Norfolk Island

Notes: This table shows “official” convict arrivals in Norfolk Island in each calendar year, i.e. those transferred from or sentenced in other penal colonies, and those arriving directly from England and Ireland. It is known that a total of around 6,500 individual men were detained on the Island between 1825 and 1855, but arrival dates are only available for about 6,000 of them—largely due to gaps in the pre-1830 records. For instance, the arrivals for 1825 to 1828 are very obvious underestimations. This data is, therefore, subject to alteration as other sources are identified.

The figures also include convicts who were sent to Norfolk Island on more than one occasion. In 1840, following the abolition of penal transportation to NSW, around 730 men—this is likely to be an overestimation as some were disembarked in Sydney—from England and Ireland arrived with Alexander Maconochie for an experimental penal reform scheme. In 1844, they were evacuated and went to either Sydney or Hobart Town (VDL).

During 1844-6, 1,703 were embarked in England and bound for Norfolk Island, after serving a period of detention at Millbank prison. The majority of these men were evacuated from the Island during 1846-7, and all went to VDL. The penal station was wound down to a skeleton crew in 1855, before the Pitcairn Islanders arrived in June the following year.

Sources (flows):

Tasmanian Archives and Heritage Office:

  • CON16: Indents of Convicts Locally Convicted or Transported from Other Colonies
  • CON17: Indents of Male Convicts Arriving from Norfolk Island
  • CON21: Description Lists of Convicts Arriving from Norfolk Island
  • CON31: Conduct Registers of Male Convicts Arriving in the Period of the Assignment System, 1803– 43
  • CON32: Supplementary Conduct Registers, 1828–53.
  • CON33: Conduct Registers of Male Convicts Arriving in the Period of the Probation System, 1840-1853
  • CON34: Conduct Registers of Male Convicts Arriving Under the Assignment System on Strength in November 1844, 1844-1892
  • CON35: Conduct Registers of Male Convicts Arriving Under the Assignment System on Non-Convict Ships and on Strength in November 1844
  • CON37: Conduct Registers of Male Convicts Arriving on Non-Convict Ships or Locally Convicted, 1840-1893
  • CON39: Conduct Registers of Male Convicts Whose Records were Transferred from the Probation Series, and of Certain Others, 1840-1846
  • CON148: Alphabetical Register of Convicts Secondarily Transported from New South Wales to Norfolk Island, and Remaining there in August 1844

State Records New South Wales:

  • NRS1000: Copies of letters to the Sheriff, 1828-50
  • NRS12188: Convict Indents, 1788-1842

Sources (standing numbers):

The standing convict population of Norfolk Island was derived largely from official records, and former Superintendent of Norfolk Island Alexander Maconochie’s detailed statistical analysis of the prisoner population.

  • Command Papers 1847 [785], Correspondence on Convict Discipline and Transportation
  • Command Papers 1847 [941], Correspondence on Convict Discipline and Transportation
  • Command Papers 1850 [1285], Correspondence on Convict Discipline and Transportation
  • Command Papers 1852 [1517], Correspondence on Convict Discipline and Transportation
  • Command Papers 1852-3 [1601] [1677], Correspondence on Convict Discipline and Transportation
  • Command Papers 1854 [1795], Correspondence on Convict Discipline and Transportation
  • Alexander Maconochie, ‘Criminal Statistics and Movement of the Bond Population of Norfolk Island, to December 1843’, Quarterly Journal of the Statistical Society of London, vol. 8 (1845), pp. 1–49. 

Where official data was unavailable (i.e. for 1845, 1847, 1848, 1853, 1854, and 1855), the standing numbers were derived from a database of Norfolk Island’s convicts.

Researcher: Tim Causer.