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A Narrative of the BRITON's Voyage to Pitcairn's Island

Date: 1818
230 x 130 x 25 mm, 0.88 lb. (0.4 kg)
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Books and journals
Object Name: Book
Object No: 00039675

User Terms

    This book is an account of Lieutenant J Shillibeer's time on board HMS BRITON in search of the American frigate ESSEX. It includes an eye opening account of the rediscovered Pitcairn Island dating from 17 September 1814, when the BRITON stayed for one day. This was the second recorded visit and description of the island since it was settled by the BOUNTY mutineers in 1790. This book contains details of the island, inhabitants and dwellings alongside 15 illustrations.
    SignificanceThis is a unique record of European exploration in the Pacific and an early description of the settlement of Pitcairn Island. It was written just 24 years after the infamous BOUNTY mutineers had illegally taken over Captain Bligh's command of HMS BOUNTY. Today the story of Pitcairn Island continues to generate public interest and has even featured in five film productions.
    HistoryShillibeer was a marine Lieutenant aboard HMS BRITON during its voyage to the Pacific in 1814. BRITON was accompanied by HMS TAGUS and made visits to Chile, Peru, the Galapagos and many other Pacific islands with the aim of locating the American frigate ESSEX which was disrupting British shipping in the Pacific. During the voyage the ships 'discovered' Pitcairn's Island - being only the second ship to visit the island since the BOUNTY mutineers and a group of Polynesians had settled there in 1790.

    Shillibeer's account tells of the situation of the mutineer's settlement only 24 years after its inception. The first description was made when the island was discovered by the American whaling ship TOPAZ in 1808. When BRITON arrived in 1814 only one of the original BOUNTY mutineers had survived - John Adams (alias Alexander Smith).

    Shillibeer's account describes an interview with Adams and is an important early description of the settlement that excited so much interest in later years. Despite Pitcairn Island's past of murder, suicide and violence the Captains of BRITON, Sir Thomas Staines and TAGUS, Captain Pipon viewed the island in a favourable light. John Adams had attempted to build a self sufficient community with Christian values, and the Captains argued it would be inhumane to arrest the population.

    BRITON's visit initiated an increase in contact between Pitcairn Island and the outside world. Inquisitive crews from America, Britain and Australia travelling on the Pacific trade route regularly stopped, making additional reports that presented a positive view of the islands' inhabitants. In 1887 Pitcairn Island was formally decreed a British settlement under the British Settlements Act. Today it is still inhabited by some 50 descendants of the BOUNTY mutineers.
    Additional Titles

    (not entered): A Narrative of the BRITON's Voyage to Pitcairn's Island

    Web title: A Narrative of the BRITON's Voyage to Pitcairn's Island

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