Elizabeth Kekaaniau

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Elizabeth Kekaʻaniau
Ambrotype of Elizabeth Kekaaniau, c. 1859, Honolulu Museum of Art (cropped).png
Born (1834-09-11)September 11, 1834
Laʻanui Estate, Waialua, Oahu
Died December 20, 1928(1928-12-20) (aged 94)
Honolulu, Oahu
Burial Oahu Cemetery
Spouse Franklin Seaver Pratt
Issue Theresa Owana Laʻanui (adopted)
Eva Kuwailanimamao Cartwright (adopted)
Full name
Elizabeth Kekaikuihala Kekaʻaniauokalani Kalaninuiohilaukapu Laʻanui
House House of Kamehameha
House of Laanui
Father High Chief Gideon Peleʻioholani Laʻanui
Mother High Chiefess Theresa Owana Kaheiheimalie Rives
Signature Elizabeth Kekaʻaniau's signature

Elizabeth Kekaʻaniau Laʻanui Pratt, full name Elizabeth Kekaikuihala Kekaʻaniauokalani Kalaninuiohilaukapu Laʻanui Pratt (11 September 1834 – 20 December 1928) was a great grandniece of Kamehameha I, being a great granddaughter of Kalokuokamaile, the older brother of Kamehameha I, founder of the Kingdom of Hawaii.

Early life[edit]

High Chiefess Elizabeth Kekaʻaniau Laʻanui was born September 11, 1834, in her family home at Waialua. She was given the name Elizabeth after her mother's adoptive mother Queen Elizabeth Kaʻahumanu, and the Hawaiian name after High Chiefess Kekaikuihala, her father's older sister. Her full name was Elizabeth Kekaikuihala Kekaʻaniauokalani Kalaninuiohilaukapu Laʻanui.[1][2] Her father was High Chief Gideon Peleʻioholani Laʻanui who escaped the slaughter of Kawaihae when Keōua Kūʻahuʻula was killed. Her mother was High Chiefess Theresa Owana Kaheiheimalie Rives, a relative of Queen Kaʻahumanu and daughter of Kamehameha II's French Secretary Jean Baptiste Rives. Through her father's first marriage to Namahana Piʻia, Kekaʻaniau was also the step-niece of Queen Kaʻahumanu.[3] She was of one quarter French and three quarter Native Hawaiian descent.[4] Her younger brother Gideon Kailipalaki Laʻanui was born in 1840, and despite medical treatment by missionary physician Gerrit P. Judd, their mother died two months afterward from complications from childbirth.[1]

At a young age, she was placed in the Chiefs' Children's School, also known as the Royal School, a select school for the royal children of the highest rank who were eligible to be rulers. Along with her other classmates, she was chosen by Kamehameha III to be eligible for the throne of the Kingdom of Hawaii.[5][6][7] Called Lizzy by her classmates, she was taught by the missionary couple Juliette Montague and Amos Starr Cooke. In the classroom students were divided by their age and length of time at the school. she was a member of the senior level class.[8] During their Sunday procession to church it was customary for boys and girls to walk side by side, she would walk beside James Kaliokalani, the eldest brother of future monarchs Kalākaua and Liliʻuokalani.[9] During her school years, she developed a close relationship with her cousins Emma (who married Kamehameha IV and became queen consort) and Bernice Pauahi Bishop, who later founded Kamehameha Schools. She was one of the few invited guest at the 1850 wedding of Bernice Pauahi to American businessmen Charles Reed Bishop against the wish of Pauahi's parents, and she also served as bridesmaid and lady-in-waiting to Queen Emma during her royal wedding in 1856.[10][11][12][13]

Marriage and later life[edit]

Kekaʻaniau married Franklin Seaver Pratt (1829–1894) on April 27, 1864.[14] Pratt, a native of Boston, Massachusetts, was a respected businessman and sugar plantation owner and held a few court and governmental positions during the monarchy including Staff Colonel to Kamehameha V, member of the Privy Council for Queen Liliʻuokalani, Registrar of Public Accounts and Hawaiian Consul General in San Francisco.[15] However, according to historian James L. Haley, he was kept on the "periphery of power".[4] Kekaʻaniau was present at the deathbed of King Kamehameha V with Queen Emma, Pauahi and other members of the royal court. She later claimed that the dying monarch had offered her the throne before asking Pauahi to succeed him. Haley noted that if this was true she would have a been a strong candidate, being a descendant of an elder brother of the kingdom's founder. Neither women accepted and Kamehameha V died without naming an heir.[4][16] After the death of Kamehameha V's elected successor King Lunalilo, the Pratts became supporters of Queen Emma during her unsuccessful candidacy during the royal election of 1874 against Kalākaua.[17] During the final years of the monarchy, the Pratts lived in San Francisco where her husband served as Hawaiian Consul General for the Pacific states of Oregon, Washington, California and Nevada, until the time of the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii.[15][18]

Bust of Kamehameha II (PP-97-6-005)
Portrait in Kawaiha`o Church's Royal Pews
Gravestone at Oahu Cemetery

After the Overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1893, her husband defended Kekaʻaniau's traditional claims to the Hawaiian crown lands as an heir of Kamehameha III and was removed from his government post as Hawaiian Consul. These lands transferred to the United States Federal Government after the annexation of the Hawaiian Islands in 1898. During Queen Liliʻuokalani's attempts to seek restitution and compensation for the lost crown lands, Kekaʻaniau and her niece Theresa Owana Laʻanui petitioned in 1903 the Senate Subcommittee on the Pacific Islands and Puerto Rico in order to support the petition of the queen.[19] Following the death of Liliʻuokalani in 1917, Kekaʻaniau became the only survivor of the Royal School[20].

On March 17, 1914, Kekaʻaniau officiated with Liliʻuokalani, the unveiling of the tablet for the 100th commemoration birthday of King Kamehameha III. The tablet was hidden from view by the Royal Standard of Liliʻuokalani and a Hawaiian flag, both the property of and loaned by Hawaii’s venerable ex-queen for the sacred ceremonial. Queen Liliʻuokalani represented the Kalakaua Dynasty and Kekaʻaniau represented the Kamehameha Dynasty and were seated on both sides of the memorial stone in the nave of the church. The palace chairs in which they sat were draped with ancient Hawaiian feather capes of priceless value.[21] The Queen drew the cord releasing her Royal Standard or personal flag while Kekaʻaniau released the Hawaiian flag covering the tablet.[21] Also, on March 17, 1912, in the same manner, with Queen Liliʻuokalani they both unveiled the tablet of the Royal School dedicated to Amos Starr and Juiette Montague Cooke in the vestibule of Kawaiahaʻo Church.[22] On June 28, 1909 Kekaʻaniau also officiated and unveiled the tablet of the Battle of Nuʻuanu which was installed at the Pali lookout. In 1897, Kekaʻaniau donated to the Bishop Museum, the bust figure of Kamehameha II which was given by the British monarch, King [George IV]] when Kamehameha II died while on his state visit in London with his queen Kamāmalu in 1825. The British crown bought the lavish coffins and made the bust according to the English royal traditions during funeral services. The figure was kept in her family for 72 years before being donated.[23] She also donated to the Bishop Museum, 2 pictures of Kamehameha, 6 feather leis, 15 kāhili's, 5 kahili handles, 13 umeke, 5 coconut bowls and 1 Niʻihau mat.[24]

A portrait painted of Kekaʻaniau by Mary Koski stands on easles in the royal pews of Kawaiahaʻo Church were she sat with King Kamehameha III.[25] A second painting also hangs in the library of the Royal School.

In 1920, Kekaʻaniau wrote History of Keoua Kalanikupuapa-i-nui: Father of Hawaii Kings, and His Descendants, with Notes on Kamehameha I, First King of All Hawaii, as a tribute to her great-grandfather Keōua Kalanikupuapaʻikalaninui Ahilapalapa and his descendants.[26][27] Her book was republished in 1999 by her great-great nephew, David Castro. It was republished again in 2009. Castro also wrote a biography of her titled Princess Elizabeth Kekaaniau Laanui: Member of the Kamehameha Dynasty, Eligible to Hawaiian the Throne in 2008.[26][28][29]

Kekaʻaniau died at the age of 94 in Honolulu, Oahu, on December 20, 1928. The aliʻi tradition of lying in state were observed throughout several days and nights. Members of two Hawaiian societies: the Māmakakaua (Daughters and Sons of Hawaiian Warriors) and the ʻAhahui Kaʻahumanu (Kaʻahumanu Society) kept watch over her. Princess Elizabeth Kahanu Kalanianaʻole (Moʻi of Māmakakaua) and Emma Ahuena Taylor (Premier of Māmakakaua) conducted the watches.  The mourners came from the highest ranks of Hawaiian territorial government such as the governor, Wallace Rider Farrington and his wife and the ex-governor, Walter F. Frear, also prominent families of chiefly lineage and the royal societies.  The services were then conducted at Kawaiahaʻo Church by Reverend Akaiko Akana on December 23.  Kekaʻaniau had the privilege to be buried at Mauna ʻAla, but she had requested to be buried next to her husband at Oʻahu Cemetery were she was laid to rest.[23]


The Pratts did not have any children of their own, although they adopted her niece, Theresa Owana Laʻanui, daughter of her younger brother High Chief Gideon Kailipalaki Laʻanui II, after he died in 1871. She married four times and had descendants by her first and second husband: Alexander Cartwright III, son of Honolulu fire chief Alexander Cartwright, and Robert William Wilcox, a Hawaiian revolutionary leader and the first Congressional Delegate from the Territory of Hawaii.[30][31][32] The Pratts also later adopted Alexander and Theresa's younger daughter Eva Kuwailanimamao Cartwright. who married Dwight Styne and had descendants.[33]

The descendants from Cartwright and Wilcox continue to claim to be the rightful successors of the Kamehameha line and claimant to the Hawaiian crown lands through Kekaʻaniau's status as the last surviving member of the Royal School chosen by Kamehameha III to be eligible for the throne of the Kingdom of Hawaii after the death of Queen Liliʻuokalani. One notable contemporary member of this family is Hawaiian musician and activist Owana Salazar who with her son were involved with the Hawaiian activist group Ka Lāhui Hawaiʻi from 1988 to 1998.[34][35]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Pratt 1920, pp. 50–51.
  2. ^ Cooke & Cooke 1937, p. vi.
  3. ^ Pratt 1920, pp. 9–17, 43–51.
  4. ^ a b c Haley 2014, p. 216.
  5. ^ Pratt 1920, pp. 52–55.
  6. ^ "Princes and Chiefs eligible to be Rulers". The Polynesian. 1 (9). Honolulu. July 20, 1844. p. 1. 
  7. ^ Van Dyke 2008, p. 364.
  8. ^ Kanahele 1999, pp. 30–34.
  9. ^ Liliuokalani 1898, pp. 1–9.
  10. ^ Kanahele 1999, p. 68.
  11. ^ Krout 1908, p. 100.
  12. ^ Kanahele 2002, p. 73.
  13. ^ Cooke & Cooke 1937, p. 344.
  14. ^ Hawaiʻi State Archives (2006). "Pratt marriage record". Marriages – Oahu (1832–1910). Retrieved June 5, 2014 – via Ulukau, the Hawaiian Electronic Library. 
  15. ^ a b "Pratt, Franklin S.office record". state archives digital collections. state of Hawaii. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved September 12, 2015. 
  16. ^ Krout 1908, pp. 210–211.
  17. ^ Kanahele 1999, p. 285.
  18. ^ "Frank S. Pratt Dead – He Passes Away Late Yesterday Afternoon". The Pacific Commercial Advertiser. Honolulu. January 12, 1894. p. 4. Retrieved December 22, 2016. 
  19. ^ Van Dyke 2008, pp. 229, 365.
  20. ^ Pratt, High Chiefess; Pratt, Princess Elizabeth Kekaaniau Laanui; Castro, 2nd edition by David; Pratt, Elizabeth K. (2000-03-27). Logan, Daniel, ed. Keoua : Father of Kings (second edition ed.). Honolulu, Hawaii: Ke Ali'i Pub. ISBN 9780966958621. 
  21. ^ a b "More on Kamehameha III 100th birthday memorial, 1914". nupepa. 2014-03-25. Retrieved 2018-06-17. 
  22. ^ Society, Hawaiian Mission Children's (1912). Annual Report of the Hawaiian Mission Children's Society. Government Press. 
  23. ^ a b Kam, Ralph Thomas (2017-11-06). Death Rites and Hawaiian Royalty: Funerary Practices in the Kamehameha and Kalākaua Dynasties, 1819-1953. McFarland. ISBN 9781476668468. 
  24. ^ Occasional Papers of Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum. Bishop Museum Press. 1907. 
  25. ^ Richards, Mary A. (1970). The Hawaiian Chief's Children's School 1839-1850: A Record Compiled from the Diary and Letters Of Amos Starr Cooke and Juliette Montague Cooke. Rutland (Vt.); Tokyo: C.E.Tuttle Co.,U.S. ISBN 9780804808811. 
  26. ^ a b Pratt 1920, p. front.
  27. ^ Haley 2014, p. 244.
  28. ^ Pratt 1999, p. front.
  29. ^ Castro 2008, p. front.
  30. ^ McKinzie 1983, pp. 33–38.
  31. ^ Pratt 1920, p. 361.
  32. ^ Van Dyke 2008, p. 363.
  33. ^ Nucciarone 2009, p. 113.
  34. ^ Van Dyke 2008, pp. 362–367.
  35. ^ Boylan, Dan (August 7–13, 1998). "Battle Royal". Midweek. Honolulu. Retrieved November 19, 2010. 


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

  • "Elizabeth". The Royal Family of Hawaii Official Site Elizabeth. Ke Ali'i Publishing. Retrieved March 8, 2010.