Chat room: Levuka timeline structure 1700 – 1880

14 January 2009: Back online for the new year. Reading David Cargill’s diaries; and glad I did not have to travel 3 months on a small boat with the Rev Cargill.

The sins of missionaries: In his diary her recorded he had a higher status among Fijians that he had among Europeans. His diaries show he asked for and got got free housing and stole Fijian sacred objects for his private collection. On one voyage, the Captain and crew refused to listen to any more sermons on sin. Cargill’s records show his high sense of self-importance, and weakness for long sermons on ‘sin’. It also appeared that wherever Cargill settled; other missionaries found reasons, to settle elsewhere. Dillon, for example, said Williams sent the Cargills from Tonga to mission on Somosomo, because he found David Cargill’s pomposity intolerable.

Modern sins – nature of sins change: One tale of the life of Cargill, tells of his death of small pox on Tonga; others say he died from an overdose of laudanum (opium). This was so freely available in those times, addiction seems possible. Before his wife’s death for example, he visited the Jaggars’ house on stock up on laudanum – for his wife. The baby born soon after, died of convulsions. In these days, we define opium for recreation, as a modern sin.

John Hunt: The missionary John Hunt – a more useful character – lived six years – in Fiji; and like Cargill’s wife, died of ‘dysentery’ in his early 30s.aug29-levuka-googlemap

2 August 2008: Now updating again after a break. See research musings below.

Your dated Levuka history and people items wanted: I hope this site may help to give to give some of those – nameless in public histories – a place in the records; and perhaps, produce a collaboration which may contribute to Levuka heritage.
Was your ancestor born in Levuka? I welcome all contact from interested persons.
Try a test post:
If you have some dated history, related to Levuka – birth, death, marriage, or Levuka history of any kind – please search for the year, post your dated item, with the source reference in comment field for that date, and I will put your information in the timeline, soon after.
Style guide: If your style matches, and you have a volume of content to post to the site , I will offer an editing password, and you can file your contributions, direct. Whats needed is dated items with a a reference to the source.
2 August 2008: Now updating again after a break. I am amused to see some references to my ancestors in W. T. Pritchards, Polynesian Reminiscences. My ancestor form minor players in the Pacific game.
Blog forms a type of conquest? But, if history is written by the conquerers, then maybe, a blog forms a type of conquest?. People once wrote or mused, alone with notes doomed to end up in the attic or the garage, and then thrown into the rubbish by the next generation – now can self-publish, and meet other people with the same interests. It’s a wonderful new world!.

New things I have learned lately about Levuka: Research has gained more depth and context as I learn and understand more. I write this from Sydney; and I am generations separated from these events. This week I mused on points of conquest – the point where a dominant nation – takes over, a less-powerful nation, in an environment of competitive access to resources.

Today, nations fight – politely – and less politely – for access to oil ,and gas and water. I would argue its generally commercial demand from traders which triggers resource wars. Traders see profits, and seek to influence policy.

That’s visible in the Levuka-traded commodities. In my judgement, one of the most significant commodities was the trading of people. In most of the documents its called “labour”; described like this; “Colleen Bawn left on a Labour Cruise to Tanna”. When it got back, however, the people were sold on a per head basis, at Levuka. So there’s a project there to calculate the value of that trade. in 1800 – 1850 commodity-values also rose and fell, as technologies changed or scarcity occurred; whale oil and whale-bone, slaves, women, tabua, metal, cotton, textiles, sandalwood, pearlshell, beche-de-mer, and land.
French in Tahiti, the British in Akaroa, and the British in Fiji: Fiji appeared a special case. Britain did not want Fiji; it was just after the American war of independence, and London administrators did not want another troubled colony. In the end, Cacobau appeared to cede to Britain – after its reluctant agreement – to gain protection from invasion from Tonga and the USA. His choice appeared the lessor of three evils, perhaps. It all cases, at these ‘points of conquest’ access to technology; metal, guns and shipping played a role; as did the pivotal role of regional administration and rule-making – consitution-writing – and the transformational benefits of “going Lotu” – as civilisations clashed at the point of contact. In this case, Levuka. It appears Fiji was, in the end, protected from total land grab – as in Guam, Tahiti, and Hawaii – by the early administration by William Pritchard, the Tahiti-born son of the ex Missionary consul of Tahiti, George Pritchard. The multilingual William P was raised with – or perhaps by – Queen Pomare of Tahiti, until the age of ten, when he was sent to Britain to school. He absorbed skills in the Pacific Way. It appeared he had little sense of “otherness” all people were one, but some more honest and some cmore orrupt. I read hints – yet to clarify – that William P had to contend with corrupt missionaries and traders; who opposed the fairness of his decisions; they wanted land at all cost and he opposed. Some expected the Consul to naturally rule in favour of the trader and the missionary. That was not his way. He was dismissed from his post as Consul, after a Fiji court case. I have yet to read the notes of the case. He was “unjustly accused” said
Berthold Seemann in a foreword to W. T. Pritchards, Polynesian Reminiscences; and the “The principal villains of the piece, if they can be so-called, were undoubtedly Calvert and Smythe”. I will post that new material later this week. These was the case researched ans argued in another useful title I want to get hold of” . Biography of William Pritchard Andrew, E. Robson Accessed 2 August 2008
Another good book: I intend to buy, or get via library interloan, what looks like an excellent book – of which I have read a sample chapter – Exodus of the I Taukei, the Wesleyan Church in Fiji, 1848-74 = No Lako Yani Ni Kawa I Taukei; Na Lotu Wesele E Viti. By Andrew Thornley, Tauga Vulaono, University of the South Pacific, Institute of Pacific Studies 2002 ISBN 9820203406.

6 April, 2008; I am now back on line. My father passed away, and since then I have been ill for the last two months.

Purpose of site: This site aims to provide a Levuka timeline structure for the period 1700 – 1880; with special interest in the period 1840 – 1880. I encourage others with Levuka family history – or area interests – to post dated events to the comment fields for the years; I will then post these to the site. Your content may include births, deaths and events or related history. This site was started 30 September 2007. The simple plan was to search web and books for dated events, and to, step-by-step, build a Levuka timeline. I started with using a little of content from Jane’s Oceania, and the Fiji Government site, and then began to expand with more detailed referenced history. As density of content increases, more referenced material will appear. I have now begun source from books and papers not on the internet.

Finer-grained data: At the start point it only has year-separators. I plan to begin to provide months, so more more precise data-collation develops. Please post your dated and referenced events or information in the comment field for the year.

Hope to hear from you soon: One of things I would hope to evolve from this project is heritage funding, to add the graves information from the two Levuka cemeteries to this site.

More about me: I work as commodity analyst in Sydney, and I have a special interest in commodity cycles; and so have included categories for the commodities connected to Levuka for various periods; sandalwood, copra, coconut oil, cotton, sugar, slaves, and so-on.

The trigger for the project: Some people in my family show a pacific gene. I am one of those; and I have a brother and a son with the same look. Now my new grandson has appeared and he’s a Pacific giant. Only two, but he’s the size of a four-year old. So its a strong gene! A chain of family research over 15 years – lead to my discovery in the Suva archives that the gene came from a Polynesian – or Melenesian – ancestor – Christiana THOMPSON. No birth certificate exists, she was perhaps born at sea, but she was was christened on the beach at Levuka, Fiji in 1862, by John Calvert, Methodist missionary for the Ovalau Circuit. The Thompson family purchased an island near Levuka, Vanutha Lai Lai, after Cakobau sold it to the Consul. The Thompsons bought it off the Consul. It was later ruled as freehold by the Land Commission. The Thompson family lived on it for a time, but family records show they left it – or another island, after a violent event. The family then moved – over time – to Bluff, New Zealand, as coastal shipping businesss from the South Island gold-rush grew. The Thompson family owned Vanutha Lai Lai for 17 years, and sold it to the Kahn family. Captain Thomas THOMPSON – a captain, builder of wooden ships – was later Harbour Master and a town councillor at Bluff. The barques and schooner he built, and part-owned were used in the slave trade from Levuka. They also traded timber from Fiji. I have no evidence that they were slave traders. Slaves were a profitable item in that period. But, it’s possible. Maybe I am descended from one of those “labour recruits”. I have no evidence.

Family photos – with a Dufty – look; show Christiana THOMPSON had polynesian or melenesian genes – but her official parents were migrants to the Pacific – the English shipbuilder from Sunderland – Thomas Johnston THOMPSON who married a German woman – Christiane GOTZE.

She came from a long family tradition of Lutheran lawyers from Friesland. The two had 13 children. Six were baptised at Levuka. Some died at Levuka. I descend from the (Polynesian?) line from one of those children – Christiana THOMPSON; who had a Pacific mother or father. Photos show a family resemblance, so it does not appear as a case of adoption. Or maybe she was the child of an older sibling? The eldest son, Edward, “ran a way to sea”, and was never seen again.

On a visit to Levuka I found a very large numbers of graves (in poor repair) which record the large mixed community that existed in Levuka; and which, peaked, in population, about 1840 – 1870.

But I have found limited information in the public domain about individuals, not in public life.

Thank you. Even small piece of information may prove of use, as each piece connects to another.


59 Responses

  1. Hi. I am a journalist in Fiji. I returned from Levuka over the weekend to put together some stories for our magazine ( – one of our publications is the Inflight magazine that goes in Air Pacific. I was rather fascinated by the Draiba cemetary and all those people buried there, which I am sure would be of interest to folks tracing their roots back here or those looking for long lost relatives, etc. In the course of searching the Net for some information on those names I took, I came across your blog. I was very impressed! Good luck in your endeavour. Kind regards,
    Dionisia Tabureguci

  2. Thank you Dionisia

    I agree with you on the Draiba cemetery. I hope to visit Levuka again soon, and start the process to record names and dates from the Draiba headstones, into this blog.

    Perhaps you mentioned the site on the inflight magazine? The site recorded a very large spike in hits about the time of your email, and it nearly trebled its usual 100 hits a day, to a spike of 267!

    Thank you for your interest.

  3. Bula vinaka Levuka,
    Well, great to note that interest in your site. In fact, I had forwarded it to the Levuka Tourism Association and mentioned to them that I found this Levuka blog very interesting. They must have forwarded it to tourists, etc…

    At the time I wrote to you, the stories had not been published..the first one went in the February Inflight mag (printed and delivered to Air Pac last week and should now be in the seats)…sorry, we don’t have on-line versions of that magazine. But I am required to hand in articles on Levuka for all other inflight mag issues of this year, ie: May, August, November…

    I thought your story was very interesting…I wouldn’t mind writing about you and your connexion to Levuka as I am doing a separate story on the Draiba cemetary for the May Inflight…if you would like to, email me on:

    I also wrote another version of the Levuka story for the business magazine that we circulate in Fiji…in case you’re interested in that, here is the link:

    Thanks again,

  4. Bula Vinaka Dionesia,

    Thanks again for your interest. I read your local story, and I was impressed your clear style.

    I will email you separately to talk about your ftuture stories.

    Some general comments:

    It appears your editor has decided your readers have a high interest in Levuka! That’s good news. I flew Air Pacific, when I visited Levuka. I was interested to notice that staff of Air Pac spoke to me in Fijian, but to other in English – as if they presumed I was Fijian. Alas, I don’t speak the language, yet.

    So, my genes must look a little bit Fijian. But, in Australia, people guess I come from Japanese or Chinese heritage. That’s of interest, as new DNA-mapping research shows a general genetic- flow to the Pacific from South China, to the Indonesian islands in the Mollucca area, then, some mixing with inland upland, plus coastal Melanesian genes from, PNG, then a gene-flow to Santa Cruz, and, from there a dispersion to Pacific ocean islands.

    I would have certainly used a Family History centre if it was available in Levuka. Like many others, I would also willingly act a a volunteer for such a center, and to gather and publish grave records.

    You probably know “family history’ forms one of the most-searched topics on the internet. My own small, Levuka family history site, for example has had almost 10,000 access-hits since it started it about four months ago. The interest comes from all over the world. A fair volume appears to come from India, with people seeking family history related to indentured labour.

    The volume tends to spike mid-week – in “sets’ of topics -; ‘measles’, ‘cotton’, ‘slave trade’ – which suggests – perhaps , use by students at school, or universities, for set-topics.

    I also find surges of access occur when another site references a story; for example – lots of hits on ‘Tonga canoe history’ since a Tonga Association in New Zealand reposted a Tonga history item with a link, to

    On I aim not present my own opinions, but to abstract from referenced sources.

    On the islands, gene-sets multiplied in isolated islands and evolved into nations and cultures. The question of how and when the mixing occured – deliberate sea-journey, shipwrecks, warfare, slave trading – occupies this blog.

    Anecdotally, the idea of genetic flow from China, via Indonesia, and PNG, seems to have attracted some support, before the gene-maps were created. For example John G Paton in his “The True Story of Thirty Years Among South Seas, Cannibals” undated, but around 1862, (a book I will abstract soon, for this site) – said, then it was common knowledge that those on Tanna came from a Melanesia culture and language, and people on the nearby island, of Aniwa were of a Malaysian culture and spoke Malay.

    He also records a terrible story of how one boatload of sandwood cutters deliberately infected and killed one third of the population of Tanna, with measles. I will post that soon, as the site gets a lot of hits with queries about disease and epidemics in Pacific history.

    I also observe records show many western-shipwrecks in the Pacific from 1600, so all sorts of genes may have added to the mix. The site also gets a heap of hits from people searching for information on ships, by name and date. So I see a lot of interest in sailing-ships and canoe history.

    Another book I plan to abstract soon, has proposed the idea of a cultural and language connection between the Molluca island of Ambon and the New Zealand Maori. (Julius Tahija, Horizon, Beyond, 1995), He wrote the book after he retired as chair of Caltex Pacific. Julius Tahija was Melanesian-Indonesian, raised in Surabaya. In the second World War he spent time in Sulawesi, Ambon and Ternate. He married a pakeha-Australian; defected from the Dutch army to the Indonesian nationalist cause; and – talk of cultural mixing! – they named their first son Sjakon, the Sanskrit name of a 17th Century Ambonese freedom-fighter called Captain Jonker.

    Thanks for the link. Talk to you again soon.


  5. Bula vinaka Levuka

    I just stumbled on to this site this afternoon and wotta delight to read stories pre and post Deed of Cession. I’d love to hear and know more. I’m a descendant of one of the signatories and am sharing with my family a picture posted of our ancestor.

    Thank you and this has certainly sparked my interest to research more into the history of all signatories and their direct descendants.


  6. just enjoying the words as my father grandfather and great grand father were born of levuka ovalau with many translated names through this pacific region. I am interested in the view as one sees it in these times in regard to the word ‘blackbirding’ which is a given word to those times…my understanding of what this word means in that time for my great grandfather and his brothers who were all known as the god people of old toga sega toka rewa time is bringing in the rest of there wider extended families from neighbouring shores as they were extended family with marital cross culture backgrounds going back centuries and centuries. To record things in ones own understanding of time is to do a deservice to all our ancestors but is also good to renew understandings lost. To provide for ones family in all ways by giving toktok was custom rite and tradition as it feeds all members of the human family. ‘Blackbirding’ per se was just a new cultural envy factor at that time when the competitive edge is lost to the new vision resources of that time without cultural understanding of the friendly societies. It is not slavery to feed and enjoy the friendship of your fellow families or their offspring or gifted volunteers so that they may feed themselves and learn the ways of the new arrivals in vaka ‘australus’ when times a prosperous for you and less so for those on the extremities of the ancient navigation routes. Look to the night sky on a clear night before one chooses to discount something as clear as the truth. Temese ta bu noa a ti Kau a pa Finau o Ma’afu Po Male a Toga a ki pakia Ike avai’i Amani Kau Tama Ta’aroa. Na mothey ika Rotuman a Ra Panui na Ahoeitu. Please refrain from isolating over another puru.

  7. What a find when a friend with great expertise in genealogy came across your site, as I have the Thompsons as my gt-gt-grandparents. I am descended from their eldest daughter, Martha, the first of four born between 1855 and 1860 in Melbourne where they had married in 1853, and have a wedding day photo from 1876 of her in NZ. I would love to share this and any information I have about the Thompsons with any you might have further from their days in the Pacific. With many thanks.

    • Hello Cousin Ken!
      Very, very pleased to hear from you. I would indeed like to share information. For example, a family story was, – there was a Family Bible with births and deaths in the front; and it was held by Martha. I found five further births in Fiji; but no birth records of Martha’s sister (or stepsister) – Christiana (sp?), my part-Pacific ancestor. The family tale, was there were 13 children. One was clearly part-Polynesian; Samoan or Tongan were dominant genes, I think. But raised – poor thing – in pukka mode, to wear whalebone corsets, in the tropics. There was a Dufty portrait of this sister of Martha – – now, I fear, lost. But I have one brother with Fijian hair; my mother, myself, a niece and nephew, and one of my sons and one grandson all show the Pacific gene; the men, tall, dark, strong and big-boned; the women small and finer. I have a primitive chart I have compiled of those Thompson siblings I could find. I will go and look at it now and see what’s there, about Martha. The Thompsons owned Vanutha Lai Lai – an island near Levuka, for 17 years. I found Levuka a lovely little town; with friendly people. That island is now called Lost Island, and owned by the Khan family, I believe. (I have a copy of the old deeds) . I will email you so we can chat offline. I can also give you an authors access so you can post content to this site, if you like.

  8. I surfed the net last week from home and stumbled on your Blog… Actually I was trying to find out if there was any historical website for the Lau Group…
    I must say I was impressed … very impressed with your Blog Site….
    I believe that what you have created will be beneficial to young people especially Students who are studying history.. My nephews have taken a liking to your blog site and all four of them would make it a tradition to sit on the computer every afternoon and read at least one or two articles before they spend the rest of the evening talking about it … So, thank you very much for a very educational initiative. And my Nephews and I look forward to many more interesting additions to your blog site…. Sa malo….

    • Many thanks for your kind words and family interest!
      Time I did some more updates!.
      – Has your family considered starting its own blog – say “Lau History and Timeline” ?
      – If they would like to do that I can give a little help to set it up. Reply here if you would like to do that.
      But it could depend on the speed of your internet connection. A fast connection makes a blog practical.
      – then, your “Lau History and Timeline” ? could link to this one.
      View of the world: My readings for this site changed my own view of the world, and my view of Fiji; and of the family context for my lost ancestor. That ancestors genes were strong ones – as they appear in my latest grandson; the big bones and dark eyes of my mystery Levuka ancestor.
      Latest Military Republic in Fiji: In the context of the latest Military Republic in Fiji, I noted with interest that the planters government of those times (1860s) was formed in the same way. They simply, formed an army, of 20 young people, said “we are the government”, and ( with the aid of guns), began to collect harbour taxes on all boats which entered Levuka Harbour. They then issued “money” with no backing. They then taxed villagers, and when villagers could not pay the taxes, required men of those villages to “work” as – well, slaves…
      Dust off Parliament House and re-start democracy: But in Fiji there is the promise to dust off Parliament House and re-start democracy. Democracy is messy – but I think its the best way. Blogs offer a new form of information democracy.

      • Sa malo a Bula Levuka …
        Unfortunatetly YES my internet connection is very slow… well thats Fiji for you … everything is slow. But your idea of creating a blog for the Lau Islands is a great idea .. I might have to change my connection plan just so I get a high speed internet connection and then I will contact you for any help you can give me …
        Many thanks again and GOD BLESS!!


      • I came across your blog site while trying to find information about the Levuka Cemetery. Can you advise if anyone has any information on the cemetery as my great grandfather is buried there and I am coming to Fiji in March and would like to visit his grave if possible.
        Any information you can give would be very much appreciated.
        Gael, Akd, New Zealand

      • A far as I know Levuka has two cemeteries; a very small one next to the Church at the far end, with the gravestones knocked over. It was used as a goat field when I saw it. Its listed in the tourist brochure, with pix of it in good condition; but the reality (when I saw it) was it was essentially destroyed, and about to turn into an archeological layer. The big one is a 20 min walk the other way, and is on a very, very steep hill with sea view. It’s very large with hundreds of graves. You may need a day – or two – to find your grandfather. Take a hat, a friend and several water bottle and a prepared lunch as it is isolated. There is a shade tree at the top to rest under. This cemetery, too, is in very poor repair and when I saw it not only were people were growing vegetables, but there were signs of fires lit on gravestones to cook dinner. And vandalism, – many recently broken stones, and stones pushed over the cliff and so on. But its a remarkable site; as there’s a vast view of the Pacific and Fiji islands. A great view for your grandfather. The site needs Heritage care. Maybe we could so something about it?

  9. My name is Vao Pritchard and I was wondering if I might be related to these Pritchards. My father was Tommy Pritchard and was born of the Island of Western Samoa. I would LOVE ANY HELP I can get.

    • Hello Vao.

      This will make a fun search for you….There was more than one Pritchard at the time..
      “Alexander Pritchard – son of George Pritchard and the brother of William Pritchard – was a European trader living in Samoa. Alexander Pritchard defrauded the wine wholesaler Edward Patrick Fallon of Albury, NSW, Australia, reported Professor Dirk HR Spennemann of Charles Sturt University, Albury NSW”..

      This also might be useful fact for you:
      Marriage: William Thomas PRITCHARD & Ellen Fanny GLOVER 1862 at Levuka
      He also had a Samoan wife. You can read that detail on this site.

      Generally, to start with – go the search box on this site and type “Pritchard”, or “William Pritchard” “Alexander Pritchard” or “George Pritchard” – and read those items. That should give you some dates and data to start with. You will need dates to find out where your Pritchard ancestor fits.
      You come from an important Pacific-European line, if you do descend from this Pritchard line. You will no doubt have many ancestors in Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa. And probably Tahiti, too. You would have to seek details – birth certificates and family trees, dates. Maybe even a DNA profile if you can afford it.
      William Pritchard was a second generation Pacific person – son of an ex missionary. (raised with – or perhaps by – Queen Pomare of Tahiti, until the age of ten, when he was sent to Britain to school.) There’s a photo of him on this site.. He did have a Samoan partner, and was reported to have two daughters – but his wife and daughters were drowned in a shipwreck enroute to Fiji, I think. Its very possible he had other children. Most European men in that times seemed to have multiple partners and children. Non-Pacific men were often seen as doorways to trade and technology. Not all good. Slave trade and epidemics, and alcohol had deconstructed village ways for more than three generations, by that time. I’m descended from that chaotic time, from a Samoan or Tongan. I think. Levuka was the slave port. Pritchard ruled Levuka at a critical and chaotic time, but it seems to me that he was overturned and ousted in a clever coup by a set of land-hungry Europeans, who opposed his short, benevolent dictatorship. He was raised a Pacific person and acted as if rights were equal between all persons. This was opposed by the Levuka land-grabbers. They finally formed a militia. Thus, a ‘Fiji government’ was formed. A coup, in short. Commercial gains followed for a very small group. Coups of that sort have followed ever since!
      If you do come from the Pritchards, its got a brainy gene. In the end William Pritchard married again and left for California, (maybe not in that order), humiliated and beaten. And yet he did good. His role was pivotal in that transitional period – in the transition from 3,000 years of perpetual inter-island warfare, cannibalism; his short rule was the hinge at the times of ‘first contact”; and the threats and opportunities of the rule-free invasion by waves of superior ‘technologies’; ships, metal, guns, epidemics. Out of that start, by Pritchard, evolved a formation of central-controlled rules and rights, and the creation of “Fiji”. Pritchard was the first to attempt a justice system. But he was ousted in a coup funded by folks with land money who wanted more land and money. When Pritchard left Levuka he sold a local island – Vanutha Lai-Lai (now “Lost Island”) to my ancestors, Christiana and Thomas Thomson, for a few barrels of coconut oil. So maybe he was in a hurry.
      All the best and please keep me posted as you go⁄!

    • Yes Vao, you are very likely related to the Pritchard line, ex of the early Tahiti missionary family.
      To get a picture, of possible connections search for “pritchard” in the search box on this site and then read those items.
      That will give you a start.
      An early Pacific Pritchard – William Prichard Jnr – the first ‘Governor’ of Fiji had two daughters with his Samoan wife.
      But his wife and daughters were reported as drowned in a shipwreck.
      So you are (perhaps) descended from another Pritchard sibling?
      Can you give me any dates and full names ( births, deaths, marriages, baptism, travel) you have for your early Pritchards (reply here), and I will post that data and we can see what it matches up with.

  10. Thankyou so much for all the info on the cemetery, Just in case someone can help with any further information, I am tracing my Great Grandparents and their son: Alexander Gustav HINZ who arrived in Fiji around 1883 and grew Tobacco in Levuka.
    He died in 1890 and is buried at the Levuka Cemetery and I now have the the Zone, Section and Number of his grave which is a huge start but would appreciate any info on the family or Tobacco growing in Fiji at that time.

  11. Well done! What was the source for the the Zone, Section and Number of his grave at Levuka? Is there a map or data source?

  12. This information was given to me by Christine Liava’a
    Pacific Islands Interests group NZ Society of Genealogists – she stated the following –
    zone c, section B no 19, but I don’t have a
    map, sorry. His grave bears nothing but the words Alexander Hinz on
    This is a list of the neighbouring graves, to make it easier to find;

    B-17 In loving memory of
    Philip Stolz

    B-18 Sacred to the memory of
    Theodosia Scott
    The beloved wife of
    Henry C Tucker
    12th September 1876
    aged 20? Years

    B-19 Alexander Hinz

    B-20 In loving memory of Carl August
    Infant son of Charles and Edith Hennings
    Born 6 May 1887
    Died 25 January 1888

    B-21 Sacred to the memory of John George Cruikshank
    RNFRCS Edinburgh
    Died 24th September 1880
    Aged 41 years
    This stone is erected by his friends
    in token of their sincere respect and esteem

    B-22 In loving memory of Sylvia
    Beloved wife of Ronald Luaolpa
    Who died on 20/3/43
    Aged 32 years

    I am thrilled to have this information and we are going to try and find a map somehow between now and March when we are planning to come to Levuka.

  13. This is great news. Sounds like Christine Liava’a has a whole data base of the Levuka Cemetery….

  14. Hello,

    I am seeking info on Robert Bennion who came from the US to Fiji in the mid 1800s. The only record that I have of him is that he had married a woman named Karalaini in 1872 and that he was a Blacksmith in Levuka.


    David Bennion

  15. On this site ( maybe you did not find it as I had not tagged “Bennion. I will do that now.

    levuka, on December 6, 2010 at 6:03 am said: Edit Comment

    Try a specific search at this link. This search sample was what I got for “Bennion”
    Results for: Bennion, Southwest Pacific
    Exact Spelling: Off
    [refine search] [Print]
    Prepare selected records for download

    International Genealogical Index / Southwest Pacific – 41
    Select records to download – (50 maximum)
    1. ANNA MARIA BENNION – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Female Birth: 1893 Suva Viti Levu, Fiji, Pacific Islands
    2. BRIGITTE EVA LENA BENNION – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Female Birth: 26 JUN 1980 Lautoka, , Fiji, Pacific Islands
    3. Buna Bennion – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Female Birth: 1895 Navua, Fiji, Pacific Islands
    4. Buna Bennion – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Female Birth: 1895 Navua,Namosi, , Fiji, Pacific Islands
    5. Buna Bennion – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Female Birth: 1895 Navua, Fiji, Pacific Islands
    6. ELLEN BENNION – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Female Birth: 16 AUG 1905 Suva Viti Levu, Fiji, Pacific Islands
    7. Emmaline Bennion – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Female Birth: 06 SEP 1921 Navua, Fiji, Pacific Islands
    8. Emmaline Bennion – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Female Birth: 06 SEP 1921 Navua, Fiji, Pacific Islands
    9. Emma Elizabeth Bennion – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Female Death: 22 JUN 1922 Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    10. Emma Elizabeth Bennion – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Female Death: 22 JUN 1922 Melbourne East, , Victoria, Australia
    11. FLORENCE BENNION – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Female Marriage: 30 JAN 1896 Kasavu,Rewa, , Fiji, Pacific Islands
    12. Florence Bennion – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Female Birth: 1900 Navua, Fiji, Pacific Islands
    13. Florence Bennion – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Female Birth: 1900 Navua, Fiji, Pacific Islands
    14. Florence Bennion – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Female Birth: 1900 Navua, Fiji, Pacific Islands
    15. Jack Bennion – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Male Birth: 23 APR 1926 Rarawai,Ba, , Fiji, Pacific Islands
    16. Jacob Kaukura Kavea Bennion – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Male Birth: 28 DEC 1903 Aitutaki, , Cook Islands, Pacific Islands
    17. JESSIE BENNION – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Female Birth: 1891 Suva Viti Levu, Fiji, Pacific Islands
    18. John Stuart Bennion – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Male Death: 06 JUN 2002 Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    19. MARYANN BENNION – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Female Birth: 1895 Suva Viti Levu, Fiji, Pacific Islands
    20. MARYANN BENNION – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Female Marriage: 17 JUN 1915 Suva Viti Levu, Fiji, Pacific Islands
    21. NICHOLAS BENNION – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Male Birth: 24 OCT 1897 Navua Viti Levu, Fiji, Pacific Islands
    22. NICHOLAS BENNION – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Male Marriage: 11 JUN 1917 Vanua Levu, Fiji, Pacific Islands
    23. Robert Bennion – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Male Birth: 1850 , Fiji, Pacific Islands
    24. Robert Bennion – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Male Birth: 1850 , Fiji, Pacific Islands
    25. ROBERT BENNION – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Male Marriage: 1872 Suva Viti Levu, Fiji, Pacific Islands
    26. Steven Bennion – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Male Birth: 08 JUN 1930 Rarawai,Ba, , Fiji, Pacific Islands
    27. Steven Bennion – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Male Birth: 08 JUN 1930 Rarawai,Ba, , Fiji, Pacific Islands
    28. TANGIANAU-O-HUEINA BENNION – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Male Birth: 18 MAR 1946 Rarotonga, Cook Islands, Pacific Islands
    29. TEOKOTAI BENNION – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Male Birth: 16 AUG 1916 Aitutaki, Cook Islands, Pacific Islands
    30. Teraenui-O-Ngati-Kaura Jacob Bennion – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Male Birth: 08 MAR 1929 Aitutaki, , Cook Islands, Pacific Islands
    31. TETUA-O-TE-AU BENNION – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Female Birth: 02 NOV 1948 Rerotonga, , Cook Islands, Pacific Islands
    32. Tetuaoteau Anne Bennion-Wiapo – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Female Birth: 02 NOV 1948 Aorangi, , Cook Islands, Pacific Islands
    33. Toru-Atua Jacob Bennion – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Male Birth: 1931 Aitutaki, , Cook Islands, Pacific Islands
    34. WILLIAM BENNION – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Male Birth: 1873 Suva Viti Levu, Fiji, Pacific Islands
    35. William Bennion – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Male Marriage: About 1888 Tamanua, Navua, Fiji, Pacific Islands
    36. WILLIAM THOMAS BENNION – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Male Birth: 25 APR 1889 Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
    37. WILLIAM BENNION – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Male Marriage: 1890 Suva Viti Levu, Fiji, Pacific Islands
    38. WILLIAM BENNION – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Male Marriage: 11 OCT 1904 Kandavu, Fiji, Pacific Islands
    39. WILLIAM THOMAS BENNION – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Male Marriage: 19 NOV 1913 Methodist Church, Hemmant, Queensland, Australia
    40. WILLIAM GEORGE BENNION – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Male Birth: 24 JAN 1919 Hemmant, Queensland, Australia
    41. William George Bennion – International Genealogical Index
    Gender: Male Birth: 24 JAN 1919 Hemmant, Queensland, Australia

  16. Am interested to know more about Frederick & Pasemaca Vollmer of Levuka-Ovalau.

    I live in Sydney, and happened to come across the tombstone of Frederick Vollmer of Germany was married to Pasemaca Vollmer – died in 1918 Sydney-NSW.

    I love history especially Fiji, and I would love to hear from someone who has the history of this great man.

    Thank you

  17. Hello Leila Vakaciwa Tamanitoakula,
    If you go to this link you will find a connection to an oral history interview with Captain Fred Vollmer. I think you can find it at Mitchell Library.

    Also I have just posted an item with a reference to Vollmer –

  18. Hello my name is Virginia Manjula Stasi (maiden name Guruwaiya) My grandfather was Joseph Sahai who wasthe oldest living Indian resident in Levuka.My Uncle was Henry Sahai,my mother was Grace P.Sahai.Can you please help me get some family history from your records.
    I am a citizen of the United States Of America and have been in California since August 25th,1966.
    My e-mail address is
    Thanking you in advance for any help you might be able to render.
    Virginia M.Stasi

    • Hello Virginia
      I have no records – I just get it off the internet!
      Your Uncle a famous person!
      To trace his line back to India try
      Immigration passes are also archived at the National Archives of Fiji “in their original form is available in some 240 large folios”..(these record) “Between 1879 and 1916, a total of 42 ships made 87 voyages, carrying Indian indentured labourers to Fiji.”.
      25 Carnavon Street (Corner of Kimberly and Carnavon Street) in Suva, Fiji
      Postal Address : PO Box 2125, Government Buildings, Suva, Fiji
      Phone :(679) 3304144
      Fax: (679) 3307006
      The name Sahai: Ambashtha is a sub-caste of Kayastha (Kayastha means “scribe” in Sanskrit). Lanuage primarily Bengali. “descended from Brahman fathers and Vaisya mothers and having the practice of the art of healing as its prerogative”. The Ambashtha Kayasthas were found in various parts of India, and mostly West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi.

      In general: To do things formally you need to write for Henry’s death certificate Births and Deaths office and from that get the details of his marriage and his children and then seek their birth and death and marriage certificates; and go on from there to build a family tree and history.

      The are quite a few Sahai and Wade in Fiji. For example a A Vili and Gwen Sahai live in Levuka, or did so about five years back. A journalist Anthony Sahai Levuka works with the Fiji Sun.
      However it seems – from the net:
      Mildred Wade married Henry Sahai.
      Mildred Wade’s father was George Wade from Auckland, NZ, who came over & worked in Fiji in the 1800’s.
      Try also Muslim Historical Society Mr Bir Sahai 3344 4715, Queensland
      Maybe also look for name Sahay as well.
      Moon Handbooks Fiji By David Stanley reported in his 2001 edition see
      “Henry Sahai – at Levuka running walking tours of Levuka for Homestay Levuka (+679) 3440777,
      Box 50, Levuka, Ovalau, Fiji Islands”
      More info perhaps also from Levuka Community Center Levuka 440 356 in weekdays.
      He died in 20015. see photos
      Also Search on “Henry Sahai” on this site, for example

  19. Hi there this comment is for Leila Vakaciwa Tamanitoakula,

    My name is Antonette Young, my mother is Peggy Vollmer from Levuka. I was just wondering which cemetery in Sydney it was that you came across my great, great, great grandfather’s tombstone??

    Kind Regrads,
    Antonette Young

  20. Hi, I am researching my great grandfather, Richard Hetherington, who came to Fiji in about 1870 to grow cotton at Dreketi River. He was still in Vanua Levu in 1874 but then went to Levuka some time after that and apparently practiced law there until going to Samoa with the British consul, Liardet. He was in Samoa by 1877 and lived in Samoa for the rest of his life. I can’t find anything on the internet about his time in Levuka. Can you help me? Thanks in advance. Rowan

    • Hello Rowan. A quick survey finds your ggf proposed as Attorney-General of Samoa in 1877.
      The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956) Friday 7 September 1877 p 7 See Article

    • Advices from Apia, Samoa, notified the
      death, on April 9, of Mr. Richard Hether
      ington-Caruttthers, barrister and solicitor,
      aged 68 years. The deceased, who spent
      the greater.portion of his life at the
      islands, arrived at Samoa from Fiji a
      little ovor thirty years ago with Consul
      Liardet. Ho was born in Singleton,
      NSW., in 1841, and was the eldest son
      oï the late Eev. Irving Hetherington, of
      Scots’ Church, Melbourne. On tho death
      of his uncle. Dr. John Hetherington, in
      November, 1887, he succeeded to the
      estate of Denbio, and assumed the addi-
      tional name of Carruthers. After Ger-
      man annexation he was nominated by
      the Governor as a member of the Go-
      vernment Council, and continued to hold
      that position up to the time of his death.
      The deceased loft a widow and six child-

  21. Hi, I am researching my 2 x great grandfather, John Bailey SMITHYMAN, (1822 Eng – 1880 Levuka). He was a cotton farmer on Levuka mid 1860’s until his death in 1880.

    He is noted in the New Publication Kaivalagi ni Viti, Census of Europeans Resident in Fiji 1874-75. He appears in the returns for Lomai-Viti [mainly Levuka residents] : JB SMITHYMAN Storeman.

    His wife, Frances Brown MERRILL (1841 Eng – 1935 NZ) and him had 6 children as follows:
    Elizabeth Holmes SMITHYMAN (1864 Rewa, 1942 NZ)
    Alice Charlotte SMITHYMAN (1860 Levuka – death unknown)
    Frederick Charles SMITHYMAN (1863 Rewa – 1945 NZ)
    Fanny Ohlson SMITHYMAN (1867 Rewa – 1948 NZ)
    Helen Harriett SMITHYMAN (1871 Mogai – 1952 NZ)
    William Edward SMITHYMAN (1874 NZ – 1940 NZ)

    This is taken from the Howick Historical Society – “Mr Frederick Charles Smithyman, is the first born white male in the Fiji’s, being born on the lower Rewa River, in 1863. A journalist by profession, he spent a number of years in New Zealand, and is the founder of of four newspapers and the Polynesian Gazette of Levuka. He is the eldest son of the late JB Smithyman, merchant of Wolverhampton, England, and afterwards cotton planter of Fiji, and of Frances B Merrill, second daughter of the late Major William Merrill of the Imperial army.

    Mr Smithyman was born at Rewa, Fiji on 19th January 1863, and educated by private tuition. He was afterwards apprenticed to the then government printing office at Levuka, at the age of 13 years. Five years afterwards he was made manager. At the age of 20, at the request of the late Sir B Thurston, he accepted an appointment in the Fiji Civil Service and erected the present Government printing plant in Suva, remaining in charge until the arrival of Mr March, from Sydney, who then took over management. Resigning from the government service a year later, Mr Smithyman founded the Polynesian Gazette newspaper in Levuka, Mr G A Woods (late premier) as editor. After a successful career of two years the business was sold, and Mr Smithyman went to New Zealand, and there founded several newspapers, with success, but owing to ill health, he had to relinquish business and return to the milder climate of Fiji. He then devoted time and energies to planting pursuits.

    When a young man, took an active interest in church and Sunday school work in Levuka, both for the whites and the Melanesian boys. The school was inaguarated by the late Bishop Selwyn, of the Melanesian Mission.”

    Alice Charlotte SMITHYMAN married Frederick COOPER and they are noted in the Cyclopedia of Fiji ” Mrs Alice Charlotte Cooper (nee Smithyman) is the oldest white lady alive born in the Fiji group. She was born December 12, 1860. with her husband she has resided in Savu Savu Bay for 27 yrs” and it includes a photo of her and her husband.

    Any information regarding these SMITHYMANs and their probably lives would be greatly appreciated, especially a specific date of birth or gravestone site for John Bailey and Alice Charlotte. Information from Frances passed down states they they often came back and forth to NZ and it appears most the children settled in NZ – as per the electoral rolls.

    Sonia Smithyman

    • I have done some research on your ancestor, but not published it yet.
      I followed him as his career as a publisher interested me.
      He was I a wily clever fellow and I believe advisor/secretary to Cakobau at pivotal time I see you have quoted a record as he being the first ‘Kaivalagi” born born in Fiji.
      That record was perhaps correct for Rewa. But the Ovalau Station Wesleyan records record five of my ancestors baptised at Levuka in 1863. They were not alone – the records show others.
      Whalers and shipwrecked sailors fathered chlldren – four generations before, on these shores.
      If a generation is 25 years; maybe a generation was half than in those times? – then maybe genes began to mix at least 100 years before…

      I will seek the research to post.

    • Hi there

      You might want to research “Smyth” – land dealings in Suva – as well as Smithyman, cotton plantation.

      I have posted two items, one for each name for your time period.

  22. Hi, thanks so much for the above, I was very excited to see your reply.

    I am/have done a lot of research on the NZ paperspast site and had come across the article you had posted for the Cotton Plantation, along with others, for John Bailey and Frederick Charles, however, haven’t had much luck searching for specifics on Fiji. The census states JB was a stroreman in 1874-1875 but not for what type of store – in NZ he was an ironmonger on Queen St, Auckland after his arrival from Eng in 1859. But then the Howick Historical Society article states he had a cotton plantation from the mid 1860’s till his death in 1880. Was it usual for cotton planter to have managers on their farms while they did other occupations? Also, how would I go about getting other census records for this period?

    The information you have on Frederick Charles would be great to see, at the moment, my father is looking into his time as editor of the ‘Kaipara Times’ in Helensville, Auck, NZ as the Helensville Historical Society has its centenary coming up next month.

    Do you have anything on Frederick and Alice Charlotte Cooper (nee Smithyman, B 1860), I have been unable to locate birth records in NZ for any of their 8 children (Beatty, Buster, Cecil, Edith, Laura, Mark, Percy & Winifred) so presume they were all born in Fiji, even though some then moved back to NZ & married later in life.

    Family lore states that there was a monument in Fiji with the Smithymans noted on it, I think it must either be a grave stone monument or a first settlers monument, do you have any information or thoughts on this?

    Also, from what I’ve read the cotton plantation was on Mokagai which became a Leper station in 1908. How do I find out if the plantation was sold upon his death in 1880 or given to his children?

    You have so much information on this site and its been fascinating reading though some of it, especially linking dates to when my ancestors would have been living there.

    Thank you

    • 1. On the question: “Was it usual for cotton planter to have managers on their farms while they did other occupations?:
      The answer to that is “Yes”.
      2, Also, how would I go about getting other census records for this period?
      The answer to this is either Fiji Births and Deaths Office or the Ovalua Station records for the Methodist Church in Suva. Hard to access as you have to first get a letter of approval for the research purpose from the Church and then present that to the Government Historic records keepers in Suva. In person. This took me a week of bureacracy, when I did it,
      4. monument in Fiji with the Smithymans noted on it. This may be the large monument on the shore at Levuka.
      4. How to find out if the plantation was sold upon his death in 1880 or given to his children? The Fiji Land office keeps good records.
      If he had purchased it freehold (prior to the decision that all land be held in trust for all Fijians), then it may appear in the Land Grant Commission documents of around 1870. These are online.
      5. Re Frederick and Alice Charlotte Cooper (nee Smithyman, B 1860), BDO records in Fiji very patchy prior 1863.
      Missionary records of Baptisms and Marriage the best source. Catholic and Methodist. So first check the affiliation.

      I have more Smithyman research.
      The updates yesterday were topical and off the net. I have also out a a “Smithyman” tag on the site

  23. hi there my name is Eleitino Mckenna, i am looking for any information about my great grand mother Silafaga Ainuu 1876-1918 , whom if correct is buried in Levuka, she was originally from Samoa but came to Fiji with my Great grand father John Kerrigan who is Irish and had a family, and she later re-married Ratu Pio Tini and had two children any info will be helpful just trying to find out any family history thanks

    • Thanks for your question. I will see what I can find.
      Your issues similar to my ancestor-search; Samoan woman or girl meets colonial genes…

  24. Hi, Thanks for the above answers, sounds like I’m going to have my work cut out for me for the BDM side of things. Also all the other answers have given me a lot of different areas to look into. Thanks so much for taking the time to answer each question, really appreciate it.

    Look forward to seeing the other Smithyman research when you have dig it out….

    I also emailed the NZ Society of Genelogists and they came back stating that William Kendrick Smithyman was an overseer of Dreketi. He is the brother to John Bailey Smithyman & Grandfather to NZ’s Kendrick Smithyman (the poet). Have not looked into it any further yet but will do over the coming weeks to see what I can find.

    Thanks again

  25. Apologies – that last comment relates to Kendricks father, not Grandfather. 3 generations all named William Kendrick…. (William Kedrick B:1878 ENG, D:15 April 1962 NZ)


  26. Hello Levuka:
    I am looking for my grandmither’s birth certificate. Her name is Nellie St John. She was born approx. in 1860 nad I think he might have been born in Levuka or perhaps in Tailevu. Her father was an European and mother was Fijian (from what she told me her mother was a relative of King Cakobau, but I cannot verify that information). I am not sure that births were even registered in those days. Can you help me?

    • Hello Sulifa

      Cant find the b.c. But Church of the Latter Day Saints records have quite a bit on the St John line.

      Perhaps your grandmother was same Nellie St John b. c 1877, d. 1958. ([S2252] Family History Library, Whippy Genealogy; 1817446.)
      It appears she was of the famous Levuka Whippy family, so, nee Whippy.
      The first Levuka, Whippy was I think a part African, part Red Indian sailor from the whaling port of Nantucket.
      David Whippy ( he also had a son named Dabvid)had high abilities, settled in Levuka and yes, I believe married into the Fiji chiefs; one of his four partners, daughter of Tui Levuka, I think. As he worked with Cacobau perhaps there was another partnership.

      “European” Father of Nellie St John (according to genealogy below) was Samuel Avery St John born March 1825, New York, USA. Samuel A. St John in the year 1867, acted as Secretary of State Commissioner, Cakobau, King of the Bau Dominions.
      Died 4 October 1904, Fiji.

      He had three recorded children. He lived at one point at Vitia Point, Fiji. He travelled with Cakobau. I think he drafted the Oath of Allegiance to Cakobau by 297 chiefs in 1867.

      Minnie St John1 b. b 1877, d. b 1907
      Nellie St John 2 b. c 1877, d. 1958
      Lilly St John1 b. a 1877, d. b 1907
      The source of this information was
      Fiji General Death 348/1907 – Samuel Avery St John.

      Also 7446.

      • Thank You Levuka for this information. This information does tie in with my grandmother’s version of her family. However, in addition of the 3 female children, they had 2 brothers namely Noel St John and Garfield St John. The brothers were both younger than Nellie. Yes, they were raised in Vatia Point, (I believe in Cakaudrove). After the death of Nellie, Noel returned to take up residence in Vatia Point. I truly appreciate this information you have dug up tome. I gives me a starting point to track her family. Nellie was married to George Foxing Whippy and had 7 surviving children. That is another branch of the family. Thank you again. Sulifa

      • Hi Levuka: The picture that I have of David Whippy appears that he is white. See below. Could you verify for me that the original David Whippy is other than white? I would really like to have this clarified since other sources have informed be some years ago that he was as you say, part Native Indian and part Afro-American, Here is his picture,

        DAVID WHIPPY :

        [image: Photo: David Whippy]

      • Sorry I can’t authenticate his genetic mix right now. I will see what I can find. Some reference on the web chart him back about four generations, in the US. His home town was a US whaling port and had 4 generations of racial mixing. He jumped ship young, at Levuka, after the whaling industry passed its peak.

      • The photos I have seen show him with brown skin straight black hair with a long narrow nose. A narrow face. Dark eyes. If he came from Nantucket – lots of mixing there; and crews for the Quaker whale boats came from American Indians, African Americans, Pacific islanders and every where else. David Whippy arrived in Levuka at time when whaling and sandalwood both in decline.

  27. How do I modify my Blog to reduce mail sent tomt email? I do not want my inbox flooded with mail. Ihave not been able to locate any instruction on how to do this. Your helpwill be very much appreciated. Thank you.

  28. Hello, just stumbled onto this site, it’s fabulous. I have recently discovered thar my husbands GG grandmother was a Fijian from Levuka. I found some basic details on the Latter Day Saints site, (ie who she married and details of her children). Is there a registry in Levuka that may have hold some information circa 1870’s? Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. Marie.

    • Alas no family history centre in Levuka (that I know of – wish it did exist) I got my info after very very hard work winkling it out of Wesleyan records in Suva, and very grumpy service at the Suva Library. Also a visit to the cemetery at Levuka and the Lands Records Office in Suva. Latter Day Saints a life saver in this regard. I like the idea that each soul recorded equals each soul saved.

  29. Thank you Levuka for your assistance. While I was holidaying in Fiji in 2009 (we live in Australia) my husband and I made a trip to Births Deaths and Marriages office in Suva. The woman in charge there was lovely and retrieved an old ledger that had my husband G grandmothers marriage record. The ledger was over 100 years old and the sad thing was the condition. It was obvious these wonderful records are not going to last another 100 years. Do you know if the Latter Day Saints get access to these old records as our record and several others were not in their database?

    • Hello oharasml

      The Latter Day Saints database gets populated by updates by Latter Day Saints.
      Worth asking them if you can add your data, perhaps.
      On the care of records – Fiji could do do with some help in that department as I too was offered a document handled so may times by some many people it was in danger of total collapse. Some records already obliterated due to over handling. I was offered white cotton gloves and the careful person who delivered it also wore gloves. However probably its time for digital records. In Christchurch I sought records of the same age and was told these were only available as digital copies, and these were billed at $20 each. I guess now with the advent of the mobile phone with a camera, this kind of digitisation and protection of records gets cheaper. It all leans toward the need for a Family History Center in Fiji. Folks like you and I could volunteer.

  30. Hello Levuka, I’m glad they gave you cotton gloves. When I was there the woman had no gloves and never offered us any. On a personal note and as previously mentioned, my husbands GG grandmother was Fijian and her name was Wiveri. Do you know if Wiveri is a common name in Levuka/Fiji?

  31. Hello Levuka,
    Don’t know if it is a surname. My husbands great grandmothers birth record lists the parents as John Henry Williams and Wiveri.

  32. Confusion on David Whippy’s published photogragh.
    After some research into where the connection of Whippy and either the African/American, or native Indian came to be,
    I found that the picture published claiming that he was the David Whippy who settled in Fiji. Actually I believe that it is
    a picture if his father whose birth date is recorded as 1779..

    David who come to Fiji was born in 1803, and this picture was David Whippy born in 1779. If my summation is correct it would explain why there was a confusion as to whether he was white or had coloured blood. I now am convinced that explains the difference between the published photograghs and the many reports that the David who came to Fiji had coloured blood in him.

    Would you, Levuka or anyone else, will have any firther information on this subject?

    Sharifa Simmons

  33. Hello there. This is not a comment on the last post, but I couldn’t find where to send you a direct message. I am researching some information about Fijian children who were taken to Australia in the 1870’s – adopted by Australian parents after the measles epidemic and who lived in an orphanage for a short time. My great grandfather was John King, born in Levuka in 1868. As far as we know he came to Australia in 1876 with a group of other children and spent a short time in Sydney before going to Central Western NSW. He was married to Sarah McGovern in Wellington, NSW in 1889. My grandfather, Arthur Henry was born at Farnham New South Wales in 1895.
    Also as the school wasn’t set up until the late 1870’s is there evidence that the Wesleyan misisonaries taught the Fijian children?
    Any assistance you can give would be greatly appreciated.

    Warmest regards,
    Robyne Young

    • Hello Robyn
      That gives you a one year window 1875 – 1876 to search records. Your GF would have been 7.
      You could also search shipping records for that period.
      Probably the adoption was 1875, as the main epidemic was 1875 after Cakabau returned from Sydney.
      Perhaps I can help more if you knew the name of the adoptive parents.
      The birth of John King may appear in the Wesleyan records of births and deaths for the Ovalau areas. These ancient records – now falling apart – are held in Suva in the Fijian Records. That’s where I found my ancestor records. You need to write to the head of Methodist Church in Fiji to get approval letter to get these released to you. You will probably need to make a trip to Suva to do it. Unless perhaps these are recently digitised.
      There was a Marist Catholic orphanage in Levuka too. That may have records. Not sure about Wesleyan orphanage. But the Wesleyans far out numbered the Marists in Levuka.
      Also a trip to the State Library of NSW might give you some food for thought if you could look these photos (by Degotardi, Johann Nepomuk, 1823-1882 Dufty, Francis H., 1846-1910
      Leibinger, Carl) One photo in Nadi refers to orphans.
      Also for more on the 1875 context for epidemic orphans in Fiji see this amazing tale of Scots orphans. it describes a spartan orphanage in Levuka around the same time
      Also read this detailed report Measles in Fiji 1875. (with many references you can follow) at

    • Bula Robyne,

      Could John King have been a sibling of George King (born in Levuka 1876)? George King was either a son of or married to a daughter of Charles Pickering, since Charles Pickering was the informant on his son George King Jnr’s birth certificate.

      George King Snr married Elizabeth Brown. I had seen records for the King siblings at the Fiji Archives but did not make copies at the time unfortunately. I will be checking through records again shortly and hope to post details then.


  34. Thank you very much for the information and the suggestions. I know going to Suva will perhaps answer many questions, but may not be viable. I’ve spent some time in the State Library of New South Wales and will be able to view the photos you’ve suggested. I have a copy of the Measles in Fiji 1875 reference you have mentioned.
    Thank you again.

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