Governor William Bligh

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Mutiny of the Bounty

Governor William BlighIn 1806, Governor King was succeeded by Captain William Bligh, whose previous adventures have made his name so well known. In his ship the Bounty, he had been sent by the British Government to the South Sea Islands for a cargo of bread-fruit trees. But his conduct to his sailors was so tyrannical that they mutinied, put him, along with 18 others, into an open boat, then sailed away and left them in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Bligh was a skilful sailor and the voyage he took was one of the most remarkable on record. In an open boat he carried his little party over 3,500 miles of unknown ocean to the island of Timor, where they found a vessel to take them home.

Unpopular Governor

In appointing Captain Bligh to rule the colony, the English Government spoiled an excellent seaman to make a very inefficient Governor. It was true that New South Wales contained a large convict population, who required to be ruled with despotic rigour, yet there were many free settlers who declined to be treated like slaves and felons. Many of whom became to thoroughly dislike the new Governor. Now it wasn't that Bligh was totally without feelings, proven following his generous treatment of the Hawkesbury farmers , who were ruined by a flood in 1806. His behaviour showed him to be warm hearted in his way, he did everything in his power, both with time and money, to alleviate their distress and he received a special thanks from the English Government for his humanity. Unfortunately his arbitrary and unamiable manners, and his frequent cruelties obscured all these better qualities (as they do!). He caused the convicts to be flogged without mercy for faults which existed in his own imagination and he bullied his officers throughout the colony and thus repeated the same mistakes which led to the mutiny of the Bounty.

At the same time he was anxious to do what he conceived to be his duty to his superiors in England. He had been ordered to put a stop to the traffic in spirits and inspite of the most unscrupulous opposition on the part of those invoved in it, he set himself the task of fixing the problem by prompt measures, with a contemptuous disregard of the hatred he was causing. But in the end the officers were too strong for him and in the quarrel theat ensued, the Governor was completely defeated.

(continues... expulsion of Bligh.)


History of Australia