Pitcairn has had its share of politicians and patriarchs/matriarchs. This inductee into the “Hall of Fame” was intended from the very beginning, and it is our honour to present Thursday October II.
Thursday October Christian II was the sixth and last child of the original Thursday/Friday October Christian and Teraura. He was born on a Thursday in October, 1820 (unlike his father, his birth date was not off by a day). In his childhood and youth he witnessed firsthand the aborted relocation to Tahiti, as well as the tyranny of Joshua Hill and the treachery of other Pitcairners. It is said that these events were to shape his outlook, and as a consequence made him a perceptive and humble man. Before the move to Norfolk Island he served as Island Magistrate in both 1844 and 1851. He married Mary Polly “Jackanailly” Young on March 24th, 1839, and the following year they had their first child, Julia (who would tragically die only ten years later). She was the first of seventeen children. By 1851 the couple had seven children, though two had died.
Despite the mass movement to Norfolk Island, many were not content and wished to return home. Following one groups return to Pitcairn (Moses and William Mayhew Young’s families in 1859), others, including Thursday October IIs family also decided to return, which they did along with the family of Simon Young in 1864. All four of these family heads were of the same generation, but Thursday October II was the oldest. From when he stepped ashore Thursday October II was the oldest man on the island (not the oldest person, since there were older women who returned to Pitcairn). He would also survive the three other men.
Once again, Thursday October II was elected as magistrate in 1864. By now he and his wife had had fifteen children, though sadly, seven of them had passed away. After the return to Pitcairn they had two more children, bringing the number to a total of seventeen. As the years passed, Thursday October II proved to be an able leader, and held the position of magistrate in 1867, 1873, 1876, 1880 and 1882, making for a total of six times elected to the position. Thursday October II was also cautious of “outsiders” and in his final year as magistrate, after conferring with the other family heads on Pitcairn, made the decision of strangers living on Pitcairn as “...that no man from henceforth is allowed.” This was of a divided opinion in the community, but the rule stood.
The famous “Thursday October’s House” was situated close to where the Government Lodge and Hostel are today, built from longlasting miro timber and wooden shutters, but it was considered dangerous because of neglect, and sadly torn down in 2004. At the time of its destruction, it was the oldest house on the island by far.
After his term in 1882, Thursday October II retired from politics, but stayed fairly active in other ways, being a hardworking man. Sadly, his wife Polly died on June 16th, 1885 of dropsy, leaving him a widower. As the century drew to a close, he showed fortitude in the hard years on Pitcairn stemming from the typhus epidemic as well as the Harry Christian murders. But as he aged, he was found to have a brilliant memory, and passed down a lot of the history to the next generation. He had been a tough leader when he was magistrate, but in his later years he had mellowed and was regarded as “bright and cheery” by visitors to the island. In 1907, when the HMS Torch visited Pitcairn, he was described in a report, “Thursday October Christian at the age of 88 reads without glasses and hears perfectly though of late he has given up manual labour. ” From what I gather, he had given up manual labour that very year, and at that age it is impressive.
Thursday October II was finally reunited with Polly on May 27th, 1911. He was 90 years old. Of his seventeen children, he had survived thirteen of them, not to mention many in the other families. Of his children there were many notables, such as his second child Agnes who started the Warren dynasty on Pitcairn. On Pitcairn today, all of the Christians, all of the Warrens, and most of the Young's carry his blood in them.Thanks to Kari Young for the quotes about Thursday October she had in her archives (such as the one from HMS Torch). The two photographs of him alone are courtesy of Anders Kallgard, and the third with Simon and Mayhew Young are from Rosalind Amelia Young’s book). All other information came from the Young Archives.