1902 Encyclopedia > William Bligh

William Bligh
English sailor

WILLIAM BLIGH, admiral, was born of a good family in the south of England in 1754. He accompanied Captain Cook in his second expedition as sailing-master of the "Resolution," and in 1787 was despatched to the Pacific in command of H.M.S. " Bounty," for the purpose of introducing into the West Indies the bread-fruit tree from the South Sea Islands. Bligh sailed, in 1787, from Otaheite, where he had remained about six months; but, when near the Friendly Islands, a mutiny broke out on board the "Bounty," headed by Fletcher Christian, the master's mate, and Bligh, with eighteen others, was set adrift in the launch. This mutiny, which forms the subject of Byron's Island, did not arise so much from tyranny on the part of Bligh as from attachments contracted between the seamen and the women of Otaheite. After suffering severely from hunger, thirst, and storms, Bligh and his companions landed at Timor in the East Indies, having performed a voyage of about 4000 miles in an open boat. Bligh returned to England in 1790, and he was soon afterwards appointed to the " Providence," in which he effected the purpose of his former appointment by introducing the bread-fruit tree into the West India Islands. He showed great courage at the mutiny of the Nore in 1797, and in the same year took part in the battle of Camperdown, where Admiral Duncan defeated the Dutch under De Winter. In 1801 he commanded the " Glatton " at the battle of Copenhagen, and received the per-sonal commendations of Nelson. He was subsequently made governor of New South Wales, and vice-admiral of the blue. He died at London in 1817. He was an active, persevering, and courageous officer, although, perhaps, somewhat exacting in his manner.

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