1814; Sandalwood days over, Irish beachcomber aims to father 50 children

“When the rush of sandalwood ships ceased, the beach-combers fell upon evil days. since there were no ships, they were cut off from their own people and forced to exist as best they could. However, the renewed shipping activity of the late ‘twenties, and the trade that accompanied it, brought prosperity both to the “old hands” and to new arrivals. The kind of men who, at this period, lived on the beaches of Fiji may best be judged from contemporary descriptions.

Mutiny lands at Bau: About 1814, Savage’s place at Bau was taken by the motley crew of a Manila ship, who, having mutinied, and murdered the captain, had divided the spoil and settled on the island. Drunken brawls and murderous fights weeded them out until only two or three remained, scattered among the islands.

Irishman, Paddy Connel: One of the early arrivals was the Irishman, Paddy Connel, known among the natives as Berry, and for more than thirty years a well-known character at Rewa, Levuka, and Batiki.

Court jester to the king: After a chequered career as a soldier in the course of which he was court-martialled for treason, he was sent to New South Wales as a convict; but somehow the plausible Paddy gained his freedom. He worked as a sailor, spent his money on liquor, and finally came to Sandalwood Bay. Liking the place and its ways, he and a few companions left the ship and stayed there. He lived for many years at Rewa, where his Irish wit gained him the unofficial position of court jester to the king. Mistrusted and driven out by the respectable traders at Levuka, he spent his declining years on Batiki, where his chief ambition (so he said) was to raise the number of his children from forty-eight to an even fifty”.


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