MINUTES taken at a Court Martial assembled on board His Majesty's Ship Duke in Portsmouth Harbour on the twelfth Day of September and continued by Adournment from Day to Day (Sunday excepted) until the eighteenth Day of the same Month one thousand seven hundred and ninety-two.
The Right Honble. Lord Hood, Vice Admiral of the Blue and Commander in Chief of His Majesty's Ships and Vessels at Portsmouth and Spithead, President.
The Prisoners brought in and Audience Admitted.
The Order from the Right Honorable Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, dated the 20th. August last and directed to the President, representing that by an Order from the late Board of Admiralty dated the 16th. of August, 1787, Lieutenant (now Captain) William Bligh was appointed to Command His Majesty's armed Vessel the "Bounty" and, by Instructions from the same Board dated the 20th. November in the same year, was directed to proceed in that Vessel to the Society Islands in order to procure and transport from thence to some of the British Possessions in the West Indies Bread Fruit Trees and other useful Plants, the produce of the said Islands, and further representing that the said Lieutenant Bligh sailed from Spithead on the 23rd. of December following in prosecution of his destined Voyage and by Letter to their Lordships' Secretary, dated at Coupang (a Dutch Settlement in the Island of Timor) on the 18th of August, 1789, acquainted thier Lordships that the said Vessel, on her return from Otaheite with a large Cargo of those plants in a very flourishing State, had been violently and forcibly taken from him on the 28th of April immediately preceding by Fletcher Christian, who was Mate of her and Officer of the Watch, assisted by others of the inferior Officers and Men armed with Musquets and Bayonets, and that he (the said Lieutenant Bligh) together with the Master, Boatswain, Gunner, Carpenter, acting Surgeon and other Persons named in a list which accompanied his said Letter (being nineteen in number including himself) were forced into the Launch and cast adrift ten Leagues to the South West of Tofoa, the North-westernmost of the Friendly Islands, without Firearms and a very small quantity of provisions and water, and that having landed at Tofoa and been beat off by the Natives with the loss of one of his Party he bore away for new Holland and Timor and on the 15th, of June following arrived at Coupang abovementioned, distant 1200 Leagues from the Place where the Vessel was seized as aforesaid, from whence he was preparing to transport himself, and the surviving Officers and Men who were then with him, to Batavia in Order to procure a Passage from thence to England, where he and most of the said surviving Officers and Men have long-since arrived; and further representing by the Lordships' Order of the 25th. of October, 1790, Captain Edwards of His Majesty's Ship "Pandora" was directed to proceed in her to Otaheite and other Islands in the South Seas and to use his best endeavours to recover the abovementioned armed Vessel and to bring in Confinement to England the said Fletcher Christian and his Associates, or as many of them as had survived and he might be able to apprehend, in Order that they might be brought to condign Punishment; and further representing that the said Captain Edwards, by his Letter to their Lordships' Secretary dated at Batavia the 25th. of November last, gave an account of his proceedings in the execution of the said Order by which it appears that he arrived at Otaheite on the 23rd. of March preceding, soon after which the following Persons who went away withe the abovementioned armed Vessel came on board the "Pandora," viz:
that the other Persons undermentioned (who also went away with the said armed Vessel) were taken a few Days afterwards on another Part of the Island and brought on board the said Ship, viz:
that on his Passage to England the "Pandora" was lost in Endeavour Straits and four of the said Persons, viz. George Steward, Richard Skinner, Henry Hillbrant, and John Sumner drowned; and further representing that the said Peter Heywood, James Morrison, Charles Norman, Joseph Coleman, Thomas Ellison, Thomas M'Intosh, Thomas Burkitt, John Millward, William Muspratt, and Michael Byrn had been brought to England, and to assemble a Court Martial for the trial of the said Peter Heywood, James Morrison, Charles Norman, Joseph Coleman, Thomas Ellison, Thomas M'Intosh, Thomas Burkitt, John Millward, William Muspratt, and Michael Byrn for mutinously running away with the said armed Vessel the "Bounty" and deserting from His Majesty's Service as abovementioned, was read.
The Members of the Court and the Judge Advocate then in open Court and before they proceeded respectively took the several Oaths enjoined and directed in and by an Act of Parliament made and passed in the twenty second year of the Reign of His late Majesty King George the Second intitled "An Act for amending explaining and reducing into one Act of Parliament the Laws relating to the Government of His Majesty's Ships Vessels and Forces by Sea."
Then the said Letter from Lieutt Bligh to the Secretary of the Admiralty dated at Coupang on the 18th. of August 1789 containing the Charges was read.
Then an Extract from the beforementioned Letter from Captain Edwards to their Lordships' Secretary, dated at Batavia the 25th. Day of November last, and also an Extract from Lieutenant Bligh's Journal of his proceedings in the "Bounty" relative to her Capture were read, and the Witnesses were ordered to withdraw and to attend their Examinations separately.
A Letter from Mr. Peter Heywood, one of the Prisoners, addressed to the President, was read by the Judge Advocate and it is as follows:—
Hector, Sept. 10th, 1792.
By the Advice of my Friends, I am induced to request the Favor of your Lordship to allow me to be tried alone.
It were intruding upon your Lordship's time to state my reasons for making this request which, however, if it does not militate against the established Rules of the Service, nor the Practice of Naval Courts Martial upon such occasions, I flatter myself will be readily complied with.
Your Lordships most obedt. and most Humble Servant, Lord Hood.
(Signed) P. Heywood."
The Court retired and agreed—That the whole of the Prisoners must be tried together.
The Court returned, and the above minutes being read,