On the 15th August 1820 Captain Robert Tinkler, aged 46, was buried in St Margaret's churchyard in St Benedict Street, Norwich. "He signalised himself by his intrepid bravery in several engagements, in which he received 21 wounds". At the beginning of his naval career he was recommended by his brother-in-law, 33 year old John Fryer, from Wells, who was the Master of His Majesty's Ship Bounty to serve as a supernumerary midshipman.
Robert was seventeen when in 1789 the crew on the Bounty mutinied against their Captain, Bligh, in the South Seas of the Pacific. Tinkler and his brother-in-law were amongst the 19 crew members who, along with Captain Bligh, were set adrift in a 23 foot boat by the mutineers. Bligh and his companions, after a voyage of 1200 leagues, during which the only sustenance was one ounce of bread and a quarter of a pint of water each day, had the good fortune to arrive at the Dutch settlement of Cupan in the island of Timor. The mutineers had allowed 28 gallons of water, 150 lbs of ships biscuits, 20 lb of pork, 5 gallons of rum, three bottles of wine, some coconuts and bread fruit, no guns but 4 cutlasses in the boat. The journey took 41 days in the course of which they landed several times on islands, and suffered one man killed by natives. After they reached Timor, six more men died of disease because of their weakened state.
The only mention of Tinkler in Bligh's log of this journey was on Timor on 7th July 1789. 'Robert Tinkler and the Master, his brother-in-law, having behaved Saucy and Impertinent to the Boatswain, received some little chastisement for it, upon which it appears the Master interfered and ordered him to stick his knife into the Boatswain. As soon as I became acquainted with this matter, I publicly reprimanded the Master, making him responsible and equally Criminal with Tinkler in case any such violence is committed.'
Tinkler was not called as a witness in the mutineers' trial, probably due to his absence from England at the time. He was promoted Lieutenant on the 'Isis', on which ship he fought at the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801 with Lord Nelson's squadron, which attacked the Danish line. The 'Isis' was heavily engaged for four and a half hours with two of the enemy's ships at close quarters. Twenty seven members of the ships complement were killed and eighty four wounded. Tinkler later rose to the rank of Post-Captain and Commander.