I’ve googled... Ask.com’ed... Nothing... I havent found ANY account of a cabin boy either killing a captain or leading a mutiny on any vessel or ship anywhere. Anyone have any recorded account or historic journal space where they have? I’m sure there has... Maybe a captian going too far in training or the like had to have happened!

  • 1
    Seems similar to this question.
    – justCal
    Oct 16 '18 at 1:57
  • 1
    The closest story I remember is of a cabin boy poisoning the whole abusive crew to death. Though I wouldn't probably be able to back it up now easily.
    – OON
    Oct 16 '18 at 3:50
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    Have you considered the possibility it never happened?
    – Jos
    Oct 16 '18 at 8:38
  • Of course mutineers don't like to spread information about who participated, let alone led, the mutiny, in case the mutineers and leaders are caught and want to claim that they were innocent bystanders during the mutiny. So it is only after the mutineers are caught and they all start claiming the other guy was the leader that we get any information, much of it dubious, about the leaders of the mutiny. I do remember that one admiral was upset that a 12-year-old boy and his father were acquitted of mutiny charges so I guess he could believe in a 12-year-old mutiny ringleader.
    – MAGolding
    Oct 16 '18 at 22:39
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    @MAGolding The Admiral in question was Sir Hyde Parker, the boy and his father were pardoned by Adm. Bligh and IIRC they weren't active participants in the mutiny but rather were charged under the Mutiny Act for failing to fight back against the mutineers.Given the man was an elderly servant and the 12 year old boy was, well, a 12 year old, I'm inclined to say Bligh made the right call :) Oh and the ship was the HMS Hermione Oct 17 '18 at 13:29

Courtesy of a bit of a phase of mine where I was inexplicably interested in the topic of mutiny I've done a fair bit of reading on the subject and I have to say I'm not aware of this ever having happened and to be honest I don't think it's particularly likely.

I have to say though that even if it did happen it's exceptionally unlikely that we would have a recorded account of it.

Successful mutinies generally ended one of two ways - either the deposed captain and loyalists were killed or they were put off the ship.

Losing your ship to a cabin boy would be at the very least incredibly humiliating, and depending upon era and the navy/fleet that the ship sailed in the captain could easily have found himself facing dereliction of duty or similar charges and gotten themselves executed - I imagine any such captain/officers would be far more likely to talk up the mutineer force - ten disgruntled crewmembers with knives and clubs could easily become fifty bloodthirsty maniacs with swords to paint the losers in a better light.

If on the other hand the captain and loyalists were killed:

  1. Mutineers weren't exactly likely to go around advertising the fact - in many periods of history mutiny has been punishable by death and mutineers would often be hunted down to fairly extreme lengths. Lieing low sounds like a sensible strategy.

  2. Assuming said cabin boy succeeded what happens next? Could you see the crew just saying "well, you killed thre captain - guess you're in charge now!" or do you think it's more likely that they toss said cabin boy over the side and take the ship for their own. And in that scenario they would be more likely to brag about taking the ship themselves and convientently "forget" about the cabin boy.

  3. In the unlikely event that the crew does decide to follow a lowly cabin boy following their mutiny, who is going to be going around advertising that fact? The former cabin boy would be unlikely to do so, not only because of the fact that going around bragging that you're a mutineer is going to get in you in trouble with those pesky authorities but also it's not exactly a great way to establish an intimidating reputation or recruit new crew.

Maybe a captian going too far in training or the like had to have happened!

Certainly there were captains that went too far in treating their crew harshly, and certainly this resulted in more than one mutiny, but in the vast majority of such cases it would be much more likely that a more senior member of the crew would snap and mutiny.

One such example actually includes the closest scenario I can think of to your question - in the Mutiny on the HMS Herminoe in 1782 a 12 year old boy was charged with mutiny - however it's not quite as cut and dried as all that:

At the time the "Mutiny Act" was in force in Britain and under the act you could be charged with mutiny not just for actively participating in or leading a mutiny but also for "failing to suppress or report a mutiny" and this was the case here - the 12 year old and his father (an elderly servent of the captain) were charged with mutiny because they failed to fight back against the mutineers (who were generally responding to any resistance by hacking resistors to death with swords).

They were actually pardoned by Admiral Bligh who presumably felt it was unreasonable to have expected them to be able to stop the mutineers (remember the swords and the hacking?) although Bligh's boss disagreed and promptly forced Bligh to resign.


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