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Posted: 1108106911000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1112994623000
Surnames: KNOWLES
I am looking for information on the parents of William Knowles, who was born in Tonga in 1865 in Tonga. Any info on where in Tonga he was born or if his family came to Tonga from Tahiti would be appreciated. I have heard that his father may have been a sea captain who married a tahitian woman and then migrated towards Fiji.
If anyone knows where I can access Tongan family records or who I can contact to obtain such info please let me know.

Kind regards
Seruwaia Sanday


Posted: 1109639572000
Classification: Query
I don't know if this is the same family, but, in the British Consular records for Tonga, in the list of
applicants to be recognized as British Subjects
1880-1911, which I have just transcribed, there is

John Knowles, on 4 nov 1911, the son of Nisa or Gisa Knowles- a half caste Tongan, and Anna- a Tongan woman, applying to be recognized.Father & mother both died in Fiji

Nisa Knowles was the son of an American living in Tonga who was now dead (1911)

Why a person who was 1/4 American, and the rest Tongan should be accepted as a British Subject I don't know, unless he was born in Fiji, which he could have been. In 1874 Fiji became a British colony, and its people were British subjects.
Tongans however were not British subjects, they had their own king, and were Tongan subjects. The file does not state whether he was accepted.
This list contains quite a few Tongans who were born in Fiji, specifically Lomaloma, who could be the descendents of the Wesleyan Tongan exiles who were banished to Fiji, but I'm not sure about this.

Many Tongan family records are on and there is a film of Wesleyan marriages from Tongatabu available through the Mormon Family History Centres. However it is very hard to read, and many of the people only use a Christian name, with no surname, particularly early on

The only other accessible records for Tonga are the ones I am working on, The Tongan section of The Western Pacific Hgh Commission Archive. I am gradually going through it, transcribing anything of genealogical interest.

So far I have done
the register of distressed british seamen 1899-1901,
list of Niuean labourers in Tonga;1912-15
register of British subjects 1880 -1911;
register of 1/2 castes 1908-1912
applications for British Passports 1916-1922

and am partway through
aliens resident in Tonga 1916

I keep my eyes open for names mentioned on this board, but John Knowles is the only one I have found recently
Christine Liava'a
Pacific Islands Interests group,
NZ Society of Genealogists


Posted: 1109827357000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1120023939000
I have just found W Knowles in Vavau in 1915 and 1916, as a member of the Patriotic League of Britons Overseas


Posted: 1314398774000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1314402202000
There was a JOSIAH KNOWLES, Captain of the clipper ship "Wild Wave" which was wrecked off Oeno (part of the Pitcairn Islands) on March 5th, 1858. Knowles and forty others were marooned on the island but managed to build themselves a small craft named the "John Adams". They sailed for Tahiti and came in contact with the "Vandalia" which set out to rescue the remaining sailors who remained behind on Oeno. They were then taken to FIJI. I am guessing JOSIAH KNOWLES could very well have been William Knowles father.

There is also a JIM KNOWLES who served as Mate on board the "E. A. Wilson" around the 1870s in Mille, Mulgrave Island. JIM was referred to as a "Tongan Half-Caste".

JIM KNOWLES timeline/presence is mentioned also in New Britain (Papua New Guinea) in 1878 as he joined the ranks of other foreign and white settlers and a group of Rev. Brown’s missionaries in their reprisal against warring NB natives responsible for killing other white settlers and missionaries. My great-grandfather, WILLIAM HICKS was also a part of this reprisal party.

JIM KNOWLES was later hanged in Fiji for shooting Larsen, one of Messrs. Goddeffroy's Captains. Could Jim and William have been brothers? And sons of Josiah?.


Posted: 1314399516000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1314403308000
I have found more information on CAPTAIN JOSIAH NICKERSON KNOWLES. He was born on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, to a family of sea Captains in the 1830s.

Josiah Knowles is said to have returned home after his shipwreck experience but later returned fourteen years later. He was sailing from San Francisco in the ship "GLORY OF THE SEAS" and bound for Liverpool. On the 7th of March 1872, he made a brief stop at Pitcairn Island again.

A link to his Diary is posted below :



Posted: 1421539642000
Classification: Query
Do you know who Josiah Nickerson Knowles parents were? Was he ever married? Lots of Knowles families but I can't trace him back either forward or backward. He's sort of an island in the family lore. Any thoughts you have on this would be appreciated.


Noël Johnston
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