John Giles Price (commandant)

John Giles Price (Commandant)

John Giles Price (commandant)

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John Giles Price (1808 – 1857), magistrate and penal administrator, was the only civilian to command the second convict settlement at Norfolk Island, being in charge from 6 August 1846 to 18 January 1853.

He was the son of a minor baronet, studied at Oxford without taking a degree, and arrived in Hobart, Van Diemen's Land in May 1836 with letters of introduction from influential relatives. There he farmed in the Huon River district and married Mary, the ward of Sir John Franklin, lieutenant-governor of Van Diemen's Land from 1836 to 1843.

In 1839 Price was appointed muster master of convicts and stipendiary magistrate. Being in close contact with the convicts he gained a knowledge of their ways and language. It is claimed by a critic, Reverend Thomas Rogers, that he would disguise himself as a constable and move around Hobart, seeking disorderly characters. Hazzard claims that "he seemed to know, with terrifying accuracy, the way a criminal's mind worked, and this, coupled with his merciless administering of the Law, gave him an almost hypnotic power over them".

In 1846 he suffered a mystery illness and was recommended by his doctor to take leave of absence. However, he was appointed commandant of Norfolk Island in July of that year, to replace Major Joseph Childs, and the leave was never taken.

One of his first duties was to arrange for the trial of 26 convicts alleged to have been involved in murders during the revolt of July 1846 at the end of Childs'...
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