The Third Settlement
On June 8, 1856, 194 people arrived on Norfolk Island aboard the "Morayshire". These were the Pitcairners - transported 4250 miles to a new homeland.
Sixty seven years earlier Lieutenant Fletcher Christian led the mutiny on the "Bounty" and ejected from the ship Captain Bligh and those loyal to him. Christian and eight mutineers along with 18 Tahitians occupied Pitcairn Island and made it their home. For almost 20 years the community on Pitcairn Island remained undisturbed.
In 1808 the Pitcairn community was discovered by Captain Folger of the American whaler "Topaz". At this time it consisted of John Adams (the only remaining mutineer), nine Tahitian women and 25 caucasian-polynesian children. Folger reported a community where nobody stole or lied, all worked for the common good and were devoutly Christian. Captain Elliot reported later, in 1838, that the community also afforded women the full vote and insisted in their children's literacy and numeracy. The British Government was too preoccupied with Napoleon at that time to follow up Folger's report.
In 1814 the community was once again accidently discovered - this time by two British ships, the "Tagus" and the "Briton", the captains of which reported their findings to the British Government. The Pitcairners became famous throughout the English-speaking world but remained isolated from it.
The Pitcairners received only three outsiders permanently into their community during their time on that island though others, like the abominable Joshua Hill, tried to stay. In 1823 John Buffett and John Evans remained on the island after their whaling ship called in. In 1828 George Hunn Nobbs, a soldier-of-fortune, arrived on Pitcairn. Nobbs eventually became the community's pastor and was ordained at the Parish Church of Saint Mary's, Islington, England, and was given an audience with Queen Victoria.
Even today the descendants of the Pitcairners share only a few family names: Adams, Christian, McCoy, Quintal and Young are the "Bounty names"; Buffett, Evans and Nobbs are the "Pitcairn names"; and Blucher, Bataille, Robinson, Snell, Rossiter and Bailey are among the "Norfolk names".
In 1825 the Captain of the "Blossom" carried back to England a request from John Adams that the British Government give some thought to relocating the community which was rapidly outgrowing the resources of Pitcairn Island. In 1831 the Pitcairn community was shifted to Tahiti for about five months but returned to Pitcairn after being disgusted with the unchristian Tahitian community. It was not until 1855, however, that the British Government offered another choice to the Pitcairn community. Norfolk Island's dreadful second penal settlement had been disbanded and the island was handed by an Imperial Order-In-Council of June, 1856, to the people of Pitcairn as a permanent home.
On May 3, 1856, the entire population of Pitcairn Island along with everything they owned began the voyage to Norfolk Island. It is the descendants of the Pitcainers who live on Norfolk today. From the very first these people have battled for what was promised to them in 1856, but has never been delivered: a home where they have the right to continue their laws, customs and culture without interference.
"The Experiment" had begun.