More than an overthrown captain

A look at the life of William Bligh, Captain of HMS Bounty

More than an overthrown captain

'William Bligh being set adrift' by Robert Dodd, 1790

In 1789 William Bligh was acting as captain of HMS Bounty when the crew, led by Fletcher Christian, mutinied. Bligh, along with 18 men loyal to him, were set adrift in the Pacific Ocean. While the mutineers set off to enjoy life in the idyllic Pacific islands, Bligh piloted the launch 4,000 miles to safety.

What ensued was one of the most high profile cases in maritime history as many of the mutineers were brought to justice. Bligh's character and command came under fierce scrutiny as claims of gross cruelty were leveled against him. The courts sided with Bligh though and sentenced most of the captured mutineers to hang

The verdict of time has stood largely against Bligh, with most representations portraying him as a man overly fond of the lash. But how accurate is this picture of Bligh? Was he really a cruel captain? Or has history sided against the victor in this tale of captain versus crew?

Professor Patrick Geoghegan talks with a panel of historians and maritime experts about the life and legacy of William Bligh. What's his connection to Dublin? How did he help create North Bull Island? What sort of a man was he really? And should history remember him as more than the overthrown captain of the Bounty?