In 1852, following several years of negotiation, the British Home Office decided to relocate the people of Pitcairn Island to Norfolk Island. The people of Pitcairn Island, a community of descendants of mutineers from the HMS Bounty and Tahitians, had outgrown Pitcairn Island. With the penal settlement closure imminent, Norfolk Island was deemed to be a suitable place for resettlement.
The people of Pitcairn Island voted to make the transfer. They sailed on the Morayshire and landed at Kingston on 8 June 1856. The Pitcairn Islanders first stayed in ‘barracks’, and by 1857 they were in possession of the Kingston buildings that were left vacant when the penal settlement ended. Around 1858, each household head was allocated a fifty-acre lot, away from Kingston.
Few significant physical changes occurred in Kingston until 1900. The Pitcairners built a timber church on the former Parade Ground in 1870, but this was destroyed by a severe storm in 1874, and subsequently transferred to the altered former Commissariat Store. Some buildings were used by shore whaling companies, one as a school and many as houses. Throughout the 1870s and 1880s, a number of buildings at Kingston fell into disrepair.
Taking effect on 1 January 1901, the administration of Norfolk Island was transferred to the Governor of New South Wales. In 1903 the New South Wales Government decided to issue licenses for the occupation of the Kingston houses, in order to combat continued decay. Evictions of protesting residents and ongoing tensions resulted in the burning of a number of houses in 1908.
The Norfolk Island Act of 1913 established Norfolk Island as a territory under the authority of the Commonwealth of Australia. During the 1920s renovation and construction programs started. Similar restoration programs continue today.
Crowd including Melanesians and Pitcairn Islanders gathered for the laying of the foundation stone for St Barnabas Chapel, Norfolk Island, 22 November 1875.
Source: National Library of Australia Australia (Bib ID 6570481)