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William Muspratt's Defence

Declares his innocence of any participation in the mutiny; admits he assisted in hoisting out the boat, and in putting several articles into her; after which he sat down on the booms, when Millward came and mentioned to him Mr. Fryer's intention to rescue the ship, when he said he would stand by Mr. Fryer as far as he could; and with that intention, and for that purpose only, he took up a musket which one of the people had laid down, and which he quitted the moment he saw Bligh's people get into the boat. Solemnly denies the charge of Mr. Purcell against him, of handing liquor to the ship's company. Mr. Hayward's evidence, he trusts, must stand so impeached before the Court as not to receive the least attention, when the lives of so many men are to be affected by it-for, he observes, he swears that Morrison was a mutineer, because he assisted in hoisting out the boats; and that M'Intosh was not a mutineer, notwithstanding he was precisely em. ployed on the same business-that he criminated Morrison from the appearance of his countenance— that he had only a faint remembrance of that material and striking circumstance of Morrison offering to join him to retake the ship-that in answer to his (Muspratt's) question respecting Captain Bligh's words, "My lads, I'll do you justice," he considered them applied to the people in the boat, and not to those in the ship-to the same question put by the Court, he said they applied to persons remaining in the ship. And he notices some other instances which he thinks most materially affect Mr. Hayward's credit; and says, that if he had been under arms when Hayward swore he was, he humbly submits Mr. Hallet must have seen him. And he concludes with asserting (what indeed was a very general opinion), "that the great misfortune attending this unhappy business is, that no one ever attempted

to rescue the ship; that it might have been done Thompson being the only sentinel over the arm chest."

Michael Byrne's Defence

was very short. He says, "It has pleased the Almighty, among the events of his unsearchable providence, nearly to deprive me of sight, which often puts it out of my power to carry the intentions of my mind into execution.

"I make no doubt but it appears to this honourable Court, that on the 28th of April, 1789, my intention was to quit his majesty's ship Bounty with the officers and men who went away, and that the sorrow I expressed at being detained was real and unfeigned.

"I do not know whether I may be able to repeat the exact words that were spoken on the occasion, but some said, 'We must not part with our fiddler;' and Charles Churchill threatened to send me to the shades if I attempted to quit the cutter, into which I had gone for the purpose of attending Lieutenant Bligh :" and, without further trespassing on the time of the court, he submits his case to its judgment and mercy.

It is not necessary to notice any parts of the defence made by Coleman, Norman, and M'Intosh, as it is clear from the whole evidence and from Bligh's certificates, that those men were anxious to go in the boat, but were kept in the ship by force.

It is equally clear that Ellison, Millward, and Burkitt were concerned in every stage of the mutiny, and had little to offer in their defence in exculpation of the crime of which they were accused.

On the sixth day, namely, on the 18th of September, 1792, the court met; the prisoners were brought in, audience admitted, when, the president having asked the prisoners if they or any of them had any


thing more to offer in their defence, the court was cleared, and agreed,

"That the charges had been proved against the said Peter Heywood, James Morrison, Thomas Ellison, Thomas Burkitt, John Millward, and William Muspratt; and did adjudge them and each of them to suffer death, by being hanged by the neck on board such of his majesty's ship or ships of war, and at such time or times, and at such place or places, as the commissioners for executing the office of Lord High Admiral of Great Britain and Ireland, &c., or any three of them for the time being should, in writing under their hands, direct; but the court, in consideration of various circumstances, did humbly and most earnestly recommend the said Peter Heywood and James Morrison to his majesty's mercy; and the court further agreed, that the charges had not been proved against the said Charles Norman, Joseph Coleman, Thomas M'Intosh, and Michael Byrne, and did adjudge them and each of them to be acquitted."

The court was then opened and audience admitted and sentence passed accordingly.



"Well, believe this

No ceremony that to great ones 'longs,

Not the king's crown, nor the deputed sword,
The marshal's truncheon, nor the judge's robe,
Become them with one half so good a grace
As mercy does."

It was a very common feeling that Heywood and Morrison, the former in particular, had been hardly dealt with by the court in passing upon them a sen

tence of death, tempered as it was with the recommendation to the king's mercy. It should, however, have been recollected, that the court had no discretional power to pass any other sentence but that, or a full acquittal. But earnestly, no doubt, as the court was disposed towards the latter alternative, it could not consistently with the rules and feelings of the service be adopted. It is not enough in cases of mutiny (and this case was aggravated by the piratical seizure of a king's ship) that the officers and men in his majesty's naval service should take no active part; to be neutral or passive is considered as tantamount to aiding and abetting. Besides, in the present case, the remaining in the ship along with the mutineers, without having recourse to such means as offered of leaving her, presumes a voluntary adhesion to the criminal party. The only fault of Heywood, and a pardonable one on account of his youth and inexperience, was his not asking Christian to be allowed to go with his captain,—his not trying to go in time. M'Intosh, Norman, Byrne, and Coleman were acquitted because they expressed a strong desire to go, but were forced to remain. This was not only clearly proved, but they were in possession of written testimonies from Bligh to that effect; and so would Heywood have had, but for some prejudice Bligh had taken against him in the course of the boat-voyage home; for it will be shown that he knew he was confined to his berth below.

In favour of three of the four men condemned without a recommendation there were unhappily no palliating circumstances. Millward, Burkitt, and Ellison were under arms from first to last; and Ellison not only left the helm to take up arms, but, rushing aft towards Bligh, called out, "D-n him, I'll be sentry over him." The fourth man, Muspratt, was condemned on the evidence of Lieutenant Hayward, which, however, appears to have been duly appreciated by the Lords Commissioners of the Ad

miralty, and in consequence of which the poor,man escaped an ignominious death.

The family of young Heywood in the Isle of Man had been buoyed up from various quarters with the almost certainty of his full acquittal. From the 12th September, when the court-martial first sat, till the 24th of that month, they were prevented by the strong and contrary winds which cut off all communication with England from receiving any tidings whatever. But while Mrs. Heywood and her daughters were fondly flattering themselves with every thing being most happily concluded, one evening, as they were indulging these pleasing hopes, a little boy, the son of one of their particular friends,'ran into the room, and told them in the most abrupt manner that the trial was over and all the prisoners condemned, but that Peter Heywood was recommended to mercy; he added, that a man whose name he mentioned had told him this. The man was sent for, questioned, and replied he had seen it in a newspaper at Liverpool, from which place he was just arrived in a small fishing-boat, but had forgotten to bring the paper with him. In this state of doubtful uncertainty this wretched family remained another whole week, harassed by the most cruel agony of mind, which no language can express.*

It was in this state of mind, while in momentary expectation of receiving an account of the termination of the court-martial, that Heywood's charming sister Nessy wrote the following lines:


Doubting, dreading, fretful guest,
Quit, oh! quit this mortal breast.
Why wilt thou my peace invade,
And each brighter prospect shade?
Pain me not with needless Fear,
But let Hope my bosom cheer;
While I court her gentle charms,
Woo the flatterer to my arms;
While each moment she beguiles
With her sweet enliv'ning smiles
While she softly whispers 11
Lycidas again is free"

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