Produced by Sue Asscher and Col Choat.
A VOYAGE TO THE SOUTH SEA
BY WILLIAM BLIGH.
TO THE SOUTH SEA,
UNDERTAKEN BY COMMAND OF
FOR THE PURPOSE OF
CONVEYING THE BREAD-FRUIT TREE
TO THE WEST INDIES,
IN HIS MAJESTY'S SHIP THE BOUNTY,
LIEUTENANT WILLIAM BLIGH.
INCLUDING AN ACCOUNT OF THE
MUTINY ON BOARD THE SAID SHIP,
SUBSEQUENT VOYAGE OF PART OF THE CREW, IN THE SHIP'S BOAT,
FROM TOFOA, ONE OF THE FRIENDLY ISLANDS,
TO TIMOR, A DUTCH SETTLEMENT IN THE EAST INDIES.
THE WHOLE ILLUSTRATED WITH CHARTS, ETC.
PUBLISHED BY PERMISSION OF THE
LORDS COMMISSIONERS OF THE ADMIRALTY.
PRINTED FOR GEORGE NICOL, BOOKSELLER TO HIS MAJESTY, PALL-MALL.
At the time I published the Narrative of the Mutiny on Board the Bounty
it was my intention that the preceding part of the Voyage should be
contained in a separate account. This method I have since been induced to
alter. The reason of the Narrative appearing first was for the purpose of
communicating early information concerning an event which had attracted
the public notice: and, being drawn up in a hasty manner, it required
many corrections. Some circumstances likewise were omitted; and the
notation of time used in the Narrative being according to sea reckoning,
in which the days begin and end at noon, must have produced a degree of
obscurity and confusion to readers accustomed only to the civil mode. And
this would have increased as the remainder of the voyage, on account of
the numerous shore occurrences at Otaheite and elsewhere, could not, with
clearness and propriety, have been related in any other than the usual
manner of reckoning.
Besides remedying these inconveniencies I have thought a fuller account
of our passage from Timor to Europe than that contained in the Narrative
would not be unacceptable. These reasons, with the manifest convenience
of comprising the whole Voyage in one continued narrative, in preference
to letting it appear in disjointed accounts will, it is hoped, be allowed
a sufficient excuse for having varied from the original intention.
Nevertheless for the accommodation of the purchasers of the Narrative
already published those who desire it will be supplied with the other
parts of the Voyage separate; i.e. the part previous to the mutiny and
the additional account after leaving Timor.
Plan of the Expedition.
Outfit and Occurrences to the time of leaving England.
Description of the Breadfruit.
Departure from England.
Arrival at Tenerife.
Sail from thence.
Arrival off Cape Horn.
Severity of the Weather.
Obliged to bear away for the Cape of Good Hope.
Passage towards the Cape of Good Hope and Search after Tristan da Cunha.
Arrival at False Bay.
Reports concerning the Grosvenor's People.
Departure from the Cape.
Passage towards Van Diemen's Land.
Make the Island of St. Paul.
Arrival in Adventure Bay.
Sail from Van Diemen's Land.
Rocky Islands discovered.
See the Island Maitea and arrive at Otaheite.
Ship crowded by the Natives.
Account of an English Ship lately sailed from Otaheite.
Death of Omai.
Captain Cook's Picture sent on board.
Otoo visits the Ship.
His Visit returned.
Natives well disposed towards us.
Account of the Cattle left by Captain Cook.
Breadfruit plants promised.
Visit to the Earee Rahie.
Presents made to the Arreoys.
A theft committed.
Deception of the painted Head.
Conversation with a Priest.
A Wrestling Match.
Reports of the Natives concerning other Islands.
Some Account of Omai.
Expedition to Tettaba after a Heifer.
Extraordinary domestic Arrangements.
Tinah's Mother visits the Ship.
A Sheep brought from Ulietea.
Death of the Surgeon.
Taowne and Toahroah Harbours examined.
A Walk into the Country.
The Peeah Roah.
Prevailed on by the Kindness of the Chiefs to defer our Departure.
Breadfruit Plants collected.
Move the Ship to Toahroah Harbour.
Three of the Ship's Company desert.
Indiscretion of our People on Shore.
Instances of Jealousy.
Bull brought to Oparre by a Prophet.
The Deserters recovered.
Tinah proposes to visit England.
The Ship's Cable cut in the Night.
Coolness with the Chiefs on that Account.
Visit to an old Lady.
Disturbance at a Heiva.
A Thief taken and punished.
Preparations for sailing.
Arrival of an Arreoy Woman from Tethuroa.
A Present delivered by Tinah for his Majesty.
Other Occurrences to the Time of the Ship's Departure from Otaheite.
At the Island Huaheine.
A Friend of Omai visits the Ship.
Leave the Society Islands.
The Island Whytootackee discovered.
Anchor in Annamooka Road.
Our Parties on Shore robbed by the Natives.
Sail from Annamooka.
The Chiefs detained on board.
A Mutiny in the Ship.
Proceed in the Launch to the Island Tofoa.
Difficulty in obtaining Supplies there.
Treacherous Attack of the Natives.
Escape to Sea and bear away for New Holland.
Passage towards New Holland.
Islands discovered in our Route.
Our great Distresses.
See the Reefs of New Holland and find a Passage through them.
Progress to the Northward along the Coast of New Holland.
Land on different Islands in search of Supplies.
Passage from New Holland to the Island Timor.
Arrive at Coupang.
From Timor to Batavia.
Occurrences at Batavia and Passage thence to England.
(LIST OF THE PLATES.
Head of Lieutenant Bligh.
Plan and profile of the deck of the Bounty.
Sections of the Breadfruit.
Plan of Toahroah harbour.
Copy of the draught from which the Bounty's launch was built.
Chart of Islands discovered from the launch.
Chart of part of the north-east coast of New Holland.
Chart of the track of the launch from Tofoa to Timor.)
A VOYAGE TO THE SOUTH SEAS, ETC.
Plan of the Expedition.
Outfit and Occurrences to the time of leaving England.
Description of the Breadfruit.
The King having been graciously pleased to comply with a request from the
merchants and planters interested in his Majesty's West India possessions
that the breadfruit tree might be introduced into those islands, a vessel
proper for the undertaking was bought and taken into dock at Deptford to
be provided with the necessary fixtures and preparations for executing
the object of the voyage. These were completed according to a plan of my
much honoured friend, Sir Joseph Banks, which in the event proved the
most advantageous that could have been adopted for the intended purpose.
The ship was named the Bounty: I was appointed to command her on the 16th
of August 1787. Her burthen was nearly two hundred and fifteen tons; her
extreme length on deck ninety feet ten inches; extreme breadth
twenty-four feet three inches; and height in the hold under the beams at
the main hatchway ten feet three inches. In the cockpit were the cabins
of the surgeon, gunner, botanist, and clerk, with a steward-room and
storerooms. The between decks was divided in the following manner: the
great cabin was appropriated for the preservation of the plants and
extended as far forward as the after hatchway. It had two large
skylights, and on each side three scuttles for air, and was fitted with a
false floor cut full of holes to contain the garden-pots in which the
plants were to be brought home. The deck was covered with lead, and at
the foremost corners of the cabin were fixed pipes to carry off the water
that drained from the plants into tubs placed below to save it for future
use. I had a small cabin on one side to sleep in, adjoining to the great
cabin, and a place near the middle of the ship to eat in. The bulk-head
of this apartment was at the after-part of the main hatchway, and on each
side of it were the berths of the mates and midshipmen; between these
berths the arm-chest was placed. The cabin of the master, in which was
always kept the key of the arms, was opposite to mine. This particular
description of the interior parts of the ship is rendered necessary by
the event of the expedition.
The ship was masted according to the proportion of the navy; but on my
application the masts were shortened, as I thought them too much for her,
considering the nature of the voyage.
On the 3rd of September the ship came out of dock; but the carpenters and
joiners remained on board much longer, as they had a great deal of work
The next material alteration made in the fitting out was lessening the
quantity of iron and other ballast. I gave directions that only nineteen
tons of iron should be taken on board instead of the customary proportion
which was forty-five tons. The stores and provisions I judged would be
fully sufficient to answer the purpose of the remainder; for I am of
opinion that many of the misfortunes which attend ships in heavy storms
of wind are occasioned by too much dead weight in their bottoms.
The establishment of men and officers for the ship were as follows:
1 Lieutenant to command.
2 Master's Mates.
1 Quartermaster's Mate.
1 Boatswain's Mate.
1 Gunner's Mate.
1 Carpenter's Mate.
1 Carpenter's Crew.
1 Clerk and Steward.
23 Able Seamen.
Two skilful and careful men were appointed, at Sir Joseph Banks's
recommendation, to have the management of the plants intended to be
brought home: the one, David Nelson, who had been on similar employment
in Captain Cook's last voyage; the other, William Brown, as an assistant
to him. With these two our whole number amounted to forty-six.
It was proposed that our route to the Society Islands should be round
Cape Horn; and the greatest dispatch became necessary as the season was
already far advanced: but the shipwrights not being able to complete
their work by the time the ship was ready in other respects, our sailing
was unavoidably retarded.
October. Thursday 4.
However by the 4th of October the pilot came on board to take us down the
On the 9th we fell down to Long Reach where we received our gunner's
stores and guns, four four-pounders and ten swivels.
The ship was stored and victualled for eighteen months. In addition to
the customary allowance of provisions we were supplied with sourkraut,
portable soup, essence of malt, dried malt, and a proportion of barley
and wheat in lieu of oatmeal. I was likewise furnished with a quantity of
ironwork and trinkets to serve in our intercourse with the natives in the
South Seas: and from the board of Longitude I received a timekeeper, made
by Mr. Kendal.
On the 15th I received orders to proceed to Spithead.
November. Sunday 4.
But the winds and weather were so unfavourable that we did not arrive
there till the 4th of November. On the 24th I received from Lord Hood,
who commanded at Spithead, my final orders. The wind, which for several
days before had been favourable, was now turned directly against us.
On the 28th the ship's company received two months pay in advance, and on
the following morning we worked out to St. Helen's, where we were obliged
1787. December. Sunday 23.
We made different unsuccessful attempts to get down Channel, but contrary
winds and bad weather constantly forced us back to St. Helen's, or
Spithead, until Sunday the 23rd of December when we sailed with a fair
During our stay at Spithead, the rate of the timepiece was several times
examined by Mr. Bailey's observations at the Portsmouth observatory. On
the 19th of December, the last time of its being examined on shore, it
was 1 minute 52 seconds, 5 too fast for meantime, and then losing at the
rate of 1 second, 1 per day; and at this rate I estimate its going when
The object of all the former voyages to the South Seas undertaken by the
command of his present majesty, has been the advancement of science and
the increase of knowledge. This voyage may be reckoned the first the
intention of which has been to derive benefit from those distant
discoveries. For the more fully comprehending the nature and plan of the
expedition, and that the reader may be possessed of every information
necessary for entering on the following sheets, I shall here lay before
him a copy of the instructions I received from the admiralty, and
likewise a short description of the breadfruit.
BY THE COMMISSIONERS FOR EXECUTING THE OFFICE OF LORD HIGH ADMIRAL OF
GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND, ETC.
Whereas the king, upon a representation from the merchants and planters
interested in his Majesty's West India possessions that the introduction
of the breadfruit tree into the islands of those seas, to constitute an
article of food, would be of very essential benefit to the inhabitants,
hath, in order to promote the interests of so respectable a body of his
subjects (especially in an instance which promises general advantage)
thought fit that measures should be taken for the procuring some of those
trees, and conveying them to the said West India islands: And whereas the
vessel under your command hath, in consequence thereof, been stored and
victualled for that service, and fitted with proper conveniences and
necessaries for the preservation of as many of the said trees as, from
her size, can be taken on board her; and you have been directed to
receive on board her the two gardeners named in the margin, David Nelson,
and William Brown, who, from their knowledge of trees and plants, have
been hired for the purpose of selecting such as shall appear to be of a
proper species and size:
You are, therefore, in pursuance of his majesty's pleasure, signified to
us by Lord Sydney, one of his principal secretaries of state, hereby
required and directed to put to sea in the vessel you command, the first
favourable opportunity of wind and weather, and proceed with her, as
expeditiously as possible, round Cape Horn, to the Society Islands,
situate in the Southern ocean, in the latitude of about eighteen degrees
south, and longitude of about two hundred and ten degrees east from
Greenwich, where, according to the accounts given by the late Captain
Cook, and persons who accompanied him during his voyages, the breadfruit
tree is to be found in the most luxuriant state.
Having arrived at the above-mentioned islands, and taken on board as many
trees and plants as may be thought necessary (the better to enable you to
do which, you have already been furnished with such articles of
merchandise and trinkets as it is supposed will be wanted to satisfy the
natives) you are to proceed from thence through Endeavour Straits (which
separate New Holland from New Guinea) to Prince's Island in the Straits
of Sunda, or, if it should happen to be more convenient, to pass on the
eastern side of Java to some port on the north side of that island, where
any breadfruit trees which may have been injured, or have died, may be
replaced by mangosteens, duriens, jacks, nancas, lanfas, and other fine
fruit trees of that quarter, as well as the rice plant which grows upon
dry land; all of which species (or such of them as shall be judged most
eligible) you are to purchase on the best terms you can from the
inhabitants of that island with the ducats with which you have also been
furnished for that purpose; taking care however, if the rice plants
above-mentioned cannot be procured at Java, to touch at Prince's Island
for them, where they are regularly cultivated.
From Prince's Island, or the Island of Java, you are to proceed round the
Cape of Good Hope to the West Indies (calling on your way thither at any
places which may be thought necessary) and deposit one half of such of
the above-mentioned trees and plants as may be then alive at his
majesty's botanical garden at St. Vincent, for the benefit of the
Windward Islands, and then go on to Jamaica: and, having delivered the
remainder to Mr. East, or such person or persons as may be authorised by
the governor and council of that island to receive them, refreshed your
people, and received on board such provisions and stores as may be
necessary for the voyage, make the best of your way back to England;
repairing to Spithead, and sending to our secretary an account of your
arrival and proceedings.
And whereas you will receive herewith a copy of the instructions which
have been given to the above-mentioned gardeners for their guidance, as
well as in procuring the said trees and plants, and the management of
them after they shall be put on board, as for bringing to England a small
sample of each species, and such others as may be prepared by the
superintendent of the botanical garden at St. Vincent's, and by the said
Mr. East, or others, for his majesty's garden at Kew; you are hereby
required and directed to afford, and to give directions to your officers
and company to afford, the said gardeners every possible aid and
assistance, not only in the collecting of the said trees and plants at
the places before mentioned, but for their preservation during their
conveyance to the places of their destination.
Given under our hands the 20th November 1787.
J. LEVESON GOWER.
To Lieutenant William Bligh, commanding his majesty's armed vessel the
Bounty at Spithead.
By command of their Lordships,
In the foregoing orders it is to be observed that I was particularly
directed to proceed round Cape Horn but, as the season was so far
advanced and we were so long detained by contrary winds, I made
application to the Admiralty for discretional orders on that point; to
which I received the following answer:
BY THE COMMISSIONERS FOR EXECUTING THE OFFICE OF LORD HIGH ADMIRAL OF
GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND, ETC. ETC.
The season of the year being now so far advanced as to render it probable
that your arrival with the vessel you command on the southern coast of
America will be too late for your passing round Cape Horn without much
difficulty and hazard, you are in that case at liberty (notwithstanding
former orders) to proceed in her to Otaheite, round the Cape of Good
Given under our hands the 18th December 1787.
To Lieutenant William Bligh, commanding His Majesty's armed vessel
By command of their Lordships,
The Breadfruit is so well known and described that to attempt a new
account of it would be unnecessary and useless. However as it may
contribute to the convenience of the reader I have given the following
extracts respecting it with the plate annexed.
EXTRACT FROM THE ACCOUNT OF DAMPIER'S VOYAGE ROUND THE WORLD PERFORMED IN
The breadfruit (as we call it) grows on a large tree, as big and high as
our largest apple-trees: It hath a spreading head, full of branches and
dark leaves. The fruit grows on the boughs like apples; it is as big as a
penny-loaf when wheat is at five shillings the bushel; it is of a round
shape, and hath a thick tough rind. When the fruit is ripe it is yellow
and soft, and the taste is sweet and pleasant. The natives of Guam use it
for bread. They gather it, when full-grown, while it is green and hard;
then they bake it in an oven, which scorches the rind and makes it black;
but they scrape off the outside black crust, and there remains a tender
thin crust; and the inside is soft, tender, and white like the crumb of a
penny-loaf. There is NEITHER SEED NOR STONE in the inside, but all is of
a pure substance, like bread. It must be eaten new; for, if it is kept
above twenty-four hours, it grows harsh and choaky; but it is very
pleasant before it is too stale. This fruit lasts in season EIGHT MONTHS
in the year, during which the natives eat NO OTHER SORT OF FOOD OF BREAD
KIND. I did never see of this fruit anywhere but here. The natives told
us that there is plenty of this fruit growing on the rest of the Ladrone
islands; and I DID NEVER HEAR OF IT ANYWHERE ELSE. Volume 1 page 296.
EXTRACT FROM THE ACCOUNT OF LORD ANSON'S VOYAGE, PUBLISHED BY MR. WALTER.
There was at Tinian a kind of fruit, peculiar to these (Ladrone) islands,
called by the Indians rhymay, but by us the breadfruit; for it was
constantly eaten by us, during our stay upon the island, * instead of
bread; and so UNIVERSALLY PREFERRED that no ship's bread was expended in
that whole interval. It grew upon a tree which is somewhat lofty, and
which towards the top divides into large and spreading branches. The
leaves of this tree are of a remarkable deep green, are notched about the
edges, and are generally from a foot to eighteen inches in length. The
fruit itself is found indifferently on all parts of the branches; it is
in shape rather elliptical than round; it is covered with a tough rind
and is usually seven or eight inches long; each of them grows singly and
not in clusters. This fruit is fittest to be used when it is full-grown
but still green; in which state, after it is properly prepared by being
roasted in the embers, its taste has some distant resemblance to that of
an artichoke's bottom, and its texture is not very different, for it is
soft and spongy.
(*Footnote. About two months, namely from the latter end of August to the
latter end of October, 1742.)
EXTRACTS FROM THE ACCOUNT OF THE FIRST VOYAGE OF CAPTAIN COOK.
HAWKESWORTH, VOLUME 2.
IN THE SOCIETY ISLANDS.
The breadfruit grows on a tree that is about the size of a middling oak;
its leaves are frequently a foot and a half long, of an oblong shape,
deeply sinuated like those of the fig-tree, which they resemble in
consistence and colour, and in the exuding of a white milky juice upon
being broken. The fruit is about the size and shape of a child's head,
and the surface is reticulated not much unlike a truffle: it is covered
with a thin skin, and has a core about as big as the handle of a small
knife. The eatable part lies between the skin and the core; it is as
white as snow, and somewhat of the consistence of new bread: it must be
roasted before it is eaten, being first divided into three or four parts.
Its taste is insipid, with a slight sweetness somewhat resembling that of
the crumb of wheaten bread mixed with a Jerusalem artichoke.
Pages 80, 81. See also the plate there and at page 232.
Of the many vegetables that have been mentioned already as serving them
for food, the principal is the breadfruit, to procure which costs them no
trouble or labour but climbing a tree. The tree which produces it does
not indeed shoot up spontaneously, but if a man plants ten of them in his
lifetime, which he may do in about an hour, he will as completely fulfil
his duty to his own and future generations as the native of our less
temperate climate can do by ploughing in the cold winter, and reaping in
the summer's heat, as often as these seasons return; even if, after he
has procured bread for his present household, he should convert a surplus
into money, and lay it up for his children.
It is true indeed that the breadfruit is not always in season; but
coconuts, bananas, plantains, and a great variety of other fruits supply
the deficiency. Page 197.
EXTRACT FROM THE ACCOUNT OF CAPTAIN COOK'S LAST VOYAGE.
IN THE SOCIETY ISLANDS.
I (Captain Cook) have inquired very carefully into their manner of
cultivating the breadfruit tree at Otaheite; but was always answered that
they never planted it. This indeed must be evident to everyone who will
examine the places where the young trees come up. It will be always
observed that they spring from the roots of the old ones which run along
near the surface of the ground. So that the breadfruit trees may be
reckoned those that would naturally cover the plains, even supposing that
the island was not inhabited, in the same manner that the white-barked
trees, found at Van Diemen's Land, constitute the forests there. And from
this we may observe that the inhabitant of Otaheite, instead of being
obliged to plant his bread, will RATHER be under the necessity of
preventing its progress; which I suppose is sometimes done to give room