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This Day in History

Australian History

Sunday, March 14, 1790. :   Captain William Bligh arrives back in London a year after the Mutiny on the Bounty, in which he was cast off his own boat.

     William Bligh was born in Plymouth, south-west England, on 9 September 1754. He was only 8 when he first went to sea. At age 22, he was chosen to join Captain Cook's crew on the 'Resolution', and became commander of the 'HMAV Bounty' eleven years later.

The famous mutiny on the Bounty occurred after Bligh left Tahiti on his way to the Caribbean. For reasons undetermined by historical records, Master's Mate Fletcher Christian led the mutiny, with the support of a small number of the ship's crew. On 28 April 1789, Bligh and his own supporters were set adrift on a 7m launch, and given a sextant and enough provisions to enable them to reach the closest ports, but no means of navigation. Bligh chose not to head for the closer Spanish ports, which would have slowed down the process of bringing the mutineers to justice, but used his recollection of Cook's maps to head for Timor on a 41-day journey of nearly six thousand kilometres. From here, he stood a better chance of communicating quickly to British vessels which could pursue the mutineers.

After recovering in Timor and being tended to by the inhabitants of the Dutch colony, Captain Bligh finally returned to England, arriving there on 14 March 1790. His men had suffered starvation, scurvy and dehydration. Whilst some of the died from the ravages of the journey, many of them survived to serve in the Royal Navy once more. Bligh himself was honourably acquitted in a London court, and later assigned as Governor to the fledgling colony of New South Wales.

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