An island in polynesia, in the south pacific ocean. It was discovered in 1767 by philip carteret, uninhabited until 1790 when settled by mutineers from the english ship, bounty. The settlement was discovered in 1808; the population was removed temporarily to tahiti in 1831 and to norfolk island (between new caledonia and new zealand) in 1856. Some later returned to pitcairn and their descendents constitute the present population of this british colony. The island is named for the midshipman who first sighted it from the ship.