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Buy the Bounty’s gun

Section:  Annan and Eskdale, Dumfries and West, Lockerbie and Lochmaben, Moffat  | Tags: , , , , ,

STANDING on the windswept shore in the south west of Scotland the last thing auctioneer Sybelle Thomson, of Thomson Roddick, expected to see was a cannon, which supposedly came from the famous ship, HMS Bounty.

And now the 18th century, four pounder naval gun from the well known ship is set to go under the hammer in Dumfries next month. Many will know the story of HMS Bounty, also known as HM Armed Vessel Bounty, which was purchased in 1787 by the Royal Navy for a botanical mission to the Pacific Ocean under the command of William Bligh to collect breadfruit for transplantation to the West Indies to feed the burgeoning slave population. However, Captain Bligh turned out to be something of a martinet, caring more about the cargo than his crew. Finally, Acting Lieutenant Fletcher Christian led a mutiny of the crew and put Captain Bligh and his 18 supporters adrift in an open boat. They completed an amazing feat of seafaring endurance and survival, using only a sextant and a pocket watch to complete a 3600 mile trip to reach safety in Timor in only 41 days. The Royal Navy despatched a ship to apprehend the mutineers but most escaped captivity. The Bounty was burned in Pitcairn Island, but according to documentation with the cannon it was gifted to Captain Stewart of the Orealla in 1898. The letter is signed by JR McCoy, president of Pitcairn Island and great grandson of one of the original mutineers. Two of the guns were subsequently raised in 1845: one was used to salute ships visiting Pitcairn, but this practice was discontinued after a magistrate was killed by an accidental firing. This gun remained in Pitcairn for a time and was then removed and it is probably the one for sale. Documentation shows it could have been brought to Liverpool in 1898 by shipping firm Sandbach, Thinne and Co on their vessel, the Orealla. In 1913 Evelyn Stuart Parker, scion of the company, purchased Little Cumbrae Island, off the North Ayrshire coast and the gun went there. Her son, Ian Robertson Parker sold the island and cannon in 1960 to Peter Kaye, a businessman and engineering company owner and it is from his estate that it is now offered for sale. Also included is a manuscript letter dated from Pitcairn, 5th April 1898 stating: “This is to our knowledge the last of the HMS Bounty’s armament. This gun was fished up in Bounty Bay, Pitcairn Isle where she was wrecked.” The cannon, which is a significant and interesting part of British maritime history and the subject of books and well known films, is up for sale on June 9 at Dumfries Auction Centre in Irongray Road, along with another cannon and various seafaring instruments.

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