Hell in Paradise

Such depravities are destined to culminate in rebellion and many occur-red. Following one uprising, a priest, later to be-come Bishop Ullathorne, wrote:

'I have to record the most heart-rending scene that I ever witnessed. The turnkey unlocked the cell door and ... then came forth a yellow exhalation, the produce of the bodies of the men confined therein. I announced to them who were reprieved from death and which of them were to die. It is a literal fact that each man who heard his reprieve wept bitterly, and each man who heard his condemnation of death went down on his knees and, with dry eyes, thanked God they were to be delivered from this horrid place.

The morning came, they received on their knees the sentence as the will of God. Loosened from their chains, they fell down in the dust, and, in the warmth of their gratitude, kissed the very feet that had brought them peace.'

Norfolk Island's potential savior, Alexander Macon-ochie had not yet arrived but over on Pitcairn its most influential character since John Adams materialised out of the ocean. This was the 29-years-old George Hunn Nobbs, a former privateer and soldier-of-fortune who was eventually to oust both Buffett and Adams and become Pastor to the Pitcairn flock for an astonishing 55 years. Now were represented all of the names which exist today on Pitcairn and Norfolk: Christian, Young, Adams, Quintal, McCoy, Buffett, Evans and Nobbs.

On Norfolk, the years 1840-43 saw the population surpass 2,000 but the enlightened and brave attempt at prison reform by Maconochie was defeated by distant authorities and present clerics who could not conceive of any system but unremitting punishment.

As a result, conditions became ever more hellish, culminating with the atrocities of Commandant John Price.. The monocle that Price affected became a symbol to the convicts of all that was privileged, amoral and ruthlessly contemptuous of human suffering. Even his family crest (below) was exquisitely appropriate: "a dragon's head in whose mouth is a human hand, dripping blood".

Eventually the voices of men like Bishop Ullathorne and Bishop Willson were heard. In 1854, the colony was totally abandoned and its convicts transported to Port Arthur in Van Diemen's Land, some of them finishing their days in the town named New Norfolk.

Norfolk Island History in Detail

Colonisation
Early Days
The 'Bounty' Connection
Tahiti
Seeds of Mutiny
Eruption
The Open Boat Journey
Starvation on Norfolk
Fate of the Bounty Mutineers
The Noble Savages
Second Settlement
Hell in Paradise
Pitcairn to Norfolk