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Pitcairn's Island

Date: 1818
Overall: 219 x 142 x 21 mm
Medium: Leather, hardboard, etchings, Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Classification:Books and journals
Object Name: Book
Object No: 00006005
Place Manufactured:London

User Terms

    Book titled "A narrative of the Briton's voyage, to Pitcairn's Island; including an interesting sketch of the present state of the Brazils and of Spanish South America." It is by Lieutenant J. Shillibeer, R. M. The book includes sixteen etchings by the author. The BRITON unexpectedly reached Pitcairn Island on the 17th September, 1814.

    SignificanceThis is a first hand account of the settlement on Pitcairn Island whilst one member of the BOUNTY'S crew, John Adams, was still alive. It gives a very sympathetic account of the inhabitants and settlement there and Shillibeer provides a detailed description of both the actual village and confirms that no one, with the exception of Adams who was reminiscing about England, wanted to leave with the BRITON.
    HistoryHMS BRITON left England on 31 December 1813 for a voyage to South America. On the way she made numerous stops including the Galápagos Islands. In September of 1814, HMS BRITON and HMS TAGUS, who had been with the convoy when they left England, came across an island that was not on their maps. After both anchoring they realized that the island was Pitcairn. This was confirmed when Lieutenant Shillibeer writes that Fletcher Christensen’s first born son, Friday Fletcher October Christensen came aboard and later confirmed that John Adams, a crew mate of Fletchers, was still alive and living on the island.
    Although Schillibeer himself did not go ashore, "a source of lasting regret to me", he does recount in detail a description by a crew member who did. By this time Adams was approaching 60 years for age and "we conversed with him a long time, relative to the mutiny of the BOUNTY, and the ultimate fate of Christian. He denied being accessary to, or having the least knowledge of the conspiracy, but he expressed great horror at the conduct of Captain Bligh, not only towards his men, but officers also. I asked him if he had a desire to return to England, and I must confess his replying in the affirmative, caused me great surprize.

    "He told me he was perfectly aware how deeply he was involved; that by following the fortune of Christian, he had not only sacrificed every claim to his country, but that his life, was the necessary forfeiture for such an act, and he supposed would be exacted from him was he ever to return: notwithstanding all these circumstances, nothing would be able to occasion him so much gratification as that of seeing once more, prior to his death, that country which gave him birth, and from which he had been so long estranged".
    Adams, nor any other inhabitant, returned on the BRITON and they arrived back in England on 8 July 1815.

    The BRITON was later used as a convict transport and was broken up in 1860.

    Additional Titles

    Web title: Pitcairn's Island

    Primary title: A narrative of the BRITON's voyage to Pitcairn's Island; including an interesting sketch of the present state of the Brazils and of Spanish South America

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