William Bligh

William Bligh (September 9, 1754 - December 7, 1817) was the British Royal Navy commanding officer of HMS Bounty, on which the Mutiny on the Bounty occurred.

Bligh was born in Plymouth, a seaport in south-west England, and went to sea at the age of fifteen. In 1776 he was selected by Captain James Cook for the crew of the Resolution. It was in 1787 that he took command of the Bounty on a voyage to Tahiti to gather botanical samples. Fictional accounts have emphasised Bligh's brutal and despotic tendencies, but the evidence against him is scant, partly because only he and those loyal to him returned to tell the tale.

The mutiny was led by the first mate, Fletcher Christian, on April 28, 1789. After the mutiny, the mutineers cast Bligh off the ship into a small boat with 18 companions. Being a master navigator, he succeeded in following a course to Timor, 4000 miles away, whilst the mutineers went ashore at Pitcairn Island. Bligh went on to serve under Admiral Nelson at the Battle of Copenhagen and became governor of New South Wales in 1805.

There he suffered another mutiny, this time the Rum Rebellion, and was imprisoned from 1808 to 1810. In 1811, having been exonerated, he was promoted to Rear admiral, and 3 years later, in 1814 promoted again to Vice Admiral of the Blue. William Bligh died at the age of 64, on December 7th, 1817 and was buried in a family plot at Lambeth.


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