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From 1790 to 1808 four ships were seen by the Pitcairn Islanders, averaging one every four and a half years. None of these stopped and it was not until 1808, when the colony had been in existence for 18 years, that Captain Mayhew Folger of Boston, sailing the Topaze on a sealing voyage, sighted the island and lowered two boats, whose occupants were greatly surprised to see a boat put out to meet them from the shores of the island they thought was uninhabited. Even greater was their surprise when they were hailed in excellent English by the three young men that occupied the boat. The young men invited Captain Folger to come ashore to visit a white man who lived on the island. Captain Folger visited Adams, and his account of what he heard and saw was the first news the outside world had heard of the colony of mutineers on Pitcairn Island.

The next visit was in 1815. H.M.S. Tagus, a British vessel, landed a small boat and was also met by a boat from the island. The account of one of this ship’s officers gives an interesting picture of life on the island at this early date:

“Some of these stalwart, vigorous youths visited the ship and one named M’Coy, seeing a small black terrier for the first time, became alarmed and ran to one of the officers for protection. The slight condescension of the officers, however. turned to embarrassed shame when, before eating breakfast, to which they had been invited, the Islanders said their usual grace. ‘I must confess’, he writes, ‘I blushed for shame when I saw nature in its most simple state offer that tribute of respect to the Omnipotent Creator, which from an education I did not perform, nor from society had been taught its necessity. Ere they began to eat, on their knees, and with hands uplifted, did they implore permission to partake in peace what was set before them, and when they had eaten heartily, resuming their former attitude, offered a fervent prayer of thanksgiving for the indulgence they had just experienced’. Our omission of this ceremony did not escape their notice, for Christian, eldest son of Fletcher Christian, asked me if it was customary with us also. I, with candor, acknowledge I was embarrassed and wholly at loss for a sound reply, and evaded this poor fellow’s question.”

Ten years later Captain Beechey in the Blossom found but little change. Adams had grown fatter and older and several of the children had married and a thriving crop of grandchildren had made their appearance. Beechey relates that Adams visited the ship and also several of the young men, who he described as tall, healthy, robust, with good-natured countenance. They were simple, polite, and filled with eager curiosity. In their desire to emulate their visitors, they wore their few prized European clothes acquired from their previous visitors. All lacked shoes and stockings. Some wore black coats on bare torsos, and some waistcoats without either shirt or coat. etc. Quite a caricature.

The inhabitants of Pitcairn Island had been educated to look to England as their mother country and now Captain Beechey was to them a visible and tangible thread with home. Whereas he represented officialdom to them, he was called upon to perform certain legal services for them, the first of which was the formal marriage of Adams, who felt he had lived in unsanctified union for 35 years. The captain of this, and later British men-of-war, was appealed to, to settle disputes and agreements they themselves could not decide.

Beechey records the population in 1825 as 66 persons, 36 of which were males. Two Englishmen, John Buffet and John Evans, who had been sailors aboard The Cyrus of London, which touched Pitcairn in 1823, had also become members of the colony. Buffet, a man of some education, undertook to teach the children to keep the register of island affairs, and to conduct the religious exercises. Beechey found his sermon to be good, but tedious, since it was repeated three times in succession in order to fix it firmly on the islanders’ minds. Adams also read not only the appropriate prayer from the Prayer-book, but also all those which were intended only as substitutes.

On March 5, John Adams, the last survivor of the Mutiny, died. So diligently had he labored and so commendable were his children, that something of his spirit carried over to the next generation. Adams was sixty-five when he died.

It is perhaps quite natural that some adopted an attitude of cant and self-conscious piety, due to the reaction and praise their unpremeditated devotions had received from their visitors. Captain Waldengrave on a visit in 1830 records that upon meeting with some Pitcairn women he announced, “I have brought you a clergyman”. “God bless you, God bless you”, was their reply, “to stay with us?” “No”, he replied. “You bad man, why not?” “I cannot spare him. He is the clergyman of my ship. I have brought you clothes which King George sends”, exclaimed Captain Waldengrave. “We rather want food for our souls”, came the reply. Fortunately, this tendency was not universal. There is decisive evidence that their piety was genuine.

There had been an ever-present fear among the leaders on the island, for years, that water shortage, famine and overpopulation were problems that would have to be faced. So in 1830, after much planning and arrangement, the offer of the King of Tahite to donate a tract of land there — for the step-children of Tahite — was accepted and H.M. Sloop Comet, and the transport bark, Lady Ann, embarked on March 7th for the sixteen-day voyage that brought the 81 colonists back to the home of their ancestors. This adventure proved to be a misadventure, for by September 2nd the last of the survivors, 17 having lost their lives one way or another, were back to their haven on Pitcairn.

The offices of teacher, registrar and pastor, which Mr. John Buffet, by virtue of his education had filled, were aggressively usurped by a certain Mr. Nobbs, a well-educated man, who satisfied his passion for a visit to Pitcairn Island in November 1828, and extended this into a permanent stay.

Since 1819 the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge had taken a deep interest in the welfare of the Pitcairn Islanders. Presents of religious books and clothing were frequently sent from England by them. Through this society, the wishes of the islanders and of Mr. Nobb also, to have a pastor duly accredited by the Church of England, were finally granted. Adm. Moresley, leaving his own Chaplain, Mr. Holman, and taking with him Mr. Nobbs, gave him passage via Valparaiso to England where, after some months Nobbs, was first ordained a deacon by the Bishop of Sierra Leone, and then a Priest by the Bishop of London. Before quitting England, Nobbs was appointed a missionary at a small salary by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. Nine months afterwards, Nobbs again landed at Pitcairn, May 16, 1853.

Although the previous attempt at settling elsewhere had miscarried, the threat of scarcity of water and famine due to overpopulation, caused the colony to petition the British Government to remove them as a body. In 1856 Captain Mathers of the Morayshire arrived and carried the entire population of 187 persons to Norfolk; lately abandoned penal colony of the British. It is about 25 miles in circumference and situated about 100 miles northeast of Sydney, Australia, and over 4000 miles west of Pitcairn. After a two-year period on Norfolk Island, some were lonesome for Pitcairn, as is always the case, so first two families, numbering 16 persons, went back to live on Pitcairn. Five years later four more families, numbering 81 persons, left Norfolk and returned to Pitcairn. These 47 persons, descendants of the Mutineers, form the nucleus of the colony as it exists today. The colony rapidly increased and by 1864 it had almost doubled itself, it then consisting of 90 persons.

In 1886 a major event in the religious life of the Pitcairn Islanders took place. John I. Tay, a missionary of the Seventh Day Adventists came among them. Ten years earlier a box of literature explaining their tenets had been sent to Pitcairn. These were first received with horror, later tolerated, and at last embraced. The Islanders, always interested in religious affairs and devoted to reading religious matter, could not resist the perusal of these documents of the new sect. So coming into a prepared field, Tay, during a brief stay of six weeks, was able to persuade a large part of the people to adopt the new articles of belief. A minority were opposed and threatened a rift in community affairs, but they finally gave in and unanimously thereafter adopted the newly-found faith. The people were sensitive to the criticism of English and American opinion, who viewed with regret and sorely lamented their religious debauch.

In 1890 the islanders celebrated their 100th anniversary. It was in this year that amid great excitement, the Seventh Day Adventist missionary ship. Pitcairn, made its first parochial call to the island. She arrived on November 25, 1890, on board, besides Mr. and Mrs. John I. Tay, being the Elders Gates and Read and their wives. The entire community was at this time baptized and a rich fare of theology was given the communicants to digest. In July 1892, the good ship Pitcairn brought Elder Gates back to the island for an extended stay. His influence was great. A literary society was organized. A newspaper “The Monthly Pitcairn” was edited by him. Also, Mrs. Gates’ zeal spent itself in the forming of a kindergarten.

When the Pitcairn touched at the island in 1898, the Gates’ took passage, but their place was taken by Hattie Andre, a young lady fresh from college, an excellent teacher and loved by all.

At the beginning of the present century, Pitcairn was again almost a forgotten island. Whaling days were over and the opening of the Panama Canal replaced the route around Cape Horn. This increased isolation made the fewer visits paid to the island events of great importance.

Within the last few years, however, Pitcairn has again been brought into regular communication with the world. Vessels of the New Zealand Shipping Company, on their way to and from Panama, stop at the island for a half hour as a diversion for their passengers. The natives come out to sell their curios while the passengers ask them their ill-advised and impertinent questions.

The observance of the Seventh Day Adventists Sabbath (i.e. Saturday, of course) is described in the diary of a visitor as follows:

“Up later than usual this morning — 6 a. m., but I am ready for Sabbath School. When the bell rang at 7:30 I decided to sit through all the services, so I might be able to observe how they are conducted on the island. The Sabbath School service began as a general meeting. The church was crowded. Practically every able-bodied man, woman and child attended. The service commenced with hymns. A prayer was offered by Ted Christian, Assistant Elder. He is 6 feet 6 inches tall, and in a vibrant voice uttered his prayer in the ever-moving hypnotic words of the Old Testament. Then followed his reading of some Seventh Day Adventist literature. This literature contained an appeal for funds for missionary activities. The collection that morning amounted to L8-10s — quite a figure for 178 poor islanders to roll up. After the collection the congregation split up into five classes and commenced their respective lessons. These classes were followed by church services at 11 a. m. at which communion was celebrated, after which the men retired to an outer room and armed with basins and towels they performed the foot-washing ceremony. At 3:30 p. m. a sort of Young Peoples’ service was held and at 7:30 a church business session was conducted.”

The island’s population today is over 200 people. It boasts a town-hall, a church, a school house and it’s not so neat houses. The people, through contacts with the outside world and lately by radio, keep quite up-to-date, especially when compared with their former almost complete isolation.

It is remarkable and noteworthy to see the hand of God in directing the way of mutinous English sailors to establish a colony among these native Polynesians. God, no doubt, had His chosen vessels here also and by strange means lie brought them to the knowledge of His Word.

The story of the mutiny aboard H.M.S. Bounty, and the history of Pitcairn Island is by no means a new one. It is an oft’ told tale. There are, no doubt, very few of you who have never heard of either the Bounty or of Pitcairn Island.

I became interested in its his­tory through the synopsis of Nordhoff &Hall’s “Mutiny on the Boun­ty” which appeared in The Read­er’s Digest several years ago. Chas. Nordhoff and James Norman Hall have written what is called “The Bounty Trilogy” consisting of three books, viz. Mutiny on the Bounty, Men Against the Sea, and Pit­cairn’s Island. The joint authors were American aviators who had enlisted in what was called the La­fayette Esquadrille, during World War I: after the armistice was signed they settled at Tahiti and wrote several novels dealing with the South Seas. They are still resi­dents of Tahiti. Their “Bounty Trilogy” is very interesting, but is as all novels are—dressed up— and does not strictly follow fact. There are, however, very good source books such as Captain Bligh’s book (Capt. Bligh was captain of the ill-fated Bounty) Sir John Bar­row’s History of the Mutiny. H. L. Shapiro’s Heritage of the Bounty and many others.

In order to discuss the life and mode of existence on Pitcairn’s Is­land we must needs trace the his­tory of its inhabitants: for only in the light of their past history can we understand their present ex­istence and habits.

Little did the captain and crew of H.M.S. Bounty, armed transport of the Royal British Navy realize what a history-making episode they were embarking upon, when on December 23, 1787 the ship-rigged sailing vessel of 215 tons sailed from Spithead, England.

King George III had upon pe­tition of a group of West Indies planters, Englishmen who owned vast plantations, dispatched and commissioned the then 33-year-old Lieutenant Wm. Bligh to gather a crew and head an expedition to Tahiti to gather breadfruit trees to be transplanted in the West Indies; breadfruit being the staple food among the Polynesians, it was thought that it would make an excellent and economical staple to feed to the slaves of the large plantation owners in the West Indies.

Lieut. Bligh was a capable navi­gator who knew the South Seas, as he had sailed with Capt. Cook the explorer. He had, however, a very stern and cruel character which caused his crew to fear and hate him. It was not uncommon for captains in those days to be hard, stern and fearless men, but it is undoubtedly true that Bligh was unnecessarily brutal and unwise in his discipline.

The voyage to Tahiti was one of hardship and endurance, marked by storms and unfavorable weather during which much of the food supply became damaged and in­edible. This caused dissatisfaction on the part of the men who were forced to eat unpalatable food and even very little of it. Punishments, whippings and lashings were the order of the day.

After an eventful voyage of 27, 086 miles, lasting ten months, the Bounty finally reached Tahiti on October 26, 1788.

The Captain and crew of the Bounty were well received and roy­ally welcomed and entertained dur­ing their stay of over five months on Tahiti. The natives were most friendly and helpful in gathering of the breadfruit trees and when upon completion of the mission the day of departure came, most of the crew were very reluctant to ex­change their newly found Utopia for the crowded quarters, the grueling hardships and the meagre fare of the Bounty.

On April 4, 1789, the Bounty, laden with young breadfruit trees planted in tubs on a specially con­structed deck, set sail for the West Indies. This objective was, how­ever. never reached, and if it had, our story would, no doubt, never have been told, for trouble was brewing aboard the ship.

It was Fletcher Christian, the 24-year-old Master’s mate, who kept the third watch on the event­ful night of April 28, 1789. It was he that lit the fuse that set off the chain of events that were to fol­low. He chafed inwardly under the unwarranted mistreatment he had received which especially now loomed so large when viewed a­gainst the background of the re­cently left Utopian Tahiti. Whis­pering and intrigue brewed mutiny on deck amongst the most rebel­lious of the crew who systematical­ly commandeered the arms, chest and burst in upon the captain, bind­ing him and subduing the few faithful followers he had and brought them on deck. Here amid threatenings and abuse he and 18 of the ship’s company were put overboard in the small 23-foot ship’s launch. Into it went the meagre supplies consisting of 150 pounds of bread, 32 pounds of pork, 6 quarts of Rum, 6 bottles of Wine and a 28-gallon cask of water. A very scanty store for nineteen men. The scene of the mutiny was near the Island of Tofoa, over a thou­sand miles east of Australia. The voyage of the launch with its ter­rible hardships, the storms it en­countered and the hunger and star­vation the crew endured, is a most interesting story in itself. What­ever criticism Lieut. Bligh may be subjected to, his seamanship and courage were beyond reproach. Never in the annals of the sea has anything that can compare with the voyage of the Bounty’s launch from Tofoa to the Dutch settle­ment of Coupang on the Island of Timor, a distance of 3613 miles, been recorded. The voyage took 47 days and of the crew of nineteen, twelve men surmounted the dan­gers and difficulties of the voyage and lived to reach their native England.

The Bounty, under the command of the mutinous Master’s mate Fletcher Christian, was directed toward the Island of Tubuai, about 300 miles south of Tahiti. The mutineers arrived at Tubuai on May 25 and stayed until June 6 when, due to the inhospitality of the inhabitants, it was agreed to return to Tahiti. It was the 6th of June when the Bounty arrived at Tahiti. Having landed and told the natives a fictitious tale in re­gard to themselves they received on

board stores and provisions of every nature and so laden they again set sail for Tubuai, where, with the aid of a few natives they had persuaded to go with them, they were more cordially received. Their stay this time was, however, also of short duration for on Sept. 22, 1789 we again find them an­choring in the bay at Tahiti. This time the crew by pre-arrangement divided itself into two companies; sixteen of the men desired to estab­lish themselves at Tahiti, while nine of the mutineers did not feel that Tahiti afforded a very safe refuge from the long arm of Brit­ish justice.

So, Fletcher Christian, and eight crew members, their Tahitian wives, and six native men as ser­vants, sailed from Tahiti and out of the world. As was mentioned before, sixteen of the Bounty’s crew stayed at Tahiti. One of these was murdered by a companion, an­other was killed by natives and af­ter about a year and a half the remaining fourteen were captured by Capt. Edwards of the H.M.S. Pandora, who was commissioned by the British Admiralty to find the mutineers of the Bounty and to bring them back to England to stand trial. On the return voyage four of the prisoners were drowned in a wreck which the Pandora sus­tained on Great Banner Reef near Australia. This left ten mu­tineers who finally reached Eng­land and who were held at New­gate for court-martial. Four of the men were later acquitted. The remaining six were condemned to die: three of these however, were pardoned by the king’s warrant, and three hanged aboard the Bruns­wick on Oct. 29, 1792.

When Fletcher Christian and his men left Tahiti, they had no definite plan or goal—it wasnot easy to find suitable, out of the way hiding places even in those days. After several places received considera­tion, Christian, having read of En­sign Pitcairn’s discovery in 1767 of the Island which bears his name, believed this to be a suitable place to establish themselves. Here they arrived in January 1790 and after having gone ashore and traversed and inspected it sufficiently, it was agreed that the island afforded not only excellent natural security and obscurity but also was able to sus­tain them in their physical needs. The island was entirely off the trade lanes and therefore so seldom seen by passing ships. It afforded excellent protection because of its hazardous landing, its steep al­most inaccessible shores and its mountainous passes and caves which in case of attack would have proved such impregnable fortress­es. It was deemed wise to strip the Bounty and to burn her—which at Flechter Christian’s command was also done. So, having as it were “burned their bridges behind them” we see these young English sailors with their native Tahitian wives and a few native men at­tempt colonization—a strange col­ony indeed and a history still stran­ger did they unfold in the next few years. God’s curse was signally upon them. They lusted, they kill­ed, they murdered, they became drunken maniacs until they all but exterminated themselves—so ter­rible were their lustful and bloody deeds, that they are all but unprint­able. The overbearing and unfair attitude of the whites over against the native men caused jealousy and rebellion on the part of the natives. This resulted in feuds and blood­shed: one thing of course leading to another. The supply of rum and wine having soon run out caused the ingenious mind of an exception­ally thirsty crew-member to dis­cover a method of distilling a very potent spirit from the root of a plant called ti which grew in abun­dance. The liquor thus obtained caused frequent intoxication on the part of the men and was a means of much of the sinful conduct of the first few years.

Whereas it is difficult to get at the actual facts of the first few years at Pitcairn Island and the different sources are not in agree­ment on these facts and also be­cause they are so gruesome, it is perhaps as wise to dispense with details and simply to relate that by Oct. 4, 1793 just four of the origin­al nine mutineers were alive—all the native men and five of the white men and some of the women had met their death so that beside the four white men, ten native wo­men and some children was the total population. The names of the four men were: Adams,Young, M’Coy, and Quintal. M’Coy was the man who discovered the poten­cy of ti-root. This fact attributed to his death. He became crazed by liquor and threw himself from a ledge into the sea. Quintal’s wife fell off a cliff while hunting bird’s eggs and he being discontented, desired the wife of either Adams or Young. They naturally resisted his demands and he threatened to kill them both, so they, fearing that he firmly intended to carry out his threats, killed him with an ax.

This left Adams and Young as the only white survivors. They were both and especially so, Young of a serious turn of mind. The events they had passed through, especially the last, led them to re­pent their dreadful deeds and life.

During Fletcher Christian’s life­time they had held just one church service but since his death this was done regularly every Sunday, but they now resolved that every morning and evening, family pray­ers would be had, that an after­noon service would be added to the regular Sunday morning service and that they would, as best they could, train up their children and those of their deceased companions in the fear of the Lord and in piety. In this resolution of the survivors, Adams and Young, the education that Young had had stood him in good stead. The part­ners did not long enjoy the fruits of their repentance together, as about a year after the death of Quintal, Young died from an asth­matic complaint which had bother­ed him for some time. This left Adams as the sole survivor of the mutineers of the Bounty. He felt this last loss very keenly, but it more than ever disposed him to carry out the resolve they together had begun, namely, the instruction of the colony in God’s Word and the living of a pious and upright life.

To be continued.

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