Captain William Bligh - (1754 - 1817) - Royal Navy Officer
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|William Bligh was born at St Tudy near Bodmin on 9th September 1754.
He signed up for the navy at the age of just seven, serving as "Ship's Boy" and "Captain's Servant" on HMS Monmouth. It was not until he was 16 that he formally began his naval career on HMS Hunter as an able seaman.
In 1776 Bligh was selected by Captain James Cook to join the Resolution as sailing master and accompanied Cook on his third and final voyage to the Pacific. He returned to England in 1780 with news of the final voyage and the death of Captain Cook.
He fought at Gibraltar with Lord Howe in 1782 and in 1787 was made commander of HMAV Bounty.
The famous mutiny, which broke out during the return voyage from Tahiti on 28 April 1789, was led by Fletcher Christian. He was supported by eighteen of the crew, who had seized firearms during Christian's night watch. They surprised and bound Bligh in his cabin.
Bligh and fourteen of his loyal crew members were cast adrift in a 23 foot launch with cutlasses, food and water for a few days plus a sextant and a pocket watch, but no charts or compass. They sailed about 30 nautical miles to the volcanic island of Tofua in Tonga but were forced to leave after being attacked by the natives.
Bligh and his men then undertook an impossible voyage of 3,618 nautical miles to Kupang on West Timor. Bligh succeeded in reaching Kupang after a 47 day voyage, with only one casualty; a crewman who had been killed by the natives on Tofua.
In 1801 Bligh served under Admiral Nelson at the Battle of Copenhagen and was made Governor of New South Wales in 1805. In 1814 he was appointed Vice Admiral of the Blue.
He died in Bond Street, London on 6th December 1817 and is buried at St Mary's Church, Lambeth.
His direct descendant, Anna Bligh, became premier of Queensland from 2007 to 2012.