PUC’s Pitcairn Islands Study Center Makes International Headlines with Mutineer Pigtails

Pacific Union College’s (PUC) Pitcairn Islands Study Center in Angwin, California has joined King’s College London to study a collection of locks of hair believed to belong to legendary “Mutiny on the Bounty” sailors.

In 1789, British naval ship, H.M.S. Bounty, was taken over by Lieutenant Fletcher Christian and his fellow resentful mutineers in the Pacific Ocean as the ship journeyed to Tahiti. Together they set Captain William Bligh and his loyal crew members back to the shores of England in a small boat, seizing Bounty. Christian and the other mutineers eventually dispersed throughout Tahiti and on the Pitcairn Islands.

The story is one for the history books, made famous by numerous films and books. Now, a new piece of the story is making international headlines.

Ten pigtails of hair have been given to Pitcairn Islands Study Center for DNA testing. It is suspected that the hair belongs to seven of the Bounty mutineers and their three Polynesian female companions. In a collaboration with top notch forensic DNA specialists of King’s College London, researchers are hopeful to prove the pigtails’ authenticity.

The hair was purchased at an auction in England in 2000 by late Maurice Allward. They were kept in a 19th century cylindrical tobacco tin, along with a handkerchief believed to belong to the daughter of one of the mutineers. Allward’s wife, Joy Allward, has given the collection to the Pitcairn Islands Study Center as a gift.

“If the tests and genealogical studies of this hair authenticates that it is of seven of the nine mutineers who hid out from British justice on Pitcairn in 1790, it will be the only tangible evidence of their having existed,” said Herbert Ford, director of Pitcairn Island Study Center. “There is only one known mutineer grave on Pitcairn, that of John Adams. Of the whereabouts of the remains of the eight others we can only speculate.”

PUC’s Pitcairn Islands Study Center was established in 1977. It serves as a museum and research facility, rich in history and information. In the late 19th century, the presence of Adventist missionaries on the islands led to many conversions. The Adventist connection to the islands led to the Angwin, California location of the study center.

The new developments in the historical tale are further covered in The Napa Valley Register and Daily News. For more information on Pitcairn Islands Study Center, visit pitcairnstudycenter.org.

Hallie Anderson is a student intern for Spectrum and a senior communications student studying journalism and public relations at Walla Walla University.

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I always feel like I need to check the address in my browser when I reading Spectrum. This is another headline fit for Barely Adventist! Wo iz mea.

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