From 1800 onward, Lord Howe Island became a well known stopover for whaling ships to obtain food and water.
This activity became so great that in 1833 three men came to live on the island to supply food to the ships crews. Messrs Ashdown, Bishop and Chapman, accompanied by their Maori wives and two Maori boys arrived from New Zealand on the barque Caroline. They settled at Hunter Bay, now known as Old Settlement, where they engaged in supplying ships with meat, fish and vegetables in exchange for other goods. They continued at Lord Howe until 1841 when Captain Owen Poole, retired naval officer, and Richard Dawson purchased their holdings for 350 pounds.
Later, in 1841, Poole took to the Island Messrs Wright, Hescott & McAuliffe and their wives. Thomas and Margaret Andrews arrived on the barque Rover’s Bride in 1842. All were employed to help carry on the industry commenced by Ashdown, Bishop and Chapman. In 1844 Dr John Foulis, who had bought a half of Poole’s share, arrived with his wife and daughter and four English emigrants.
In 1847, after they failed to obtain a lease of the Island from the NSW Government, the settlement on the Island was abandoned by Poole, Dawson and Foulis. Their employees were given the choice of returning to the mainland or continuing on the Island as independent settlers.
Thomas and Margaret Andrews eventually took over the Foulis home to the north of Windy Point (now Pinetrees Lodge). Their daughter Mary, born in 1846, later married Captain Thomas Gore Charles Nichols, master of a Tasmanian sailing vessel, and they had ten children, four boys and six girls. Descendants of Tom and Mary Nichols still live on the Island today.
In 1853, Nathan Chase Thompson, born in Massachusetts USA, a rigger on the whaling vessel Belle, arrived at the Island and settled. With him were two partners, George Campbell and Jack Brian, and two women and a girl from the Gilbert Islands (Kiribati). Thompson married one of the women, Boranga, and they had one child, who died in 1864 aged 11 years. Boranga died shortly after her son’s death, and Thompson later married Bogue who by then was 24 years of age. They had five children, two boys and three girls. Jack Brian left the Island in 1856 and Bogaroo the third Gilbert Island woman, died on the Island in 1880.
In 1879, Thomas Wilson was appointed the Island’s first school teacher and later he married his eldest pupil, Mary Thompson (daughter of Nathan and Bogue) and together they had six children, three boys and three girls. Needless to say there are very few families on the Island today who are not direct descendants or connected by marriage to the Thompson and Wilson unions, or the Andrews Nichols union.
During the first four decades of settlement, many others came to Lord Howe, with most staying for only a few years or less. Despite this turnover, by 1882 the Island had become a stable, multicultural community with its full share of romance, mystery and tragedy.