1810? - 1869







John Stephen Hampton
John Stephen Hampton



Educated at Edinburgh (graduated in 1828) and trained in medicine John Hampton joined the Royal Navy as a surgeon.

Originally in charge of the convict system in Tasmania, Hampton came to Western Australian in 1862 with a very authoritarian outlook.

He had a black cloud hanging over his career as he had been accused of using convict labour for his own gains and despite a tribunal eventually not making a finding against him, he was tarnished by the accusation.

Rev. Rogers who worked in Tasmania at the same time as Hampton wrote that he was 'an opportunist and self-seeker, little moved by any finer feeling.'

The Superintendent of Fremantle prison also found Hampton unfriendly and cold.

Prisoner's sentences were lengthened for any minor infraction and it was not long before contemporaries were writing complaints to London of Hampton's 'Tasmanian tactics.'


During his six years in office, 96 convicts were flogged and a total of 6559 lashes administered. The escape attempt rate reached new highs.

With a large number of convicts at his disposal, Hampton set about a large building project and many buildings that still stand in Fremantle and Perth date from this time.

In light of his own harsh treatment of convicts, it seems strange that Governor Hampton turned so viciously on Henry Vincent (Superintendent of the Rottnest Native Prison) when he was accused of poorly treating the inmates.

Hampton's dislike of law breakers must have been heightened by Moondyne Joe, who continued to escape and make the Governor look a fool during his time in W.A.

Hampton modified the plans for Government House and included a bigger dining room and ballroom. Costs escalated from 7 thousand pounds to 15 thousand pounds. We was also criticised for extravagantly furnishing the house. Several very large gilt mirrors that he purchased are still there today.

His tenure as Governor was remembered as being harsh and his style as dictatorial. He was not popular with settlers. Despite this, by the time he left office he had balanced to budget and doubled government revenue.

Hampton was married to Mary Essex and had one son - George Essex Hampton.

There is some doubt about the year of Hampton's birth as we have found at least one source that states he was born in 1806.




1810 - Born (this is the date on his death certificate.)

1828 - Graduated with a medical diploma.

1829 - Joined the Royal Navy as an assistant surgeon.

1832 - Awarded the Edinburgh certificate. Worked at the Plymouth dockyards helping to prevent the spread of cholera.

1834 - Promoted to surgeon in December.

1843 - Promoted to surgeon-superintendent in March.

1846 - Appointed comptroller-general of convicts in Tasmania in May.

1855 - Hampton refused to appear before select committee inquiry into convict administration and was charged with contempt..

1857 - Hampton went on to half-pay after being granted two years leave to attend to 'urgent private matters' in Canada.

1862 - Appointed Governor of Western Australia on February 28th.

1862 - Took up his post as Governor of W.A.

1866 - Hampton appoints his son George as comptroller-general of convicts. George has several paid appointments at the same time.

1868 - Resigned as Governor nad returned to England. His wife died shortly after their arrival.

1869 - Died December 2nd (one source says 1st).


Links to more information:


John Stephen Hampton 1862-1868

Hampton, John Stephen (1810-1869)

John Hampton




Become a supporter of this website for just $5 a month



Go to the Home Page Go to the Help Page Go to the Help Page

Western Australia Now and Then website - Copyright (c) 2019 - Marc Glasby. All rights reserved.