7 December 1992
Tablet Values: 20c, $1.00, $1.50, $1.80
Artist: Jennifer Toombs
Printer: Leigh Mardon Pty Limited
Paper: CA Watermark
Stamp Size: 27.94 x 44.45 mm
Perforation Gauge: 14.32 x 14.85
Pane Format: 50 (2 x 25)
Mint and CTO: $4.50
First Day Cover: $5.00
Born in Cornwall, England, 9 September, 1754, an only child, his father held a senior post in HM Customs office at Plymouth.
At 15 he joined HMS Hunter and fourteen months later (5 February 1771) was rated midshipman. After serving on a number of vessels he passed his master's certificate and in 1776 joined Captain James Cook who was making his third voyage to the Pacific. He acted as navigator for the expedition until Cook was killed in Hawaii on 14 February 1779. Due to the ill health of two senior officers Bligh was forced to assume responsibility for HM ships Resolution and Discovery.
He and his wife, Elizabeth (Beetham), married on 4 February 1781, had six daughters, including twins, four of whom survived them and twin sons who died within 24 hours of their birth.
Following naval service in the war with France, Spain and the Netherlands Bligh commanded a merchant vessel for four years before taking up command of the Bounty in 1787.
Between April 1791 and August 1793 he commanded HMS Providence which, with HMS Assistant, delivered breadfruit from Tahiti to St Vincent in the West Indies.
Bligh served on a number of naval vessels, including HMS Warrior, where his 2nd Lieutenant brought a court martial against him for ill treatment and abuse.
The period 1806-1809 saw him serving as Governor of New South Wales until relieved of his duties following the Rum Rebellion. A subsequent court vindicated his handling of the situation in Sydney and he was promoted to Rear Admiral. Retirement followed and William Bligh died of cancer on 7 December 1817.
Ask most who know of him why Bligh is remembered and the response is likely to refer only to the Bounty mutiny and possibly the open boat voyage from Tofua to Timor.
However, despite the quirks of character he displayed on occasion and the troubles these brought to his sometimes stormy career, Bligh is also reported as being a good family man, a determined commander in battle - commended by Lord Nelson for his bravery in fierce action, a skilled navigator and hydrographer, an author, a talented water colour artist and a lover of nature.
20c stamp: Bligh's Birthplace - Manor Farm, Tynton, St Tudy in Cornwall. The glass porch extension was added some time after 1754. Background depicts the Resolution on which Bligh sailed with Captain Cook.
$1.00 stamp: General Scene On the deck of the Bounty with Bligh watching normal activities. The drawing of the Breadfruit Plant is based on Parkinson's famous illustration.
$1.50 stamp: The Open Boat Voyage of almost 4000 miles from Tofua (in the Tongan group of Islands) to Timor. The scene shown is based on an engraving in a Dutch edition of Bligh's account of the Mutiny. Behind is shown part of Bligh's drafted answers to questions at the court martial.
$1.80 stamp: William Bligh - from a portrait by Rachel H. Combe which Miss Toombs describes as "a fine adaptation in colour from the drawing by George Dance". Used by kind permission of Mrs Combe. The text shows a few lines from the epitaph on Bligh's Tomb at St Mary's Church, Lambeth.