On this day, 15th January 1790, the mutineers of the ‘Bounty’ arrived at Pitcairn Island and established a settlement.
Pitcairn Island was discovered in 1767 and was the first Pacific island to become a British colony. It lies approximately halfway between New Zealand and Peru.
The 'HMS Bounty’ sailed with a crew of 45 men from England in December 1787 under Captain William Bligh, bound for Tahiti. Their mission was to collect breadfruit plants to be transplanted in the West Indies as cheap food for the slaves. After collecting those plants, the Bounty was returning to England when, on the morning of 28 April 1789, Fletcher Christian and part of the crew mutinied, taking over the ship, and setting the Captain and 18 crew members adrift. The mutineers took HMS Bounty back to Tahiti, and collected 6 Polynesian men and 12 women. They then continued on to Pitcairn Island, arriving there on 15 January 1790. After burning the ship, they established a settlement and colony on Pitcairn Island. It is still inhabited by their descendants, from four main families. It is the least populous national jurisdiction in the world, now with less than 50 inhabitants, its future is in jeopardy, according to an article in the Australian newspaper, August 11, 2014 “Pitcairn Island, population 49, is near to collapse”
This painting is from the collections of the State Library of New South Wales. The Library holds a number of manuscripts and photographs relating to the history of Pitcairn Island.