Biographical data


Bligh, William


(Source: Flora Malesiana ser. 1, 1: Cyclopaedia of collectors)

(Source: Flora Malesiana ser. 1, 1: Cyclopaedia of collectors, Addenda & Corrigenda)


Born: 1753 (sometimes erroneously 1754), St Tudy, Cornwall, England. Died: 1817, London, England.



Captain of the ‘Bounty’ during the voyage 1787-89, made to obtain breadfruits from Otaheite (for itinerary cf. sub D. Nelson) for the West Indies.1 In 1791-93 he made a second, and this time successful, voyage in the ‘Providence’ (cf. sub Christoph. Smith and J. Wiles).2 About 1806 he was appointed Governor of New South Wales in which capacity he was not a success; he soon ruffled the military officials, with the result that he was kept a prisoner within his own house for 12 months. He returned to England in 1809; and was appointed Admiral in 1811.

The genus Blighia Kön. was named after him.



A large collection of living plants made during the voyage of the ‘Providence’ by Christoph. Smith and Wiles, was recorded as introduced by Capt. Bligh in Aiton, Hortus Kewensis (2nd ed. 1813). Letters from him are included in the transcript of the Banksian Correspondence, Dept Bot. Brit. Mus.3 He brought some useful plants from Timor to Jamaica.4



(1) ‘A voyage to the South Sea undertaken by command of his Majesty for the purpose of conveying the breadfruit tree to the West Indies, in his Majesty’s ship the Bounty, commanded by Lt. W. Bligh, including an account of the mutiny o/b the said ship, and the subsequent voyage of part of the crew, in the Ship’s Boat, from Tofoa, one of the Friendly Islands, to Timor, a Dutch settlement in the East Indies’ (London 1792). Reissued: ‘Bligh and the Bounty. His narrative of the Voyage to Otaheite with an account of the mutiny and of his boat journey to Timor’ (London 1936, with a preface by Laur. Irving).

M.E.: ‘One hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the “Bounty” expedition’ (Gard. Chron. 3rd ser. 104, p. 305-306).

Owen Rutter: ‘The true story of the mutiny in the Bounty’ (Newnes, London, no date).

(2) I. Lee: ‘Captain Bligh’s second voyage to the South Sea’ (based on B.’s logbooks in the Admiralty Libr.) (1920).

(3) cf. Journ. Bot. 60, 1922, p. 23.

(4) cf. König & Sims Ann. of Bot. 2,1806, p. 570.


biographical data:

Dict. Nat. Biogr.; in the preface of I. Lee, Capt. Bligh’s second voyage etc. (cf. sub 2); I. Lee in ‘Early explorers in Australia’ (London 1925) p. 94; in Biogr. Index Britten & Boulger, 2nd ed. by Rendle, 1931.