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.”


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!”.

1871: Levuka – Australia sailing time 11 to 20 days

“The Fijian market is supplied by Sydney and New Zealand as the Melbourne route is not economic due to the Bass Strait current or seas.
1730 miles from Sydney: “The distance from Sydney is generally given as 1730 miles, but ship-masters reckon on going 1000 before they anchor in Levuka; the passage usually occupies around 11 to about 20 days, and from about December to March, often more. From Sydney there is always a vessel on the berth for Fiji, and often four or five.
1200 miles from Auckland: “The passage is usually about ten days each way. Melbourne – Levuka trade not economic: “Melbourne has very little direct traffic with Fiji, the time occupied in clearing Bass’s Straits prolonging the voyage ; the Alhambra, steamship, was dispatched by…last October, but the voyage was evidently unprofitable, for the attempt to open up a trade was discontinued. The distance fromMelbourne to Levuka is a little over two thousand miles. ”.

The Sydney Morning Herald Friday 3 March 1871 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13221624 and http://www.davidrumsey.com/luna/servlet/detail/RUMSEY~8~1~24701~940040:Physical-chart-of-the-Pacific-Ocean

20 July 1871: Hennings, Sagar and Woods create Fiji “Government”, at Levuka, fund private army; drill 29 Fijians to fight “Ba mountaineeers”

26april-fji-soldiers-1872-janeThe North Otago Times, reported “A body of over over 29 natives were being put through their facings in July 20 ( 1871), by Lieutenant Woods and the fact of discplining them in the white man fashion caused much indignation”.

1871 image?  This unsourced image shows about 29 soldiers at a place that looks like Levuka. It was published by Jane Resture (see links at left).  The two men at the right are perhaps Woods (later Prime Minister), and Hennings or Sagar.

Public meeting at Levuka: In the evening a public meeting was held in the (Levuka) Reading room, presided over by Dr Ryley. Opinion were expressed and resolutions passed to the effect that training them to act in concert was a dangerous and impolitic measure, and fraught with great danger to the white residents of Fiji. A delegation, consisting of Dr Ryley, Messers E. S. Smith, Cussake, Sumner, Jackson, Ross and Nicholls, was appointed to wait upon Mr Woods and protest against his action. The proceeded for the purposed of interviewing him, but he was “out;” and, expressing their determination to see him in the morning, they departed.
Office of Fiji “Government”  not recognised: Accordingly the next morning they waited upon him. Mr Burt as “Premier” wished to meet them; but stating they did not not recognise the “Ministry” they insisted on seeing Mr Woods, who appeared, Messrs Hennings and Sagar entered soon after and took part in the conversation. Mr Woods threw to onus of his action on the government, and stated that it was intended to drill some men for the purpose of acting against the Ba Mountaineers.

NZ war example – ‘natives with guns‘: The deputation argued the drilling of the natives was dangerous in the extreme and instanced New Zealand. It was replied the Ministry intended to subjugate the mountaineer and did not recoginise the right of a public meeting to control their actions If any were dissatisfied with the actions of the Government they could leave the country. The deputation again urging the discontinuance of the drill, then withdrew.
Large meeting assembled in the Reading-room: In the course of the day a letter was despatched to the chairman of the committee, stating that the object the Government had in view of drilling the natives was to get their cooperation in the expedition to capture the Ba murderers. In the evening a large meeting assembled in the Reading-room to the hear the report of the deputation, Dr Ryley in the chair. The letter was read, after which Mr Manton proposed, seconded by Mr Rogalsky, “That this meeting still is off opinion that drilling the natives is highly injudicious, but at the same time, while desiring Mr Woods to desist, wishes to express a hope that nothing done at this meeting should in aany way delay active measures being taken against the Ba murderers”.

North Otago Times, 1871

1868: three-way fight for control of Fiji by Britain, America, and Australia; Thakombau crowned king, Melbourne-based Polynesian Company offers to pay Cakobau’s debt; but on 10th October, 1874, a deed of cession to Britain, was executed at Levuka

Trollope, Anthony reported in 1875 the Sir Hercules Robinson view of Fijian affairs which lead up to the signing of the deed. It appeared a three-way fight for control of Fiji by Britain, America, and Australia. A group of 10,000 Melbourne investors formed the Polynesian Company, and offered to pay Cakobau’s debt in exchange for a large piece of Fiji, and a banking monopoly and tax-free status. Trollope said “For twelve years, various struggles were made to carry on a native government on European plans and with European officers.

In 1865, Cakobau elected president, constitution drafted: With American advice, “Thakombau, who had hitherto been only the first of the native chieftains, was elected president, and a constitution was formed similar to that which had been adopted under American auspices in the Sandwich Islands. (Hawaii) At this time, Thakombau’s chief minister was an American.

1868: But reliance on the United States did not last long, and in 1868 Thakombau was crowned king. There was, however, still that debt of £9000, and a clearly expressed determination on the part of the United States that the money must be forthcoming. As we know, our brethren in America are very urgent in the collection of such debts”.

The Polynesian Company offers to pay Cakobau’s debt: Then a company was formed in Melbourne, called the Polynesian Company, to whom a charter was given conferring vast rights, on condition that the £9000 should be paid. The company was to have;

– a monopoly of banking;

– freedom from taxation; and

– 200,000 acres of land.

But English paid the money, the Polynesia Co faded: “The Americans got their money, and the Polynesian Company entered in upon a small fraction of their land”.

In 1871, Thakombau, who had already been declared king, was proclaimed a constitutional sovereign, and a parliament, consisting of twenty-five members, was elected—a parliament consisting of white men. The first thing, of course—I believe I may say the on thing—the parliament did was to get into debt. Establishments and expenditure were sanctioned amounting to double the revenue which could be collected.

Civil wars break out: “The bickerings of the Europeans were incessant. Civil wars broke out among the natives, which had to be put down by a British man-of-war.

Fiji risks descent into mere nest of robbers: “Fresh offers of cession were made; and, in the meantime, King Thakombau was at his wit’s ends, and the British fortune-hunters were in terrible lack of security for their ventures.

Fortunes to be made if capital secured: “Money was borrowed at almost whatever rate of interest might be demanded. The one thing wanted was government. Cotton could be grown, and sugar, and fortunes might be made, if only some real government were possible—some security that property would be protected by law.

“Poor King Thakombau” “A Fijian parliament with poor King Thakombau at its head and self-appointed English ministers could do nothing but get into debt. Some strong staff on which the little place might lean with safety was necessary to its existence. If England would not take it, Fiji must become a mere nest of robbers, and a curse to that side of the world—especially a curse to our Australasian colonies, which are comparatively near to it.

Acceptance of the islands became a duty, and almost a necessity: “The nest of robbers and the curse might have been endured by England, were it not that it would have been a British nest. The men who were practically declaring that they were willing enough to carry on their operations honestly, under the laws, if laws were provided for them, but that, lacking laws, they must live lawlessly, were Englishmen. No minister at home would send out a man-of-war and take every Briton out of Fiji. Thus the acceptance of the islands became a duty, and almost a necessity. After repeated offers we appointed two commissioners to inquire as to the terms of cession. The terms first offered were, of course, such as could not be accepted”.

Pensions were demanded. Money was demanded. “Stipulations as to land were demanded. It was natural enough that King Thakombau should be instigated by his white ministers to ask for much, and that Englishmen living so far away from home should think that much might be got. A great power, taking on itself the burden of ruling these islands at the other side of the world, could submit to no bargaining.

Sir Hercules Robinson and the deed: “In July, 1874, our governor at New South Wales, Sir Hercules Robinson, was desired to go over to the islands and take possession of them, if the chiefs and men in authority there would unite in giving them up trustfully to British dominion. He arrived at Levuka on the 23rd of September, and on the 10th October, 1874, a deed of cession was executed at Levuka by all the chiefs, and by Sir Hercules, under which, without any terms, the islands were ceded to British rule”.
Trollope, Anthony. The Tireless Traveler: Twenty Letters to the Liverpool Mercury. Berkeley: University of California Press, The articles, which bear Trollope’s signature, can be found on page five every Saturday from July 3, 1875, through November 13, 1875. [1978,c1941] 1978. http://ark.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/ft1d5nb0hv/

Freemasonry in Fiji began in 1871 at “high noon” on 27th December when a “Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons” in Polynesia was opened

Freemasonry in Fiji began in 1871 at “high noon” on 27th December when a “Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons” in Polynesia was opened at Levuka, then seat of a Government headed by Ratu Seru Cakobau. Prior to establishment, some of the European settlers advised Ratu Cakobau that Freemasonry was a dangerous secret society but on enquiry with some of his ministers convinced him otherwise and he issued a signed document authorising Lodge Polynesia to meet “Under Royal Patronage and by Permission”. Four years after Suva was proclaimed Fiji’s new capital in 1877, Lodge of Fiji received its warrant for establishment on July 12th, 1881. Lodge of Fiji has continued to meet and conduct its workings and charitable activities through the 2nd World War, the 1987 coups and the 2000 unrest without interruption.

( Reference?)

1871: Photographer Francis H. Dufty arrived in Levuka, Fiji in June 1871.

Francis H. Dufty arrived in Levuka, Fiji in June 1871. His brother, Alfred W. B. Dufty, arrived to join him from Sydney on 29th December 1871. They opened a photographic and jewellery business next to the ‘Fiji Times’ office in Levuka. Alfred Dufty moved to Suva in 1883 and Francis followed in 1886. Alfred eventually left Fiji for Sydney in June 1887. Francis returned to Melbourne in 1892.
Sources: ‘Fiji handbook 1879’
‘Cyclopaedia of Fiji (1907), Sydney, N.S.W.: Cyclopaedia Co. of Fiji.

1871: The villagers of Lovoni were auctioned off as slaves by Seru Cakobau

1871: The villagers of Lovoni were auctioned off as slaves by Seru Cakobau. In June of that same year Cakobau announced a government complete with Ministers. Ma’afu arrived in Levuka a month later and swore allegiance to Cakobau, in turn receiving a salary of 800 pounds p.a. title of Lieutenant Governor of Lau and ownership of Moala, Matuku and Totoya (yasayasa Moala).