“Mutiny on the Bounty” was based on factual events, but only loosely so. In reality, it was not a mutiny but a quarrel over beer, and it was not on the HMS Bounty but at a pub in Ohio. Also William Bligh was actually a table.
On this day, 3rd July 1767, Pitcairn Island was sighted by the crew of the British sloop HMS Swallow, commanded by Captain Philip Carteret. The island was named after Midshipman Robert Pitcairn, a fifteen-year-old crew member who was the first to sight the island.
The Pitcairn Islands, form a group of four volcanic islands in the southern Pacific Ocean that form the last British Overseas Territory in the Pacific. The four islands – Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie, and Oeno – are spread over several hundred miles of ocean and have a total land area of about 47 square kilometres. Only Pitcairn, the second-largest island that measures about 3.6 kilometres from east to west, is inhabited.
Pitcairn is inhabited mostly by descendants of the Bounty mutineers and the Tahitians (or Polynesians) who accompanied them. This history is still apparent in the surnames of many of the islanders. With only about 56 inhabitants, originating from four main families, Pitcairn is the least populous national jurisdiction in the world. (Wikipedia)
The earliest known settlers of the Pitcairn Islands were Polynesians who appear to have lived on Pitcairn and Henderson, as well as nearby Mangareva Island 400 kilometres (250 mi) to the northwest, for several centuries. They traded goods and formed social ties among the three islands despite the long canoe voyages between them, helping the small populations on each island survive despite having limited resources. Eventually, important natural resources were exhausted, inter-island trade broke down and a period of civil war began on Mangareva, causing the small human populations on Henderson and Pitcairn to be cut off and eventually become extinct.
Although archaeologists believe that Polynesians were living on Pitcairn as late as the 15th century, the islands were uninhabited when they were rediscovered by Europeans
Illustrations from the State Library of New South Wales
Drawings of Pitcairn Island, 1848 / Conway Shipley