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 The Bounty & John Fryer 
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Post The Bounty & John Fryer
On the Inside Out programme tonight on BBC1 and, peculiarly to my region, the East:

" .....Bounty

John Fryer was Master of Bounty and stayed loyal to the captain during the famous mutiny. He was regarded at the time as the world's best navigator and thanks to him Captain Bligh got home safely.

But Fryer died penniless at his Norfolk seaside home.

History hasn't been kind to John Fryer and even his gravestone was overgrown and almost forgotten. David Whiteley meets Fryer's relatives and those wanting the history books re-written. ....."


A little bit of investigation on the Net shows that Fryer lived and is buried in Wells-next-Sea out on the Norfolk coast. Next time I'm out at Wells, I'll look up his final resting spot. Wells, btw, is not far from Burnham Thorpe. Maps here and here for info. On the latter you can just see my home town of Wisbech on the extreme left.

Sorry...geography lesson over. ;)

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Fri Feb 09, 2007 2:12 pm
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Post Re: The Bounty & John Fryer
Mil Goose wrote:
A little bit of investigation on the Net shows that Fryer lived and is buried in Wells-next-Sea out on the Norfolk coast. Next time I'm out at Wells, I'll look up his final resting spot. Wells, btw, is not far from Burnham Thorpe.

Looking forward to a report! ;)

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Sat Feb 10, 2007 10:07 pm
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....well, not too much to report really. I don't know that much about the personalities aboard the Bounty, apart from the usual Bligh/Christian thing, and certainly not Fryer, but the report did say that Fryer and Bligh didn't get on well together.

Other than that just some general stuff about Fryer, some delightful footage of Wells (which I am always happy to see), and one of the people featured was a Mr Jepson from Witham, Essex, who is a descendant of John Fryer.

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Mon Feb 12, 2007 5:32 pm
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Enjoying a nice early Autumn day out yesterday on the north Norfolk coast - and shame to admit John Fryer had completely gone out of my mind until I spotted in Wells the plaque commemmating the life of John Fryer, the Sailing Master on the Bounty. :oops:

The plaque also commemorates his brother-in-law Robert Tinkler who also sailed on the Bounty.

My photo of the plaque here.

Unfortunately, I only noticed it just before I caught the bus home but I hope to visit the churchyard and visit Fryer's grave the next time I am in Wells, if my ageing memory doesn't let me down again. (double :oops: :oops:)


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Fri Sep 11, 2009 2:05 pm
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Mil Goose wrote:
....well, not too much to report really. I don't know that much about the personalities aboard the Bounty, apart from the usual Bligh/Christian thing, and certainly not Fryer, but the report did say that Fryer and Bligh didn't get on well together.



Chapter 4, "The trials of Captain Bligh", in "Pioneers of the Pacific - voyages of exploration 1787-1810" covers the BOUNTY voyage as well as Bligh's later voyages and career. The book is a National Maritime Museum publication by the very reputable writers Nigel Rigby, Pieter van der Merwe and Glyn Williams (2005). This chapter seems to present a balanced view of Bligh: his great competence as a seaman-navigator, but also his lifelong capacity for offending colleagues and subordinates.

The troublemakers and hard cases among the crew of the BOUNTY included: "John Fryer, the master, was competent but soon became anxious and resentful as Bligh's greater competence and censorious style undermined his role". ... "For Fryer and Christian, the move to Oparre coincided with a decline in Bligh's opinion of both. Fryer, having surveyed the channel, managed to run the ship aground in it by keeping a poor lookout..." "...later to incur his wrath when sails were taken from store and found to be mouldy through lack of proper care, a matter well within Fryer's supervisory remit." ... "Fryer later also let the ship's indispensable timekeeper run down because he forgot to wind it." And so Fryer's lapses and failings were a constant irritant to Bligh, who would have liked to replace him as Master, right up to the time of the mutiny.

Although Fryer joined Bligh and the loyal members of the crew in the ship's launch, on the day of the mutiny, he was constantly at loggerheads with Bligh right up to the time when they were safely ashore at Batavia, when Bligh and only two loyal men left for home aboard a Dutch ship. This book says nothing further about Fryer, except that Bligh never brought charges against him after reaching England in 1790.

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Fri Sep 11, 2009 9:32 pm
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Martin Evans wrote:
Mil Goose wrote:
....well, not too much to report really. I don't know that much about the personalities aboard the Bounty, apart from the usual Bligh/Christian thing, and certainly not Fryer, but the report did say that Fryer and Bligh didn't get on well together.



Chapter 4, "The trials of Captain Bligh", in "Pioneers of the Pacific - voyages of exploration 1787-1810" covers the BOUNTY voyage as well as Bligh's later voyages and career. The book is a National Maritime Museum publication by the very reputable writers Nigel Rigby, Pieter van der Merwe and Glyn Williams (2005). This chapter seems to present a balanced view of Bligh: his great competence as a seaman-navigator, but also his lifelong capacity for offending colleagues and subordinates.






Thanks, Martin, for the recommendation. It certainly sounds like some intriguing reading.

I have one of William's books, the one about Anson - The Prize of all the oceans, which I believe, if I recall correctly, Susan recommened to me.


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Sat Sep 12, 2009 12:39 pm
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Mil Goose wrote:



Thanks, Martin, for the recommendation. It certainly sounds like some intriguing reading.

I have one of William's books, the one about Anson - The Prize of all the oceans, which I believe, if I recall correctly, Susan recommened to me.



Yes, Mil, I can recommend "Pioneers of the Pacific". I found a remaindered copy some months ago. It covers the Post-Cook explorers: Arthur Phillip, who became the first Governor of the penal colony at Botany Bay, the French Count LaPérouse, Bligh, Italian-born Alejandro Malaspina who surveyed the Pacific coast of N. America while in the service of the Spanish Navy, George Vancouver who did the same for the RN, and Matthew Flinders, who charted the coasts of Australia. For many of these, their work ended in tragedy or disappointment. Another biography of Bligh is Greg Dening's "Mr Bligh's Bad Language" (Cambridge University Press, 1992) - I bought a remaindered copy two or three years ago but have not read it yet, so can't venture an opinion. The book is very detailed, has interesting appendices and notes, and an impressive 31 pages of bibliographic references - though most are to other published books rather than primary documents. Dening was Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Melbourne.

I agree entirely that Glyn Williams's "Prize of all the Oceans" is a superb account of Anson's voyage. I had not known much about Anson until I read it, although Anson has long been one of my wife's maritime heroes. It was published in 1999 by Harper Collins, and probably developed out of his earlier "The Great South Sea - English voyages and encounters 1570-1750", which I have not read yet. I was so taken with the Anson story that I went to a coin dealer and bought (probably too dearly!) a real 1745 King George II "Lima" shilling, that had been minted from the huge haul of silver that Anson brought home from Nuestra Señora de Covadonga.

Glyn (or Glyndwr to use his full Welsh given name) Williams was Prof of History at Queen Mary & Westfield College at London University. He seems very highly regarded. One of my wife's colleagues knew him well, and Janet Macdonald, who wrote "Feeding Nelson's Navy" studied under him for her post-graduate degree and was full of praise when we spoke to her some time ago.

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Sat Sep 12, 2009 4:35 pm
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Bligh and Fryer hated each other but Fryer must have had some merits. In the course of his return to England after the BOUNTY mutiny he was ashore at the Cape and earned the approbation of Lieutenant Riou for the assistance rendered by him in the "salvage" of the GUARDIAN.

As a Master, he rose through the Rates of ships to qualify as Master of a First Rate at the age of 46. He was Master in the LONDON, Hyde Parker's flagship at Copenhagen. In so far as I am aware, he was never commissioned (Wikipedia to the contrary!)


Sat Sep 12, 2009 9:59 pm
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