NORFOLK ISLAND AND THE ISLE OF MAN STRENGTHEN HISTORICAL TIES: FROM MUTINY TO UNITY
Two small island Legislatures on opposite sides of the Commonwealth establish a connection based on one of histories most famous – or infamous – naval sagas.
Hon. Robin Eleanor Adams, JP, MLA, in
Kingston. Ms Adams is the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Norfolk Island. She was the Clerk of Norfolk Island’s Legislative Assembly from 1984 until 2010 when she was elected to the Assembly.
Although the story ends with the descendants of the mutineers living on Norfolk Island today, the intriguing story unexpectedly starts on the Isle of Man. The historical ties between
Hon. Robin Eleanor Adams, JP, MLA.
The story of the mutiny on the Bounty in 1789 is a tale of conspiracy, adventure and romance, a tale that today links two Commonwealth Parliaments. Hollywood has produced at least
three movies with high-profile actors taking on the roles of Captain William Bligh, lead mutineer Master’s Mate Fletcher Christian and Midshipman Peter Heywood.
182 | The Parliamentarian | 2012: Issue Three
Norfolk Island and the Isle of Man are set in motion with the marriage on 4 February 1781 of William Bligh to Elizabeth “Betsy” Betham whose family lived in Onchan on the Isle of Man. After their marriage the Bligh’s lived in Douglas where their daughter Mary was christened at St Matthew’s Church. The family later moved to Lambeth in London. Peter Heywood was the son of
a former Deemster (Judge) of the Isle of Man, who was Steward to the Duke of Atholl. The family lived at the Nunnery in Douglas, a very prestigious family home. History also tells us that Fletcher
Christian’s ancestors came from the Isle of Man and it is said that the
Christian family had been prominent there for probably a thousand years. Tynwald Hill was owned by the
Christian family for centuries. The annual outdoor sittings of Tynwald - the Manx Parliament - are held on Tynwald Hill. This dates back to the Viking settlements which began in the eighth century AD and history records that no other Parliament in the world has such a long unbroken record. However Fletcher Christian was born in Cumbria, England. Bligh, aged 33, was given
command of the Bounty in 1787 to bring breadfruit trees from Tahiti to feed the slaves in the West Indies. Heywood went aboard Bounty aged 15; Christian had just turned 23. While the Bounty was well
equipped to carry the breadfruit plants, the arrangements for the crew were less than desirable - their quarters were dark and cramped - and so the scene was set to breed discontent.