The Whaleship Sharon from Fairhaven, Mass. experienced a mysterious mutiny in the South Pacific in 1842. Captain Howes Norris from Edgartown, Mass. was brutally murdered by four Pacific Islanders he had taken on to replace crew who had deserted. It wasn’t until 150 years later that many of the details were discovered in the journals of the ship’s cooper, Andrew White and third officer, Benjamin Clough. Those journals, found in an attic on Martha’s Vineyard illuminated some of the mystery that had lingered for many years. The story is told in the book In the Wake of Madness, written by Joan Druett.
The John and Edward out of New Bedford, Mass., became shorthanded in Port Louis on Mauretius in the Indian Ocean in 1857. There, Captain Francis Cottle Smith of Edgartown discovered that three of his crew had been sending degrading letters to the American Consul. Rather than discharging the men, he put them in irons for the remainder of the voyage so that they couldn’t further damage the morale of his crew, thus possibly avoiding a more serious mutiny.
Martha's Vineyard Museum