Vice Admiral William Bligh

Vice Admiral William Bligh[1]

Male 1754 - 1817  (63 years)    Has 14 ancestors and more than 100 descendants in this family tree.

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  • Name William Bligh 
    Prefix Vice Admiral 
    Relationshipwith Adam
    Born 9 Sep 1754  Plymouth, Devonshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Mutiny 28 Apr 1789  HMS Bounty, South Pacific Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Battle 11 Oct 1797  Kamperduin Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Died 7 Dec 1817  London, Middlesex, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I95738  Geneagraphie
    Links To This person is also William Bligh at Wikipedia 
    Last Modified 26 May 2008 

    Father Francis Bligh,   b. 7 Mar 1721, St Tudy, Cornwall, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 27 Dec 1780, Plymouth, Devonshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 59 years) 
    Mother Jane Balsam,   b. 1702, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1768, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 66 years) 
    Married 3 Nov 1750  Plymouth, Devonshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F38731  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Elizabeth Betham,   b. Abt 1753, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 15 Apr 1812, Durham Place, London, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 59 years) 
    Married 4 Feb 1781  Douglas, Man, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Children 
     1. Harriet Maria Bligh,   b. 15 Nov 1781, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 26 Feb 1856  (Age 74 years)
     2. Mary Bligh,   b. 1783, Lambeth, London, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 4 Dec 1864  (Age 81 years)
     3. Elizabeth Bligh,   b. 24 Mar 1786, London, Middlesex, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 17 Jul 1854  (Age 68 years)
     4. Jane Bligh,   b. 11 May 1788, London, Middlesex, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1875, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 86 years)
     5. Frances Bligh,   b. 11 May 1788, London, Middlesex, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1862, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 73 years)
     6. Anne Campbell Bligh,   b. 1791, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1 Nov 1843, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 52 years)
     7. William Bligh,   b. 1795, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1795, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 0 years)
     8. Henry Bligh,   b. 1795, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1795, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 0 years)
    Last Modified 29 Aug 2000 
    Family ID F38736  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map Click to display
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 9 Sep 1754 - Plymouth, Devonshire, England Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBattle - 11 Oct 1797 - Kamperduin Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 7 Dec 1817 - London, Middlesex, England Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 
    Pin Legend  : Address       : Location       : City/Town       : County/Shire       : State/Province       : Country       : Not Set

  • Photos 3 Photos

  • Notes 
    • Commanding Lieutenant HMS Bounty

      Born at St. Tudy, near Plymouth, on 9 Sep 1754, he was the son of a customs officer. His mother died when William was 14, but it was very early when his parents had decided on as Naval career for their young son. He first appears on Naval roles at the age of 9, when, at the behest of Hon. Keith Stewart, said to have been a close relative of his mother, he was entered as a personal servant to an officer on a man-of-war. This was a common practice, even at that age, in order to give young boys who were destined for a Naval career the necessary 6 years qualification as early as possible. He was "paid off" on 21 Feb 1763.
      By the age of 15, he was not only well-versed in science and mathematics, but had developed fine talents as a writer and illustrator. He does not appear in the records again until 27 Jul 1770, when his name was entered on the paysheets of the H.M.S. Hunter, a small sloop mounting only 10 guns, rated as an AB and master's mate. This was soon after the death of his mother and the remarriage of his father, and these event may have had something to do with Bligh's re-entry into the Navy. It is believed that, in accord with normal custom, he was carried as an "additional midshipman", that is, a young man deserving of officer's training, but carried in addition to the two official midshipman's positions on a naval vessel. They were officially recognized as junior officers in training, both by respect of crew and duties assigned. They also became official midshipmen as soon as vacancies occurred.
      On 4 Feb 1771, he was discharged by order of Rear Admiral Sir Richard Spry, and re-entered the next day on the same ship as a midshipman. He remained on that ship until 22 Feb 1771, when he was reassigned to H.M.S. Crescent whereon he served until 23 Aug 1774. He then served on H.M.S. Ranger. It was on 20 Mar 1776 that he received what was to be his first opportunity to visit the South Seas, when he was appointed Master on board H.M.S. Resolution, commanded by Capt. James Cook, just prior to Cook's third voyage. At 22, to be appointed sailing master on a major research vessel was a great tribute to his skill and connections. There is evidence that he was in constant attendance on this ship, and in consultation with Cook and his officers constantly. On 1 May 1776, he passed his examination for Lieutenant.
      The voyage of the Resolution ended in late 1780, and Bligh took a 12-month leave from active duty, during which time he was married. Although little is known of his activities during this period, there is some indication that he may have spent time writing memoires of the famous voyage.
      His wife's relationship to Sir Duncan and Captain Sir John Campbell paved the way to additional career-enhancing appointments. After serving on a number of ships, in Jun 1783, he entered the service of Sir Duncan Campbell in the West Indian trade. The pay of a junior lieutenant often demanded occasional forays into higher-paying positions, and this appears to have been the case here. It was in the service of Campbell that Bligh commanded his first ship, the Lynx. He remained in the Jamaica trade for four years, his last assignment on board the Brittania, where he was to meet Fletcher Christian an others who were to sail with him on the Bounty.
      After the Bounty voyage, Bligh commanded a number of scientific voyages. Specialization in scientific projects paid off, and he became a Fellow of the Royal Society. Late in 1796, he was appointed commander of H.M.S. Director, a comparatively old ship, but a very important naval command. It was rated 4th class, mounted 64 guns, and carried 491 crewmen. This marked Bligh's promotion to senior command assigment. It is also interesting that in 1797, ligh was involved in another serious mutiny, known as the Mutiny at the Nore. The crews of a number of naval vessels, including the Director, under the command of Vice-Admiral Buckner, mutinied together. It was a bloody and violent struggle. At its conclusion, Bligh stood strongly behind his ship's crew, and was commended by both seaman and officer alike for his handling of the affair.
      His naval career was distinguished. Brave in battle, he was line astern of Nelson at Copenhagen in 1801. The wartime period ended in 1802, and Bligh again commanded a scientific voyage, this time a hydrological expedition.
      In 1805, he was appointed Governor of New South Wales. His success in the realm of politics, unfortunately, did not match his prowess as a Naval commander. His appointment lasted until 1808 when the colonists "mutinied" and sent him back to England. He arrived there on 25 Oct 1810, and never received further appointment. His service record was as follows:
      * 01 Jul 1762 Captain's Servant: HMS Monmouth
      * 27 Jul 1770 AB: HMS Hunter
      * 05 Feb 1771 Midshipman: HMS Hunter
      * 22 Sep 1771 Midshipman: HMS Crescent
      * 02 Sep 1774 AB: HMS Ranger
      * 30 Sep 1775 Midshipman: HMS Ranger
      * 20 Mar 1776 Master: HMS Resolution
      * 14 Feb 1781 Master: HMS Belle Poule
      * 05 Oct 1781 Lieutenant: HMS Berwick
      * 01 Jan 1782 Lieutenant: HMS Princess Amelia
      * 20 Mar 1782 Lieutenant: HMS Cambridge
      * 14 Jan 1783 Half-Pay Lieutenant
      * 16 Aug 1787 Commanding Lieutenant: HMS Bounty
      * 14 Nov 1790 Captain: HMS Falcon (sloop)
      * 15 Dec 1790 Captain: HMS Medea
      * 08 Jan 1791 Half-Pay Captain
      * 16 Apr 1791 Captain: HMS Providence
      * 07 Sep 1793 Half-Pay Captain
      * 30 Apr 1795 Captain: HMS Calcutta
      * 07 Jan 1796 Captain: HMS Director
      * 03 Jul 1800 Half-Pay Captain
      * 13 Mar 1801 Captain: HMS Glatton
      * 12 Apr 1801 Captain: HMS Monarch
      * 08 May 1801 Captain: HMS Irresistible
      * 28 May 1802 Half-Pay Captain
      * 02 May 1804 Captain: HMS Warrior
      * 30 Apr 1805 Half-Pay Captain
      * 24 May 1805 Governor of New South Wales
      * 27 Sep 1805 Commander: HMS Porpoise
      * 14 Nov 1805 Captain: HMS Porpoise
      * 31 Jul 1808 Commodore: HMS Porpoise
      * 03 Apr 1810 Commodore: HMS Hindostan
      * 31 Jul 1810 Half-Pay Rear Admiral
      * 04 Jun 1814 Half-Pay Vice Admiral
      William Bligh does not deserve his popular reputation as a cruel villain. He could better be described as a "young turk ... a man moving in the fast lane". He evidenced early brilliance matched with the right connections. His perfectionism carried him far, but also led to most of his problems. He could not emotionally understand or deal well with persons who did not share his devotion to duty and detail. He was uncommonly concerned with the physical health of his men, and contrary to popular misconceptions, he was slow to impose corporal punishment. But he could, and did, impose fearful tongue-lashings, and his temper was legendary. These were not traits that would endear him to the violent, street-smart members of the lower classes who made up the bulk of the crews over which he served. Like many of today's corporate executives, he almost, but not quite, reached the pinnacle of his profession. He is a man deserving of admiration.

  • Sources 
    1. [S551] Mutiny on the HMS Bounty, Karl Rowe Anderson, (1998).


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