The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Hampton, John Stephen

Hampton, John Stephen, sometime Governor, Western Australia, was in the Medical Department of the Royal Navy, and came out to Van Diemen's Land in 1843, in the convict ship Constant, of which he was surgeon-superintendent. On arrival he took part with the opponents of Governor Sir John Eardley Wilmot. He was appointed Comptroller-General of Convicts in Van Diemen's Land in succession to Captain Forster, and was subsequently censured, with other officials, by the local executive for having derived profit from the labours of prisoners through utilising some trifling articles of convict manufacture. On the Legislative Council in 1855 appointing a select committee to inquire into the administration of the Convict Department, Mr. Hampton refused to appear before it, and the Governor, Sir Henry Young, declined to order his attendance, on the ground that the penal establishments were under Imperial control. The Council declared him "in contempt," and ordered the serjeant-at-arms to arrest him. Mr. Hampton threatened to resist forcibly, but ultimately allowed the warrant to be executed, on Sept. 15th. A writ of habeas corpus was taken out, but the Council still insisted that Hampton should appear at their bar, which he declined to do. The Governor thereupon prorogued the Council, with the result that the Speaker's warrant lapsed, and the Supreme Court in the meantime decided that the proceedings against Hampton were illegal, and that the Council had erred in assuming general parliamentary privilege. Mr. Hampton, having obtained leave of absence, visited Sydney, and went thence to England, the Court of Appeal affirming, in Feb. 1858, the judgment in his favour delivered by the Tasmanian Court. Mr. Hampton was favourably received by the Colonial Office, and in 1862 (Feb. 27th) was appointed Governor of Western Australia, the only one of the Australian colonies to which transportation was still permitted. Mr. Hampton quitted the government in Nov. 1868, and transportation was suspended the same year. He died on Dec. 1st, 1869.