August 24, 2013

The great-great-great-grandson of Fletcher Christian has died on Pitcairn Island...

... where the population is now 51.
Pitcairn, settled by the mutineers and their Tahitian consorts in 1790, is a rocky speck of about two square miles. (Manhattan, by comparison, is about 24 square miles.) Most of its inhabitants are descended from the mutineers and the Tahitian women they brought with them.

[Tom] Christian, who for his services to Pitcairn was named a Member of the British Empire in 1983, was long considered an elder statesman on the island.
Read the whole obituary for details of the old mutiny and what it's like living in such a tiny and remote place. (It's midway between Peru and New Zealand. There are no cars. A supply ship arrives quarterly.) But let me highlight the legal dispute that occurred in 2004: 7 men were charged with sexually assaulting underage girls. The defense was "that initiating girls into sex was a time-honored South Seas custom and that they were unaware that British law was in effect on Pitcairn." Christian "publicly disputed the defendants’ contention, as did his wife." The men were convicted, and "Mr. and Mrs. Christian were shunned by much of the island for years afterward." He and his wife continued to live there on the island, tending their garden[s].


Deirdre Mundy said...

Did a bit more reading...apparently most of the youth emigrate to New Zealand! And can you blame them?

It seems to me that Bligh and his supporters really got the better end of the deal....

For instance, in Pitcairn, bandwidth is super expensive!

Gahrie said...

yes Bligh really did win everywhere except popular culture. He went on to have a fine military career, and history treats him quite well.

Clyde said...

I particularly liked the twist at the end.

Sometimes it seems like it would be nice to escape from the rat race and live a simpler life. Then you learn just how primitive and strenuous that simpler life is, and all of a sudden, that rat race is looking much more attractive. To get there? A couple of long plane flights, followed by a three-day sea journey. Supply ships come in quarterly; no Amazon Prime on Pitcairn! Electricity 14 hours a day (which is probably better than Iraq, for instance, and certainly better than most of North Korea, a much more populous place). About the only difference between it and Gilligan's Island is that people know that they are there and where it is.

vza said...

"At a talk in London in 2005, he had the joy of catching up with an Englishman he first met in 1971.

That November, a cargo ship on which the Englishman was traveling stopped at Pitcairn and, disembarking, he was introduced to Mr. Christian.

The Englishman was Maurice Bligh, the great-great-great-grandson of Capt. William Bligh.

From that day forward, Mr. Bligh and Mr. Christian were fast friends."

What a wonderful, crazy world this is!

Mitch H. said...

What percentage of the islanders are great-great grandchildren of Fletcher Christian?