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Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Friendship lays off Norfolk Island

This is a really interesting entry.  The Reids arrived during a hiatus in the governorship of the island -- which was supposed to be a settlement, but because of the vision of Philip Gidley King, at this stage was a place where, hopefully, convicts could be turned into industrious farmers. Before the ship arrived, Captain John Townson was in control; he departed early 1800, leaving Captain Thomas Rowley in charge. Rowley did not last long at all, so that the government of the island was left to the man in charge of the soldiers, Captain John Brabyn -- who had been the officer in charge of the marines on the Marquis Cornwallis when he and Hugh Reid (first officer) had helped put down a bloody mutiny.

Just weeks after the visit of the Friendship, the control of the island was taken over by Major Joseph Foveaux, after whom Foveaux Strait (between the south of the South Island of New Zealand, and Stewart Island) was named.

On the 11th May [1800] we left the colony, intending to call at Norfolk Island for some additional stock; the inhabitants there giving live pigs for their weight in salt, of which we had a great quantity; they also exchange, on the same terms, Indian corn or maize. Next morning we were again out of sight of land, and circumscribed to ourselves, an isolated company on the mighty ocean. Our situation, however, was very different to what it had been on the voyage out. No poor prisoners to watch and secure.

On the morning of the 14th of May, we again saw land; it was called Howe’s Island. We passed within a few miles of it; it seemed well wooded. Turtle abound here; also many species of fine fish. A high rock near it, called Ball’s Pyramid, makes this land very conspicuous. On the eighth day, after leaving Port Jackson, we made Norfolk Island; passing between it and Phillips’ Island, which is not above a league distant.  Prior to this, our boat had been sent on shore with the second mate. 

As the ship lay-to, drifting slowly through the channel, we had a fine view of the island: as we opened the valleys, many parts appeared under cultivation; fine streams of water were running down the rocks; the deep fall which terminates one large stream gives name to Cascade Bay. We saw a number of pigs upon Phillips’ Island, which are the only inhabitants, unless when occasional visitors from the main island come to take them away, which is attended with no small trouble, so wild are these animals; they feed upon nutritive roots. 

About noon the boat returned, with the commandant of the station, Capt. Braben [Brabyn]. A pleasant meeting took place between him and my husband; they had been shipmates in the Cornwallis. He dined with us, and gave orders for 20 pigs to be sent on board, with a proportion of Indian corn. We received while here upwards of fifty hogs, averaging in weight about 200 pounds each. 

This supply afforded our seamen a fresh meal three times a week until we arrived at Malacca: an equal weight of salt or maize was given in exchange.  Several persons entreated to be taken on board from this place, having been emancipated; but their wishes were not acceded to for the reasons given above. While laying-to, off Cascade Bay, some fine fish were caught. Towards five in the evening, our little business at this place being settled, we proceeded on our voyage. Next morning Mount Pitt, the part of the island which remained last in sight, was hid from our view by clouds.

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