William Bligh went to sea
at the age of eight. In 1776 he was Master (navigator) of H.M.S.
Resolution commanded by Captain James Cook on his third voyage. He
left the Royal Navy in 1783 and entered the Merchant Service, and in
1785 commanded his first ship, the Lynx. He returned to the Navy in
1787 and was put in command of H.M.S. Bounty with the responsibility
of collecting and transporting 1000 breadfruit seedlings from Tahiti
to the British West Indies.
This voyage ended in mutiny and a remarkable 3,200 mile
voyage by Bligh and the other officers to the island of Timor. In 1792
Bligh returned to Tahiti, collected the breadfruit seedlings and
brought them successfully to the West Indies.
A side note: On the 1787 voyage Bligh had Kendallís K2
chronometer, based on Harrisonís H4. The mutineers apparently took the
chronometer and were able to use it to determine their longitude to
find Pitcairn Island. It was subsequently found at Concepcion, Chile
and eventually found its way to Britain.
Bligh wrote of his voyages in his book, A Voyage to
the South Sea, Undertaken by Command of His Majesty, for the purpose
of Conveying the Bread-Fruit Tree to the West Indies, in His Majesty's
Ship The Bounty, commanded by Lieutenant William Bligh. Including an
account of the Mutiny on board the said ship, and the 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, &c., in 1792.
The stamp shows Bligh with a map of the western
Pacific, a breadfruit plant, and an enlarged map of the island of