Capt. Beechey's visit—Jane Quintal's departure—John Adams' death—Capt. Bunker's arrival and fate—Mr.. Nobbs becomes school teacher—The Pitcairners remove to Tahiti—Buffett and family visit Gambier's Island—Return to Pitcairn's—Condition of the Island on the return of its inhabitants.
For several years after I settled on the Island, we were visited by but few ships, some years one touched, some years two came. When a vessel arrived it caused much excitement, and was always a holyday, and if the surf allowed, Adams generally went on board. On the arrival of H.B.M.'s Ship Blossom, Adams and most of the men went off in our boat. On approaching the ship, Capt. Beechey hailed and said "where is Alick?" He arose in the boat and placed his hand on his breast: answered, "Here I am."
When he returned on shore he said he was frightened when he discovered it to be a vessel of war and the Captain's hailing in the manner he did. I had been on the East side of the Island and discovered that it was a man of war, and came home and informed the women, they (particularly Adams's daughter,) felt alarmed, fearing that they would take away their father.
In the afternoon the Capt. and officers, came on shore, and set up an observatory and remained nearly three weeks. During their stay Adams went on board and remained several days. He related to Capt. Beechey an account of the mutiny and massacre which is published in Capt. B.'s account of the "Voyage of discovery &c."
About two years after this the Brig Lovely Ann arrived, bound to Tahiti, a women named Jane Quintal being dissatisfied, wished the Capt. to give her a passage thither, which he did and landed her on the Island of Rurutu. Some years after, on a passage from Tahiti to Pitcairn's I touched there and called to see her; she was married to a chief and had several children; she appeared contented and did not wish to return to Pitcairn's.
In February 1829 a schooner from Valparaiso arrived, being out on a Pearling voyage. A Mr. Morenhaut, since Fr. Consul at Tahiti, being supercargo, and wishing to get some divers, most of the men went with him.
Before sailing John Adams went on board, and remained several days the weather being very warm and he being much on deck without a hat, the sun affected his head. After coming on shore he became worse, was confined to his bed 5 or 6 weeks and then died. It is a little singular, that a day or two before his death he told the person attending him that the schooner was on the other side of the island; which was the case, and the young men landed that day, and saw the Patriarch before his death. His wife who had been long blind, and confined by age, did not long survive him; she died about six weeks after him and was buried by his side. There was much lamentation at the time of Adam's death but like the sorrow of the South Sea Islanders, it was soon over. He died March 5th, 1829, and a rough stone marks the spot where lie the remains of one, who forfeited his life to the laws of his country, but who in after life strove sincerely to bring up his children and those of his fellow mutineers to serve God and keep his commandments.
A few months before the death of Adams a sloop of about 20 tons arrived off the Island. Having no boat on board a canoe went off and brought on shore the Captain, Noah Bunker. Being very ill he wished to remain on shore but Adams was not willing. Bunker replied he should die if he returned on board again. There being but one man on board it was agreed that he should remain for the present and the natives having a desire to visit Elizabeth's Island (about 120 miles distant) the Capt. loaned us the vessel to go there. Myself, Evans (an Englishman), who came in the ship with me and was married to A.'s daughter and Mr. Young* went on board. In the night it came to blow and we could not fetch near enough to the shore to anchor. The wind increased to a heavy gale and we were driven off for some time. In ten days we returned and anchored the ship on the west side of the Island, and in a few days she was brought round to Bounty Bay and broken up. The Mate's name was Geo. H. Nobbs, who is the present school master. Bunker's illness increased in a few weeks till he was so bad that the natives watched with him. One evening the watchers got asleep when Capt. Bunker got up, went to the precipice and jumped off. After searching for some time we found him on the rock with one arm and one leg broken. He had taken his shirt from the broken arm and was trying to get it from the other but could not. The distance he jumped was about 100 feet, but, he told us he did not reach the bottom the first time. He said he tried to strike a projecting rock with his head and missing it he jumped to the bottom. When we found him he entreated us to kill him or remove him so that he might jump into the sea, saying it was no harm to put him out of his misery. The natives put him into a canoe and carried him to the house where his broken bones were set and wounds dressed. Soon after a whaler arrived and the Capt. sent on shore some laudanum for him. One day, no one being in the house but a boy he asked him to draw his trunk to him, which he did, taking the laudanum he drank it all, and died in consequence.
* [Again, either Edward, George, or William.]
I shall now relate the account which they gave for coming to the Island.
The sloop fitted out from Callao on a sailing voyage. They proceeded to some islands near "Pisco" and landed a boat's crew to obtain seal skins, while the sloop went to a point of land to see if there were any seal there. When the sloop returned the boat and crew were missing. The Capt. and his mate consulted what course it was best to pursue. The Capt. (Bunker) had bought the sloop, but was in debt for her fitting out. He told (Nobbs the mate) that should they return without any seal skins his creditors would seize the vessel, and asked him (H.) what he thought of going to Pitcairn's Island, Mr. Nobbs replied he had long wished to go there, but could get no opportunity. They then agreed to sail for the Island where they arrived as I have before stated.
Mr. Nobbs being a good scholar, and my family increasing, I gave up school teaching and he succeeded me.
At the time of Capt. Beechey's visits, Mr. Adams represented to him, that the time might come when they might be obliged to emigrate for the want of sufficient water. The government at home were informed of it, and Mr. Nott a missionary from Tahiti then in England suggested that the Society Islands would be a good place for them to remove to. After Mr. Nott's return he went us a letter to hold ourselves in readiness to be removed.
Some years after this H.M.'s Ship Comet and Colonial Transport "Lucy Ann" arrived for the purpose of taking us away.
Capt. Sandilands told us it was optional with us. If we wished to go, we could; if not, we could remain. He brought a present of clothing &c., from the government, and said to us, "If some of you wish to remain I will leave you your portion." Some concluded to remain on the Island, but from the persuasions of those who were going, and more or less nearly related, it also being a time of drought, they finally all concluded to leave. We all went on board the Transport and after a passage of nearly three weeks we arrived at Tahiti.
A child being born on the passage it was named "Lucy Ann." Some of those who were in favor of removal, said they were going to the land of Canaan, to induce the others to join them, but after their arrival they did not find it so.
When we drew near the shore some of the Tahitian women, would not believe it to be Tahiti, and the Pitcairners no sooner saw the Tahitians come along side than they repented having come.
It was also a time of war, Pomare and Taati were opposed to each other, and the hostile armies were at the time of our arrival on the march, but through the means used by Capt. Sandilands, peace was restored.
Capt. Henry of Tahiti who came from Sydney in the Comet gave us to believe before our leaving Pitcairn's, that the Isthmus connection "Tiarapu" with Tahiti would be given us, but it was not. The Queen provided us with a house and a tract of land was allotted us, but it was very small in comparison with Pitcairn's. Before the "Comet" sailed the Pitcairners made application to take them back but he could mot.
Shortly after we arrived at Tahiti T. O. Christian, was taken sick of a fever became delirious, and died. In his sickness I often heard him speak of Pitcairn's, saying how good it was to see the water, &c.
After remaining six weeks at Tahiti myself and family with six others, sailed in a schooner of 30 tons on a pearling to Gambier's Island, the Capt. promising to land us on Pitcairn's.
We could not obtain shells at Gambier's and sailed for Lord Hood's.
A French brig was there lying "off and on" the Capt. of which said he would take us to Pitcairn's. We went on shore, and remained about three weeks. During the time Ed. Christian (who had been sick on board the schooner,) died. We left G.— in the Brig and after three days sail arrived safe at Pitcairn's. During our absence the Brig had touched here for refreshments and the Capt. with his divers (natives of Bolabola) landed, about twenty six men. He had with him a schooner of about 12 tons as a tender, she was anchored on the North side of the Island, and while at her anchorage the wind arose blowing on shore. She was anchored with the Brig's chains and during the night foundered.
At the time we left the Island we had a great quantity of yams planted but having allowed the hogs to run at large they destroyed the greater part of them.
The Capt. and the divers remained on shore about twenty days, and had not the Capt. prevented them, the divers would have pulled down our house.
A few weeks after our return Robert Young died. At this time there was a good many of the Bread Fruit trees. We had a plenty of employment in catching and shooting hogs, &c.
To return to Tahiti, the sickness continued, and eleven out of our number died. The remaining exerted themselves to procure a passage to Pitcairn's. The Queen, Pomare loaned them a small schooner, which they began to repair, but after working for some time she was found to be unseaworthy, and it was given up. The schooner Charles Dagget of Salem, touching at Tahiti Capt. Driver offered to take them back for five hundred dollars. Rev. George Pritchard commenced a subscription with which and the sale of a quantity of copper bolts &c. the sum was raised. The vessel sailed, and they arrived in September after an absence of six months.