Royal commission into matters relating to norfolk island


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Appendix VI


Laws and Regulations for Norfolk Island

Whereas by an Order of the Queen in Council, dated 24th day of June, 1856, power was given to the Governor of Norfolk Island, to make Laws for the order, peace and good government of the said Island: And whereas it was further ordered by Her Majesty, in Council, that until annulled by competent authority, all Laws, Ordinances, and Regulations, - Civil and Ecclesiastical,.. which may be in force within the said Island, at the time of the Proclamation of the aforesaid Order in Council, shall continue in force, subject only to such changes as shall be necessarily consequent on the changes of Government: Now, therefore, I, WILLIAM THOMAS DENISON, Knight Commander of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Governor General of Her Majesty’s Australian Colonies, Captain General and Governor-in-Chief of New South Wales and its Dependencies, and Governor of Norfolk Island, do, in pursuance of the power vested in me, declare and enact as follows:

  1. All Laws, Ordinances, and Regulations, which have been and are in force within the Island called Norfolk Island, are hereby repealed and annulled.

  2. The Executive Government of Norfolk Island, during the absence of the Governor, shall be vested in a Chief Magistrate and two Assistants or Councillors, to be elected annually by the community as hereinafter directed.

  3. The Chief Magistrate must be a resident on the Island; he must be in possession of a landed Estate therein; and he must have attained the age of twenty-eight years.
  4. The Councillors must be resident on the Island, and must have attained the age of twenty-five years.

  5. The election of the Chief Magistrate and Councillors shall take place on the day after Christmas Day in each year, unless that day should fall on a Sunday, in which case the election will take place on the Monday following.

  6. Every person who may have resided upon the Island for six months, who has attained the age of twenty years, and who can read and write, shall be entitled to vote at the election of the Chief Magistrate and Councillors.

  7. The Chaplain shall preside at the election, and shall open the proceedings with prayer; in case of an equality of votes for two Candidates, he shall be entitled to give a casting vote; he shall not himself be eligible for the office of Chief Magistrate or Councillor.

  8. The election of the Chief Magistrate and Councillors will be notified to the Governor with the least possible delay, and Commissions under the Great Seal of the Colony, will be issued to them, authorising them to act as Magistrates in carrying out all Laws and Ordinances. It is, however, to be understood, that the Chief Magistrate and Councillors, when duly elected, will be fully authorised to act as Magistrates, pending the receipt of their Commissions.

  9. The Chief Magistrate and the Councillors will enter upon the duties of their office on the first day of the year, on which day the Chaplain will administer to each of them, in the presence of the people, the Oath of Allegiance and of Office, as hereinafter specified.‘
  10. The Chief Magistrate will see that all the Laws and Regulations of the Island are properly carried out; - he will carry into effect all the Instructions he may receive from the Governor:- he will convene and preside at all public meetings, with the exception of that for the election of Magistrates; - he will receive and account for all fines that are imposed; he will superintend the execution of all public works; - he will correspond with the Governor during the absence of the latter from the Island; - and he will be the medium through which all the public business of the Colony will be conducted. All purchases on account of the public will be made by him; and he will keep an accurate account of the receipts and expenditure of the public Funds.

  11. The Councillors will assist the Chief Magistrate with their advice, when called upon to do so; they will attend at all public meetings and will take notes of the proceedings, the record of which, when entered in a book provided for the purpose, will be verified by their signatures and that of the Officer presiding.

  12. Should the Chief Magistrate die, or otherwise become incapable of performing the duties of his office, the Senior Councillor will act as Chief Magistrate till the next election, even although he should not be of sufficient age to offer himself as a candidate for the office.

  13. The Governor, or in his absence the Chief Magistrate, will, in cases where he may conceive the public good to be involved, have a right to summon to his assistance any or all of the inhabitants of the Colony; this summons must be immediately obeyed, under penalty of a fine, the amount of which will be determined by the Chief Magistrate and his Councillors, or, should their decision be appealed against, by a Jury.‘

  14. Should it appear to the Chief Magistrate that any change in, or addition to the Laws or Regulations of the Island are required, he will first consult with his Councillors, and should it appear to the three, or to a majority of the three, that such a change or addition is advisable, notice will be given to the community of the intention of the Chief Magistrate to submit such change or such new rule for their consideration at a public meeting to be held within fourteen days of the date of the ‘Notice.
  15. At such public meeting, the nature of the proposed change or addition, and the reasons for it, will be explained to the meeting by the Magistrate and Councillors, and the people present will be invited to express their opinion upon it. After the explanation and discussion, the persons present will be called upon to vote for or against the proposition, and a list of the number in favour ofor against the measure will be recorded on the minutes of the proceedings.

  16. No repeal of any Law or Regulation will be valid until confirmed by the Governor; but a new Law or Regulation may be acted on, when it has been approved of by a public meeting without such confirmation, should it refer to a subject of immediate importance. In all cases the record of the proceedings of public meetings, whether for the repeal of old laws or the enactment of new, will be forwarded to the Governor, with as little delay as possible, for his confirmation or approval.

  17. The Chief Magistrate will have primary jurisdiction in all matters of dispute whether between the Inhabitants of the Island themselves, or between them and such persons as may visit the Island, and whether such dispute should have reference to offences against the person, or to questions of property, he will adjudicate between the parties to the best of his judgment, and strive to induce them to come to an understanding.

  18. Should his efforts be unavailing, he will call for the assistance of his Councillors, and the whole case will be gone into before the three Magistrates, a record of their proceedings being kept. The decision of the Magistrates shall be final, in all cases where the property at issue does not exceed fifty shillings in value, or in cases of common assault, when they are empowered to inflict a fine not exceeding ten shillings.

  19. Should the case be of a more serious character, and should the parties be unwilling to submit to the adjudication of the Magistrates, a Jury consisting of seven Elders will be summoned, and the whole case having been submitted to them, their decision will be final.
  20. The power of the Jury will extend to the decision of all questions of disputed property, of all cases of theft, and of aggravated assault, if not accompanied with danger to life or limb; but all offences of a more serious character will be reserved for the consideration of the Courts of Justice, in Sydney, a full statement of such cases, as investigated by the Magistrates, will be forwarded to the Governor, with as little delay as possible, who will give the necessary directions with reference to them.

  21. The Jury will be entitled to receive an allowance for the number of hours during which they may have to sit, the hour being considered equivalent to one—eighth of a day’s work.

  22. The expenses of the witnesses whom it may be necessary to summon will be paid at the same rate.

  23. The punishment which a Jury is competent to award will be limited to a fine, the amount of which will not in any case exceed ten pounds. The offender will have the amount of the fine recorded against him, and will be called upon to liquidate it, either by a direct payment in money or produce, or by so many days labour upon any public work.

  24. In all cases of dispute between individuals, the Jury will decide which party is to pay costs.

  25. When the offence committed is of a public character, the guilty party shall pay all costs, in addition to any punishment which the Jury may award; should, however, the party accused be declared innocent, the expenses shall be paid out of the public Funds.

  26. In case of any wilful damage done to property, it will rest with the Jury to decide whether, in’ addition to payment for the damage done, a fine should not be imposed; - the amount of such fine will not exceed forty shillings, and the whole amount will be paid into the Public Chest.

  27. In cases of assault, or more generally of offences against the person, it will be competent to the Jury in awarding the punishment, to appropriate a certain proportion of the fine, not in any case exceeding one-half, to the aggrieved person.

  28. The Chief Magistrate will keep a list of all males who shall have arrived at the age of 25 years; these persons shall be termed elders, and from these juries shall be selected as hereinafter directed.
  29. When a Jury has to be selected, tickets containing all the names of the Elders will be placed in a bag, from which seven tickets will be drawn by the Chief Magistrate in the presence of the Councillors and the parties in the case. The seven Elders whose names have been thus drawn will form the Jury. Should any objection be raised by either of the parties to the name of any of the Jury, the reasonableness of such objection will be decided by the Chief Magistrate and Councillors, and, if affirmed, other names will be drawn from the bag to complete the number of the Jury

  30. Any person refusing to serve on a Jury, without reasonable cause shewn, shall be fined Ten Shillings,

  31. It will be competent to the Governor, and to him only, to remit such portions of the fines imposed as may be payable to the Public Chest.

  32. All persons will send their children to school when they have attained the age of six years, and from that time will cause them to attend regularly till they have reached the age of fourteen years. The hours of attendance being from Nine a.m. to Two p.m. every day, except Saturdays and Sundays; no excuse for non-attendance will be admitted, except sickness or family bereavement; and with regard to sickness, if it should be alleged as an excuse for more than two consecutive days. The Chaplain must certify to the fact. A fine of sixpence per diem will be imposed upon every child whose absence from school is unauthorised.

  33. A payment of Ten Shillings per annum shall be made by parents or guardians for every child who is of age to attend school; this amount shall be collected by the Chief Magistrate, and paid without deduction to the Schoolmaster, to whom, also, all the fines for non-attendance shall be paid.

  34. Care will be taken to secure the services of a properly qualified Schoolmaster, who will be placed under the general superintendence of the Chaplain.

  35. No beer, wine, or spirituous liquor of any kind shall be landed upon the Island except such as may be wanted for medical purposes, and this will be placed among the other medical stores in charge of the Chaplain, to be issued by him at his discretion, all issues to be noted in the register.
  36. Should any beer, wine, or spirits be landed, or found in possession of any person on the Island, (whether such person be an inhabitant of the Island or a visitor,) the vessels containing the same will be immediately destroyed, and the contents thrown away; the person in whose possession these articles are found will be liable to a fine of forty shillings.

  37. Any person convicted before a Magistrate of using obscene or profane language shall pay a fine not exceeding forty shillings or less than five shillings.

  38. Any person convicted before a Magistrate of bearing false witness, or slandering another, shall pay a fine not exceeding forty shillings, or less than five shillings.

  39. In all cases where the Magistrates or a Jury have sentenced an offender to pay a fine, the parents or guardians of such offender, should his age not exceed fifteen years, shall be liable for the amount of the fine.

FORM OF OATH to be taken by the Chief Magistrate and Councillors before admission to Office. I, A B do swear that I will bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Victoria, and that I will to the best of my ability perform the duties of (Chief Magistrate. or of Councillor and Magistrate, as the case may be,) of Norfolk Island. So help me God.


Norfolk Island
14 October 1857

Copy of a DESPATCH from Governor Sir W Denison K C B to the Right Honourable Sir E Bulwer Lytton Bart M P

Government House, Sydney,
8 October 1858.
Answered, No. 3.-24 January 1859
page 54


I have the honour to forward copies of two additional laws enacted by the inhabitants of Norfolk Island, and forwarded to me for my approval I send also herewith a copy of the letter addressed by me to the chief magistrate with reference to these enactments.

I have, &c.

(signed) W Denison

Enclosure in No. 3

Laws and Regulations of Norfolk Island

No. 40 All persons accused of fornication will, upon conviction thereof, be sentenced to pay a fine of £10.

No. 41 All persons convicted of racing or furious driving through the streets or upon any of the public roads of the settlement will be fined £1.

(signed) W. Denison

Appendix VII



Then shall the King say unto them
On his right hand:
Come ye blessed of my Father,
Inherit the Kingdom prepared for you

From the foundation of the world.

For I was hunger’d and ye gave me meat,

I was thirsty and ye gave me drink

I was a stranger and ye took me in,

Naked and ye clothed me,

I was sick and ye visited me,

I was in prison and ye came unto me;

In as much as ye have done it unto one
of the least of these my brethren,

Ye have done it unto me,

Ye have done it unto me.

Appendix VIII


1 For maps showing Norfolk, Nepean and Phillip Islands see Appendix (VIII).

2 A number of published works deal with these and related topics, and some of these works were tendered in evidence as exhibits. A schedule of them is provided, for possible future reference, in appendix (IV)

3 to assist one in placing this latitude it is pointed out that 29002’ south is approximately halfway between Lismore and Grafton in NSW. Norfolk Island, contrary to popular opinion, is not a tropical isle

4 An outline of the story of Norfolk Island and the Pitcairn’s Island 1788-1857, by C.H Currey M.A LL.D Royal Australian Society Journal and Proceedings, Vol. 44, 1958, Part 6

5 Government House, Norfolk Island, Published by the Norfolk Island Historical Society, 1972

6 See letter (quoted later) dated 5 July 1854 to Pitcairn Islanders from B. Toup Nicholas, the then British Consul of the Society Islands, and Governor Denison’s early instructions to lieutenant Gregorie (also quoted later)

7 History of Norfolk Island, by Claude Dillon, 1957

8 Settlement of the Pitcairn Islanders on Norfolk Island by F.M Bladen. Australian Historical Society, Vol. II, Part I 1906

9 British parliamentary paper, vol. 22, session 1857, I.U.P

10 Vol. II, Part I, 1906 Journal and proceedings of the Australian Historical Society, Settlement of the Pitcairn Islanders on Norfolk Island’ by F. M Bladen

11 History of Norfolk Island by Claude Dillon, 1957. Also House of Commons paper 29.4.1863.

12 For full list of these forty-one laws see appendix (VI).

13 Source – Exhibit No. 121 updated to 30.6.1976

14 Date of last census

15 Source- Exhibit No 121.

16 Preface to the Australian Conservation Foundation Report. Special publication number 1, 1968

17 Foundation Day – 6th March

Anniversary (Bounty) Day – 8th June

Thanksgiving Day – Last Wednesday in November.

18 Atlee Hunt Report, March 1914

19 The number of cattle approved for commons grazing in 1975-76 was 466 and approvals ranged from two head per person to thirty-eight. About fifteen persons grazed cattle for commercial production of beef

20 Source — Copies of papers and correspondence relative to the imposition of duties upon products imported into New South Wales. No.8 Report from Printing Committee of N.S.W. Legislative Assembly, 14th August 1902, p 990.

21 Qantas first commenced operations to Norfolk Island in 1947, when the Island’s population was 870

22 Annual report on territory of Norfolk Island for 1974-75

23 Annual Report on Territory of Norfolk Island for 1974—75.

24 Includes interest charges and work done by the Administration for the electrical undertaking, telephone undertaking and lighterage operations (and whose revenue is accounted for separately in their own accounts) and also includes liquor sales net profit only.

25 A long term population study of Norfolk Island, by professor Gilbert J. Butland, March 1974.

26 $250 annual return filing fee requirement introduced 12th July 1971.

27 Abnormally high sales due largely to an entirely new type of stamp being issued in a special philatelic period - the Universal Postal Union Centenary.

28 Latilla v. Inland Revenue Commissioners (1943) A.C. 377 at p. 382.

29 Newbery v. The Queen (1965) 7 F.L.R. 34.

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