The Rebel

By Betty Cookson

About 50 years ago I was given a wooden box carved in the shape of a book. Roughly 6" x 8 “. It had a sliding top and was hollow inside. There was an inscription on the lid which read. “Souvineer from Pitcairn Island. HMS Bounty who was land 1790." Inside was a hand written note in pencil signed by F Christian. The gentleman who gave me the box was an old seafarer in his nineties, he had sailed on the clippers ships all over the world. His house was a treasure trove of objects from all his years at sea. He told me the box was made from the wood of the Bounty. We all know what happened when Fletcher Christian led the mutiny and revolted against Captain Bligh because of his ill treatment of the crew. Starvation, beatings and sickness, months at sea in terrible conditions. Captain Bligh was a hated man. The ship was seized and Captain Bligh and 18 of his loyal supporters were cast adrift in an open boat. The Bounty was scuttled and set alight. Christian and 25 of his men eventually stayed on Pitcairn, married polynesian women and raised families. There are descendants from the mutineers still living in Tahiti to this day. So now what do I do with the box? Was it genuine? Do I keep it or find someone who would be interested? I knew Fletcher Christian’s ancestors came from the Isle of Mann so I wrote to the Manx museum in Douglas and asked if they would be interested. A friend who had relations living in Douglas took the box and left it with the curator to decide whether they would want to keep it. A few weeks passed and I received a letter asking me how much I wanted for it. Having no idea of it's worth I thought £100 would be a fair price. It was accepted and I was pleased with the deal I had made over a 200 year old piece of wood. Was Fletcher Christian a Hero or a Rebel? 


heritage, historical rebellion