History of Government and Laws: Preface
The Development of the System of Government and Laws
of Pitcairn Island From 1791 to 1971"
Printed in and taken from Laws of Pitcairn, Henderson,
Ducie and Oeno Islands, Rev. Ed., 1971
By Donald McLoughlin, B.A., LL.B.
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Much has been written, and is generally known, about the mutiny
which took place on Her Majesty's Armed Ship "Bounty"
on the 28 th of April, 1789, and of the subsequent founding of the
Pitcairn Island Community by mutineers from that vessel. Not such
a great deal, however, has, been generally known until comparatively
recently, concerning the subsequent development of that community,
particularly as regards the establishment of its system of government
and laws, although there are several excellent publications in which
detailed references to this aspect of the Island's history are made.
As the existing system of government and laws have now undergone
a complete revision and overhaul to take account of current conditions
on the Island this is perhaps an opportune time to look back over
the history of the Island to determine just how and why the necessity
for them arose and to review their development in the emerging years
of this tiny community.
The development of any system of government and laws is dependent
largely upon the nature of the people themselves, their origin and
character, and environment as well as the degree of their association
with the outside world. In the case of the Pitcairn Island community
the most outstanding factors in the development of their system
of government and laws have been their comparative isolation from
the rest of the world and the impact on them of their various contacts
It is indeed lucky that over the years a number of visitors to
the Island have given accounts of conditions that they found to
exist there and in more recent years I have had the opportunity
of working with the various officials who have been intimately concerned
with and involved in the administration of the Island and its people.
Without their guidance and assistance this account of the Island
could not have been produced. I would accordingly like to record
my appreciation for the assistance afforded to me by Messrs. J.
B. Claydon, T. R. Cowell, K. R. Bain, W. Hull, F. E. M Warner, Dr.
J. Harrie and Mr. E. Dymond, all of whom have been closely concerned
with the administration of the Island since my visit there in 1958
and have lent valuable assistance to me in preparing the material
for this account. I am also very grateful to Mr. T. R. Cowell and
Mr. H. E. Maude, both now of the Australian National University
for their most kind permission to make use of their own published
accounts of Pitcairn Island and to Mr. Justice P. Raine of the Supreme
Court of Papua New Guinea for making available to me the log book
of his grandfather Captain Thomas Raine of the "Surrey,"
from which I was able to obtain a new look at some of the previously
published accounts of the Island in its early years. I am also indebted
to Sir Derek Jakeway, Sir Robert Foster and Sir Arthur Galsworthy,
the three most recent Governors of the Colony of Pitcairn, Henderson,
Ducie and Oeno Islands for their encouragement and assistance in
the preparation of this account and making its publication possible.
The majority of this account was the subject of two papers presented
to the Fiji Society which were published in Volums X and XI of the
Journal of that Society and I would like to record my appreciation
to the Fiji Society for its kind permission to republish these papers
in the form of this account.
On Pitcairn itself I am indebted to my many friends there who provided
the background information and insight into the life of the Islanders
which aroused my interest in carrying out the research which made
the writing of this account possible. In this respect I can only
pay especial tribute to Tom and Betty Christian; Warren and Millie
Christian; Andrew Young; Roy and Hyacinth Clark; Christie Warren;
and those two fine old figures, now regrettably passed on, namely
Fred and Parkins Christian.
I must also express my deep appreciation to Mrs. Usha Patel, who
has over the years faithfully transcribed my notes in the copy of
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Bibliography & References