1869: Suez Canal aided European influence in Pacific: new era of European influence: journey from Asia to Europe reduced by 6,500 km

The Suez Canal was constructed between 1859 and 1869 by French and Egyptians interests with a cost of about 100 million dollars.  It removed the need to go around Africa to get the Asia and the Pacific, The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 brought forward a new era of European influence in Pacific Asia.  The region became commercially accessible and colonial trade expanded as a result of increased interactions because of a reduced friction of distance

6500km cheaper:  The journey from Asia to Europe was considerably reduced by saving 6,500 km from the circum African route.

Geographical Impacts:  Planned by the French but constructed by the British, the Suez Canal opened in 1869. It represents, along with the Panama Canal, one of the most significant maritime “shortcuts” ever built. It brought a new era of European influence in Pacific Asia by reducing the journey (blue line) from Asia to Europe by about 6,000 km.

Great Britain gains: Great Britain, the maritime power of the time, benefited substantially from this improved access. For instance, the Suez Canal shortened the distance on a maritime journey:

-  from London to Bombay by 41%;

 - from London to Shanghai by 32%.

The Panama Canal, completed in 1914, considerably shortens the maritime distances between the American East and West coasts by a factor of 13,000 km. 

- In 1874, Britain bought the shares of the Suez Canal Company and became its sole owner. According to the Convention of Constantinople signed in 1888, the canal was to be open to vessels of all nations in time of peace or in war. However, Great Britain claimed the need to control the area to maintain its maritime power and colonial interests (namely in South Asia). In 1936, it acquired the right to maintain defense forces along the Suez Canal, which turned out to be of strategic importance during World War II to uphold Asia-Europe supply routes for the Allies.


The Strategic Space of International Transportation Author : Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue 1. The Geostrategy Of International Transportation ).http://people.hofstra.edu/geotrans/eng/ch5en/conc5en/ch5c1en.html

1865: Birth of BLAKELOCK James Thursfield -1865

Birth, BLAKELOCK James Thursfield -1865
- parents Thomas and Elizabeth BLAKELOCK

Fiji Births/baptisms registered at British Consul, prior to 1870. This reference comes from Christine Liava’a, member of the NZ Genealogical Society and founder of the Pacific Islands Interests group. She says: ” All of these, plus others from 1870 – 1873 are registered in the 4 volumes of deeds compiled by the British consul in Levuka between 1853 and 1873.

More data: There could be a similar set of documents from the American Consul- J B Williams, probably held in NAARA, or perhaps filmed and held in other places. But, these only list registrations by people who wanted to be registered. They do not list Europeans with Fijian wives, or their children.
1874/75 Census: The 1874/75 Census does list them, if they were alive at that time, but does  not include the really early ones. All the directories etc date from the 1870s”.

I have capitalised surnames where it appears, that is the surname.

94 per cent of Polynesian mtDNAs are of East Asian origin and only 6 per cent are of Melanesian origin

Genetic map

Genetic map


A new theory, based on DNA data argued, the “Polynesian” tribe split off from East Asia, 3500 years ago, not 17,000 years ago. The ‘Slow Boat’ model  – an origin in island Southeast Asia some 17,000 years ago, was not supported by the genetic evidence, reported the American Journal of Human Genetics, Volume 82, Issue 1, 194-198, 10 January 2008.
But yes, the Asia connection is strong: Polynesian genes contained a high proportion of Asian mtDNAs.  The  admixture occurred, approximately 3500 years ago, when the Polynesian evolved. The data suggested Ancestral Polynesian society was;
-  matrilocal in residence (men move to their wife’s land); and
-  matrilineal in descent (clans inherited through the mothers line.
Theory on gene mixing:  This admixture mostly involved:
-  Melanesian men (as evidenced by the high proportion of Melanesian Y chromosomes in Polynesia); and
- Asian women (as evidenced by the high proportion of Asian mtDNAs in Polynesia), an interesting finding that cannot be observed from the autosomal data.
Scenario analysis: This scenario is supported by suggestions of matrilineal descent and matrilocal residence in the ancient Polynesian society, and  which would therefore favor incorporation of Melanesian men rather than women into the ancestral Polynesian groups. About 94 per cent of Polynesian mtDNAs are of East Asian origin and only 6 per cent are of Melanesian origin (consisting of mainland New Guinea and surrounding islands, also known as Near Oceania), whereas 66 per cent of Polynesian Y chromosomes are of Melanesian origin and only 28 per cent are of East Asian origin.
Survey aimed to exclude European genes: Selected Polynesian samples for autosomal STR genotyping that do not carry European mtDNA or NRY haplogroups and whose self-described ancestry does not include any Europeans for at least two generations. Nonetheless, we cannot exclude some small amount of European admixture in these samples.
What was surveyed: The study genotyped 377 genome-wide distributed autosomal short tandem repeat (STR) loci in 47 Polynesians (10 Cook Islanders, 10 Tongans, 18 Samoans, 5 Tokelau Islanders, and 4 Nuie Islanders), 44 Han Chinese from Beijing, and 24 Papua New Guineans from the interior highlands (15 from the Eastern Highlands, 9 from the Southern Highlands) . The conclusion was East Asians and Melanesians represent the parental populations of Polynesians.
Hage and J. Marck, Matrilineality and the Melanesian origin of Polynesian Y chromosomes, Curr. Anthropol. 44 (2003), pp. 121127 and Genome-wide Analysis Indicates More Asian than Melanesian Ancestry of Polynesians The American Journal of Human Genetics, Volume 82, Issue 1, 194-198, 10 January 2008 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B8JDD-4RHHD95-V&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=a8a05332f2b94077edbcf045244097a4

Polynesian peoples are genetic outliers with no close relatives outside of their territorial homelands

DNA of Polynesians

DNA of Polynesians

The Australian and Polynesian peoples are genetic outliers within the broader family or Eurasian regions, with no close relatives outside of their territorial homelands
DNA maps show how tribes evolved: Since molecular DNA has provided a more objective way of charting human relationships, scientists have known that while inter-population differences do exist, traditionally defined racial groups do not exist as exclusive or pure genetic units..The relationships illustrated by this diagram are the cumulative product of
- genetic contact within each region created by migrations, intermarriage, and gradual diffusion; and
- relative isolation from other regions.
Isolation by ocean: Natural features that make these contacts easier or more difficult can determine regional genetic relationships: waterways, mountain regions, fertile plains, and continental borders shape the pathways of human interactions that create both cultural areas and genetic regions.
North American Indians also genetically isolated: For instance, the historical difficulty of travel between Asia and North America corresponds to the great distance between the American Indian super-family and all other world regions. Indian regions are part of their own super-family that is distinct from the other superfamily (labeled Non-American Indian) that includes all other world regions.
A New Genetic Map of Living Humans in Interconnected World Regions E. Valaitis1 and L. Martin Revised 03/10/2008 Dr. Eduardas Valaitis received his Doctorate in Statistics from Yale University, New Haven, CT and has been an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at American University, Washington, D.C. He is currently a Senior Associate with PricewaterhouseCoopers

Genetic links in the Pacific

Pockets of genes in the Pacific

Pockets of genes in the Pacific

May 1870; ‘gentle giant’ William Kopsen arrived in missionary ship John Wesley at Levuka

Described as ‘a giant, elegant both in appearance and manners’, Kopsen had great personal charm, humanity and optimism, with the ability to organize, act quickly and take command. He had been brought up as a Lutheran, believing in the virtues of thrift, industry and self-discipline; in Australia he was a Congregationalist.

Born on 29 December 1847: William Kopsen(1847-1930), manufacturer and ship-chandler, was born on 29 December 1847 and baptized Gustaf Wilhelm at Vaxholm, Sweden, only son of Erik Gustav Kopsen, marine customs house porter, and his wife Anna Greta, née Ohrstrom. His early childhood was marred by family discord and straitened circumstances. Orphaned at 15 he lived in 1862-64 on a farm at Osteraker where he was tutored by the rector Dr Samuel Ponten who encouraged Kopsen to study geography and anthropology.

‘seized by a longing to see the Fiji Islands’: From 1864 Kopsen worked as a shop assistant and book-keeper in Stockholm. He migrated in 1868, reaching Sydney on 10 September. After working as a cook and shepherd on sheep-stations near Bathurst, he went next year to the Clarence River where he bought a small boat and traded. But, ‘seized by a longing to see the Fiji Islands’, he joined the missionary ship John Wesley and reached Levuka in May 1870.

1873 became a book-keeper in Levuka; For two years he transported cargoes round the islands and early in 1873 became a book-keeper in Levuka, while acting as commission agent for Swedish planters. In 1875 he established W. Kopsen & Co., with J. C. Smith, to import and trade in textiles and general merchandise. By the late 1870s he was a member of the hospital board, secretary of the yacht and rifle clubs, and consul for Sweden and Norway from 1881.

1877 married Laura Theresa Turner from Sydney; Britain had annexed Fiji in 1874 and in 1877 Kopsen was naturalized. In Levuka on 20 October he married Laura Theresa Turner from Sydney. He had sent articles about native customs, flora and fauna to a Stockholm newspaper, and donated artefacts from the South Pacific to a Swedish museum — in 1882 he was elected to the Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography. When the capital was moved to Suva that year, Kopsen moved too and in 1883 became an alderman and mayor. He was a member of the Marine Board and in 1885 formed and was chairman of the Fiji Fire and Marine Insurance Co. Ltd.

Axe and oar manufacturer in NSW: In 1889 Kopsen settled in Sydney, carrying on business at 70 Clarence Street as Smith & Kopsen, ship-chandler. After Smith retired the firm of W. Kopsen & Co. Ltd was registered in December 1905. On a cycling tour of the Snowy Mountains he became interested in a timber which locals called ‘mountain ash’. Foreseeing its commercial potential, Kopsen in 1906 built a plant at Auburn, where tests indicated its suitability for oars and implement handles. When transport of the timber proved difficult and costly, a factory was built at Laurel Hill, near Batlow, where ‘Pioneer’ oars and handles were made. By 1927 W. Kopsen & Co. Ltd were contractors to government departments and always had 10,000 oars ready for delivery within Australia and shipment to the Pacific Islands. He did much to revive the Australian timber industry and to reduce domination by American imports. In 1983 William Kopsen & Co. was carried on by a grandson.
Select Bibliography
Sydney Chamber of Commerce, Commerce in Congress (Syd, 1909); L. Nordstrom, William Kopsen (Stockholm, 1933); Australasian Manufacturer, 30 July 1927, p 28, 39; Swedish-Australasian Trade Journal, 18, June 1931, p 363; Sydney Morning Herald, 18 Aug 1930.  Author: B. Dale Print Publication Details: B. Dale, ‘Kopsen, William (1847 – 1930)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, Melbourne University Press, 1983, pp 634-635.

1868: Cotton, copra, trepang tortoise-shell traders in Fiji; Lewis Cohen

Sir Lewis Cohen(1849-1933), merchant and politician, was born on 23 December 1849 at Liverpool, Lancashire, England, son of Henry Cohen, outfitter and businessman, and his wife Elizabeth, née Harris. 

Partnership in Fiji with a school mate, Adolphus Meyer Brodziak:  The family arrived in Sydney about 1853 and Cohen was educated there until, at 14, he went to school at Edmonton near London. Three years later he returned to Sydney and worked in his father’s office for twelve months. With capital provided by his father, in 1868 Cohen entered partnership in Fiji with a school mate, Adolphus Meyer Brodziak, handling cotton, copra, trepang and tortoise-shell, in an expanding and profitable barter trade. 

Councillor, constitution negotiator at Levuka, 1872:  He later recollected that he had contributed usefully to negotiations for constitutional government in Fiji. In 1872 he sat on the first municipal council at Levuka.

 Eric Richards, ‘Cohen, Sir Lewis (1849 – 1933)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, Melbourne University Press, 1981, p. 57.

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