This song tells the famous story of the mutiny on the Bounty, though Captain Bligh is evidently pronounced "blight" here. Captain Bligh lost control of the ship to mutineers in 1789 but survived the 6,500 km voyage back to England in a launch boat. He prompty set about bringing the crew to justice, but only half of the party was found on Tahiti in 1790. Others hid on Pitcairn Island before discovery in 1809 by Captain Folger, an American sealer. The final lines of this shanty suggest the date of authorship may therefore be prior to 1809.
The HMS Bounty began its career as the Bethia, a small merchant vessel in 1784. As a collier, it was to carry coal and not the mail and passengers of a packet ship. The British Navy purchased and renamed the ship for botanical missions in 1787.
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Bounty was a packet ship Ch: Pump ship, packet ship! Sailing on a cruisin' trip Ch: In the South Pacific!
Billy Blight, that silly man Was the master in command.
He was growling day and night, Whether he was wrong or right.
On the Bounty were the rules, Not for soft an' silly fools.
An' the answer to complains. Handcuffs an' the iron chains.
Spittin' on the quarterdeck, Punishment -- a broken neck.
There were troubles every day, Many sailors ran away.
An' at last that Billy Blight, With his crew began to fight.
Brawling, kickin' everywhere, Iron pins flew thro' the air.
Mates an' sailors in the night, Overpowered Billy Blight.
They put Billy Blight afloat; With his madness in a boat:
Bounty then went out of sight, Left along was Billy Blight.
Billy Blight he reached the caost, But the Bounty she was lost.
Many gales have crossed the sea, Since the Bounty went away.
Never was there heard a word, From the crew that stayed on board.