The case against William Bligh (of HMS Bounty)

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neverfail
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The case against William Bligh (of HMS Bounty)

Post by neverfail » Tue Sep 17, 2019 5:20 am

Sure, he was a brilliant seaman. His feat after the Bounty mutiny in 1789 – when Fletcher Christian put Bligh and 19 loyalists in a tiny open launch with six inches of free board and limited water and supplies – to travel 4000 miles to Timor in 47 days with the loss of only one man to misadventure, is only rivalled by Sir Ernest Shackleton’s miracle of guiding his own men to safety in an open boat, after being wrecked in Antarctica in 1915.

But Bligh was also the best navigator of his age, you say? Yes, in my view he was better than his first mentor, Captain James Cook. While in that open boat, Bligh, with primitive instruments, recorded the position of islands to the west of Cape Cornwall off Queensland, which Cook, while on the Endeavour in 1770, with state-of-the-art instruments and great comfort, had already charted. When Matthew Flinders was circumnavigating the continent in 1803, he noted the difference in the co-ordinates the two Captains had provided, and was stunned to find that Bligh was correct.

So you see, I readily concede the points most often made by Bligh’s defenders: he really was a brilliant seaman and navigator. But let’s look to the evidence for my claim that, while a brilliant bastard, the only thing outweighing his brilliance was his bastardry, or villainy, if you will. Can we examine what the people under his actual command felt? See, if he had just one mutiny on his record – at a time when mutiny, a hanging offence, was exceedingly rare – you might conclude there were extenuating circumstances. But what about five mutinies, book-ended by the Bounty at the beginning and Sydney’s own Rum Corps Rebellion in 1808 at the end? Do you think there might be something of a pattern forming here?

https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/the ... 52rpb.html

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armchair_pundit
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Re: The case against William Bligh (of HMS Bounty)

Post by armchair_pundit » Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:35 am

Very interesting NF, thanks for posting.
Bligh was not only a villain, he was a mongrel’s mongrel, a bastard’s bastard and the original cur’s cur.
:mrgreen:

neverfail
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Re: The case against William Bligh (of HMS Bounty)

Post by neverfail » Tue Sep 17, 2019 3:17 pm

armchair_pundit wrote:
Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:35 am
Very interesting NF, thanks for posting.
Bligh was not only a villain, he was a mongrel’s mongrel, a bastard’s bastard and the original cur’s cur.
:mrgreen:
Thanks AP.
He resumed his naval career, where even Lieutenant Frank Bond, Bligh’s nephew, found that, once aboard the good ship Providence, his formerly kind uncle became a man transformed, full of scorn, insult and endless criticism – and that is just to a family member.
From his nephew's testimony, I get the impression that Bligh might have had a split personalty. On dry land Bligh was not in command so he was human and nice. On board his ship power went to his head so he shifted into tyrant mode.

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cassowary
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Re: The case against William Bligh (of HMS Bounty)

Post by cassowary » Tue Sep 17, 2019 6:54 pm

This is different from what I read. He was transporting a cargo of breadfruit trees from Tahiti to the Caribbean on the Bounty.. The trees needed watering and they underestimated the amount of water needed. So he limited the amount each man could drink. This was the final straw and the men mutinied.

Who knows?
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Re: The case against William Bligh (of HMS Bounty)

Post by neverfail » Wed Sep 18, 2019 1:40 am

cassowary wrote:
Tue Sep 17, 2019 6:54 pm
This is different from what I read. He was transporting a cargo of breadfruit trees from Tahiti to the Caribbean on the Bounty.. The trees needed watering and they underestimated the amount of water needed. So he limited the amount each man could drink. This was the final straw and the men mutinied.

Who knows?
That might have been the "trigger" for the mutuny on board HMS Bounty Cass : but as the article shows Bligh came equipped with a very abrasive, petty-autocrat personality that turned his subordinates into a state of simmering resentment over the humiliations that he heaped on them.

We know about his here because of his spell as viceregal governor of the colony of New South Wales. He aroused the only military coup in this country's entire recorded history against himself (in 1808).

He tried to do some quite decent things for the colony. The garrison of troops was a disgrace. It was dubbed the New South Wales corps and was a hastily recruited body of soldiers in the 1790's drawn from the dregs of English society. The officers were all men on the make who were running an illicit spirituous liquor importation and distribution racket. Rum was then even used as a de-facto currency in daily transactions due to lack of a credible coinage. So the racket was literally a licence to print money. When he caught the ringleader, John MacArthur, attempting to import a copper still for the purpose of bootlegging moonshine locally Bligh (rightly, I believe) exiled MacArthur from the colony - sent him packing back to England.

That must have signalled that Bligh intended to clean up the colony. It would not have gone well at all with the other Corps officers - who were in the same racket.

Bligh was also supportive towards the ex-convict small-time farmers against the wealthy landed settlers. Those landed settlers (among whom was numbered John MacArthur) would likewise have taken a dim view of Bligh.

Bligh as viceroy had a penchant for doing the right thing by the colony but in a way that turned powerful local interests against himself. That seems to have described Bligh all over: a proud man of high integrity and honour totally bereft of any people-handling skills.

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Re: The case against William Bligh (of HMS Bounty)

Post by cassowary » Wed Sep 18, 2019 4:17 am

neverfail wrote:
Wed Sep 18, 2019 1:40 am
cassowary wrote:
Tue Sep 17, 2019 6:54 pm
This is different from what I read. He was transporting a cargo of breadfruit trees from Tahiti to the Caribbean on the Bounty.. The trees needed watering and they underestimated the amount of water needed. So he limited the amount each man could drink. This was the final straw and the men mutinied.

Who knows?
That might have been the "trigger" for the mutuny on board HMS Bounty Cass : but as the article shows Bligh came equipped with a very abrasive, petty-autocrat personality that turned his subordinates into a state of simmering resentment over the humiliations that he heaped on them.

We know about his here because of his spell as viceregal governor of the colony of New South Wales. He aroused the only military coup in this country's entire recorded history against himself (in 1808).

He tried to do some quite decent things for the colony. The garrison of troops was a disgrace. It was dubbed the New South Wales corps and was a hastily recruited body of soldiers in the 1790's drawn from the dregs of English society. The officers were all men on the make who were running an illicit spirituous liquor importation and distribution racket. Rum was then even used as a de-facto currency in daily transactions due to lack of a credible coinage. So the racket was literally a licence to print money. When he caught the ringleader, John MacArthur, attempting to import a copper still for the purpose of bootlegging moonshine locally Bligh (rightly, I believe) exiled MacArthur from the colony - sent him packing back to England.

That must have signalled that Bligh intended to clean up the colony. It would not have gone well at all with the other Corps officers - who were in the same racket.

Bligh was also supportive towards the ex-convict small-time farmers against the wealthy landed settlers. Those landed settlers (among whom was numbered John MacArthur) would likewise have taken a dim view of Bligh.

Bligh as viceroy had a penchant for doing the right thing by the colony but in a way that turned powerful local interests against himself. That seems to have described Bligh all over: a proud man of high integrity and honour totally bereft of any people-handling skills.
From what you said, Bligh was an honorable man of integrity. But he was hopeless at handling people.

After the mutiny, he managed to get his small boat through oceans for a long journey to what is now Indonesia. He eventually returned to England. Bligh returned to Tahiti and this time succeeded into bringing breadfruit trees to the Caribbean.

Breadfruit is a prolific food producer. Acre for acre, the tree can produce more food than if you planted rice. The tree needs little care. It is more nutritious than rice. At that time, the colonists in the English Carribean Islands were afraid that their food supply might be cut off by war.

So they wanted breadfruit. But it did not taste good to them. So they gave it to the slaves who also refused to eat it. But it is eaten as a staple in the Caribbean today. They eventually got to like it.

The fruit when ripe tastes like a cross between durian and custard apple. But for some reason, people in the Pacific eat it as a vegetable. This means that they eat it while the fruit is still green and not yet ripe.
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Re: The case against William Bligh (of HMS Bounty)

Post by Jim the Moron » Wed Sep 18, 2019 7:36 am

It's about time that the world-famous gourmet Jim the Moron gets into matters breadfruit. First allow me to establish my creds. I've propagated (root suckers), planted, and nurtured breadfruit trees on both sides of the world (the eastern Caribbean and SE Asia). The tree is beautiful - and welcome shade in the tropics.

As for the "fruit," I have no idea as to the different ways I've consumed it. Wonderful stuff. But maybe the best - an old (literally) friend on a West Indian island I lived on for a few years. He was a seaman from China who had personal knowledge of almost every island in the Pacific and West Indies you could name. He was in much demand (and made good money of) for parties featuring his sandy pit-roasted pigs (please disregard, our appreciated Jewish and Muslim readers). In went the pig, and then with about every breadfruit he could muster before the fire was set. Unbelievably tasty outcome.

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