HMS Bounty medical almanac


Visitor notice: We are pleased to announce that Royal Museums Greenwich is reopening. To find out more about which sites will be open and how to plan your visit, click here.

Essential information

Opening times: 
10.00–17.00 daily
National Maritime Museum, First floor, Caird Library & Archive

This book survived a mutiny and decades on a remote Pacific island 

The story of the mutiny on board HMS Bounty on 28 April 1789, led by Master’s Mate Fletcher Christian, and the subsequent epic sea voyage by Lieutenant William Bligh and his men is well-known. This book is bound in sail cloth and was taken by the mutineers to their retreat on Pitcairn Island, where they hid for nearly 20 years before discovery in February 1808. This is an important medical book in it’s own right, made all the more interesting by it’s fascinating history.

The title page carries the signature of Tho[ma]s Huggan, the ship’s surgeon, whose name has been crossed through – presumably after his death which occurred during the voyage. The contents page gives an indication of the ailments covered by its text and also has a hand-written note of 29 December 1787 when the ship was moored at Spithead at the start of the voyage.

The descendants of the mutineers who populated Pitcairn Island would sell or exchange belongings with passing ships and this is how the book came to leave the Pacific island.

It is a treasured item of the Rare Book collection and can be found in the Caird Library of the National Maritime Museum