The mutiny on the Royal Navy vessel HMS Bounty occurred in the south Pacific on 28 April 1789. Disaffected crewmen, led by Acting Lieutenant Fletcher Christian, seized control of the ship from their captain Lieutenant William Bligh and set him and 18 loyalists adrift in the ship’s open launch. The mutineers variously settled on Tahiti or on Pitcairn Island. Bligh meanwhile completed a voyage of more than 3,500 nautical miles (6,500 km; 4,000 mi) in the launch to reach safety, and began the process of bringing the mutineers to justice.
Bounty had left England in 1787 on a mission to collect and transport breadfruit plants from Tahiti to the West Indies. A five-month layover in Tahiti, during which many of the men lived ashore and formed relationships with native Polynesians, proved harmful to discipline. Relations between Bligh and his crew deteriorated after he began handing out increasingly harsh punishments, criticism and abuse, Christian being a particular target. After three weeks back at sea, Christian and others forced Bligh from the ship. Twenty-five men remained on board afterwards, including loyalists held against their will and others for whom there was no room in the launch.
After Bligh reached England in April 1790, the Admiralty despatched HMS Pandora to apprehend the mutineers. Fourteen were captured in Tahiti and imprisoned on board Pandora, which then searched without success for Christian’s party that had hidden on Pitcairn Island. After turning back towards England, Pandora ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef, with the loss of 31 crew and four prisoners from Bounty. The 10 surviving detainees reached England in June 1792 and were court martialled; four were acquitted, three were pardoned and three were hanged.
Christian’s group remained undiscovered on Pitcairn until 1808, by which time only one mutineer, John Adams, remained alive. Almost all his fellow-mutineers, including Christian, had been killed, either by each other or by their Polynesian companions. No action was taken against Adams; descendants of the mutineers and their Tahitian captives live on Pitcairn into the 21st century. The generally accepted view of Bligh as an overbearing monster and Christian as a tragic victim of circumstances, as depicted in well-known film accounts, has been challenged by late 20th- and 21st-century historians from whom a more sympathetic picture of Bligh has emerged.
The Rum Rebellion of 1808 was the only successful armed takeover of government in Australian history. During the 19th century, it was widely referred to in Australia as the Great Rebellion. On 26 January 1808, 20 years after Arthur Phillip’s First Fleet of convicts founded Sydney as the first European settlement in Australia, the New South Wales Corps under the command of Major George Johnston, working closely with John MacArthur, deposed the Governor of New South Wales, William Bligh.
Bligh’s stifling of the colony’s rum traffic gave the rebellion its name, though other issues were also involved. Bligh had alienated the NSW Corps by accusing it of corruption and ineptitude, and his arrest of John Macarthur over grazing land for sheep and his attempted manipulation of commodities prices, split the colony.
Later in 1810, the corps was recalled to England and Bligh was vindicated with Johnston being dismissed from service in 1811, and Macarthur unable to return to New South Wales, for fear of facing charges, until 1817. Afterwards, the military ruled the colony, with the senior military officer stationed in Sydney acting as the lieutenant-governor of New South Wales until the arrival from Britain of Major-General Lachlan Macquarie as the new governor at the beginning of 1810.
The Eureka Rebellion was a rebellion in 1854, instigated by gold miners in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, who revolted against the colonial authority of the United Kingdom. It culminated in the Battle of the Eureka Stockade, which was fought between miners and the colonial forces of Australia on 3 December 1854 at Eureka Lead and named for the stockade structure built by miners during the conflict. The rebellion resulted in the deaths of at least 27 people, the majority of whom were rebels.
The rebellion was the culmination of a period of civil disobedience in the Ballarat region during the Victorian gold rush with miners objecting to the expense of a miner’s licence, taxation via the licence without representation, and the actions of the government, the police and military. The local rebellion grew from a Ballarat Reform League movement and culminated in the erection by the rebels of a crude battlement and a swift and deadly siege by colonial forces.
Mass public support for the captured rebels in the colony’s capital of Melbourne when they were placed on trial resulted in the introduction of the Electoral Act 1856, which mandated suffrage for male colonists in the lower house in the Victorian parliament. This is considered the second instituted act of political democracy in Australia. Female colonists of South Australia were awarded suffrage 5 years later on condition of owning property, much in the way men did not have full suffrage in the absence of property ownership. As such, the Eureka Rebellion is controversially identified with the birth of democracy in Australia and interpreted by some as a political revolt.