Use the Museum's collections to find out more about these significant events
Mutiny is described as an 'open revolt against constituted authority' by the Oxford English Dictionary, and could be applied to any act of insubordination or defiance by an individual, or collectively by a ship's crew.
In April 1797, 16 ships-of-the-line of the Channel fleet refused to sail, and mounted a collective mutiny at Spithead. Their demands were concerned with improved pay and conditions, and better treatment in general. Some officers considered to ill treat their crews were sent ashore, and their permanent removal demanded. The mutiny at Spithead was conducted in a peaceful and organised manner and within a few weeks their demands had been met and a Royal Pardon granted.
The mutiny at the Nore in May 1797 was potentially more serious, as the mutineers attempted to go beyond the demands made at Spithead. They wanted more shore leave, fairer distribution of prize money, and changes to the Articles of War. When they attempted to blockade the Thames, an important trade route to London, it took a much more serious turn. The Admiralty, which must have felt it had been lenient and generous with the Spithead mutineers, was determined not to accede to any more demands. When the government demanded the suppression of the mutiny and the Prime Minister, William Pitt the Younger, brought in a bill to outlaw the mutineers, disagreements amongst them rose to the fore. Finally, the Nore mutiny fell apart and the mutineers paid the price. The leader of the delegates was court-martialled and hanged from the yardarm of HMS Sandwich, followed by a number of his fellow mutineers, and many others were imprisoned or flogged.
(Reference numbers in italics refer to the Museum's Library catalogue)
(The reference number in brackets is the item's catalogue id and can be used to obtain a reproduction.)
The Museum collection includes plans of some ships involved in these mutinies:
For general research help see:
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