History

History

European Discovery

Norfolk island is a small volcanic island 8x5kms lying in the Pacific Ocean about 1,600km of Sydney Australia. There are 2 small islands to the South, Nepean (a limestone islet approx 4 hectares in extent) and Philip, a volcanic island 2 kms long.

Captain Cook discovered Norfolk Island on 10 October 1774 on his second voyage around the world on the HMS Resolution.  He described the island as "paradise" and named it Norfolk Isle, in honour of that Noble family. Part of Cook's diary " we found the island uninhabited and near a kin to New Zealand, the flax plant, many other plants and trees common to that country was found here but the chief produce of the isle is spruce pines which grow here in vast abundance and vast size, different sort to those in New Calendonia and also to those in New Zealand and for Masts, Yards &ca superior to both"

Polynesian Settlement

Over 1000 years ago, there is now some evidence that Norfolk was settled by Polynesian people, sailing the Pacific, and who lived on the island prior to Cook's discovery. Excavation work was carried out near to Emily Bay during 1995-1999 and materials such as tools were discovered.

Convict Era's

In 1786 Lord Sydney, Secretary of the Home Office advised that because of over crowding in the English gaols it had been decided to rid that country immediately of prisoners under sentence or order of transportation. On the 6 March 1788 Phillip Gidley King Superintendent and commandant arrived on Norfolk Island on the Supply to begin the first European settlement. There were 7 free men, 9 male and 6 female convicts with six month's provisions. The group set about clearing the land, building houses, sowing crops and husbanding livestock. When King finally departed Norfolk island in 1796 he reported a population of 887, of whom many were free and land holders.This settlement closed in 1814 and it was eleven years later when in 1825 Captain Richard Turton established what was to be Britain's harshest Penal Settlement. Floggings, hangings and torture was part of the every day life. In 1855 this settlement was disbanded and many of the convicts were shipped off to Van Diemen's Land.

 For more information : Kingston and Arthur Vale Historical area website www.kavha.gov.nf and the Norfolk Island Museums website www.museums.gov.nf

 Arrival of the Pitcairn Islanders

In 1788 HMAV Bounty arrived at Matavai Bay in Tahiti under the command of William Bligh, bound for the West Indies with a boat full of bread fruit for the slaves.  On the 28th April 1789, Captain Bligh was awakened and bound by the sailors, thus began the saga of the Mutiny on the Bounty. 28 persons landed on Pitcairn in January 1790, nine Europeans, six Tahitian men, 12 Tahitian women and a baby girl. The mutineers were Edward Young, William McCoy, William Brown, Matthew Quintal, Alexander Smith (John Adams) John Williams and Isaac Martin. 3 other Engishmen settled on Pitcairn a few years later, John Buffett, John Evans and George Hunn Nobbs.

The Pitcairners were the descendants of the Bounty mutineers (and late settlers Buffett, Evans and Nobbs) who under the command of Fletcher Christian had settled Pitcairn Island in 1790.  By the 1850's Pitcairn had out grown their tiny island and Queen Victoria agreed to relocate the islanders to Norfolk Island. 193 men, woman and children arrived to Norfolk on 8 June 1856. The settling of the Pitcairners on Norfolk Island marked a complete break from the island's convict past, establishing new patterns of life, including unique traditions and culture such as the local language, weaving and cooking.