Fate of the Bounty Mutineers

Of the Bounty crew captured by Edwards in Tahiti, ten were finally taken to trial. Seven were exonerated or pardoned and three were hanged from the yard-arm of a prison hulk on the Thames. Thousands hired boats for family outings on the river to witness the hangings.

Of those who accompanied Christian to Pitcairn, just one survived.

After the burning of the Bounty, Fletcher Christian was faced with a social dilemma probably unique in history: how to mould a workable society from eighteen Polynesians and nine Europeans, marooned, probably forever, and each group almost totally ignorant of the other's language or culture. It probably did not occur to him, no more than it would have to any Englishman of the day, that the male blacks should be entitled to land: he duly divided his new kingdom into nine parts, one for each of the Europeans. If he gave thought to the effect that sexual starvation might have on the Polynesians, there was little he could do about it; after a wife had been allocated to each of the whites, only three were left to cater for six blacks. The result was predictable - a series of black versus white and revenge killings left just one man alive - John Adams.

A Cockney orphan, Adams had been brought up in the poorhouse. He had been taught to read by Edward Young, the penultimate survivor, utilising the Bible and Prayer Book salvaged from the Bounty. When Young died in 1800, Adams filled his days with Bible reading and the drinking of spirits distilled from the juices of the ti-tree root. His libation was reputed to have been potent and his Bible-reading intensive. The result was that one night he had a vivid hallucination in which he saw the Archangel Michael attacking him with a dart. This brought about a total transformation in Adams. He turned religious and took upon himself the task of educating four teen-agers and nineteen child-wren between the ages of seven and nine. His benign patriarchy produced what was described, on its discovery 18 years after the mutiny, as 'the world's most pious and perfect community'.

Norfolk Island History in Detail

Early Days
The 'Bounty' Connection
Seeds of Mutiny
The Open Boat Journey
Starvation on Norfolk
Fate of the Bounty Mutineers
The Noble Savages
Second Settlement
Hell in Paradise
Pitcairn to Norfolk