Project Canterbury

Articles, letters and reports on the Pitcairn Island Anglican community appearing in The Colonial Church Chronicle and Missionary Journal, 1850-1855.

Transcribed by the Right Reverend Dr. Terry Brown
Bishop of Malaita, Church of the Province of Melanesia, 2008

[From The Colonial Church Chronicle and Missionary Journal, Vol. III, No. XXXIII (March, 1850), pages 334-342.]



FEW, probably, of our readers are unacquainted with "The eventful History of H.M.S. Bounty." [1] [(1) See Murray's Family Library, No. XXV., published in 1831.] It will be unnecessary, therefore, to do more than give such a general outline of it, as may serve to introduce some interesting letters respecting the present condition of the inhabitants of Pitcairn's Island.

It was on the 28th of April, 1789, during the return voyage of the Bounty from Otaheite, that the memorable mutiny occurred. Fletcher Christian and his accomplices seized the ship, and having forced Lieutenant Bligh and eighteen of the officers and crew on board the launch, in the middle of the Pacific, set their course to Otaheite. Having obtained ample supplies of provision, and left behind them such of the mutineers as chose to remain, they took on board seven men and twelve women, and set sail to discover some uninhabited island, where there was no harbour, and where they might escape a visit from any of the King's ships. What had become of them remained a mystery for twenty years. The first to discover their retreat was Captain Folger, of the American merchantman, the Topaz; who, landing on Pitcairn's Island in September, 1808, there found John Adams, the only survivor of those who had arrived in the Bounty. That vessel, it appears, had been run on shore in 1790, and broken up to escape detection.

Nothing more was heard of the matter till the year 1815, when Sir Thomas Staines, commanding the Briton, cruising in the Pacific, fell in with an island not laid down in any chart; and nearing it to learn whether it was inhabited, was astonished to find that "every individual (forty in number) spoke very good English. They proved" (he adds,) "to be the descendants of the deluded crew of the Bounty." The mutineers themselves, as well as the greater part of the Otaheitans whom they brought with them, had been killed in quarrels between the two races. Christian himself was shot by an Otaheitan in a fit of jealousy. The survivor, who had been wounded in one of these frays, but providentially recovered, was a remarkable man. He is thus described by Sir Thomas Staines:--

"A venerable old man, named John Adams, is the only surviving Englishman of those who last quitted Otaheito in the Bounty; and his exemplary conduct, and fatherly care of the whole of the little colony, could not but command admiration. The pious manner in which all those born on the island have been reared, the correct sense of religion which has been instilled into their young minds by this old man, has given him the pre-eminence over the whole of them, to whom they look up as the father of one and the whole family."

Another extract from the same letter will be read with interest, [334/335] and we beg leave to submit it to the consideration of the Society to which reference is made.

"I cannot refrain from offering my opinion that it (the island) is well worthy the attention of our laudable religious societies, particularly that for Propagating the Christian Religion, the whole of the inhabitants speaking the Otaheitan tongue as well as the English."

Further particulars are furnished in a letter of Captain Pipon of the Tagus, who accompanied Sir Thomas Staines in his visit to Pitcairn's Island.

"As they approached they observed a few natives coming down a steep descent, with their canoes on their shoulders; and in a few minutes perceived one of those little vessels darting through a heavy surf, and paddling off toward the ships; but their astonishment was extreme when, on coming alongside, they were hailed in the English language, with 'Won't you heave us a rope now?' The first of the young men who sprang up the side of the vessel was Thursday October Christian, son of the chief mutineer; the other was George Young, son of the midshipman. The surprise that was excited by hearing two natives of this rock-bound, and almost inaccessible island, speak English with perfect propriety, was much increased when Sir Thomas Staines, taking them below, and setting before them something to eat, "both rose up, and one of them, placing his hands together in a posture of devotion, pronounced distinctly, and with emphasis, the words, 'For what we are going to receive, the Lord make its truly thankful.'"

To enter into a detailed account of their manners and customs would lead us too far away from our main purpose, and is, indeed, unnecessary, as the volume to which we have already referred is well known and easily accessible. It may be remarked, however, that the Anglo-Otaheitans are a singularly robust and active race. Both men and women are described as well-formed, and graceful. Captain Pipon, after describing the tasteful manner in which a young girl made, in his presence, a little shade, or parasol, of green leaves, adds, the same young girl accompanied them to the boat, carrying on her shoulders as a present, a large basket of yams, "over such roads, and down such precipices, as were scarcely passable by any creatures except goats, and over which we could scarcely scramble with the help of our hands. Yet with this load she skipped from rock to rock like a young roe."

Captain Pipon gives his separate testimony to the devout character of the islanders:--

"What delighted us most," he says, "was the conviction that John Adams had impressed on the minds of these young people, of the propriety and necessity of returning thanks to the Almighty for the many blessings they enjoy. They never omit saying grace before and after meals, and never think of touching food without asking a blessing from him who gave it. The Lord's Prayer and the Creed they repeat morning and evening."

The next recorded visit to Pitcairn's Island is that of Captain [335/336] Beechey, in the Blossom. This was in the year 1825. John Adams was then in his sixty-fifth year, and had become somewhat corpulent. "He was dressed in a sailor's shirt and trowsers, and a low-crowned hat, which he held in his hand until desired to put it on. He still retained his sailor's manners, doffing his hat and smoothing down his bald forehead whenever he was addressed by the officers of the Blossom." This venerable patriarch, the king and priest of the island, died in March, 1829. Captain Beechey gives the same favourable testimony to the moral and religious character of these interesting islanders as had been given by preceding visitors:--

"The Sabbath is wholly devoted to the Church Service, to prayer, reading, and serious meditation. No work of any kind is done on that day--not even cooking. I attended their Church," he says, "and found the service well conducted; the prayers were read by Adams, and the lessons by Buffett, the service being preceded by hymns. The greatest devotion was apparent in every individual; and in the children there was a seriousness unknown in the younger part of our communities at home. In the course of the Litany they prayed for their sovereign and all the royal family with much apparent loyalty and sincerity. . . . A sermon followed, which was well delivered by Buffet, and lest any part of it should be forgotten, or escape attention, it was read three times! The whole concluded with hymns, which were first sung by the grown people, and afterwards by the children."

John Adams was by the necessity of his position the priest of this small island flock. He had joined every couple in marriage, and, what may be regarded as symbolical of the union of every family with the rest in that small community, he had on every occasion made use of the same ring.

Captain Beechey did not fail to represent to the authorities at home the wants of the islanders in respect to many necessary articles of clothing, as well as of agricultural implements, and the government considerately sent out a store of such things to be despatched to them from Valparaiso. This service was performed by Captain (now Lord) Waldegrave, in the Seringapatam. As soon as he landed in company with the chaplain and some of his officers, finding several persons assembled to meet him, he said,--"I have brought you a Clergyman." "God bless you," issued from every mouth, "but is he come to stay with us?" "No." "You bad man, why not?" "I cannot spare him, he is the Chaplain of my ship; but I have brought you clothes and other articles which King George has sent you." "But," said Betty Quintal, "we want food for our souls."

Captain Waldegrave is another independent witness to the amiable character of the Pitcairn Islanders. "The children," he says, "are attached and dutiful; the parents affectionate and kind: no harsh word is ever heard, and slander is unknown among them." He was much struck with the strictness of their religious observances, and remarks, as others before him had done, how scrupulously they gave thanks, before sitting down to any meal, while "on the arrival of any one during the repast, all of them paused until the new guest had said [336/337] grace." Mr. Watson performed evening service on the day of their arrival, and when the general confession commenced, they all knelt down facing the Clergyman, with their hands raised to the breast in the attitude of prayer, and slowly and distinctly repeated the office after him. His sermon on the text "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" being ended, they sang the hymn of departure.

With these references to the past history, we proceed to lay before our readers some extracts of the letters with which we have been favoured. It is natural that every Captain or Commander whose course leads him near an island which has acquired a romantic interest
should be anxious to visit it. This was the case with Captain Hope, who commanded the Thalia on the Pacific Station in 1844. His intention to call at the Island on his passage from Tahiti to Valparaiso was frustrated by strong contrary winds, but the sympathy which he felt for the inhabitants induced him to send them many useful presents. As it is very rare that any vessels except American whalers go near Pitcairn's Island, for there is literally no harbour, the box containing the presents did not reach the people for whom it was intended until Feb. 1847, and for like reasons an interval of two years occurred before the acknowledgment of it in the following letter, addressed to Captain Hope, was received:--

"Pitcairn's Island, South Pacific Ocean, July 10, 1847.

"HONOURABLE SIR,--On the 26th of February last, H. B. M. S. Spy arrived here, bringing your very acceptable present and most interesting letters. At a meeting held shortly after, at which all the inhabitants over eighteen years of age (male and female) were present, I was requested to write a letter of thanks in the name, and on behalf of the whole community, and I now take up my pen for that purpose. * * * * *

"We were very much grieved at the fortuitous circumstances which deprived us of the benefit of your very desirable visit--desirable to us in an especial manner; for we want some persons to visit us whose intelligence and position in society would give weight to their representations, satisfy the inquiries of the many friends who so kindly interest themselves in our welfare, and refute the preposterous incongruities which have gone abroad respecting Pitcairn's Island. Now, had we been so fortunate as to have received the intended visit of your Honour and the Rev. Mr. Moody, it would have been most opportune; for you would have come in the right spirit, and, by spending a few days amongst us, might have ascertained exactly the position in which we stand both in spiritual and temporal matters; and, in the event of inquiry, have given a verdict in accordance with our deserts. And now, Sir, I would respectfully beg leave to call your attention to the following items:--

"The number of inhabitants at the present time amounts to one hundred and thirty-eight--seventy-one males, three of which are English, and sixty-seven females, one of which is a Tahitian, who came hither in the Bounty; the rest, are natives. For nineteen years, I have held the very responsible situation of Pastor and Schoolmaster in this place, and honestly believe I have been of some benefit to those under my charge; but I do earnestly wish I could be more formally inducted, or licensed to the office I sustain. Perhaps, honoured Sir, considering the necessity of the case, you would be pleased to interest yourself in my behalf, and apply to the proper authority [337/338] for the sanction and licence the peculiar situation of myself and charge do most undoubtedly require. My situation, though an interesting one, is not a sinecure. Fifty-four children attend the public school five days in the week, on Wednesday afternoon a Bible class for the adults, and on Sunday Divine Service twice, in conformity with the established Church of England, of which all are members. We are very much in want of Church Prayer-books, and Watts' Psalms and Hymns, for public worship. Elementary books for the younger classes in the school, and Walkingame's, or other books on arithmetic, for the more advanced classes. There are two other things indispensably necessary to the temporal welfare of the community, viz., a cast-iron hand-mill for grinding Indian corn, and a medicine chest; there is a great amount of sickness on the island, and the want of proper remedies to apply frequently causes me much anxiety; the trifling quantity of medicines obtained from the whale ships which touch here occasionally, is quite inadequate to our necessities; and, if your Honour would obtain a supply for us, it would confer a lasting favour upon us all.

"You very affectionately observe in your letter that we are British subjects; I believe our Island is an anomaly within the precincts of Polynesia. The inhabitants are all British subjects, the English language only is spoken; 'the flag that braved a thousand years the battle and the breeze,' waves over our heads on Sundays and other proper occasions, and all are members of the Protestant Episcopal Church of England. I do not make this last remark out of any party spirit, or disrespect to the Dissenting members of the Church of Christ, but offer the right hand of fellowship, without distinction, to all who love the Lord Jesus Christ in
sincerity. * * * * * * * *

"I will trouble you with a letter occasionally, if I have permission, and can obtain your address.

(Signed) "GEORGE H. NOBBS, Pastor
SIMON YOUNG, Councillor.
JOHN ADAMS, Councillor.

"Captain Charles Hope, R.N."

This acknowledgment of their pastor was, however, by no means deemed sufficient to express the full gratitude of the people, and they accordingly wrote the following joint letter to their benefactor:--

"Pitcairn's Island, South Pacific Ocean, July 10, 1847.

"HONOURED SIR,--We, the undersigned inhabitants of Pitcairn's Island, beg leave to return our grateful acknowledgments for your most acceptable present, contained in three boxes, and brought to us by H. B. M. S. Spy. Your very kind and interesting letters we set great store by; and, as it is a custom with us, at all our public meetings, to read over the various letters sent us at different times, we can assure you that yours will be frequently read, and gratefully commented upon for the benefit of the rising generation. Our Pastor has, by public request, written you a letter; its contents we are acquainted with; but there is one request contained in it, we would in an especial, but respectful manner, present to your notice. Our number now amounts to one hundred and thirty-eight, and is rapidly increasing; our teacher, who is a worthy man, and whose services are of great value to us, has never received the sanction or licence of the proper authorities in the Church, to qualify him for the very important and prominent situation he fills. He is most anxious, and we are no less so, that he should be more formally inducted into the office of Pastor, and for this purpose our humble request to you is, that you will (if it can be done with [338/339] propriety) make our case known to the Bishop of London, or some other competent dignitary, who would send a pastoral letter to our teacher, sanctioning and confirming him in the sacred office he for nineteen years has held among us.

"We extremely regret the circumstances which prevented your visiting us; it would have been (humanly speaking) one of the happiest occurrences possible; we should have been delighted with your company and that of the Rev. Mr. Moody; besides, it would have been a prime opportunity of satisfying our many friends and well-wishers in England, as to our actual state and progress since the death of the respected John Adams, and would have effectually silenced some ill-natured and ill-founded reports which have gone abroad. We could have promptly supplied you with wood, water, and sweet potatoes and yams, at that season of the year. In respect of fire-wood, it is very rare indeed that we cannot succeed in getting it on board a ship-of-war from some part of the island, let the weather be as it may. Ships can obtain water with great facility in moderate weather. But we fear we shall not now have an opportunity of convincing you with what alacrity and good-will we would swim the fire-wood off to your boats, or fill your water-casks. Be pleased to write to us more than once, that since we are denied the happiness of personal acquaintance we may be enabled, at our public meetings, to speak of your welfare, and repeat your kind instructions and friendly assurances to the rising generation. We beg leave to subscribe ourselves, most respectfully and gratefully, your very humble servants,

(Signed) CHARLES CHRISTOPHER, Magistrate.
SIMON YOUNG, Councillor.
JOHN ADAMS, Councillor.
"In the name and on behalf of the Community.

(Signed) "DAVID BUFFETT, Amanuensis."

We cannot refrain from subjoining a third letter, that of the school children, especially as it contains an account of their studies, and exhibits, probably, a larger proportion of children under education than is to be found in any other part of the British dominions--

"Pitcairn's Island, South Pacific Ocean, August 11, 1847.

"DEAR AND HONOURED SIR,--Our teacher read to us your most affectionate letter; and we his scholars have read it more than once, and will treasure its benevolent advice in our minds, as a rule of conduct. We much regret the untoward circumstances which frustrated your intended visit. For it would have been to us both a pleasure and reward, if our educational acquirements had merited your approbation and that of the Rev. Mr. Moody. We attend school five days in the week,--five hours each day. Our routine of school duties is as follows, viz.:--Commence with prayer and praise; conclude with the same; Monday, recital of weekly tasks, reading the Holy Scriptures, writing, arithmetic, and class spelling; Tuesday, the same as on Monday; Wednesday, promiscuous reading (individually) in history, geography, transcribing select portions of Scriptures, &c.; Thursday, similar to Monday and Tuesday; and on Friday, which is the busiest day of the week, transcribe words with their definitions from Walker's Dictionary, read hymns, or other devotional and moral poetry, repeat Watts and the Church Catechism, arithmetical tables, &c. &c, and emulative spelling concludes the whole; we are generally an hour longer at school this day than any other. On Wednesday afternoon, the elder scholars attend the Bible class with their parents. On the Sabbath, divine service [339/340] is performed twice, and all who can possibly attend, do so. The contents of the box so kindly sent us by the Rev. Mr. Thompson received so much injury from wet before it reached us as to be nearly useless; we regret this much, because we are greatly in need of school requisites generally. If the request is not improper, will you, honoured Sir, procure for us some copy-slips, or models for writing, and a few of Walkingame's arithmetics, with a key to the same; for we often hear our teacher say, if he had these helps his work would be much easier; and we heartily wish he could obtain the means of making it so. We are indeed British subjects, and we think it a great privilege to be considered so, and when we see the Flag of Old England, waving from the staff in front of the school-house, we often remark to each other with grateful hearts, 'That's our safeguard from the ugly French.'

"As grateful scholars, we much regret the possibility of our beloved teacher being superseded, as you, honoured Sir, and the Rev. Mr. Moody seem to intimate in your letters. Whatever may be the qualifications of the person sent out, he can never be to us what our present pastor has been, and is. Fathers and mothers on their death-beds have bequeathed their children to his care--many of our parents have been educated by him--and we, his present pupils, from the time of our birth up to this day, have been cared for and watched over, with parental solicitude. Now, dear and honoured Sir, if you would obtain from the Bishop of London, or some other dignitary, a licence for our Pastor, confirming him in his resent important situation, you would fill our hearts with joy; and we would trouble you with more than one letter expressive of our gratitude. Be pleased to present our humble respects to the Rev. Mr. Moody; and if he would condescend in preferring our request, it would greatly enhance the obligations we are already under.

"We beg leave, honoured Sir and friend, to subscribe ourselves your humble and obedient Servants, the School Children of Pitcairn Island.

"MARTHA YOUNG, Amanuensis.

"In the name and on behalf of the rest.

"We certify the statements contained in this letter, and heartily concur in its requests.

(Signed) CHARLES CHRISTIAN, Magistrate.
SIMON YOUNG, Councillor.
JOHN ADAMS, Councillor.

"Captain Hope, R.N."

These letters, it will be observed, date as long back as July and August 1847, though, for reasons already specified, they did not reach this country till December last. We are happy, therefore, to be in a position to add some more recent information. Last year a grant of books was made to the Islanders by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, and the Rev. William Armstrong, the Chaplain at Valparaiso, through whom they were sent, has recently addressed to the Secretary a letter of thanks, from which we are permitted to [340/341] make the following extracts, very remarkably confirming the testimony of all who have in succession visited Pitcairn's Island, as to both the moral and physical character of the natives:--

"Valparaiso, Oct. 18, 1849.

"An English man-of-war; the Pandora, has lately arrived direct from Pitcairn's Island, and the commander, Lieutenant Wood, and the officers, give the most pleasing and gratifying account of the happy state in which their little community were living (numbering seventy-five males and seventy-five females, exactly 150 persons). They are described as a remarkably strong and healthy people; for instance, a young woman, eighteen years of age, being accustomed to carry on her shoulders a hundred pounds weight of yams, over hills and precipitous places, and for a considerable distance, where one unaccustomed to such exercise would scarcely be able to scramble. And a man of sixty years old with ease carried the surgeon of the Pandora up a steep ascent, from the landing-place, that he had himself in vain attempted to mount, the ground being very slippery from recent rains; and the officer being a large man, six feet high, renders it the more surprising. Indeed, Lieutenant Wood said he was himself borne aloft in the arms of a damsel, and carried up the hill with the utmost facility. But this is a digression which I did not intend. You will be glad to hear that they are all well educated, the young men being instructed in navigation and some of the lower branches of mathematics; and that they live together in the greatest harmony, and in the strictest observance of religious duties--public, family, and private--with every appearance of perfect freedom from all crime, and bearing the stamp of extreme innocence and simplicity. A new regulation had been recently made for the distribution of all their books among the families, they having been before kept as public property, as it was believed they would be more read and valued in that way; and for which purpose shelves had been put up in all their houses, which are very neat and comfortable, though more like ship cabins than dwelling-houses. The reason they give for this arrangement is, that they are in the habit of walking into each other's houses with the same freedom as into their own, and, taking up a book, will sit down and read it aloud, or not, as they feel disposed. The Society's books went to them in good time, some of them particularly suited, in their being several copies of the same work, such as the Homilies and others. I requested them to acknowledge the receipt of the Society's very liberal grant, and their letter shall be forwarded immediately on my receiving it.

"In the meantime, please to present my very sincere and grateful thanks to the Committee, for their most obliging attention to my petition on behalf of this poor, though happy little community.

(Signed) "WM. ARMSTRONG.

"The Rev. Thomas B. Murray."

We may safely leave the foregoing letters to tell their own tale. But what answer shall be made to the prayer which they contain? Whether it be better to bring home for ordination the good pastor Nobbs, or to send out a duly ordained missionary from this country, it is for our ecclesiastical superiors to decide. But whatever be determined upon, we trust that a body of our fellow-subjects, who, sprung from mutineers and murderers, seem, from a concurrence of testimony, to be leading a life of primitive simplicity, and to be unstained with any crime, will, one way or the other, be ere long provided with the full ministrations of the Church of England.

[342] One should almost desire to select pupils from such a school for education in St. John's College, New Zealand, as Missionaries to Otaheite, and the islands of the Pacific. Mysterious, indeed, are the ways of Providence! Already a handful of desperadoes have grown into a singularly moral and virtuous society. It may be their destiny to spread themselves over many of the Society and Friendly Islands, which are either wholly uninhabited, or thinly occupied by people speaking the same language as themselves; and more than this, it may be in the order of Providence, that these same descendants of a mutinous crew shall be made the means of diffusing Christianity and civilization throughout the islands of the Southern Pacific. Our Church has a call there which has been too long disregarded--are not even now the isles of the sea waiting for her?

[From "Correspondence and Documents", The Colonial Church Chronicle and Missionary Journal, Vol. III (No. XXXV), May, 1850), pages 414-419.]


IN our last number (page 400), we mentioned a report on Pitcairn's Island, drawn up by Captain Worth, and presented by him at the General Meeting of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, on March 15th. We have much pleasure in laying before our readers the whole of the Captain's observations on this remarkable colony:--

"The island of Pitcairn, at which I touched in March 1848, on my way to the Society, Navigator, Friendly, and Feegee Islands, appears to be in latitude 25° 4' south, and longitude 130' 16' west, is twelve hundred feet high, and four and a-half miles in circumference, and may be seen, in clear weather, at forty miles distance. Its coast is bold, and entirely free from detached shoals, and rises abruptly from the sea,--composed of high and weather-beaten rock, upon which the surf breaks heavily at all times, preventing any access to it, save in two places; the usual landing-place being in a very confined bay, on the north-east side, called Bounty Bay, which possesses a sandy beach twenty or thirty yards in breadth, but where landing can only be effected in fine weather, and by the assistance of the islanders in their whale-boats or canoes, the bay being studded with rocks, and the rollers so high and uncertain, that it would be dangerous to attempt it in ships' boats, which are usually kept at anchor outside their influence. The other landing-place, though less difficult, is seldom used, from its being at the back or north-west side of the island, and distant from the settlement.

"Although soundings from twenty to thirty-five fathoms may be obtained at a quarter of a mile from the shore, and in some spots at even a greater distance, anchorage should only be resorted to, as a preventive against a ship drifting on shore, in calms, &c., as, the ground being very foul, great hazard would be run of losing the anchor.

"On landing, I was much struck with the great extent of rich and [414/415] cultivable land this island possesses, and the beautiful and romantic scenery that surrounded me, composed, as it is, of rich valleys and precipitous rocks, with a luxuriance of foliage seldom to be seen in islands so small and detached, producing not only those fruits and vegetables usually found in tropical climates, but also a great number of those of more northern and colder temperatures.

"I was told by the islanders (who at this time number 140, viz. 71 males and 69 females, of whom 47 are under 15 years of age), that the cultivated land did not exceed 60 acres, which was found amply sufficient for their present wants; but that the island contained at least 400 acres, and was fully equal to supply a population of 1,000; the only drawback being the want of water, of which necessary article the island contains none whatever. This difficulty, which some years since appeared so formidable to the islanders as to induce them to abandon it, has now been entirely obviated by the construction of tanks, in which a quantity of rain-water is collected during the rainy season--that is, March, April and May--as much as is necessary for the remainder of the year, besides keeping up a supply in case of a drier season than ordinary occurring; these tanks will of course be enlarged as the population increases.

"The island produces India corn, yams, Irish and sweet potatoes, tarro, feis, plantains, limes, lemons, cocoa-nuts, oranges, melons, pineapples, papaw, sugar-cane, arrow-root, and tobacco; bread-fruit is also grown, but the crop is uncertain. The stock reared comprises hogs, goats, and poultry, all of which are abundant. The fish that frequent its coast are barracoutas, albecore, mullet, giropa, snapper, and small sharks--the smaller sort being taken with nets, and the larger with hooks and line; but, from the great depth of water, the labour is so considerable, and so large a number of the fish are taken by the sharks before they can be drawn to the surface, that the employment of fishing is not followed to any great extent.

"The trees that flourish best, and are most useful for building and other general purposes, are the miro, purau, cocoa-nut, pandanus, tapau, and a species of gardenia.

"The prevalent winds are from west and south-east; heavy gales are of rare occurrence, though the island cannot be said to be altogether free from them, a severe one having been experienced about three years since, which proved very destructive in its effects. Lightning is not frequent. The thermometer ranges, throughout the year, from fifty-nine to eighty-five degrees; the feeling produced upon the human frame depending upon the hydrometrical state of the atmosphere.

"The climate may be considered good, and the islanders subject to but few diseases, none of which are of a virulent nature. Influenza and catarrh are endemic during the rainy season; rheumatism and asthma prevail, perhaps, more than any other complaint.

"The principal occupations of the inhabitants are cultivation, building, and improving their houses, (which are extremely clean, neat, and commodious,) rearing stock, fencing their plantations, making tapa, [415/416] (a sort of cloth, made from the bark of the paper-mulberry tree, and which formerly composed their clothing,) straw-hats, fancy boxes, &c., which, together with stock, fruit, and vegetables, they sell and barter for clothing, medicines, artificers' tools, agricultural implements, domestic utensils, and other useful articles, with the different whale-ships that call at their island for refreshments. The number of ships prior to 1840, did not exceed two or three annually, but for the last four and a quarter years is as follows:

In 1844 29, viz. 1 English, 1 French, 27 American.
1845 18, viz. All American.
1846 49, viz. 2 English, 1 French, 46 American.
1847 19, viz. 1 Bremen, 18 American.
1848 3, viz. 1 French, 2 American.
(to March.)

"Their form of government consists of a chief magistrate and two councillors; the magistrate, being elected annually, after his election nominates one councillor, the other being nominated by the people. All cases of difficulty are tried by a jury of seven persons, the accuser and accused having the privilege of objecting to any prejudiced person being included in it. George Adams, son of John Adams, one of the mutineers of the Bounty, is the present magistrate.

"Their form of religion is Episcopalian, their guide the Bible and Common Prayer-Book. They have church service twice in the week, and private prayers every morning and evening.

"The children are taught reading and writing, arithmetic, geography, and history, in a spacious and airy schoolroom, which is likewise their church. Their schoolmaster (Mr. Nobbs, who also officiates as their clergyman and doctor,) conducts their instruction with much ability and decorum.

"In stature, feature, and complexion, as also in their conversation, dress, and manner, these islanders so exactly resemble the people of one of our own villages of the better order, that I could scarcely bring myself to believe they were not such. A few of them, however, are rather darker than the generality of English-born subjects, partaking more after their half-Tahitian descent.

"The usual recreations of the elder branches are, the hunting of wild goats, playing at ball, wrestling upon stilts, (at which they are very expert,) and dancing, for which latter purpose they are allowed to assemble one evening in each week. For the more steady and serious part of the community, they have a very tolerable library, well stocked with books of history, travels, voyages, and likewise works of fiction, by Sir Walter Scott, Marryatt, Dickens, &c., which have been from time to time collected, from gifts and purchases from the different vessels that have called at their island, and to which the officers of the Calypso liberally contributed. Flying kites, and playing in the surf on a board, are favourite amusements with the children, and also swimming and diving, in which the adults of both sexes join, being excellent swimmers.

"Of the first generation, only six remain; four of the [416/417] inhabitants are foreigners (of whom three are English), viz. Susan, a Tahitian woman, who came from thence in the Bounty, and is now eighty years of age; George Nobbs, who came from Valparaiso about twenty years since, and who, as already observed, acts as their schoolmaster, surgeon, and clergyman, and who is a great acquisition; and John Buffet and John Evans, who came to the island in 1823.

"The annual increase of births, above deaths, has never yet exceeded seven; the following being the relative numbers for the last ten years.

"In visiting these interesting and worthy islanders, it was my gratifying task to convey to them various useful articles, which had been, with much praiseworthy benevolence and liberality, collected by the officers of the squadron, and many of the inhabitants at Valparaiso, consisting of two whale-boats, a corn-mill, medicine-chest; agricultural and other tools; fishing, writing, and sowing-materials; cordage, nails, cooking and other domestic articles, and a quantity of clothing for both sexes, all of which proved most serviceable. Nor could anything exceed the heartfelt gratitude of these primitive, isolated, and excellent people, who, with tears in their eyes, acknowledged the benefits they continued to receive from the countrymen of their forefathers; and if sincere and grateful prayers are ever offered up for such kindnesses, they surely were on this occasion, by these virtuous and blameless islanders. They consider themselves, in every sense, subjects of Great Britain; and certain I am, that Her Majesty possesses not a more attached or loyal people, or one more devoted to her person and government. I could not but be forcibly struck at their anxious inquiries for Her Majesty's health, as 'their beloved Queen,' and at their earnest hope that she would continue to consider them worthy of her countenance and protection.

"There being no harbour or anchorage at the island, nor any other requisite necessary for the re-fitting or supplying of ships, beyond the mere island produce, is, I consider, quite a blessing to its inhabitants; as these simple people thereby escape the contaminating and baleful influence which the crews of such vessels as visit them would inevitably cause, were they enabled to remain any length of time on shore. As it is, one or two boats from each ship, calling occasionally for a few hours for refreshments, have not sufficient time to work evil, even if so inclined. Indeed, so little known is crime amongst the people of Pitcairn, and so little encouragement given by them to visitors to commit themselves, that, I believe, no instance is known of any such attempt being made. On the contrary, I was told that the conduct both of the masters and crews of vessels calling at Pitcairn's Island, was most exemplary."

[418] Captain Sir Thomas Thomson, who touched at Pitcairn's Island seven years ago, has favoured us with the following interesting account of his visit:--

"In March 1843, when in command of H.M.S. Talbot, I visited that most interesting spot, Pitcairn's Island. I arrived off the island on a Sunday morning, and being very much pressed for time, and it being calm, I left the ship in a boat, accompanied by Mr. White, the paymaster, and after a long pull of five hours we reached Bounty Bay a little after eleven. Young Adams immediately came off in a small canoe, and directed me where to anchor the boat in safety. He then landed Mr. White and myself, and took us on shore without a wetting, through a very heavy surf.

"He informed me that the islanders were at church, so I proceeded with him up the steep path to the little village, and entered the room in which they were all assembled. Nobbs, who was reading the service, stopped and asked me if he should proceed, which I begged him to do. He finished the prayers, and afterwards read a short lecture. I was much struck by the attention and devotion of the whole congregation, as a visit from a man-of-war was quite an event, only occurring once a-year; and although they were all most anxious to hear the news, they continued their devotions with the same fervency as if we had not been present.

"After the service was finished, I entered into all the complaints and disputes for the last twelve months, and to their credit I may say, it did not take me more than an hour to arrange everything most amicably. I afterwards visited every house in the village, and was very much pleased with the cleanliness and order of the whole community, which amounted to 112, equal males and females. Their wants were very few, being a bell to call them to church (which had been done by firing a musket), a hand corn-mill to grind their Indian corn, and some books. I purchased a good supply of potatoes, fowls, a pig and a goat; the latter broke his tether when brought down to the boat, and scampered off up the island, and it was surprising to see the agility of the young people of both sexes giving chase over rocks and bushes without any shoes, but they soon brought him back again.

"I was very sorry I had not time to remain with these interesting people longer, but as there was every indication of bad weather, and no anchorage for the ship, I was obliged to proceed on my voyage to Valparaiso."

We are happily enabled to bring down the report of these interesting islanders to a much more recent date. Captain Edward Fanshawe, of H. M. S. Daphne, paid them a visit on the 10th and 11th of August last; and from a portion of his private correspondence, which has been kindly sent to us, we are enabled to add the following particulars:--

He compares the island, as it first appeared, to a little button on an immense sheet of blue cloth: so small and solitary did it seem. On landing, however, he found it very beautiful, richly clothed with [418/419] tropical shrubs, and displaying well-cultivated gardens, planted with yarns and sweet potatoes. The island is only five miles and a half in circumference, while its elevation is 1,200 feet; and the crags and precipices impart to it a wild and picturesque character; the deep blue sea coming close up to the rocks.

The village, which is a straggling one, and built of wood, stands about 500 feet above the water; and its most conspicuous ornament is the chapel, which serves also for a school-house, and is surmounted by a flag-staff bearing the British ensign. But interesting as Pitcairn's island is in a physical point of view, it has acquired a far higher interest from the moral character of its inhabitants; and Captain Fanshawe fully confirms every preceding report of this remarkable little community.

"They present," he says, "the very uncommon spectacle of a society, every individual of which appears to be solely guided in his practice by the precepts of Christianity. They are governed by a magistrate and two councillors, chosen annually. Mr. Nobbs continues to teach the school, and to administer all the offices of religion, except the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper." As one of the days of Captain Fanshawe's visit was Sunday, he attended Divine Service, which was quietly and well performed, and the singing was very good. The exact number of islanders, in August, was 151, and they are characterized as thoroughly amiable and virtuous, living in the utmost harmony and contentment. Their laws and regulations exhibit an anxious desire to prevent occasions of rivalry and contention. Their system does not countenance the theory of common property; but everything belongs to some individual or family; and their transactions with each other are conducted in a very liberal spirit.

Captain Fansharwe states that one of his objects in visiting the island, was to ascertain whether the people were becoming too numerous for it; and his report is, that it will amply suffice for at least twenty years to come. The natives are naturally very reluctant to leave their ocean home. Another generation will have grown up before this necessity is laid upon any of them; and when at length the produce of their island shall no longer suffice for the wants of its inhabitants, we sincerely hope that the colonists who may go forth from it, will carry to the other settlements of the Pacific the simple manners and cheerful disposition, and humble piety, which so singularly characterize Pitcairn's Island.

We cannot conclude these observations without expressing our satisfaction that the account which we printed in a former Number has been transferred to various publications in England and America; and we would suggest to the Messrs. CHAMBERS, who have liberally offered to present any of their various works to the Pitcairn islanders, that they should make a selection of such publications, (especially those which relate to natural history, agriculture, and gardening,) as they shall consider most likely to be useful to the Pitcairn islanders, and address the parcel to the care of the Rev. William Armstrong, Chaplain at Valparaiso.

[From "Correspondence and Documents", The Colonial Church Chronicle and Missionary Journal, Vol. III (No. XXXVI), pages 472-474.]


WE have been favoured with the perusal of a letter from the Rev. W. Armstrong, Chaplain at Valparaiso, addressed to a friend in England. It is dated January 29, 1850. The following portion of it will doubtless be found generally interesting:--

"It is with pleasure that I give you what information I have respecting that interesting little community; and which I am now the better able to do, as a son of their instructor Nobbs, a youth of nineteen, has just been brought here from the island, which he had to leave in consequence of an accident, a gun-shot wound which happened three years ago, and has made him a cripple for life. The joint of his thigh bone having been dislocated, and one leg made some inches shorter than the other, he was disabled for the only employment there, that of agriculture.

"The owner of a small vessel, bound hither from California, having his master ill on board, found himself in the vicinity of Pitcairn's, and remembering that a box of medicines had been sent there from Valparaiso (the one, you will recollect, Sir George Seymour forwarded), determined to go and apply for relief at this, above all others, most out-of-the-way druggist's shop. He fully succeeded and, as one return, he gave a free passage to Reuben, Nobbs' eldest son, a great grandson, on his mother's side, of Fletcher Christian, one of the mutineers of the Bounty. He also offered a passage to old Nobbs himself, who was anxious to accompany his son, that he might see him in some way settled in the world, and then return to his people; but the whole of his adopted countrymen came and begged that it should not be. It was altogether too much for them to lose their clergyman, their schoolmaster, and their doctor; all which he is to them in a no inefficient manner, his duties being at times most onerous. For instance, during an epidemic that prevailed, when not more than twenty out of 150 escaped the influenza, he was attending them from house to house, day and night, more or less, during a period of two months; and with such success, that he did not lose a single case besides an infant. His instructions in the school-room are by no means of the most ordinary kind; for the officers of the men-of-war who have visited them tell me that they are taught the lower branches of mathematics and navigation. I have just been questioning Nobbs, who is sitting near me, as to the truth of this; and he says, this instruction was confined to private lessons given to some at their houses. But to return to Reuben. His father gave him the whole of the money he possessed, amounting to eight dollars; and all the families joined in fitting him out to the best of their power, furnishing him with a pretty fair wardrobe, and making up altogether a purse of forty dollars and odd, several contributing every cent they had.

"I took him, on his arrival here three weeks back, into my house, with the view of getting him into some employment here. I am [472/473] having him taught Spanish; but he is naturally slow and inactive, which, with his infirmity, renders it difficult to get him into any situation, particularly as there are many young men lately come out from Europe, seeking situations where nothing is offered. After a time, I am in hopes that something may be done to enable him to obtain some livelihood or other.

"With regard to your own wishes, and those of the friends whom you have so kindly interested in behalf of the islanders, I am somewhat at a loss what to advise. For the present, I do not think that they are absolutely requiring any particular assistance. It might seem desirable to provide them with a clergyman, could a suitable person be met with to give himself up to the furtherance of their welfare; for when once settled among them he could hardly leave them again. Then he would have in a great measure to conform himself to their primitive mode of living, at least with regard to food, and particularly at the outset. He would have to be remunerated from other sources than are to be found there; even Nobbs has to support himself and family, with the assistance of his sons, from the produce of his own little field.

"They cultivate vegetables in considerable quantities, bartering them for such commodities as they most require and can obtain from such vessels as chance to stand off their little isle for a few hours, which have of late diminished in their calls. They occasionally in this way get a little money; and by Nobbs I received a bag containing about ninety dollars, in return for a bull and cow they requested I would send them, saying at the time, they hoped to be able to meet the expense. They were, of course, forwarded free of all charge (Captain Fanshawe, of H.M.S. Daphne, having kindly conveyed them to the island); but they more than made good their word, for the sum much exceeded the entire cost. I sent them at the time other things; and they had recently received a supply of necessary articles which they had commissioned the master of a vessel calling to bring to them, and which the owners, on seeing, desired should be given to them in exchange for such supplies for the ships as they might have to make a return with. They mentioned in a letter to me how glad they were in having an abundance of vegetables, &c. on hand just at the time.

"I begged them to let me know exactly what they were requiring that I could send them; but in their last they tell me that they need nothing more, and that their little wants in future may be satisfied from the ships that occasionally come to them. They are not, I believe, really in want of anything requisite for their primitive mode of living, and it is well not to create unnecessary wants among them; though I believe their modesty prevents them asking for a single thing.

"I hope by the next opportunity to supply them with a few articles I know they will be glad of, such as blankets, of which I find they are very deficient, and a few other things. They tell me they have for the present a good supply of books; having received the grant [473/474] (a very suitable one) from the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. A year or two hence they might be thankful to receive another from that source of Christian benevolence. A church barrel-organ, I know, would be a most acceptable present to them, and for this you have been so kind as to give me occasion to look to you."

* * * * * *

[From "Correspondence and Documents", The Colonial Church Chronicle and Missionary Journal, Vol. IV (No. XLI), November 1850, pages 183-185.]


AN English ship, the Fanny, touched at this interesting spot on June 25th, 1849. Our readers may be glad to see a few particulars of the visit, extracted from the New Zealander of December 8th, 1849:--

* * * * "Not knowing how long our stay might be, we pushed on to see all the 'lions,' and visited in due course the school-house [183/184] and church, and churchyard, from whence we proceeded to Adams' house, built almost entirely by the hands of old Adams, and in which we were shown his portrait--his Bible, with his name in his own handwriting--and finally, the grave where the good old man found his final resting-place. I mention the fact of seeing his Bible because it is the very Bible in which (according to the published histories) he was reading, when visited by the officers of the first European vessel that touched there. We also saw an iron twelve-pounder, from the Bounty, recovered by diving a few years since--and which, although it is sadly honey-combed, the Islanders sometimes use to answer a vessel's salute. From thence we went on until we surmounted the highest peak of the Island, estimated as being 1,020 feet above the level of the sea; and it was on this peak that the mutineers, on their first taking possession, built a look-out for vessels, in order that should one heave in sight, they might conceal themselves. In fact, the old houses cannot even at this time be seen from the sea. From this peak you are enabled to see all the cultivations and houses on the island; and particularly able to see the view caused on the eastern side of the island by a land slip, about a twelvemonth since. After sating our curiosity as well as time would admit, we returned to the house inhabited by Christian's family and Quintal, (one of the two who first came off to the vessel, and who is married to Christian's mother,) to dinner, the table for which was comfortably spread in European fashion, and partook heartily of the good cheer--being fowl, bread-fruit, plantain, yam, and native bread, (a mixture of banana and sweet potato, baked in a native oven, in plantain-leaves,) and tea, from native shrubs, sweetened with molasses pressed from Island-grown sugar-cane. At this meal we saw one trace of barbarism--that the women did not take their meals with the men. * * * * Family worship is rigorously attended to night and morning; and during our stay we never heard anything approaching an improper or hasty expression. Their intellect appears of a high order, especially that of John Adams, (grandson of the mutineer) who is a poet. They have plenty of books, and were anxious for new works.

"The original division of the island was into nine parts--now, however, subdivided into twenty-two. Some small disputes, however, occasionally arise as to boundaries, but these, as well as any other matters of dispute, are soon settled. For this purpose they elect a dignitary termed a Chief Magistrate, who holds his office for a year. The election takes place on New Year's Day, and men and women have all equally a vote. With him also are appointed two Councillors. Should these three not be able to decide, they form a Jury; and then, should the matter not be satisfactorily settled, it stands over until the arrival of a British man-of-war, and there is no appeal against the captain's decision.

"It has now become a matter of fact, that the island was inhabited previous to the mutineers' arriving there. The proofs are, stone axes which have been discovered; idols, carved in stone, and about ten [184/185] feet high; and human skeletons. The axes resemble those used by the New Zealander, but there is no trace to be found as to the race of people, or the manner in which they became extinct. Traces of their sweet potato cultivation have distinctly been marked out; and there are some inscriptions carved in a cavern situated in the face of
a cliff, but I could not procure any copy of it.

"A journal of all the events of the island is kept. It is now in the hands of Mr. Nobbs the schoolmaster, who has prefixed to it the following lines:--

"Where are they now, the infatuated crew,
Whose outraged feelings urged them on to crime!
Proscribed, they wander'd on from land to land,
To Pitcairn's came, and perish'd in their prime.
What need I tell their hapless leader's fate,
Slain by the hand of one he deem'd his slave,
Save to the rash I would this fact relate,--
Nor mound nor marble marks his dubious grave. [1]
[(1) "In allusion to Christian, whose grave is unknown."]
Their progeny, for these I hold the pen,
To mark their birth in this their fair abode,
When love to marriage prompts the youthful train,
Or when by Death their soul returns to God."

Extract from old portion of Journal:--

"27th December, 1759.--Arrived the Bounty, with 9 of the mutineers, accompanied by 9 Tahitian men and 13 women.

"23d January, 1790.--Bounty burnt.

"1791--Thursday, October Christian born.

"1793--Mary Christian born. [2] [(2) "The parties thus marked are still living."]

"1795.--Saw first ship.

"1799.--Adams, Young, and M'Coy having been threatened by Christian, for self-preservation killed him. Previous to this, M'Coy and Quintal distilled spirits in the ship's kettle, from the Tisroot, and subsequently M'Coy, in a fit of delirium tremens, fastened a stone round his neck, and threw himself into the sea.

"June, 1804.--George Adams, Adams's youngest son born.

"June, 1808.--Topaz, of Boston, arrived.

"1814.--Briton and Tagus arrived.

"5th December, 1825--H.M.S. Blossom, Captain Beechey, arrived.

"5th March, 1829.--Old John Adams died.

"6th March, 1831.--All the inhabitants embarked for Tahiti on board HM.S. Comet and transport Lucy Ann. Left Tahiti in the French brig Bordeaux, 21st June, and arrived back the 27th. [3] [(3) "The islanders paid their passage from the proceeds of the sale of the copper taken from the Bounty."]

[From, "Correspondence, Documents, etc.", The Colonial Church Chronicle and Missionary Journal, Vol IV (No. LXVI), December 1852, pages 229-231.)


WE are glad to have the opportunity of publishing the following characteristic account of a sailor's recent visit to Pitcairn's Island. The history of the community is well known to our readers; [1] [(1) See Colonial Church Chronicle, vol. iii. pp. 334; 414; 472.] and most of them are probably aware that Mr. G. H. Nobbs, the faithful and successful teacher for twenty-six years of this isolated flock, is now in England, and was admitted to Holy Orders on October 24th, by the Bishop of Sierra Leone, acting for the Bishop of London.

An Account of a Visit to Pitcairn's Island in 1852, given by an Officer on board one of H. M. Ships on the Pacific Station.

"We reached the island on the 30th January; and now I must give you a long account of that sweet little spot, of which I shall never be tired of speaking.

You have of course heard of the mutiny on board the ship Bounty, about sixty years ago, on this station; the present inhabitants of the island are the descendants of the mutineers. At daylight, on the Dædalus being seen from their shores, a whale-boat came off to us, and they breakfasted: after which we accompanied them to the island, and were received by about thirty young girls, who were all down on the beach to give us a hearty welcome to their secluded island home. (There is no anchorage here, and ships are obliged to stand off and on while the officers go on shore.) After shaking hands with most of them, they each took the hand of an officer, and led him up the steep rock which leads to their village, and we were soon in lively conversation; and really, to hear the frank, artless, and innocent way in which they conversed, was quite a treat to me; and then, again, to hear the dear English language spoken was truly delightful.

When we had ascended the hill they paired off with the officer they had at first taken by the hand on landing, to their respective homes, built in the English style; and there they made us eat fruit, poor things, for they had nothing more to offer, or we most assuredly should have had it. Well, after resting ourselves after our walk up the rock, which made us puff and blow, and elicited many a laugh from the girls (who, I dare say, did not think much of our walking qualities, to be so easily tired), we all repaired to the church, a neat little building made of thatch, where we found our captain and some more of the officers assembled, asking all sorts of questions respecting the religious education and government of the community. We remained there talking with them for some time (which was the most pleasant hour I have spent since leaving England); we then went to the singing-schoolroom, and there the greatest treat awaited me; the room was filled with men and women of all ages, from twelve to thirty, but most under twenty-five. On seats round the wall, all the girls who sang were seated; they were from fourteen to twenty-five years of age. The men and older women occupied the back part of the room, [229/230] and in the centre of all these happy girls sat your honoured son, with the rest of the officers. The singing master (a native) was at a table at the upper part of the room, keeping capital time with a black cane. And now came the treat; they all struck up a lively song to welcome us to Pitcairn's Isle. After that they sang a great number of hymns, and in beautiful style, really better than you generally hear in England, first, second, and third voices. They were instructed for only two months by a French music-master, who was accidentally left on the island by his ship; and considering they have to pick up everything from books themselves, it is wonderful the progress they have made. I felt so happy amongst them to see these good innocent girls praising God in His own way, in psalms and hymns, with their arms round each other's necks; it made me draw a comparison with those of our own land, and mark the difference. A strange thought entered my mind while I was looking with pleasure on them all; it was this--surely the devil has no resting-place here! and indeed, if one might judge from the simplicity of their manners and conversation, I almost think he has not. On our taking leave of them the next day, they came down to the beach with us.

I must now give you a description of my fair hostess, or the lass who took me in tow, as we sailors call it. She had a sweet expression of countenance, with a touch of melancholy in it, and was about five feet in height; but I was struck with her large feet, caused by wearing no shoes; they all go without, owing to their being dependent on charity for all European articles of dress.

Their general apparel is a petticoat of blue merino, or stuff, and a sort of pinafore that reaches to the knees, and fastens close round the neck, made of white calico-this completes their native dress; but those who are fortunate enough to have friends who remember them on their return to England, have had gowns made in the European style sent out to them. I shall never forget their attention and kindness. The husband of my hostess was very agreeable, about twenty; they had been married a year, and had one of the sweetest little boys in the shape of a baby I ever saw; so good-tempered, the little thing would look up in my face, and stare with its beautiful black eyes, and then clutch my bright buttons in its tiny hands, and laugh--it appeared to be laughing all day. I have made up my mind, if possible, on my return to England, to send it out a present, as a token of remembrance for the attention I received while on shore.

I think altogether they are the most Christian people I ever met with in my life; indeed, I feel certain there are none like them anywhere in the world, they are so very unadulterated with the bad thoughts and evil ways of the world around them. If people were only more acquainted with Pitcairn's Island, and had themselves seen the islanders, and their truly Christian manner of living, I am confident that a considerable sum of money would be collected and expended in articles of clothing, &c. for them. I think that they are infinitely more deserving of notice than the inmates of our public institutions, schools, &c. in England; but the misfortune is, they are [230/231] not generally known. I am sure, if I were rich, I would expend a thousand a year for these kind, good people, who are so completely dependent on a few friends for every comfort from Europe. I do hope many may become interested in the welfare of this little community, whose number does not amount to 200, and their island is but a mere speck on the ocean, about four miles in size.

February 26th, 1852."

[From "Correspondence, Documents, etc.", The Colonial Church Chronicle and Missionary Journal, Vol. VIII (No. LXXXVII), September, 1854, pages 106-107.]


[We gladly insert the following communication from a Correspondent, as a sample of what may be done to make a Parochial Missionary Meeting popular and attractive.]

ONE of the most remarkable collections of relics in connexion with the well-known event which has now for upwards of sixty years been matter of past history,--the Mutiny of the Bounty, was exhibited at the Schoolroom of St. Barnabas, Kensington, on Thursday, the 13th of July. On the occasion of the Quarterly Meeting of a District Association of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, the Incumbent had selected as the subject of the evening, Pitcairn's Island, and had requested the Rev. T. B. Murray, of the Christian Knowledge Society, to take the principal part. His speech was full of interest, and gave a most animated account of the mutiny, the fate of the mutineers, the heroic boat-voyage of Lieutenant Bligh, and the settlement of that little island, on which, many years afterwards, Adams, the sole survivor of the mutineers, was discovered, no longer as the brutal ringleader of a gang of ruffians, but the peaceful patriarch of a Christian race. By the kindness of the Misses Bligh, who were [107/107] present, the assembled company had the opportunity of seeing the gourd, from which the unfortunate Bligh took, during his boat-voyage, his miserable meal, the horncup in which he dispensed the water, and the bullet with which he weighed the bread to his companions in suffering, the manuscript book in which he recorded the events of each fearful day, and the gold medal, with which he was rewarded for his exertions by the Society of Arts. Besides these, Mrs. Heywood, the widow of the late Captain Heywood, had kindly lent the precious Prayer-book, with which her husband, then a boy, swam out from the wreck, preserving it between his teeth, when he could save nothing else. Mr. Murray exhibited also a large sheet of Tappa cloth, manufactured by the Pitcairners. Dr. Francis Hessey, the Incumbent, had enlisted the services of several ladies and gentlemen of his congregation in the cause, and was by their assistance enabled to illustrate the subject by a series of beautiful drawings and a large map, so that the whole subject was thoroughly brought home to the eyes as well as ears of the assembled company. The Rev. James Kempe, Rector of St. James', was also one of the speakers, and was heard with much interest, on the subject of Missions in general, and the duty of supporting them; but Mr. Murray's was certainly the speech of the evening. On the whole, we have seldom been more interested in a Missionary Meeting, and would earnestly wish that at all such meetings the interest could always thus be concentrated on some one point of Missionary labour, instead of being weakened by being too widely dispersed.

[From "Reviews and Notices", The Colonial Church Chronicle and Missionary Journal, Vol. VIII (No. LXXXVIII), October, 1854, pages 147-148.]

[147] Pitcairn; the Island, the People, and the Pastor. By the REV. T. B. MURRAY. Fourth Edition. London: Printed for the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. 1854.

THE main features of this interesting narrative will have been long familiar to our readers. Mr. Murray, in his fourth edition, brings up our intelligence of the Pitcairners to the most recent date. The Rev. Mr. Nobbs reached his little flock on May 15, 1853, in H. M. S. Portland, and found they had been suffering for some months previously, from a scarcity of food, in consequence of the want of rain, which had prevented their planting their usual crop of sweet potatoes. For some weeks, it seems, they were on the brink of actual starvation, and had no other resource than half-grown pumpkins. The evening of his arrival, being Sunday, Mr. Nobbs read from the pulpit his ordination letters and licence, as chaplain of Pitcairn's Island, granted by the Bishop of London; and the Rev. Mr. Holman, who had temporarily officiated in his room, preached his farewell sermon. Mr. Nobbs now administers the Holy Communion every month, and has as many as 75 communicants, out [147/148] of a population of 172. In fact, the whole adult population communicate, and this little Christian community revives in this particular the strictness of primitive piety.

Mr. Nobbs' last letter is dated November 3, 1853, and acknowledges the receipt of stores and gifts from friends in England, by the Dido. Their dependence upon such occasional supplies from Europe, and the growing increase of their numbers, induced the Pitcairn Islanders, as far back as May last year, to petition our Government to remove them to some larger island, naming especially Norfolk Island; and it was recently in contemplation to accede to their request, as soon as all the convicts should have been conveyed from that spot. That island is situate in the 49th parallel of latitude, to the north of New Zealand, and is about twenty miles in circumference, the low land exuberantly fertile, and thousands of acres in high cultivation, fully capable of supplying all the necessities of our Pitcairners. On the island stand a fine range of buildings, raised for the convict establishment; and it has been suggested that they might form the material for a Missionary College, which the Bishop of New Zealand is desirous of establishing for the instruction of Melanesian youth. But nothing has been yet decided on the subject.

[From "Correspondence, Documents, etc.", The Colonial Church Chronicle and Missionary Journal, Vol. VI (No. XCIV), April 1855, pages 387-389.]


OUR readers will be pleased to hear of the inhabitants of this distant Island. We are permitted by the kindness of a friend to print the following extracts from a letter which he has lately received from the Rev. G. H. Nobbs:--

"PITCAIRN'S ISLAND, Oct. 9th, 1854.

"Since the date of my letter nothing material has taken place, with the exception of three or four births and one marriage. Ere you receive this, our population will have increased to two hundred persons, all (with the exception of three) born on the island. We are becoming very straitened in our agricultural resources, so much so that there must be an emigration shortly, partial or total. But whenever it does take place, I trust it will be under the auspices of the British Government. I do not think there is any place in the world that will suit us so well as this 'Rock of the West,' provided we had room to 'stretch the cords of our tents,' and enlarge our borders to the requirements of our rapidly increasing community. I have full and constant employment in my threefold capacity, but since my return I have a young man who is incapable of manual labour to assist me in the school, and to him I have resigned the school emolument of one shilling per month for each scholar, (paid in yams or sweet potatoes,) so that I am dependent upon my stipend from the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, and the labours of my own family. The number of scholars in the school is about fifty, and they attend five hours in the day, and are taught reading, writing, arithmetic, English Grammar, and Geography. Then we have a Sunday school after the Evening Service, under the tuition of four teachers and myself. The names of the teachers are Benjamin Christian, Mary Young, Jemima Young, and Jane Nobbs.

The Holy Communion is administered on the first Sunday of each month, and there are seventy communicants. The average attendance since January is fifty-five. Except at harvest time, (which commences on the first Monday in August, and continues until the crop for the next year is planted,) we have Divine Service every evening at four o'clock, but in harvest only on Wednesday evenings. I ought to mention that there is no public service on Saturday, that day being devoted by the men, weather permitting, to fishing, and by the women to preparing food for the Sabbath, for nothing is done on that Holy day which may be done on Saturday or deferred until Monday. These duties, with the addition of the medical department, keep me continually and satisfactorily, and I humbly trust I may add beneficially, employed; and though I have, in common with the rest of the colony, in years past been often reduced to straits for food and clothing, still I would not willingly change my situation for any in the known world. It is my intention, as soon as I can afford it, to purchase flour and rice for myself and family, but at present I cannot do this. . . . . I feel, that as I advance in years, I cannot live [387/388] comfortably on such fare as I have been accustomed to partake of for more than a quarter of a century.

No deaths have occurred since last Christmas Eve, when one of our young women died. This threw a gloom over the Christmas feast; for, being as it were one family, a death or an untoward accident is severely felt by every person. At present we are in the enjoyment of health, and of most things necessary to our temporal welfare.

The many articles supplied us by Her Majesty's Government and benevolent individuals have been and are of the greatest service, and I pray God that none of our friends may ever have occasion to lament that their bounty has been ill bestowed. Our mode of life is from year to year so unvarying, that what has been said concerning the Island in former years, might be repeated at this time as descriptive of our actual state."

At the last Monthly Meeting of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, a letter from Mr. Nobbs, to the Secretary, the Rev. T. B. Murray, was laid before the Meeting, in which he says:--

"We are abundantly supplied with such things as we have need of, and think we can do without any assistance from our good friends in England for the next three years; and perhaps by that time we may hear something definite concerning Norfolk Island. If the Government should determine to move us thither, the less amount of baggage we have to carry with us the better; and I have no doubt, let the removal come when it may, we shall have to abandon much that is useful--but that is quite a secondary consideration; a removal is imperatively necessary, and the earlier the better."

The following Letter, addressed by Mr. John Adams, grandson of the original settler, to Mr. Murray, was also laid before the Meeting:--

"PITCAIRN'S ISLAND, Oct. 24th, 1854.

"MY DEAR SIR,--I embrace this opportunity to address you a few lines, as I feel sure, from the kindness which was shown by you to our worthy pastor while in England, you will forgive my intrusion upon your time.

The deep interest you have taken in our welfare, both spiritual and temporal, demands our warmest thanks. For myself individually, I feel I cannot sufficiently express my gratitude; but I trust you will accept of my best wishes, as a small token of that love and esteem which I ought and do feel to one who has done so much real good for our community.

Had it not been for the many valuable lessons we have learned from the liberal supply of books which we from time to time have received from the Society to which you have the honour to belong, I doubt if the present state of education now existing among us would have been attained. You will doubtless be rejoiced to learn that your Society has been the means of diffusing much Christian knowledge among us, and that we are not insensible of the immense debt of love and gratitude we owe you.

[389] The ordination of our teacher is a blessing which we highly appreciate, and it will, with the blessing of Almighty God, be productive of much good. Divine Service is performed every Wednesday evening; and we partake of the Holy Sacrament of the Lord's Supper on the first Sunday of each mouth,--privileges for which we cannot be too thankful.

You will doubtless be glad to learn that the Rev. G. H. Nobbs has, since his ordination, acted in a manner highly honourable to his high calling and profession. His whole aim seems to be directed to one object, that of doing good to his flock, both in spiritual and temporal things.--I am, my dear Sir, gratefully yours,


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