1886 Levuka a peaceable and orderly community; recollections of David Whippy

“Contrary to Suva, which is entirely the growth of the last five years, Levuka possesses some claims to antiquity, and has a history of its own, the first settlement by whites here dating back nearly 50 years.
The first settlers on Ovalau were, however, a very rough lot, being composed mostly of runaway sailors from American whaling ships, or beche-de-mer or sandalwood trading vessels, together with a few escaped convicts from Norfolk Island.
Some of these original settlers, In other parts of Fiji, lived under the protection of individual chiefs, and made themselves notorious by taking part in the intertribal wars, in which their possesssio of  arms rendered them formidable and valuable allies but those who settled
Ovalau seem to have formed a more peaceable aud orderly community, and lived quietly at Levuka under tho protection of its chief, acknowledging the jurisdiction of one of their number, named ( David) Whippy, who was eventually appointed to represent the first Amerlcan Consul in Fiji, Mr. J. B. Williams, who was Consul for New Zealand and Fiji, and resided at the Bay of Islands, New Zealand, until he came to Fiji, where he remained permanently until his death in I860.
Whippy’s authority received the countenance of the commanders of tho various men-of-war which occasionally looked in. Some of these earlier settlors still survive, and tell thrilling stories of adventure during the “good old cannibal days”.
The Mercury Supplement, (Hobart, Tasmania)  Saturday 13 February, 1886.  This item appears written by a Levuka resident in early 1886, or late 1885.  It encourages tourism to Levuka, as a rest from an overheated Australia.  Author uses the name “Tasmanian”. Possibly Frederick Langham   Perhaps ship-owner and trader with a long term trading relationship with Levuka and Suva, for at least five years – since 1880.

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1810 -1812 – Peter Dillon lived on the island of Borabora assembling cargoes of salt pork for Sydney merchant, Thomas Reibey

“Between 1809 and 1813 (age  21 – 25) Peter Dillon served, first as seaman and later as officer, on vessels trading mainly from Sydney to Fiji, New Zealand, and the Society Islands. This work involved lengthy periods ashore. In particular, he lived on the island of Borabora in 1810-12 assembling cargoes of salt pork for Thomas Reibey and others. This experience enabled him to obtain a good knowledge of several Pacific languages and cultures and to establish sympathetic relations with the indigenous peoples”.
George Bayly, Sea-Life Sixty Years Ago (Lond, 1885); J. W. Davidson, ‘Peter Dillon and the South Seas’, History Today, vol 6, no 5, May 1956, pp 307-17. Author: J. W. Davidson Print Publication Details: J. W. Davidson, ‘Dillon, Peter (1788 – 1847)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, Melbourne University Press, 1966, pp 306-308.

1808: Peter Dillon – 6ft 4in red-haired Irish Catholic, arrived in Fiji from India on a vessel trading for sandalwood

“Peter Dillon (1788-1847), adventurer, (and entreprenuer) was born (by his own account) of Irish parents in Martinique on 15 June 1788 and taken by his father, also Peter Dillon, to County Meath, Ireland, as a small child.

A big man: As a youth he served in the navy. He arrived in Fiji from India in 1808 on a vessel trading for sandalwood. Dillon was an impressive figure, 6ft 4 ins (193 cm) in height and heavily built”.

George Bayly, Sea-Life Sixty Years Ago (Lond, 1885); J. W. Davidson, ‘Peter Dillon and the South Seas’, History Today, vol 6, no 5, May 1956, pp 307-17. Author: J. W. Davidson Print Publication Details: J. W. Davidson, ‘Dillon, Peter (1788 – 1847)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, Melbourne University Press, 1966, pp 306-308.

1813: Fiji conflict over sandalwood; all the beachcomber Europeans were murdered, except Dillon, a Prussian named Martin Bushart, and a seaman, William Wilson

In 1813 the East India Company’s ship Hunter, voyaging from Calcutta to Sydney, called at the Fiji Islands.
Beach combers in paradise: They discovered that several Europeans were living on one of the group. Some had been shipwrecked; some had deserted from vessels; but they had become accustomed to the life and preferred it.
Paid to collect sandal wood and beche-de-mer: The Hunter employed a party of them to collect sandal wood and beche-de-mer, one of her junior officers, Peter Dillon, being in charge. A quarrel with natives occurred, and all the Europeans were murdered, except Dillon, a Prussian named Martin Bushart, and a seaman, William Wilson.
Bushart and “Lascar Joe” land at Santa Cruz Islands with Bushart’s wife: After the affray Bushart would certainly have been slain had he remained, so he induced the captain of the  Hunter to give him a passage to the first land reached. Accordingly Bushart, a Fiji woman who was his wife, and a Lascar companion, were landed on Barwell Island, or Tucopia ( Santa Cruz Islands)
Larperouse SCOTT, Ernest, 1868-1939 Publisher Sydney : Angus & Robertson, 1912 ; Printer W.C. Penfold
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August 1, 1842 four English sandalwood ships from New Hebrides at Somosomo to seek Tongan woodcutters; report death of Waterhouse

The Journal of John Williams reported on August 1st, 1842;

Williams by canoe, in starlight, to buy yams: ‘ – Left home a little after midnight for Nasagalou in our canoe intending to purchase yams to set, and return by the next tide. Before I had got my trading finished a messenger came into the village where I was and informed me as well as she could from shortness of breath that I was to return without delay as four English vessels had arrived, one of which was believed to be the Triton. I was not much startled by this information as, from my knowledge of the native habit of exaggeration, I did not credit the report to its full extent’.
Runs barefoot 7 miles: ‘For a moment I hesitated, my shoes being about a mile and a half another way; but having ascertained the nearest route home I started off in the direction pointed out, and after having run over hill and dale for the distance of 7 miles I beheld, with feelings of a mixed and indescribable nature, four vessels near the S.S.W. entrance. I could easily distinguish our own; but was at a loss what to make of the rest. I found on inquiry that they were on their way to the New Hebrides in search of sandalwood, and had called here in hopes of increasing the number of Tonguese natives whom they had on board to serve as woodcutters.
Death of Waterhouse reported: ‘Bro. C. had just returned from the Triton as I finished putting on a change of clothing, and brought us the..painful intelligence that our father, the much respected General Superintendent of these Missions, had gone the way of all flesh. We wept together, and felt that the loss was a great one. Who can supply his place? Who will be so much our father?
Williams sales on Triton: ‘The Triton being in haste we endeavoured to complete our business on shore as speedily as possible and succeeded in getting on board and on our way two or three hours before sunset. Conversed with Capt Buck about New Zealand and Colonial affairs and learnt that Mr Cargill is expected soon’.