It was a rather gory tale that Peter Elphick told to Stanhoe and Barwick WI members at their June meeting.
John Fryer, a local lad, was born in Wells in 1752, the son of a maker of wooden block – an essential on a sailing ship. He went to sea at 12 years old, was captured and imprisoned by the French, but later joined the Royal Navy and worked on several naval vessels before joining the famous HMS Bounty, a small sailing vessel captained by William Bligh.
It was a gruelling and cruel life as the ship sailed out to Tahiti to collect breadfruit plants for the Jamaican market. So in 1789 some of the disaffected crew seized control of the ship, and they set John Fryer, Captain Bligh, and several crew members adrift in a 20-foot open boat.
After many weeks adrift they managed to get to the East Indies and then found passage back to Britain, where the Admiralty were persuaded to apprehend the mutineers and get them convicted.
John Fryer returned to sea and became “the preferred master” under Admiral Sir Hyde Parker. He took part in several of Nelson’s battle campaigns.
He died in 1817 and was buried in Wells churchyard. His headstone is proudly placed inside Wells church for all to see. An unsung hero in our history.
What an interesting research project this has proved to be for our speaker.
After the talk we were addressed by Coral Batchelor, our WI Adviser on all aspects of her job. We then continued to organise a variety of outings and meetings for the future.
It was a very friendly, cheerful, and chatty afternoon.