Charles Reed Bishop honored at Kamehameha Schools, 1946.

Arrived 100 Years Ago

Kamehameha To Honor Memory Of C. R. Bishop

Charles Reed Bishop, a builder of Hawaii in the field of education as well as business during the 19th century, and who arrived in the Hawaiian Islands 100 years ago this week, on October 12, 1846, will be remembered at centennial services at the Kamehameha Schools Friday and Saturday.

Today’s generation knows Mr. Bishop as having been the husband of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, founder of the Kamehameha Schools, and for his founding of the Bernice P. Bishop Museum.

Charles Reed Bishop was born 124 years ago in Glens Falls, a picturesque village on the Hudson river, 60 miles north of Albany. Deprived of his parents in his early youth, he, however, had a good environment to develop the quiet dignity and steadfast rectitude of the man the people of Hawaii Nei knew.

To Pacific Northwest

In a little village of Sandy Hill near his birthplace, where he worked in a country store, Mr. Bishop met a young man a year his senior, with whom he decided to set out for the Pacific Northwest to seek his fortune. This young man, William L. Lee, afterward first chief justice of the Hawaiian Kingdom, became the founder of its system of law.

Provisions became low on that long voyage from New York around Cape Horn and the ship on which Mr. Bishop and Mr. Lee sailed, the brigantine Henry, put in at Honolulu for supplies. The beautiful surroundings and hospitable people pleased Mr. Bishop and his friend so much that they decided to remain in the Islands instead of going on to Oregon.

Mr. Bishop for a brief time held a post in the interior office and then became a secretary of the United States consulate, an important position in the whaling days. In 1849 the California gold rush fever extended to the Islands and Mr. Bishop was anxious to go to the new Eldorado but, to the good fortune of Hawaii, elected to remain in the Islands.

Meets Princess Bernice

His interest in education often took him to the Royal School for Chiefs, which was at that time in charge of Mr. and Mrs. Amos Cooke.

It was here that Mr. Bishop met Princess Bernice Pauahi. The princess’s father, Paki, had hoped that his daughter would marry one of the princes, Alexander or Lot, adopted sons of Kamehameha III, and sons of Kekuanaoa and Kinau.

Alexander, however, was in love with Emma Kaleleonalani, adopted daughter of Dr. T. C. B. Rooke, so Lot was the only free one. Pauahi, whose affections were centered in young Mr. Bishop, protested that she would rather die than marry Lot, and was greatly relieved when she received a letter from Lot saying he would not marry her because his love for her was great and that he would not want to displease her.

Charles R. Bishop and Princess Bernice were  married quietly in the Royal school parlor in June, 1850. Abner Paki was so angry that he disowned Bernice and took Princess Liliuokalani as foster-daughter in her place; but he forgave all after a year and the couple came back to Paki’s home, Haleakala, which became a great center of hospitality and Christian home life in Honolulu.

Collector of Customs

Changes in Mr. Bishop’s positions followed. The secretariate was given up and he became collector of customs for the port of Honolulu. business intervened and he entered partnership with William A. Aldrich in mercantile pursuits.

At this time the whaling industry was at its prime and the Islands were in need of a bank for making deposits, loans and exchanges. Mr. Bishop and Mr. Aldrich had the entire confidence of both natives and foreigners and a place was waiting for them. The bank started in a small room and both of them were directors, clerks, tellers and all officers combined.

Mr. Aldrich later went into partnership with J. S. Walker and had a large commission and shipping business on the waterfront. Bishop & Co., Bankers, continued with more business and more assistants.

It was natural that a man as Mr. Bishop should be called to the ministry of kings, and Kamehameha IV offered him a portfolio which he declined because his services at the bank were needed.

He finally did accept a seat in the lower house and in 1860 he was made  Noble of the Kingdom of Hawaii for life, having become a naturalized citizen of Hawaii in 1849.

He served as a member of the board of education during the reigns of Kamehameha IV, Kamehameha V, Lunalilo, Kalakaua, Liliuokalani and through the provisional government and into the period of the Republic of Hawaii.

When he became president of the board of education, he began using his influence to further the building of more and better schoolhouses all over the kingdom.

Mr. Bishop was urged buy King Lunalilo to join his cabinet, in which he became minster of foreign affairs in 1873.

Mrs. Bishop died in 1884, while her husband was building better accommodations for her in the house on Emma St., which Princess Ruth Keelikolani had bequeathed to Mrs. Bishop and where Mr. Bishop lived during the final years he spent in Hawaii.

Mr. Bishop’s influence was important in the founding of Kamehameha Schools as he and his wife worked closely together in planning this educational monument of the Kamehameha line. Furthermore, Mr. Bishop himself gave generously from his own private fortune to assure the prompt establishment of the schools.

Supplied Funds

As president of the first board of trustees, he threw every effort into the project. He personally supplied funds for the construction of Bishop Hall, formerly the main classroom building of the school for boys and today the headquarters of the new preparatory  department.

Also it was money Mr. Bishop supplied which built the original preparatory department building, the Bishop Memorial Chapel and the main building at the first school for girls on the old King St. campus. Later, in the deed of trust in which he arranged to leave in the Islands the fortune which he had accumulated here, he provided, among other things, for scholarships for needy pupils.

Mr. Bishop was also a trustee of Oahu College—now Punahou, serving from 1867 to 1894. As his interest was strongly educational, it was there that some of his larger public gifts were made.

He was largely responsible for the raising of the endowment for Oahu College. In addition to endowments, there were the scientific building, Pauahi Hall, and the C. R. Bishop building for the preparatory classes, benefactions for Oahu College from Charles R. Bishop.

Aided Other Schools

Other educational institutions for which he provided substantial funds include the Hilo Boarding School, Maunaolu school on Kauai, Kohala girls’ school on Hawaii, St. Andrew’s Priory, Kawaiahao boarding school for girls and Mills Institute, the latter two now being combined as Mid-Pacific Institute.

Six years after Mrs. Bishop’s death, Mr. Bishop completed his monument to the memory of his wife, the Bernice P. Bishop Museum. It was built in the midst of the grounds of the Kamehameha Schools.

The museum has grown from…


…its modest beginning as a repository for the relics of the Kamehameha line. More and more interesting collections, not alone from Hawaii, but from the isles throughout the Pacific, have been added. Today it is an important museum for all Pacific isles collections as well as a center of scientific study and research for the Pacific area.

Leaves Islands

His services completed in the establishing of Kamehameha Schools—the school for boys was opened in 1887 and the school for girls in 1894—Mr. Bishop left the Islands in 1894 to live in California until his death in 1915.

Although he approved of having the Islands annexed to the United States as a sure means of protecting Hawaii from possible Oriental annexation, the loss of his wife and the many changes in the latter part of the 19th century from the Hawaii he had long known, led Mr. Bishop to depart permanently from Hawaii.

[For more on C. R. Bishop, click here to see Nanea Armstrong-Wassel’s post today.]

(Advertiser, 10/10/1946, p. 2)


The Honolulu Advertiser, 90th Year, Number 21,060, Page 2. October 10, 1946.


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