upload image

Norfolk Island, First (Colonial) Settlement 1788-1814

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: [unknown] [unknown]
Location: [unknown]
This page has been accessed 184 times.

Norfolk Island is a small island in the Pacific Ocean located between Australia, New Zealand, and New Caledonia, 1,412 kilometres (877 miles) directly east of mainland Australia's Evans Head, and about 900 kilometres (560 miles) from Lord Howe Island. The island is part of the Commonwealth of Australia.

Plaque commemorating European settlement of Norfolk Island on 6 March 1788 (Kingston, Norfolk Island)

The First Colonial Settlement on Norfolk Island was established on 6 March 1788 (less than 2 months after the first European settlement in Australia) and this extended until 15 February 1814.[1] Although a penal settlement it seems that the convicts who were here during this period were relatively well-treated and generally trusted. Farming and cultivation were the focus in order to produce food for New South Wales.

The flagship of Australia's First Fleet, HMS Sirius, was wrecked at Norfolk Island in 1790.

Plaque commemorating wreck of the HMS Sirius on 19 March 1790 (Kingston, Norfolk Island)

It was ultimately deemed to be too remote, difficult for shipping, and costly to maintain.

Evacuees from Norfolk Island began to leave as early as 1805, when five men arrived at Port Dalrymple. It would be another two years before there was any further movement from the island.

The first shipment of passengers from Norfolk Island to Hobart Town, totalling aboard the Lady Nelson, arrived on 29 November 1807 with 34 men, women and children. The next ship to arrive was the Porpoise on 17 January 1808 with 180 passengers also to Hobart Town.

The Lady Nelson made her second voyage with a further 50 passengers in March 1808, She was followed by the Estramina who arrived in June 1808 with 62 passengers again all to Hobart Town . The last evacuees to arrive at Hobart Town came on the City of Edinburgh , they numbered 242 and theirs was the longest and most difficult voyage of all. It took them nearly a month to reach Hobart Town and most of them with only rags on their backs and very little food on board.

In total there were 568 men, women and children (most of them free by this time) who arrived in the River Derwent during the twelve months, making life in the four year old settlement very difficult. Lt Colonial Collins in Hobart Town was having an extremely difficult time feeding those that had arrived in 1804 and well as those who arrived in the Colony after that time. He had been told to expect 100 souls from Norfolk Island and now he to feed and cloth nearly 600.

By 1813 the remainder of those still on Norfolk Island were ordered to sail on the Lady Nelson and the Minstrel to the Tamar River where they then walked to Muddy Plains (now Longford) and settled there on their grants of land.

For the full duration of this period Norfolk Island was part of the Colony of New South Wales (1788-1900).

Eleven years after this settlement, Norfolk Island was reoccupied as a stricter convict settlement. Refer to the Norfolk Island, Second (Penal) Settlement 1825–1855 subcategory of Norfolk Island.


  1. The Kingston and Arthur’s Vale Historic Area (KAVHA): Norfolk Island, First (Colonial) Settlement 1788–1814

This is an "orphaned" profile — there's no Profile Manager to watch over it. Please adopt this profile.

  • Login to edit this profile and add images.
  • Public Comments: Login to post. (Best for messages specifically directed to those editing this profile. Limit 20 per day.)

Leave a message for others who see this profile.
There are no comments yet.
Login to post a comment.