Show all books

"his Majesty's armed vessel Bounty under my command, was taken from me, by some of the inferior officers and men" (Bligh, page 2)

Title
Minutes of the Proceedings of the Court-Martial held at Portsmouth, August 12, 1792 on Ten Persons charged with Mutiny on Board His Majesty's Ship the Bounty. With an Appendix, Containing a Full Account of the Real Causes and Circumstances of that Unhappy Transaction, the Most Material of Which Have Hitherto Been Withheld from the Public
Author
[BARNEY, Stephen and BLIGH, William]
Publisher
Printed for J. Deighton, opposite Gray's-Inn, Holborn,
Publication place
London,
Publication date
1794.
Price
£32,500
Reference
14851

Description

First edition. 4to., (273 by 208mm), half calf, marbled paper boards, red morocco, gilt, lettering-piece on the spine, rebacked to style

Collation: []2, B-I(4), K-L(4); [4], 79 pages.

Notes

An "exceedingly rare" (Ferguson) account of the proceedings of the court-martial of only ten Bounty mutineers, that Captain Edward Edwards, of the frigate Pandora', had been able to bring back from Tahiti. It was published in a very small edition, for distribution to those closely involved in the trial, and ministers of state, and not intended for publication. This very famous court martial was held aboard the H.M.S. Duke, with Lord Hood presiding over a panel of twelve sea captains. Joseph Coleman (armorer), Thomas McIntosh, Charles Norman (carpenter's mates), and Michael Byrn (able seaman) were acquitted, at Bligh's instigation, since they remained loyal to him, but since there was no more room in his launch, they had to stay aboard the Bounty. Peter Heywood (midshipman), James Morrison (boatswain's mate), William Muspratt (cook's assistant), and able seamen Thomas Ellison, John Millward and Thomas Burkett were all found guilty and condemned to death. Heywood and Morrison were later given royal pardons; and Muspratt was acquitted owing to the fact that certain evidence had not been entered at the time of the court-martial. Only Burkett, Ellison, and Millward were hanged.
This publication was prepared from the court notes, or minutes, of Stephen Barney, who represented William Muspratt at the trial. The main work begins with Bligh's dramatic deposition to the court: "A little before sunrise, Fletcher Christian, who was mate of the ship, and officer of the watch, with the ship's corporal, came into my cabin, while I was asleep, and seizing me, tied my hands with a cord, assisted by others who were also in the cabin, all armed with muskets and bayonets. I was now threatened with instant death if I spoke a word;…" (page 2).
After Bligh's statement was read to the court, since he was already on his way back to the South Pacific to collect more breadfruit, there followed a cross-examination, by the court and the accused, of John Fryer, William Cole, William Purcell, William Peckover, Thomas Hayward, John Smith, John Hallet, Captain Edwards, and lieutenants Larkin and Corner (of the Pandora). At the end is an 'Appendix', containing much detail not otherwise recorded. It includes a defence of the of Christian Fletcher written by his brother Edward, written according to Bligh "for the purpose of vindicating his brother at my expense": "Until this melancholy event, no young officer was ever more affectionately beloved for his amiable qualities, or more highly respected for his abilities and brave and officer-like conduct. The world has been led to suppose, that the associates in his guilt were attached to him only by his seducing and diabolical villany. But all those who came in the boat, whose sufferings and losses on his account have been so severe, not only speak of him without resentment and with forgiveness, but with a degree of rapture and enthusiasm" (page 75-76).
Rare: OCLC records only 2 institutional examples.

Provenance

Provenance: annotated in a contemporary hand on page 5, with the fate of "the people who remained on the ship", and in three different places the same single derogatory word to describe Bligh has been erased.

Bibliography

Ferguson I 175; Hill 1162; Kroepelien 43