Royalty in Vancouver: Victoria Elizabeth Kaiulani Atcherley

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Finding information about Atcherley family members at the very beginning of their lives, beyond basic birth and baptism records, is, for me, a rarity. This makes the exceptions stand out – and the information I have found regarding the early months in the life of Victoria Elizabeth Kaiulani Atcherley really is exceptional!

Victoria was the youngest child of Dr John Atcherley and his wife Mary (nee Kinimaka). She was born on 26 May 1912 at the Vancouver Home of the Victorian Order of Nurses, in the Canadian province of British Columbia. In this respect, Victoria was unique among her siblings – all her older brothers and sisters had been born in the Hawaiian Islands, as had their mother before them. The Atcherleys had not been in Canada for very long, but Vancouver would remain their family home for several years. (See Dr John Atcherley’s World War One).

For most baptisms or christenings, all we know is the date and place of the event. In Victoria’s case, we know that her christening took place on 4 July 1912 in Vancouver. But a Canadian newspaper report, which was re-published in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin of 19 July 1912, reveals more about the ceremony and how her family celebrated the event. The Star-Bulletin’s version of the report follows, verbatim but for the correction of a few typos, the addition of photo and a small note of clarification, and the exclusion of a paragraph which does not relate to the main story.

VANCOUVER, B. C. July 6.—Royalties are no novelty In Vancouver. First and last they have come and gone by dozens. Every royalty and semi-royalty who comes to America ultimately lands in Vancouver.

Ultimately—but not primarily. Only one has so far “seen Vancouver first,” and that quite literally. And she indeed, has not seen any place else. She is a princess, albeit a very little princess, high Princess Victoria Elizabeth Kaiulani, three right royal names, and she was so christened yesterday evening at six o’clock in the baptismal font at Christ Church, Rev. C. C. Owen giving her her first churching.

She was born in Vancouver some few weeks ago, this little descendent of the kings and queens of sunny Hawaii, and she is the daughter of Dr. Atcherley and Mrs. Mary Haaheo Atcherley. Mrs. Atcherley is the ward of ex-Queen Liliuokalani, daughter of the foster brother of King Kalakaua, and a lineal descendant also of King Kamehameha, who occupied the throne of Hawaii at the time of his death in 1872.

Named for Kaiulani.

As according to ancient Hawaiian usage, titles and honors, as well as more material benefits, descend through the female line, Victoria Elizabeth Kaiulani is indeed a princess, though of a dethroned line. She is named for Queen Kaiulani, wife of King Kalakaua, and ex-Queen Liliuokalani is her grandmother. [In fact, she was named for the Crown Princess Ka'iulani, pictured left, who died unmarried.] But since the ex-queen  could not be present in Vancouver for the christening, Mr. and Mrs. C. S. Edwards acted as substitute sponsors in her stead, and Mr. and Mrs C. S. Douglas also stood as god-parents to the little princess.

Princess a Sunny Mite.

The princess went through her first public function very creditably, cooing a little once in a while, but refusing to cry at all. She is the sunniest-looking mite imaginable, with deep brown eyes and thick hair of the rich shade and silkiness of seal fur.

After the christening, the proud parents gave a Hawaiian dinner, at their residence on Nineteenth avenue, in honor of the occasion, which was one of the most novel and pleasant social affairs ever held in the city. Some score of guests were seated at a long L-shaped table, spread with ferns and orange-colored tissue over the white damask, and with knives arid forks carefully concealed beneath the ferns. They were for such guests as found themselves unable to help themselves in Hawaiian style—with the fingers. A poi calabash, filled with fruit, centered the table.

Hawaiian Flowers and Music.

The diners’ places were marked by cards attached to long orange-colored garlands, or leis, of crepe paper, in lieu to Hawaiian flowers, which were not obtainable. On taking their seats, the guests slung these leis about their necks, in proper Hawaiian fashion. The dinner had but one course, although the viands were many. Bows of various sizes held poi, the native substitute for bread and porridge, a curious greyish, pasty-looking substance of an indescribable sour flavor, which the courageous dipped up on two fingers and ate. Dr. Atcherley demonstrated the method first. Taro, which is not unlike a sweet potato; boiled or roast pork, euphoniously called “pig” by the host and hostess; some sort of fish, apparently, rolled and cooked in corn husks; bananas cooked in their skins; chicken boiled with spinach, and one or two dishes which defied analysis, but were not unpleasing to the palate, were all on the table at once.

The guests took up the unequal challenge dauntlessly. Soon they were conveying food in their fingers with an air on nonchalance that denied the very existence of forks. One hardy guest, when the final round, consisting of ice cream, was brought on, scorned the proffered spoon, and tossed the frozen dainty down with his fingers as if chilblains had never been heard of.

Once a fork crept coyly from beneath a fern; a guest was, Darwinically speaking, “reverting to type.”

“Coward” hissed a fellow guest from across the table, pointing the literal finger of scorn. The brandisher of the fork dropped it, abashed.

During the dinner Hawaiian airs were played, and the strains of the “Hula Hula” accompanied the exodus to the drawing-room. The little princess, Mrs. Atcherley and Dr. Atcherley were all toasted by the guests, Mrs. Atcherley responding in her native tongue.

Mrs. Atcherley’s two eldest daughters, pretty dark-eyed girls, who will soon be dainty debutantes, assisted her in welcoming her guests. Mrs. Atcherley was gowned in pink satin, with garniture of black lace and jet. In the drawing-room portraits of ex-Queen Liliukalani, King Kalakaua and Queen Kaiulani, presented to Mrs. Atcherley as wedding gifts, were noticed.

Covers were laid at dinner for Mr. and Mrs. C. C. Owen, Mr. and Mrs. C. S. Edwards, Mr. and Mrs. C. S. Douglas, Mr George Macdonald, Mr. J. F. Langan, Mrs. Creighton, Miss Ogden, Miss McLaren, Miss Hettie Franklin, Miss A. K. Franklin, Miss James, Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Hudson, Mr. and Mrs. Castleman, Mr. and Mrs. Walmsley, Dr. La Chapelle, Mr. and Mrs. Armishaw, Mrs. Sophie Johnson, Mrs. Joseph Johnson, Mrs. H. C. Boak, the Misses Boak, Miss Willard and Mr. and Mrs. Chamberlain.

The report relating to Victoria’s christening and the subsequent Hawaiian dinner is a joy to read – but it is not the only article to provide a glimpse into Victoria’s very early life. On 18 September 1912 the Governor General of Canada, the Duke of Connaught (a son of Queen Victoria) visited Vancouver. He was accompanied by his wife, the Duchess of Connaught, and daughter Princess Patricia (pictured right). It was almost certainly during this visit that Princess Patricia of Great Britain met Victoria Elizabeth Kaiulani Atcherley, the Vancouver-born ‘princess’ of Hawaii. The meeting was reported by The British Journal of Nursing as follows:

When the Duchess of Connaught and Princess Patricia visited the Vancouver Home of the Victorian Order of Nurses, the Duchess was presented with the sum of upwards of two thousand dollars, collected for the work of the Order by request of Her Royal Highness. A pretty scene then ensued, when Mrs. John Atcherley presented her baby, Victoria, four months old, who was born in the Home and is a Hawaian princess. In the baby’s name a sum of money was presented in a cocoanut shell, bearing on its surface an Hawaian inscription of greeting. This was accompanied by long ropes of flowers, one of which was also presented to Princess Patricia. The little ‘princess’ was duly admired, and then a photograph was taken of all these royalties, and sold for the benefit of the Home Fund.

How I would love to be able to see, and to share, a copy of that photograph! Alas, I have no photographs of Victoria at all and can only illustrate this article with images of two of the royal ladies to whom she was, in one way or another, connected.

Victoria returned, with her family, to the home of her maternal ancestors and was recorded on the US censuses of 1920 and 1930 in Hawaii. The 1934 Polk-Husted Directory for Honolulu and the Territory showed her as a seamstress at Broadway Dress Shoppe, while in the 1937 edition of the directory she appeared as a saleslady at Little Store. By the time of the 1940 census Victoria had married and she was enumerated with her new husband, Wallace Wescoatt, in the home of Wallace’s parents in Honolulu. Sadly, Wallace died in 1944.

It appears that Victoria remarried at least twice after Wallace’s death, her last husband being Oswald Blake Lightfoot (born 26 July 1919, died 4 April 1989). The 1920 US census shows Oswald living at Beretania Street in Honolulu, an interesting coincidence as Victoria’s parents had lived at 248 Beretania South in 1908.

Victoria Lightfoot, nee Atcherley, passed away at the Kaiser Hospital in Honolulu on 29 October 1978. Her obituary in the Honoulu Star-Bulletin, which had printed the story of her christening 66 years earlier, described her as a godchild of Queen Liliuokalani, and a member of Friends of Iolani Palace.

Picture credits. Princess Ka’iulani of Hawaii: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division image cph 3b19305; no known restrictions on publication. Princess Patricia of Connaught: Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.


[1] Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 19 Jul 1912, page 5. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[2] Chronology. At The History of Metropolitan Vancouver (website, accessed 25 Sep 2014).
[3] The British Journal of Nursing, Volume 49 (30 Nov 1912), page 439.
[4] 1920 United States census. Place: Honolulu, Honolulu, Hawaii Territory. Enumeration District: 23. Page: 9A.
[5] 1930 United States census. Place: Honolulu, Honolulu, Hawaii Territory. Enumeration District: 16. Page: 8A.
[6] Polk-Husted Directory Co.’s Directory of Honolulu and the Territory of Hawaii, 1934, page 82. Copy viewed at Ancestry.
[7] Polk-Husted Directory Co.’s Directory of City and County of Honolulu and The Territory of Hawaii, 1937-38. Copy viewed at Ancestry.
[8] 1940 United States census. Enumeration District Number: 2-71. Family Number: 93. Sheet Number and Letter: 5A. 740 11th Avenue, Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaiian Islands.
[9] Personal communication from Barbara Lang.
[10] Social Security Death Index entry for O. Blake Lightfoot (born 26 Jul 1919, died 4 Apr 1989). Copy viewed at Ancestry.
[11] 1920 United States census. Place: Honolulu, Honolulu, Hawaii Territory. Enumeration District: 39. Page: 8A.
[12] Social Security Death Index entry for Victoria Lightfoot (born 26 May 1912, died Oct 1978). Copy viewed at Ancestry.
[13] Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 1 Nov 1978. Transcript provided by Barbara Lang.

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An Atcherley in Albertland (Part 1)

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It was the afternoon of Saturday, 11 January 1896. Mary Ann Perkins (nee Atcherley), some of her children and a few family friends were returning from an enjoyable day-trip to an island in the harbour. Suddenly, a gust of wind turned joy into fear: the boat capsized, and everyone in it was thrown into the water. Thomas Edwards, who was in charge of the boat, was the only member of the party who could swim. He tried his best to save the others, pulling them out of the water and instructing them to hold on to the boat and its rigging, but great waves were washing over their heads. The only course of action left to Edwards was for him to swim for help. He was the only one who reached the shore of Kaipara Harbour alive.

The Mere, Ellesmere

The life of Mary Ann Perkins, which ended so tragically in the treacherous waters of Kaipara Harbour, began in 1847 on the other side of the world, in a town situated beside a smaller and far more placid body of water. The town was Ellesmere, in Shropshire, and Mary and her parents Richard Atcherley and Eliza (nee Baugh) were still living there, in Cross Street, when the census of 1851 was taken. Both Richard and Eliza were described as a draper and mercer.

Also in the Atcherley household were Mary’s brother and sisters: Elizabeth (aged 5), Richard junior (1), and Jemima (just one month old). Missing, however, were four of her older siblings, who had died before Mary was even born. Also absent was Mary’s oldest brother, William Baugh Atcherley: he was one of 16 pupils boarding with the independent minister of Ruyton Chapel. The choice made regarding William’s education is one of many pieces of evidence showing that the members of this Atcherley family did not belong to the Church of England – they were noncomformists.

Not long after the 1851 census was taken, the Atcherley family moved to Liverpool. There, Eliza bore her tenth and last child, who died within weeks of his birth. He was followed to the grave by Eliza herself within a year. The impact of this loss on the family, and particularly Richard, can only be imagined. The family remained in Liverpool until at least 1856, but by 1861 Richard Atcherley and those of his children who were still dependent on him – including Mary – were living in Manchester.

It was almost certainly through her family’s religious beliefs that Mary Ann Atcherley met Euler Perkins while she was living in Manchester. Euler, who was born in the city in 1846, also came from a nonconformist family. Although his parents, John Perkins and Mary Hargreaves, had a Church of England marriage in Manchester Cathedral, John Perkins’ birth had been registered in the General Register of Protestant Dissenters, by the Dissenting Deputies at Dr Williams’s Library in London.

Euler Perkins’s family had more in common than their nonconformist beliefs – they also shared a love of music. This is apparent from a notice in the Bury Times of 31 December 1859, at the foot of a column dedicated primarily to advertisements for tea parties and temperance meetings organised by Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist and other independent chapels:

Facsimile of advertisement in the Bury Times

Although the Atcherleys later returned to Ellesmere, the bonds that had formed between Mary and Euler could not be broken. The young couple were wed, at Ellesmere’s independent chapel, on 8 August 1868. Euler and Mary began their married life together in Manchester, where their first child, Ernest Atcherley Perkins, was born on 6 June 1869. They did not remain there for long.

The clipper ship Chile, captained by William Culbert, departed from London Docks on 22 August 1869. Among the passengers on board were Euler and Mary Perkins, Euler’s brother Walter, a Miss Mary Perkins and presumably (though his name does not appear in the lists compiled at the end of the voyage) the infant Ernest Atcherley Perkins. The Chile crossed the equator on 25 September, and the meridian of the Cape of Good Hope on 23 October. A large iceberg, along with a quantity of drift ice, was passed on 2 November, and another iceberg was encountered two days later. Did the Perkins family look upon these sights with wonder, or with trepidation? Perhaps they felt a little of both.

The worst part of the voyage was experienced soon after the Chile passed the second iceberg, when the ship was buffeted by strong gales. The gales, no doubt accompanied by heavy seas, were endured for 12 hours. Everyone on board must have been relieved when they abated. I imagine even greater relief was felt on 8 December, first when the Three Kings Islands came into view, and then when the North Cape of New Zealand’s north island was rounded. The Chile finally arrived in Auckland harbour on the morning of 13 December 1869, after 112 days at sea.

The celebrated iron clipper ship Chile

I think it very likely that Euler and Mary’s religious convictions, which in all probability had helped to bring them together, also played a part in their decision to undertake their voyage to New Zealand. The area in which they settled – then known as Albertland – would certainly have appealed to them. Inextricably linked to the Perkins’s nonconformist Christian faith was their support for the temperance movement (Euler was said to have been “an enthusiastic prohibitionist”). This passage by James Malton Murray, published in 1930, may explain the attraction of Albertland:

In the history of the Temperance Movement in New Zealand, a place of honour may well be given to what were known as the Albertland settlers. Albertland is the name of a district in the North of Auckland, adjacent to Kaipara. It was chosen as the place of settlement by the members of what was called the English Nonconformist Association. [... This] Northern Nonconformist settlement has contributed in no small degree to some of the best elements in the moral and social development of New Zealand. Albertland was by no means the best favoured part of the country to be chosen for settlement, and the original settlers had a back-aching and heartbreaking experience that might well have driven them to despair. But among them were men and women of intelligent conviction and sturdy moral purpose in relation to social reform. Their devotion to high ideals has favourably influenced the whole Dominion even to this day.

Albertland, also known as Port Albert, was named for Queen Victoria’s late husband. It was the last organised British settlement of New Zealand. The first settlers arrived en masse in 1862 and hundreds more arrived over the next three years. But, as Murray explains above, conditions were tough. In fact, of the 3000 people who intended to settle on Kaipara’s shores, half never went there, and only half of those who did persevered. The Albertland project very quickly came to be regarded as a failure. In a letter published in the British press in 1866, a New Zealand correspondent wrote: “The Albertland settlement, to found which a number of well-conditioned English Nonconformists came out in high hope some years ago, is all but abandoned.”

Although most of the 40-acre plots of poor quality scrubland on the swampy shores of Kaipara Harbour were deserted or never settled, many of the “Congregationalists, Baptists, Wesleyans, and other more independent-minded Protestants” who had intended to set up their homes there remained in the vicinity. New lives were made in the remote country north of Auckland, and those lives were led according to the ideals and religious convictions of the original settlers. Albertland, and the Albertlanders, persisted, and the Perkins family – not just Euler and Mary Ann but also Euler’s brother Walter – became part of that community.

Euler apparently had “some knowledge of medicine”, and “at a time when doctors were scarce, he gave free aid to English and Maori settlers, and frequently travelled long distances in the course of this work.” Euler’s work as a collector of rates, to which role he was ‘gazetted’ in 1873, may have been less welcome, but he and Walter also contributed to their community in other ways – as performers.

On the Thursday after Christmas Day, 1872, “the first determined steps towards raising a fund for the erection of a Settlers’ Hall” were made in Albertland. These steps took the form of a public tea followed by entertainment: music and recitations. Mr W Perkins – Walter – played a solo, Pretty Jane, on the cornopean (a cornet), and towards the end of the entertainment he gave another solo performance on the piano, which was encored.

The fund raising efforts were successful and the opening of the hall, in what was referred to as Albertland North, took place on 13 February 1873. A cricket match was held, after which cake and tea was provided. Then came the music, recitations and other performances. Walter played two piano solos, and Euler gave, “in excellent style”, a recitation, The Quack Doctor, which was ”vociferously applauded.” Next, Messrs. Lester, Perkins, and Browne performed The Bachelor’s Wants. This was reported to have been “so well received as almost to call for an encore, except for its length. … Sandy, a Scotch character (by Mr. Browne), was very naturally given, as also was Robin, a country man (by Mr. W. Perkins); but the best part was given by Mr. E. Perkins, as Phelim O’Blunderwit, an Irish character.”

It was also in 1873 that a Band of Hope was started at Port Albert. According to James Malton Murray, one result of this was that it was impossible for anyone to establish a licensed public-house within 20 miles of the settlement. In the years that followed, the growing family of Euler and Mary Ann Perkins would be very much involved in the Band of Hope movement. As for the Band established at Port Albert, I would be very surprised if they were not ‘instrumental’ in its foundation.

Picture credits. The Mere, Ellesmere: By Liam Higginson; taken from his Flickr photostream, adapated, used and made available for re-use under a Creative Commons licence. Facsimile of advertisement in the Bury Times: By the author. The Celebrated Iron Clipper Ship Chile: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London object PAH8555; image adapted, used and made available for re-use under a Creative Commons licence.


[1] Ohinemuri Gazette, issue 214, 18 Jan 1896, page 4. Terrible Fatality.
Birth of Mary Ann Atcherley registered at Ellesmere, December quarter 1847; volume 18, page 55.
[2] 1851 census of England and Wales. Piece 1994, folio 225, page 51.
[3] 1851 census of England and Wales. Piece 1993, folio 37, page 27.
[4] Birth of Robert Pembrey Atcherley registered at Liverpool, March quarter 1853; volume 8b, page 112.
[5] Death of Robert Pembrey Atcherley registered at Liverpool, March quarter 1853; volume 8b, page 118.
[6] Death of Eliza Atcherley registered at Liverpool, December quarter 1853; volume 8b, page 123.
[7] Liverpool Mercury, issue 2545, 14 Oct 1853, page 7. Deaths.
[8] Liverpool Mercury etc, issue 2913, 5 Dec 1856. Sales by Auction.
[9] 1861 census of England and Wales. Piece 2949, folio 16, page 24.
[10] Birth of Euler Perkins registered at Manchester, March quarter 1847; volume 20, page 645.
[11] 1861 census of England and Wales. Piece 2970, folio 44, page 5. Cheetwood Lane, Cheetham, Manchester, Lancashire. Head: John Perkins, 37, engineer & [draughtsman], born Manchester. Wife: Elizabeth Perkins, 40, house work, born Manchester. Son: Alfred Perkins, 16, born Manchester. Son: Arthur Perkins, 15, born Manchester. Son: Euter [= Euler] Perkins, 14, born Manchester. Son: Walter Perkins, 12, born Manchester. Son: Herbert Perkins, 11, born Manchester. Dau: Ada Perkins, 8, born Prestwich.
[12] Manchester Cathedral, Lancashire, marriage register covering 1844; entry for John Perkins and Mary Hargreaves. Copy viewed at Ancestry – Manchester, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1930 (Cathedral).
[13] Nonconformist Registers and Records. At Dr Williams’s Library website (accessed 22 Sep 2014).
[14] General Register of Protestant Dissenters compiled at Dr Williams’s Library, London, covering 1824; entry for John Perkins. Copy viewed at Ancestry – England & Wales, Non-Conformist and Non-Parochial Registers, 1567-1970.
[15] Bury Times, 31 Dec 1859, page 1. (Advertisements)
[16] Marriage of Euler Perkins and Mary Ann Atcherley registered at Ellesmere, September quarter 1868; volume 6a, page 1163.
[17] The Wrexham Advertiser, 15 Aug 1868, page 4. Marriages.
[18] Birth of Ernest Atcherley Perkins registered at Chorlton, September quarter 1869; volume 8c, page 601.
[19] Brocas family tree. At Ancestry (website) – tree no longer online.
[20] Daily Southern Cross, 14 Dec 1869, page 3. Copy viewed at Papers Past.
[21] New Zealand Herald, 14 Dec 1869, page 4. Copy viewed at Papers Past.
[22] New Zealand Herald, 13 Jul 1925, page 10. Copy viewed at Papers Past.
[23] James Malton Murray (1930), Temperance and Prohibition in New Zealand. Pages 27 – 31. Electronic version viewed at New Zealand Electronic Text Collection.
[24] Albertland. At The Encyclopedia of New Zealand (website, accessed 23 Sep 2014).
[25] Rachel Barrowman (2003), Mason: The Life of R.A.K. Mason. Page 22. Previewed at Google Books.
[26] Dundee Advertiser, 17 Aug 1866, page 3.
[27] Paul Moon (2013), Encounters: The Creation of New Zealand. Previewed at Google Books.
[28] Daily Southern Cross, 18 Jun 1873, page 2. Copy viewed at Papers Past.
[29] New Zealand Herald, 10 Jan 1872, page 3. Copy viewed at Papers Past.
[30] New Zealand Herald, 21 Feb 1873, page 3. Copy viewed at Papers Past.

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