Almost universally portrayed as a villain in movies and books, does this view of William Bligh stand scrutiny today?

Bligh - Hero or Villain challenges this popular narrative, looking beyond the Bounty mutiny to explore the many sides of this most infamous of maritime figures. Come and judge for yourself, but be prepared for some surprises!

Image: William Bligh, By John Smart, 1803, Pencil and watercolour, © National Portrait Gallery, London

Read up on Bligh with our collection of fascinating blogs:

Heroes of Colonial Encounters - William Bligh, © Helen S Tiernan 2017, ANMM Collection 00055148

William Bligh 101 – who was he and why should we care?

13 Jun 2019

Who was Captain William Bligh? Perhaps you know him as a sailor and the infamous mutiny on board the HMS Bounty. Or maybe you know him as the governor of New South Wales who was deposed in the only successful military coup in Australian history? Or perhaps you have never heard of William Bligh and don’t understand all the fuss?

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Bligh hero

Bligh and the Rum Rebellion

26 Jan 2019

Now known as the Rum Rebellion, on 26 January 1808, the soldiers of the New South Wales Corps marched with fixed bayonets through the streets of Sydney under the command of Major George Johnston to Government House where they arrested Governor William Bligh. 

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Governor Bligh, Loyalists and Usurpers

25 Oct 2018

When then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull asked his parliamentary colleagues to sign a petition over his leadership in August 2018, the connection may have been lost on many, but petitions have some long historical parallels in the Turnbull family, going back to the so-called ‘Usurpation’ of Governor Bligh in 1808.

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Pitcairn Island

Life and death in paradise

29 Aug 2018

Pitcairn is a small volcanic island rising abruptly out of the deep waters of the eastern South Pacific Ocean. The nearest inhabited centres are Easter Island 1,770 km to the east, and the Gambier Islands 480 km to the northwest.

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Object of the Week

28 Sep 2011

Sometime between 1839-1845 Frances (Fanny) Bligh, daughter of the renowned William Bligh, wrote this in a letter to a landholder in the colony of New South Wales named George Suttor. The ring Fanny was referring to was this intaglio bloodstone antique ring (00044369) which formerly belonged to her father.

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