Charles Reed Bishop

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Charles Reed Bishop
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
January 10, 1873 – February 17, 1874
Monarch Lunalilo
Preceded by Ferdinand W. Hutchinson
Succeeded by William Lowthian Green
Personal details
Born (1822-01-25)January 25, 1822
Glens Falls, New York, United States
Died June 7, 1915(1915-06-07) (aged 93)
San Francisco, California, United States
Resting place Royal Mausoleum of Hawaii
Spouse(s) Bernice Pauahi Pākī
Children Keolaokalani Davis (hānai)
Occupation Businessman, Banker, Politician

Charles Reed Bishop (1822–1915) was a businessman and philanthropist in Hawaii, who married into the Hawaiian royal family. Born in Glens Falls, New York, he sailed to Hawaii in 1846 at the age of 24, and made his home there. Bishop was one of the first trustees of and a major donor to the Kamehameha Schools in Hawaii. He also founded the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, and founded Hawaii's first successful bank, which is now known as First Hawaiian Bank.

Early life[edit]

On January 25, 1822, Charles Reed Bishop was born to Maria Reed Bishop and Samuel Bishop. His father was a toll collector who worked on a toll booth in the middle of the Hudson River near Glens Falls, New York. Charles' mother died two weeks after giving birth to her next son, Henry. His father died when he was four, and Charles went to live with his grandfather on his 125-acre (0.51 km2) farm in Warrensburg. He worked on his grandfather's farm, learning how to care for sheep, cattle, and horses. While at his grandfather's house, he was baptized in a Methodist church.[citation needed]

Bishop spent his early years of education at a village school, and his 7th and 8th grade years completed his formal schooling. Bishop was then able to get a job as a clerk, and was soon hired by Nelson J. Warren, who headed the largest mercantile company in Warrensburg.

He met William Little Lee (1821–1857) from nearby Hudson Falls, New York, then called Sandy Hill. His uncle Linus Bishop married Lee's sister Eliza. Lee attended Harvard Law School and convinced Bishop to travel to the Oregon Territory.[1]

In Hawaii[edit]

Bishop (right) with William Little Lee, 1846

Bishop sailed on the Henry, leaving February 23, 1846 with his friend Lee. By October the ship had rounded Cape Horn and needed to stop in Honolulu for provisions. Lee was convinced to become the second western-trained lawyer in the Hawaiian islands and first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Bishop decided to stay with him, and was hired to sort out the failed land deal of Ladd & Co. which was the first major formal law proceeding. He then worked for the U.S. Consul.[1] On February 27, 1849 he became a citizen of the Kingdom of Hawaii. He became an investor with Henry A. Peirce and Lee in a sugar plantation on the island of Kauaʻi, near where the Ladd company had been somewhat successful. From 1849 to 1853 he was Collector General of Customs.[2]:73

On May 4, 1850 he married Bernice Pauahi Pākī, descendant of the royal House of Kamehameha, despite the objections of her parents.[3] A private ceremony in the Royal School was not attended by her family, but within a year her father Pākī made peace and the couple lived in the family estate called Haleakala. Bishop formed a partnership with William A. Aldrich selling merchandise to be shipped to the California Gold Rush. He became known as a trusted place for traders to deposit and exchange the various currencies in use at the time.[1] In 1853 he was elected as representative to the legislature of the Hawaiian Kingdom.[4]


building on street corner
Bishop Bank built in 1878

On August 17, 1858 Aldrich split off the shipping business, and Bishop founded Bishop & Co. as the first chartered bank in the Kingdom and the second oldest bank west of the Rocky Mountains. On its first day it took in $4784.25 in deposits. In 1878 it outgrew its basement room and expanded to a two story building, which still stands as a contributing property to the Merchant Street Historic District.[5][6] In 1895 he sold the bank to Samuel Mills Damon (1841–1924), son of missionary Samuel C. Damon (1815–1885). Over time the bank grew and became First Hawaiian Bank in 1960.[7]


He served on the Privy Council for five Hawaiian monarchs 1859–1891, and was appointed to the House of Nobles 1859–1886 by King Kamehameha IV. From 1869 to 1891 he served on the Board of Education. During the brief reign of King Lunalilo he was Minister of Foreign Affairs from January 10, 1873 to February 17, 1874.[4]

Bishop was one of the first trustees of and major donor to the Kamehameha Schools, and founder of the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum.[8] Bishop hired William Tufts Brigham, (whom he had met on a scientific visit in 1864 with Horace Mann Jr.) to be the museum's first director.[1] He also donated funds for buildings at Punahou School. Bishop was also president of the Honolulu Chamber of Commerce 1883–1885 and 1888–1894.

After the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii, Bishop left Hawaii and moved to San Francisco, California in 1894. He became vice-president of the Bank of California until he died June 7, 1915. He stayed involved in Hawaiian estate affairs from California. For example, he hired architects Clinton Briggs Ripley and Charles William Dickey to design a new building for the Bishop estate headquarters and Pauahi Hall on the Punahou School campus.[9]


Bishop died in 1915 at the age of 93. His ashes were shipped back and buried next to his wife at the Royal Mausoleum of Hawaii.[10]

Elisha Hunt Allen's son William Fessenden Allen married his cousin Cordelia Church.[11]

A major street cutting through Bishop property in downtown Honolulu at 21°18′32″N 157°51′38″W / 21.30889°N 157.86056°W / 21.30889; -157.86056 (Bishop Street) bears the family name.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d William Tufts Brigham (1915). "Charles Reed Bishop 1822–1915". Hawaiian Almanac and Annual for 1916. pp. 63–71. 
  2. ^ George Kanahele (2002) [1986]. Pauahi: the Kamehameha legacy. Kamehameha Schools Press. ISBN 0-87336-005-2. 
  3. ^ "Oahu (1832-1910) marriage records". state archives digital collections. state of Hawaii. Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  4. ^ a b "Bishop, Charles R. office record". state archives digital collections. state of Hawaii. Retrieved 2010-03-09. 
  5. ^ Burl Burlingame (October 12, 2003). "Monotone paint job mars Bishop Bank’s fine detail". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  6. ^ Robert M. Fox (September 22, 1972). "Merchant Street Historic District nomination form" (PDF). National Register of Historic Places. U.S. National Park Service. Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  7. ^ "Timeline of First Hawaiian Bank". official web site. First Hawaiian Bank. Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  8. ^ Charles Reed Bishop Biography and Timeline
  9. ^ J. Meredith Neil (1975). "The Architecture of C. W. Dickey in Hawaii". Hawaiian Journal of History 9 (Hawaiian Historical Society). hdl:10524/210. 
  10. ^ "Charles Reed Bishop". Honolulu: at the Crossroads of the Pacific 1 (11) (Chamber of Commerce of Honolulu). July 1915. p. 49. 
  11. ^ "Charles Reed Bishop Genealogy". Kamehameha Schools. Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  12. ^ Pukui and Elbert (2004). "lookup of bishop". on Place Names of Hawai'i. Ulukau, the Hawaiian Electronic Library, University of Hawaii. Retrieved 2010-03-10. 

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Ferdinand W. Hutchinson
Kingdom of Hawaii Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
William Lowthian Green