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The deportation of the Norfolk Islanders to the Derwent in 1808


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Walker, James Backhouse (1894) The deportation of the Norfolk Islanders to the Derwent in 1808. Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania. pp. 1-26.

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Our Government has
availed itself of Mr. Bonwick's special knowledge to secure
copies of the papers he has researched from the English State Record Office relating to the settlement and earliest
history of Tasmania. Of this period no contemporary records
have been preserved in our local archives ; our knowledge of
those early times has hitherto been derived merely from vague
and inaccurate tradition. The material supplied by Mr.
has enabled me to lay before the Royal Society
the first authentic story of the planting of Tasmania and of
the motives which led to it.
In former papers
we have seen how the occupation of our
island came about.
The next chapter in our colonial history to which I ask
your attention is Norfolk Island,
a small and solitary island,
separated from us by more than a thousand miles of ocean,
the fortunes of which have, nevertheless, been strangely interwoven
with those of our own colony.
It is most familiar to us as a
synonym for cruelty and crime, a reminiscence of the days when
the distant island formed a dependency and a part of the then
penal settlement of Van Diemen's Land. To the majority this,
which is within the memory of many still living amongst us,
is the only known link between our colony and it—perhaps
the only known fact respecting its earlier history. Comparatively
few are aware that—with the single exception of Sydney

Norfolk Island is the oldest English colony in the South
Seas. Perhaps still fewer know that to that same far-off island,
so familiar to us in later days under another aspect, Tasmania
was indebted for a large proportion of her earliest colonists.
To this historical fact the familiar names of New Norfolk in
the south, and Norfolk Plains in the north of this colony
remain a perpetual but unappreciated memorial.
The history of Norfolk Island and its early colonists thus
becomes an essential part of the history of Tasmania. The
history of its colonisation and settlement can be gathered from
scattered references in the works of Collins and other contemporary
writers, but Mr. Bonwick's researches in the
Record Office enable me to lay before the Royal Society the
first authentic story of the evacuation of the island and the
transference of all its free settlers to the Derwent in 1808.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Royal Society of Tasmania, Van Diemens Land, VDL, Hobart Town, natural sciences, proceedings, records
Journal or Publication Title: Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania
Page Range: pp. 1-26
Collections: Royal Society Collection > Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania
Additional Information:

In 1843 the Horticultural and Botanical Society of Van Diemen's Land was founded and became the Royal Society of Van Diemen's Land for Horticulture, Botany, and the Advancement of Science in 1844. In 1855 its name changed to Royal Society of Tasmania for Horticulture, Botany, and the Advancement of Science. In 1911 the name was shortened to Royal Society of Tasmania.

Date Deposited: 12 Jun 2013 05:58
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2017 00:59
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