The inhabitants of Norfolk Island observe Bounty Day on June 8. This day commemorates the mutiny and arrival of their progenitors from the island of Pitcairn aboard the Morayshire. The ship Morayshire arrived in Norfolk on June 8, 1856. Thus, this day became known as Bounty Day or ‘Anniversary Day,’ and the people of Norfolk Island commemorate it annually with a reenactment of the mutiny, wreath-laying, procession, hymn singing, and a picnic with traditional foods.
HISTORY OF BOUNTY DAY
The inhabitants of Norfolk Island celebrate Bounty Day on June 8. This day commemorates the original Pitcairners’ entrance on Norfolk Island. Pitcairners are descendants of the English sailors and Tahitian women who, under the leadership of Fletcher Christian, began a new existence on Pitcairn Island. In 1856, Queen Victoria donated Norfolk Island to the growing community of Pitcairn.
The history of Pitcairn Island, the original home of the Islanders of Norfolk, is intriguing. Lieutenant William Bligh sailed the HMS Bounty to Tahiti in 1787 to collect breadfruit vegetation for slave colonies in the Caribbean. Several conflicts occurred during the voyage. Fletcher Christian and a portion of the crew finally mounted a mutiny. On Bounty Day, the citizens of Norfolk recreate this very mutiny. The mutineers seized the Bounty and cast Lieutenant Bligh and his crew adrift in an attempt to reach the Dutch East Indies, north of Australia.
By 1790, the mutineers had discovered the island of Pitcairn and were greeted by Mr. and Mrs. Stewart, who had settled there. In the 1850s, their population had substantially increased, necessitating a larger location for settlement. Finally, when the people of Pitcairn requested a larger home from the British government, Queen Victoria granted them Norfolk Island. And by the time they relocated there, the Pitcairners had already developed their own culture and language, both of which continue to exist today.
On Bounty Day, the descendants of the original Norfolk settlers reenact the mutiny, hold a parade, and place wreaths on the graves of the deceased, among other activities.
FIVE BOUNTY DAY FACTS THAT WILL BLOW YOUR MIND
Origin of family names
The surnames Quintal, Christian, McCoy, Adams, and Young, along with the English surnames Buffett, Nobbs, and Evans, are all of mutineer origin.
The original offspring
An estimated one-third of Norfolk’s population is descended from the immigrants who arrived in June 1856 aboard the Morayshire.
The Bounty sank
In 1957, American photographer and explorer Luis Marden found the ruin of the HMS Bounty.
The lone survivor of 47 days
Captain Bligh, who was cast adrift for 47 days en route to Timor, subsequently became the Governor of New South Wales.
A member of the Bounty’s 46-man crew was a fictional character known as the ‘widow’s man,’ whose salary was added to the fund and distributed to the families of deceased mariners.
BOUNTY DAY DATES