1875: Louis Armstrong a hotelkeeper in Levuka, at the Royal Hotel after bankruptcy in Melbourne

Louis ARMSTRONG was reported born Fiji before 1850, mother Tahitian or Fijian and unknown*, ARMSTRONG father also unknown.

Friday 5 May 1871 The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956) reported Louis Armstrong, of Viti Levu, Fiji, publican, at present a prisoner for debt in Her Majesty’s Gaol, Melbourne.

Causes of insolvency – Inability to pay his debts, from losses in business while in partnership with William Lyon as publican in Bourke-street, Melbourne, and from sickness in family.

Liabilities, £168 13s. assets, £00.

He was insolvent twice in Melbourne, in 1871 ; 1879.

Chris_Liavaa reports “No Armstrongs in Levuka in 1871 electoral roll for Township of Levuka. No Armstrongs in Levuka 1873 Directory, nor 1874 directory, so he appears to have arrived sometime in 1874/75”

Louis ARMSTRONG , wife Alice Maud (nee AITKEN b. Bendigo 1860) and children John (1885), Zoe Eloise Desiree (1887) and Rupert Roy (1888) ARMSTRONG definitely residents of Levuka, Fiji, in and before 1888 at birth of Rupert.

The family was recorded in Sydney from mid 1889, but Louis ARMSTRONG disappears from the map after 1891. Alice remarried in Sydney 1897, as spinster and using maiden name, and Louis recorded as deceased at daughter’s marriage in 1909.

There is a photograph of an L. Armstrong (Photo No. 639, pages 330-332a) in The Cyclopedia of Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Tahiti, and the Cook Islands / Sydney : Cyclopedia Company of Fiji, 1907.

Armstrong once owned Malolo Lailai (not to be confused with Malolo) in the Mamanuca Group where the resort Musket Cove is on. From their website: “In 1872, Malolo Lailai was sold to John Thomson by Ratu Kini, a Nadroga Chief. Malolo Lailai being uninhabited, was purchased to plant cotton. John Thomson died in 1876 and Malolo Lailai was sold to Louis Armstrong.

Armstrong died bankrupt and the island was transferred to the Mortgage Agency of Australasia Ltd, who sold and transferred to James Borron in November 1891.”

http://www.musketcovefiji.com/destination-info

His wife remarried in Sydney in 1897, to William Edward MORGAN, a South Sea Island trader.

A son of Louis Armstrong changed his name to MORGAN.

Another Percy Armstrong, sailed with his father, Louis, around the South Pacific, went to Fiji, and later tried to buy large tracts of land from various chiefs.

Louis owned what is now Plantation Island.

* In comment on this Ann McGlynn, an ancestor of Louis writes “Briefly, Louis Armstrong’s ancestry is 100% Anglo-Saxon (Irish mother, American father), he was born in Australia c1842 and was farming in various parts of Fiji from the late 1860s (part of the “Fiji Rush”). He was concurrently a hotel keeper, firstly in Suva and later in Levuka until he left Fiji in 1888, never to return. Evidence seems to indicate that he was the publican of the “Polynesian Club” at Levuka, rather than the Royal Hotel, unless of course you have evidence that indicates otherwise!”.

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4 Responses

  1. Re: “1875: Louis Armstrong, a hotelkeeper in Levuka, at the Royal Hotel, after bankruptcy in Melbourne.”
    I regret to inform you that some of the information concerning my great-grandfather, Louis Armstrong, is incorrect. Some of the material is based on queries I put to Ancestry.com message boards in 2010, most of which in turn is based on unauthenticated information I had from my family tales. When I began research, these family tales were the only information we had about Louis Armstrong, and much has since been proven incorrect.
    Chris_Liavaa was most helpful in providing information from Louis Armstrong’s times spent in Fiji and this, along with much more from Australian archives has enabled me to put together a very informative biography of Louis Armstrong, totalling over 70,000 words.
    Briefly, Louis Armstrong’s ancestry is 100% Anglo-Saxon (Irish mother, American father), he was born in Australia c1842 and was farming in various parts of Fiji from the late 1860s (part of the “Fiji Rush”). He was concurrently a hotel keeper, firstly in Suva and later in Levuka until he left Fiji in 1888, never to return. Evidence seems to indicate that he was the publican of the “Polynesian Club” at Levuka, rather than the Royal Hotel, unless of course you have evidence that indicates otherwise!
    I am quite happy to share my research, when it is complete.
    Ann McGlynn
    Sydney

    • Hello Ann

      Excellent work and research on your part, Ann.
      Often we start out with family fairy-tales and half-memories and as we travel towards the facts, we get a new picture. Chris_Liavaa is a lot smarter than me and has the genealogical side of things. I really just roam the internet and read a few old books. I run a bookshop in Sydney. And the older I get the less I trust “facts”, in books; or learned those “facts” need re-interpretation, through windows of time and culture.
      If you would like to post bits of the Levuka side of your research, on this site, I certainly welcome that.
      I will give you an authors access code to do that. If you would Like that please drop a note to Levuka, Box 148 Sydney NSW 2041. And as we both live in Sydney, would you like to meet up for coffee?

  2. Hello Levuka,

    Sent letter by snail-mail to above address, but it came back to me yesterday (Fri 26th July) courtesy of Australia Post with sticker attached indicating “Insufficient Address” supplied. Do you have a suburb, or other means of private communication, as would be delighted to take you up on both offers!

    Regards,
    Ann

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