Charles Christian and His Contributions to Pitcairn History
Albert, Donald Patrick
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While Fletcher Christian has become widely known as the chief mutineer of the H.M.A.S. Bounty and subsequent leader of a nascent community on the remote and isolated Pitcairn Island, his progenies no less have enjoyed their 15 minutes, give or take, of fame. Thursday October Christian (1790-1831) appeared often in the diaries, journals, and reports greeting and entertaining sea captains visiting Pitcairn Island. He is the focus of an amusing anecdote involving a name change from Thursday to Friday or Friday to Thursday, depending on the arguments one way or another. Mary Ann Christian (1793) attained worldwide fame as heroine of Mary Russell Mitford’s (1811) Christina: The Maid of the South Seas. She gifted Levi Hayden a Bible from the Bounty during the visit of the Cyrus in 1839 (Ford, 1996, 21-22). Known as the Pitcairn Bible, it resides at the Brooke Russell Astor Reading Room for Rare Books and Manuscripts of the New York Public Library. Charles Christian, (1791 or 1792-1842), the middle child, has received less attention, but careful review of the historic record finds that he too, like his older brother and younger sister, distinguished himself. He became an antagonist of Joshua Hill, the dictator or per Nechtman (2018) the pretender of Pitcairn Island who resided there from 1832-1837. Hill exerted a harsh, cruel, and brutal control over the political, social and religious affairs of the Pitcairners. His treatment toward three “outsiders,” Nobbs, Buffett, and Evans, reached unforgiving proportions, even though he was a foreigner himself.