Fletcher Christian Cockermouth
Fletcher Christian was born on 25 September 1764, at his family home of Moorland Close, Eaglesfield, near Cockermouth. He was the second youngest son of Charles Christian and his wife Ann Dixon.
Charles's marriage to Ann brought with it the small but respectable property of Moorland Close, which was half castle and half farmstead. Charles died in 1768 when Fletcher was only three years old. Fletcher's mother, Ann ran into money troubles and by 1779, when Fletcher was fifteen, Ann had run up a huge debt of nearly £6,500 (equal to £697,277 today), and faced the very real prospect of debtors' prison.
Ultimately Moorland Close was lost, and Ann and her three younger children were forced to flee to the Isle of Man where English creditors had no power. The three elder Christian sons managed to arrange a £40 (equal to £4,291 today) per year annuity for their mother, allowing the family to live in genteel poverty. In the meantime, Christian had spent seven years at the Cockermouth Free School from the age of nine. While there, one of his younger contemporaries was Cockermouth native William Wordsworth.
In 1783, now eighteen years old, Fletcher Christian sailed aboard HMS Eurydice outward bound for a 21-month voyage to India. The ship's muster shows Christian's conduct was more than satisfactory because some seven months out from England, he had been promoted from midshipman to master's mate. Christian twice sailed to Jamaica with Bligh.
In 1787, Christian was appointed master's mate on the Bounty, on Bligh's recommendation, for the ship's breadfruit expedition to Tahiti. During the voyage out, Bligh appointed him acting lieutenant. The Bounty arrived at Tahiti on 26 October 1788, and Christian spent the next five months there.
The Bounty set sail with its cargo of breadfruit plantings on 4 April 1789. Some 1,300 miles west of Tahiti, near Tonga, mutiny broke out on 28 April 1789, led by Christian.
Following the mutiny, Christian attempted to build a colony on Tubuai, but there the mutineers met with conflict with natives. Abandoning the island, he stopped briefly in Tahiti where he married Maimiti, the daughter of one of the local chiefs, on 16 June 1789.
While on Tahiti, he dropped off sixteen crewmen. These sixteen included four Bligh loyalists who had been left behind on the Bounty and two who had neither participated in, nor resisted, the mutiny. The remaining nine mutineers, six Tahitian men, and eleven Tahitian women then settled on Pitcairn Island where they stripped the Bounty of all that could be floated ashore before Matthew Quintal set it on fire
A rich and colourful history and we're proud to bear the name of one of Cockermouth's most famous sons!