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Heywood Peter

Heywood Peter (1772–1831)

Captain Peter Heywood was a naval officer from the Isle of Man and convicted mutineer best known for being part of the Mutiny on the Bounty.

The voyage on the Bounty in 1787 was Heywood's first, and he served as a midshipman. He was a close friend of Fletcher Christian, who would go on to lead the Bounty mutineers. Although Bligh thought otherwise, Heywood was not considered by all his fellow Bountys as one of the mutiny's ringleaders; this was counted in his favour during his court martial. He was however found guilty of mutiny as he had made no attempts to actively resist the mutineers or restore Bligh's legitimate authority.

Following the mutiny and after a failed attempt to colonize Tubuai -one of the Austral Islands- Heywood returned to Tahiti with 15 others, following a split in the mutineers' ranks. Christian with some of the Bounty's crew and some Tahitian men and women sailed the Bounty on to Pitcairn Island, where the ship was burned. This group of 16 was soon reduced to 14 men following a fatal feud between two of them. Heywood and 13 others were subsequently captured when Captain Edward Edwards on HMS Pandora arrived at Tahiti searching for them.

The "mutineers" left on Tahiti were those among the Bounty crew who had not gone with Bligh in the open boat (which had space limitations and was a particularly dangerous option), but some had no intention of remaining in the Pacific Islands with the other mutineers. A number of them had been building a schooner to take them to the Dutch East Indies so they could find passage to England. Before they could put this scheme into practice however the Pandora arrived.

Heywood and five other "mutineers" presented themselves to the Pandora, believing themselves innocent of mutiny, and hoping to make a favourable impression. But Captain Edwards viewed them all as mutineers and arrested them as "piratical villains" and had them placed in irons. Later a wooden jail known as "Pandora's Box" was built on the quarterdeck. Heywood and his companions (fourteen in total) spent four months imprisoned in this box, hand-cuffed and in leg-irons. The box was in direct sun-light and poorly ventilated, and was the equivalent of being jailed in a sauna for four months.

Also on board the Pandora was former Bounty shipmate (and William Bligh loyalist) Thomas Hayward.

When the Pandora sank off the Torres Strait, Heywood was amongst the ten prisoners who survived the shipwreck and made the fifteen day journey to Timor (along with 98 other men) in four open boats. For much of this time he was forced to lie at the bottom of the boat, under the seats.

Following the shipwreck of the Pandora and the survivors' voyage to safety via Timor, Heywood embarked in Batavia on a Dutch East India Co vessel, was subsequently transferred to HMS Gorgon at Cape Town and finally arrived in England in June 1792 He was court-martialed and sentenced to death. However, he received a Royal pardon, and upon the recommendation of Lord Hood was permitted to rejoin the Royal Navy.

Subsequently he served aboard his uncle, Sir Thomas Pasley's ship HMS Bellerophon and was eventually made a post-captain;he had a distinguished career as a sea-going captain. He declined the rank of commodore on the Great Lakes in Canada in 1818 citing poor health. He nearly achieved the rank of admiral but this was prevented by his death at age 58. He is buried in a vault in the chapel of Highgate school in London.

Isle of Man, 1989, Peter Heywood

Pitcairn island, 1990, Peter Heywood, Ennerdale


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