South Pacific – H.M.S. Bounty Connection (Clan West Archive)

From the Clan West Archive – Originally published December 4, 2011.  This is part of a series of articles that were initially published by the now-inactive Clan Hannay Society West.  Many thanks to Gigi Hanna, Convenor Emerita.

Note: The original article may have had external links, but these are now lost.  The links and notes found in the republished article below were researched and added as part of the May, 2020 editorial pass. -FAL.


Ivy Anne Hannah, b.1907 in Maclean, NSW, Australia, married Norfolk Island widower William (Bill) Peter Quintal on Norfolk Island in 1955. They lived on Norfolk Island where they are both now buried in Kingston Cemetery. Ivy died on 1 February, 1981 aged 74 years, and Bill in 1987 aged 79 years, leaving son John Benjamin Quintal who remains a resident of Norfolk.

The Quintal family is in direct lineage to Matthew Quintal who was born on 3 March, 1766 in Padstow, Cornwall, England and served on the ship Bounty. Matthew and his Tahitian partner Tewalua (Sarah) [also referred to as Tevarua] both died on Pitcairn Island in 1799. Matthew’s other partner Teraura (Susannah) was born at Raatiran, Tahiti in about 1775 also died on Pitcairn on 15 July, 1850. The union between Matthew and Tewalua began the line linking to Ivy Ann Hannah.

[The rest of the 2011 article confines itself to the broader story of the Bounty and its crew, without further reference to the ancestral line of Ivy Hannah’s husband Bill Quintal.  Subsequent research has turned up the following:

Matthew and Tewalua had four children who survived infancy:

Matthew, 1791-1814
Jenny (or Jane), b. 1794
Arthur, 1795-1872
Sarah, 1796-1851

Arthur married his half-brother Edward’s daughter Martha (1822-1893). They had the following children who survived childhood:

Louisa, 1839-1892
Rhoda, 1842-1857
Edward, 1844-1901
Edmund, b. 1846
Rachel, 1849-1934
Julia, 1841-1869
Hugo, 1857-1949
Arthur, b. 1859
Martha, b. 1863
Wallace, b. 1865

Edward married Angeline McCoy (1854-1914).  Their following children who survived childhood were:

Edmund, b. 1874
Albert, 1875-1926
Lara, 1879-1899
Louis, b. 1882
Ellis, 1884-1942
John, 1886-1911
Blanche, b. 1888

Ellis married Catherine Nobbs (1888-1971), who herself was descended from the Quintel family as well as that of Fletcher Christian.  Ellis and Catharine were Bill Quintal’s parents.

Further information regarding the Quintal line can be found at the following external links:

The original article continues:]

Shortly after World War I, two young veterans who did not want to settle down went to a Boston publishing house with a proposition. If they were grub-staked with adequate advance royalties, they would go to Tahiti and produce a most interesting story. The publisher agreed, and out of this came the Bounty trilogy by Nordhoff and HallMutiny on the Bounty, Men Against the Sea, and Pitcairn’s Island. The success was tremendous; H.M.S. Bounty and Captain Bligh became household phrases. Until then, that uprising on April 28, 1789, had received only moderate attention. The mutiny on the Hermione had been much more violent, and the uprisings at Spithead and Nore involved a whole fleet. But now, Nordhoff and Hall’s Bounty became the mutiny.

The mission of the Bounty to Tahiti had been a very special one. The American Revolution had broken up a profitable, long standing triangular trade in which, among other things, Philadelphia, New York, and other North American ports sent flour to feed the slaves in Jamaica, Barbados, and other sugar islands, getting in exchange sugar and rum, which could be exchanged for British manufactures. The British, at the close of the war, put an end to that arrangement, to the distress of the Americans and even more so to the sugar islands, where slave holders found it difficult to feed their slaves.

From Captain James Cook’s first Pacific voyage in the Endeavour came a suggestion of possible relief. Joseph Banks (later Sir Joseph), the wealthy naturalist who went on the voyage, called attention to breadfruit, the inside of which could be a good substitute for bread. He pulled government wires, at which he was most adept, and gained authorization for sending a naval vessel out to Tahiti to take a thousand or so young breadfruit plants to feed the West Indian slaves. The Navy Board procured a small three masted ship, the Bethia, of 230 tons (this was smaller than any of Cook’s ships) at barely half the price of the Resolution [the vessel used by Cook for his second and third Pacific voyages]. She would be renamed and commissioned as H.M.S. Bounty. The crew of 47 would be severely cramped because a large part of the ship was transformed into a “floating green house”, with a special gardener and assistant in charge. One result of the scant space was that no room was available for any marines, who had the duty of guarding the officers.

The command went to Lieutenant William Bligh, partly through the influence of Banks. Bligh had been sailing master under Cook in the Resolution and had done a great deal of charting – in fact he was rated as one of the best hydrographers. After Cook’s death, Bligh helped to navigate the ship home and served in several actions during the remainder of the American Revolution. Then he was on half-pay for five years, commanding a large merchantman. His dual personality has been a matter for discussion ever since; he was a sort of Jekyll-and-Hyde. In addition to his navigating ability, he usually ran his ship well. He was thoughtful of his crew’s health and morale when conditions were right; and he was level-headed in most crises. But he could lapse from the able, rational personality into the uptight, nagging behavior that could lead to mutiny; he was not a vicious sadist like Captain Pigot, who was chopped up on the Hermione, but could be an exasperating nagger. His whole naval record would be a mixture of high achievement and of serious mutinies (the Bounty was only one of his mutinies). Some people are called accident-prone, Bligh was certainly mutiny-prone.

Bligh was the only commissioned officer on the Bounty. There were several warrant officers including a troublesome master and a drunken surgeon, and there were several midshipmen in addition to the gardener and his assistant. The name that has always been associated with Bligh has been that of Fletcher Christian, Master’s Mate. Like Bligh, he came from the west coast of England not far from John Paul Jones’ early home, and both were from solid families. Christian attended grammar school and then entered the navy. He used family influence to meet Bligh and ask for a position on his ship when he was 21 years old and Bligh 10 years older. Just as there were sharply contrasting elements in Bligh’s makeup, so were there in Christian’s. Christian normally had a very cheerful disposition and made friends easily, but he was also subject to bad moods. For a long time Bligh and Christian were extremely close. Christian was Bligh’s protègè, dining with him frequently and finally being promoted to Acting Lieutenant which made him second in command. The Bligh and Christian moods would have much to do with the mutiny.

The Bounty sailed from Portsmouth on December 23, 1787. It was planned to round Cape Horn but after a month of brutal freezing gales Bligh headed for Good Hope instead He had done a remarkably successful job in doing everything possible for the crew’s well-being, and his efforts were appreciated.

The Bounty was at Tahiti from October 26, 1788 to April 4, 1789. Relations were unusually pleasant for the first two months. Loving was more general than ever, accompanied by a rising venereal disease rate. Bligh was in almost constant companionship with the local king and queen. The potting of breadfruit plants went on apace at Point Venus where the Cook observatory had been set up. It was now fortified. Christian lived ashore where he was put in charge. He was becoming rather indolent and was quite promiscuous among the native girls until he took up with the tall and beautiful daughter of a chief. She was his dutiful “wife” as long as they lived.

By the turn of the year the happy, carefree situation was beginning to go sour, both among officers and crew. “Such neglectful and worthless petty officers I believe were never in a ship as are in this. If I had any officers to supersede them, or was able to do without them, considering them as common seamen, they should no longer occupy their respective stations.”, wrote Bligh early in January of 1789. Punishments and flogging increased. Miscreants were apprehended, flogged, and placed in irons. Christian, so long the captain’s particular pet, now caught the heaviest of Bligh’s ill humor aroused by Christian’s often sloppy work. Violating all normal behavior Bligh often criticized Christian before the crew and even before the natives.

By the time the Bounty sailed from Tahiti on April 4 deterioration of captain-crew relations were well under way. For the three weeks she pushed westward and there was understandable resentment at the “paradise lost.” The amorous time at Tahiti was an experience that they were not likely to have again and, in contrast, the life aboard ship was become more unbearable, particularly the growing bitter antagonism between Captain Bligh and Christian.

The crisis came in the early hours of April 28, 1789, off the island of Tofura in mid-Pacific. As a result of Bligh’s nagging, Christian was in such a desperate emotional state that he prepared a raft in which to escape from the ship. About 4 am the mutiny pattern suddenly took form. The surprising thing is that, despite hours of confrontation on the deck, there was no physical violence. One of the midshipmen, Edward Young, persuaded Christian to give up his idea of a raft escape and instead to depose Bligh and take over the ship. The temper of the crew, he argued, would make this possible. Christian finally agreed to head the movement, provided there would be no bloodshed.

Christian, cutlass in hand, invaded Bligh’s cabin with four of the toughest members of the crew. Bligh was hauled out of his bed shouting at the top of his voice. The conspirators soon had the ship under their control. Their original plan had been to set Bligh and three or four others adrift in one of the smaller boats, but it soon became apparent that at least half the crew were “loyalists” who wanted to leave with Bligh, so the big launch was used. The launch could not hold all who wanted to go so three were persuaded to remain with the ship, but they made it clear that they were not mutineers. Christian even gave Bligh his best chronometer.

Following on from the bloodless mutiny, three effects took place:

  • a remarkable open-boat passage under Bligh to Timor;
  • the Admiralty’s follow-up in sending the frigate Pandora to Tahiti to pick up the mutineers and her wreck on the return; and
  • the court martial at Portsmouth and the hanging of three mutineers.

Christian with the Bounty returned to Tahiti and continued on to Pitcairn’s Island with the hard-core mutineers plus the native men and women.

Bligh partly redeemed his harsh reputation by taking the overloaded Bounty launch across the mid-Pacific, through the Great Barrier Reef and on to Timor. One of the longest single-boat trips to date. Even after his quartermaster was killed by island natives there were 18 men, which left scant freeboard to keep the waves out. Food and water were desperately short. Bligh put the men on a diet of two ounces of bread and a gill of water a day, and however irascible he might be at other times, his instant cheerfulness and solicitude for the well-being of this crew kept their morale high. The Great Barrier Reef with its 1500 miles of treacherous coral was a real test of his seamanship. Cook’s Endeavour had almost been wrecked on it, and the frigate Pandora, sent out to get the mutineers, was lost on the reefs. Between April 28 and June 14, the boat had covered some 4,000 miles. The exhausted men were scarcely able to walk, but Dutch hospitality at Kupang quickly revived them. Bligh proceeded on to London from Batavia in a Dutch ship, with the others following on.

Bligh was the hero of the hour. He was promoted to commander and then to post-captain. He was soon sent back to Tahiti for more breadfruit plants which he carried to Jamaica, but the slaves did not care for the flavour.

The admiralty extended the long arm of the empire, sending out the frigate Pandora to round up the mutineers and bring them back to England for trial. Pandora arrived at Tahiti on March 28 and remained there until May 8, during which time she rounded up 14 prisoners. Her captain, Edward Edwards, a “vicious martinet” with none of Bligh’s better qualities, hunted down everyone who had been on the Bounty. Some of the non mutineers, confident in their innocence, voluntarily reported to him and were locked up like the rest. To confine his 14 prisoners securely, he built a roundhouse on the quarterdeck. This ill-ventilated and unlighted cell became known as “Pandora’s Box”.

After searching the area for the Bounty without success the Pandora was wrecked trying to get through the Great Barrier Reef on August 21, 1789. One bosun’s mate, remembering the prisoners shut up in the “box”, unbolted the scuttle (Captain Edwards had shown no concern for their safety), but four of them, fettered with leg irons, drowned.

The prisoners came before a general court martial at Portsmouth. Bligh, already out on his second breadfruit voyage, was absent, and the prosecution used a harsh memorandum which Bligh had left. A few were acquitted, but Midshipman Peter Haywood, amiable, well-connected, and innocent, was spared only after a strong lobby interceded for him. In the end, three mutineers were hanged, one from the starboard yardarm and two from the port.

In the meantime, there had been dramatic developments out in the far Pacific. After the mutiny there was a question of “what next?” The future seemed to depend to some extent upon whether Bligh and his boat crew ever reached safety; if they did, there seemed a very good chance the Royal Navy would reach out for the mutineers. Under Christian’s command and with discipline well enforced, the Bounty, after one or two stops, put into Tahiti temporarily. Some of the sailors resumed domestic relations with their “wives”.

It was quickly decided however, that if the Bounty was still at Tahiti or thereabouts, she would fall prey to a searching frigate. The mutineers hoped to find a place that was remote, uninhabited, and inaccessible. On September 23, 1789, five months after the mutiny, the Bounty sailed for the last time from Tahiti, loaded down with stores and provisions. There were passengers too, men and women, a biracial group. There were eight English mutineers, headed by Christian, and six Polynesian natives, brought along for labor. There were also 12 women: four of them were “wives” of the leaders, including “Isabella”, the wife of Christian and daughter of a chief, a most admirable person. Some of the others were tricked aboard before the Bounty sailed.

After two more temporary inspections, Christian finally found the solution in a volume of Pacific Voyages. In an account of Carteret’s voyage in H.M.S. Swallow, he found a reference to Pitcairn’s Island. Major Pitcairn commanded the British troops at Lexington and was later killed at Bunker Hill. The island seemed to be a haven.

On January 15, 1790, they decided that this was the place and they landed in a bay of sorts, with a narrow beach. A week later, on January 23, 1890, the Bounty came to her end. There was a debate as to what to do because of the fear that another ship might sight her. It was decided to run her ashore, but suddenly smoke was seen rising from her hull. One of the toughest of the hard-core mutineers had gone below and set her afire. There was no longer any question of sailing home in her.

Three years later, the little colony almost disappeared because of friction over the women. The natives began to conspire to kill all the whites. On September 20, 1793, they killed Christian and four others. On October 4 all the remaining natives were killed, with the widows of the slain whites taking part.

Pitcairn continued in splendid isolation, quite cut off from the world, until the whaler Topaz put in there in 1808. Because of the War of 1812, England did not get word immediately. In 1817 there was temporary alarm when two British frigates called, but contact was amiable. So it continued with occasional visits until 1856 when Britain moved most of the islanders to Norfolk Island. Many of them were unhappy at the change and returned to Pitcairn which, eventually became a formal part of the British Empire.

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