On November 27, 1823, Kamehameha II (Liholiho) was the first Ali‘i to travel to England. He was accompanied by Kamāmalu, the queen, Boki and his wife, Liliha, Kekūanāoʻa, Manuia, James Young and Kapihe. (Alexander)
Kapihe (Naihekukui) “was very intelligent, had an excellent memory, and spoke English tolerably. He was remarkably skillful in the game of draughts (Kōnane,) which he played with uniform success.” (Byron)
He was son of the chief Hanakāhi and also known as Jack the Pilot or Captain Jack. He had been the pilot for the Russian explorer Golovnin in 1818 and piloted Freycinet from Kailua Bay to Kawaihae in August 1819. (Birkett) Lord Byron referred to him as ‘Admiral.’
“He was decently clad in European clothes and spoke passable English; he showed me papers authorizing him to pilot us through these waters.” (Camille de Roquefeuil; Birkett)
Back to Liholiho’s trip … it was taken partly by curiosity to see foreign lands, and partly by a desire to secure protection for his country, especially against Russia.
A council of the high chiefs was held at Lahaina to consider the subject, at which Kaahumanu was acknowledged as regent with Kalanimōku as her prime-minister, and Kauikeaouli confirmed as heir-apparent.
The king embarked in an English whale-ship, “L’Aigle,” commanded by Captain Starbuck, an American. (Alexander)
L’Aigle arrived on May 17, 1824 in Portsmouth, and the next day the entourage moved into the Caledonian Hotel in London. On the 12th of June, Manuia, was attacked by the measles; the next day, the king sickened, and by the 19th, all of the party were afflicted with the same disease … in a few days, the queen became dangerously ill. (Jarves)
Kapihe was the only one of the followers who had suffered from the disorder in a degree at all equal to the king and queen. Boki and Kekūanāoʻa rapidly recovered; and Kapihe soon grew better.
On the 4th of July, Liholiho was sufficiently well to give an audience to Richard Charlton, Esq., the newly appointed consul to his dominions. By the 8th, no hopes of the queen were entertained; the mutual grief of the royal couple was affecting.
They held each other in a warm and protracted embrace, while the thought of dying so early in their career, so far from their loved islands and friends, caused the tears to gush freely. In the evening she died. (Jarves)
The king was supported by pillows, and said little, but repeated the words, “I am dying, I am dying:” within the curtains of the bed one of the chiefs sat continually, with his face towards the king, and his eyes fixed on him, in conformity, as they said, with their native customs.
The day of the 8th of July was a very painful one, and the dying agony of the sufferer was long; for it was not until four o’clock of the morning of the 14th that Tamehameha II breathed his last. (Byron)
The grief-stricken Kamehameha II (age 27) died six days later on July 14, 1824. Prior to his death he asked to return and be buried in Hawai‘i.
Shortly thereafter, the British Government dispatched HMS Blonde to convey the bodies of Liholiho and Kamāmalu back to Hawaii, along with the entourage. The Captain of the Blonde, a newly commissioned 46-gun frigate, was Lord Byron (a cousin of the poet.)
The remains of the sovereigns had been placed in lead coffins, enclosed in wood, covered with crimson velvet, and richly ornamented. Suitable inscriptions in English and Hawaiian told the rank and age of the deceased.
The group headed back to the Islands on the 28th of September. On their voyage they had an opportunity of observing several other countries. The frigate touched at Rio, St. Catherines, at Valparaiso. (Jarves)
Early in the morning of February 8, 1825, “Kapihe was affected with an apparent determination of blood to the head, and, notwithstanding every effort to save him, he died in the course of the day.”
“The attack seemed to have been coming on for some days; and, as it afterwards appeared, an abscess had formed on the brain.”
“The death of Kapihe may be considered as a serious loss to his native country: his natural intelligence had been cultivated and improved by his various voyages, and he had the most anxious desire to be useful at home.”
“We buried him out at sea off the Couronilla point, because the bigotry of the Chilians scarcely permits permanent repose to the remains of such as are not within the pale of the Roman church; and as Kapihe was not even christened, we substituted a prayer, written on the occasion, for the church service, when we committed his body to the deep.” (Byron)
The Blonde arrived back in Honolulu on May 6, 1825. Liholiho and Kamāmalu were buried on the grounds of the ʻIolani Palace in a coral house meant to be the Hawaiian version of the tombs Liholiho had seen in London. They were eventually moved to Mauna ‘Ala, the Royal Mausoleum.
Kamehameha II was succeeded by his younger brother Kauikeaouli, who became King Kamehameha III.
Kapihe had one daughter, Kalama.
When it came to selecting a wife, Kamehameha III chose Kalama, although Kamanele, daughter of Gov. Adams, had been proposed as the most suitable, as to age, rank and education.
“Princes, doubtless, have a right to choose their own companions, though if they expect their offspring to enjoy a peaceful possession of the throne, the constitution, established usage, or will of the nation, should be respected. No small agitation existed for a time. His wishes in this matter, however, eventually prevailed.” (Bingham)
The image shows Kipahe (Naihekukui, Captain Jack, Jack the Pilot.) It was drawn by Arago.