He Endured The Horror of Norfolk Island Penal Colony

Whatever difficulties Norfolk Island had in its early years, Macklin (whose ancestors came from Bandon, Co Cork, during the Famine) writes that: “Nothing had prepared them for their first taste of the empire’s colonial sadists, the execrable Joseph Foveaux.”

Edward Henry Butler Son of William & Jane Butler Sent to Sydney NSW 1820 – 1827 As Edward Butler Alias Smith Boy Convict on Neptune 3 Aged 17 Then To Norfolk Island 1830 – 1837 Arrived Melbourne About 1840 D. Joyces Creek 1882 Having Helped Pioneer Victoria

Edward Henry Butler’s remains lie in a very isolated rural cemetery at Joyces Creek in Central Victoria. This cemetery dates back to 1854.

The amount of information on the stone on his grave is extraordinary. It takes little researching to flesh out the story of Edward Henry Butler and to gain insight into what this man endured in his lifetime.

Apart from being transported to Sydney on the Neptune 3, Butler spent seven years on Norfolk Island.

Much has been written about this 18th Century hell. If convicts were perceived to ’cause trouble’, they were sent to remote places such as Norfolk Island, Port Macquarie and Moreton Bay. At these places, discipline could be very severe. Prisoners were forced to work from dawn to dusk at backbreaking tasks. If they disobeyed or tried to escape, they were whipped, chained in irons or sometimes executed. At Norfolk Island, the ‘harshest possible discipline short of death’ was imposed. So unpleasant were the conditions, that rebellions and uprisings were a regular occurrence.

In her book, ‘The Signature of All Things’, Elizabeth Gilbert documents the hardships endured by Alma Whittiker’s father on voyages with Captain Cook. This would have been luxury compared to the life Butler had on board the Neptune 3.

Norfolk Island is a popular tourist destination now but it cannot shake off its dark history. Norfolk Island has been rated as one of the world’s most haunted spots.