December 27th Admiral William Bligh (Baptism)

The St. Tudy - born William Bligh (1754 – 1817), who died on this day in 1817, is most famous for the Mutiny on The Bounty when on a voyage to find sources of breadfruit for slave plantations he was set adrift with loyal crewmen (1789) by mutineers and managed to travel to Timor.  He became known, sarcastically, as ‘Breadfruit Bligh’ not least because as well as the mutiny it was determined that the slaves would not eat the fruit.

Bligh had a reputation for arrogance, impatience, bad temper, confrontational attitude and strong discipline.

This led to the Admiralty often struggling to find roles for him and many of those found appear to have been intended to keep him busy and away from London.  This resulted in an eventful career including accompanying Captain Cook on Cook’s third and fatal voyage to the Pacific whilst in 1801 he served under Nelson at the Battle of Copenhagen earning considerable praise for his navigational skills.

In 1806, he was appointed Governor of New South Wales with instructions to address corruption but this resulted in his imprisonment by the colonists for two years (1808 – 1810). 

From a Cornish perspective, though, there is the amusing story of his capture and detention (1803) by locals who became observed him surveying the Helford River and assumed he was a Frenchman and a spy.  He was confined in the shed of the Vicar of Manaccan, Rev. Richard Polwhele (January 6th) until he convinced Polwhele of his identity and his reason to be on the river. Bligh and Polwhele became quite good friends upon his release from the shed.





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