She was born September 2, 1838 and named Lydia Liliʻu Loloku Walania Wewehi Kamakaʻeha. (The following is a summary of some of her early years – as told by her.)
At that time, children often were named in commemoration of an event. Kuhina Nui Kīnaʻu had developed an eye infection at the time of Liliʻu’s birth. She gave the child the names Liliʻu (smarting,) Loloku (tearful,) Walania (a burning pain) and Kamakaʻeha (sore eyes.)
“My father’s name was (Caesar Kaluaiku) Kapaʻakea, and my mother was (Analeʻa) Keohokālole; the latter was one of the fifteen counsellors of the king, Kamehameha III, who in 1840 gave the first written constitution to the Hawaiian people.”
“My great-grandfather, Keaweaheulu, the founder of the dynasty of the Kamehamehas, and Keōua, father of Kamehameha I, were own cousins (he was also brother of Mrs Bishop’s ancestress, Hākau,) and my great-grandaunt was the celebrated Queen Kapiʻolani, one of the first converts to Christianity.”
“As was then customary with the Hawaiian chiefs, my father was surrounded by hundreds of his own people, all of whom looked to him, and never in vain, for sustenance. He lived in a large grass house surrounded by smaller ones, which were the homes of those the most closely connected with his service.”
“But I was destined to grow up away from the house of my parents. Immediately after my birth I was wrapped in the finest soft tapa cloth, and taken to the house of another chief, by whom I was adopted.”
In her youth she was called “Lydia” or “Liliʻu.” (She was also known as Lydia Kamakaʻeha Pākī, with the chosen royal name of Liliʻuokalani, and her married name was Lydia K Dominis.) As was the custom, she was hānai (adopted) to Abner Pākī and his wife Laura Kōnia (granddaughter of Kamehameha I.)
“…their only daughter, Bernice Pauahi (born December 19, 1831,) afterwards Mrs Charles R Bishop, was therefore my foster-sister. … I knew no other father or mother than my foster-parents, no other sister than Bernice.” The two girls developed a close, loving relationship.
“(W)hen I met my own parents, it was with perhaps more of interest, yet always with the demeanor I would have shown to any strangers who noticed me.”
“My own father and mother had other children, ten in all, the most of them being adopted into other chiefs’ families; and although I knew that these were my own brothers and sisters, yet we met throughout my younger life as though we had not known our common parentage. This was, and indeed is, in accordance with Hawaiian customs.”
Liliʻu and Bernice lived on the property called Haleʻākala, in the house that Pākī built on King Street. It was the ‘Pink House,’ made from coral (the house was named ʻAikupika (Egypt.)) (It is not clear where the ʻAikupika name came from.)
“At the age of four years I was sent to what was then known as the Royal School, because its pupils were exclusively persons whose claims to the throne were acknowledged. It was founded and conducted by Mr Amos S Cooke, who was assisted by his wife. It was a boarding-school, the pupils being allowed to return to their homes during vacation time, as well as for an occasional Sunday during the term.”
“Several of the pupils who were at school with me have subsequently become known in Hawaiian history. There were four children of Kīnaʻu, daughter of Kamehameha I, the highest in rank of any of the women chiefs of her day; these were Moses, Lot (afterwards Kamehameha V,) Liholiho (afterwards Kamehameha IV) and Victoria”.
“Next came Lunalilo, who followed Kamehameha V as king. Then came Bernice Pauahi, who married Hon Charles R Bishop. Our family was represented by Kaliokalani, Kalākaua, and myself, two of the three destined to ascend the throne.”
“From the year 1848 the Royal School began to decline in influence; and within two or three years from that time it was discontinued, the Cooke family entering business with the Castles, forming a mercantile establishment still in existence.”
“From the school of Mr and Mrs Cooke I was sent to that of Rev Mr Beckwith, also one of the American missionaries. This was a day-school, and with it I was better satisfied than with a boarding-school.”
“I was a studious girl; and the acquisition of knowledge has been a passion with me during my whole life, one which has not lost its charm to the present day. In this respect I was quite different from my sister Bernice.”
“She was one of the most beautiful girls I ever saw; the vision of her loveliness at that time can never be effaced from remembrance; like a striking picture once seen, it is stamped upon memory’s page forever.”
“She married in her eighteenth year. She was betrothed to Prince Lot, a grandchild of Kamehameha the Great; but when Mr Charles R Bishop pressed his suit, my sister smiled on him, and they were married. It was a happy marriage.”
“At this time I was still living with Pākī and Kōnia, and the house now standing and known as the Arlington Hotel was being erected by the chief for his residence. It was completed in 1851, and occupied by Paki until 1855, when he died.”
“Then my sister and her husband moved to that residence, which still remained my home. It was there that the years of my girlhood were passed, after school-days were over, and the pleasant company we often had in that house will never cease to give interest to the spot.”
The comments in quotes are from Liliʻuokalani from her book “Hawaiʻi’s Story by Hawaiʻi’s Queen, Liliʻuokalani.”
Fast forward … on the afternoon of January 16, 1893, 162 sailors and Marines aboard the USS Boston in Honolulu Harbor came ashore. The home that Liliʻuokalani was raised in (later known as Arlington Hotel) served as the headquarters for the USS Boston’s landing force (Camp Boston) at the time of the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, January 17, 1893.
The image shows Lydia Paki in her youth.