William Bligh, an English navigator, born in 1753, died in London, Dec. 7, 1817. He was a lieutenant in the navy, accompanied Cook on his voyages in the Pacific, and when he returned was appointed commander of the Bounty, commissioned by George III. to import the breadfruit tree and other vegetable productions of the South Sea islands into the West Indies. He sailed from Spithead for Tahiti Dec. 23, 1787, and reached his destination Oct. 26,1788. He remained until the 4th of April following, when he set out for Jamaica with 1,015 breadfruit trees, besides a variety of other plants. On the morning of the 28th of April a large portion of the crew mutinied, and he with 18 Others was set afloat in the ship's launch, with a 28-gallon cask of water, 150 pounds of bread, 32 pounds of pork, and a small quantity of ruin and wine, and only a quadrant and compass to direct their course. In 46 days they readied the Dutch island of Timor, having run a distance of 3,618 nautical miles, and scarcely having an opportunity to rest on shore or add to their supplies, without the loss of a single man.
Bligli proceeded to England at the first opportunity, arriving March 14, 1790, and published a narrative of the mutiny, which excited a good deal of sympathy, though it was afterward believed that the outbreak was caused by his harsh treatment of his men. Fourteen of the mutineers who had remained in Tahiti were arrested in 1791 by the officers of the Pandora; four were lost by shipwreck on the passage to England, and the remaining ten tried and three executed, the rest being acquitted or pardoned. Another portion of the crew took possession of the Bounty and settled on Pitcairn island. (See Adams, John, and Pitcairn Island.) Lieut. Bligh was sent out again on a similar mission in 1791, brought a large number of breadfruit trees from Tahiti to the West Indies, and sowed the seeds of European vegetables in Tasmania. In 1806 he was made governor of New South Wales, but his tyrannical conduct provoked the subordinate civil and military officers to arrest him and send him to England.