Captain Bligh steps down

William Bligh was one of the more controversial naval captains of the C19 navy. In 1789 he lost the Bounty to mutineers but went on to achieve the feat of a 3,618 nm voyage in an open boat over 47 days without losing one of the 18 men. He returned to the Pacific for a further ‘Breadfruit voyage’ and went on to fight at the battle of Camperdown (1797) and Copenhagen (1801) under Nelson.

A stern disciplinarian, he was appointed as Governor of New South Wales in 1805 (warning – it did not go well). This meant he had to stand down from the Navy. This led to this letter which hints at the relevant importance of the Admiralty (his employer) vs the Crown.

National Archives ADM 1/1451

His Majesty having been graciously pleased to appoint me Governor of New South Wales, pray will you inform the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty that I request their approbation of my being absent during His Majesty’s Pleasure.

I have the honor to be Sir
Your most obedient humble servant
Wm Bligh

William Marsden Esq
Secretary to the Admiralty

National Archives ADM 1/1451