier Reef
3 mutineers hanged
7 mutineers scot-free in England
13 mutineers missing!
This is where it really becomes like a George R. R. Martin novel.
The 13 crew had, quite intelligently, feared retribution and had escaped to the nearby island of Pitcairn and had set fire to the boat to discourage any ideas of leaving. The crew were not discovered until 1808, 19 years after they originally mutinied, and how was their island paradise panning out? Not great. Unless you were John Adams, if you were John Adams then things had turned out pretty damn great… except for… you know… the death of every single other mutineer that had escaped to the island of Pitcairn.
So by 1808, the stats for the Pitcairn mutineers stand:
5 murdered in 1793- Game of thrones brutality and Hunger Games mindset.
6 murdered in 1794- revenge for the 5 murdered in 1973.
1 suicide in 1798
1 judicial murder (ish) in 1799
1 dead as a result of Asthma in 1800- he survived all the conflict but fell at the final hurdle, poor Ned Young.
1 probably very happy and also very religious John Adams, and if you survived all that and came out top you would probably religious too.
While things were peaceful at first, conflicts soon arose over the treatment of the Tahitian women brought with the crew to Pitcairn. Accompanying the crew had been native Tahitians both male and female, some who became wives of the crew. In response to the way the women were treated by the crew, the Tahitian men murdered and killed five of the crew, including the Instigator of the mutiny Fletcher Christian. He was shot and then butchered with an axe, his reported parting words poetically were “Oh dear”.
In revenge for this conflict, the newly widowed killed some of the murderers in response, and some died in conflict with each other. A steady peace continued until two of the four remaining crew (McCoy and Quintal) began to distil alcohol which caused some of the women to attempt (and fail) to leave the island on a makeshift boat. McCoy committed suicide in 1798, and Quintal was killed with a handaxe after he was purposely made drunk. This was done by John and Ned in response to him threatening to go on a murder spree in 1799. Then in 1800 Ned died of Asthma leaving John the winner, and what did John win?
Responsibility. Yay. As the last man alive he took responsibility for the lives of the nine women and 19 children! (only four his). He became very religious and the Island of Pitcairn remained Christian for a long time. Upon his discovery, the Royal Navy decided to just let the whole mutiny thing go, and John Adams lived happily on the island until his death in 1829 at the ripe old age of 61 (for the time, especially compared to everyone else in the story).