Elizabeth Peke Davis

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For other people named Elizabeth Davis, see Elizabeth Davis (disambiguation).
Elizabeth Peke Davis
Born 1803
Waimea, Hawaii Island
Died 1860
Spouse Humehume
Antone Sylva
Issue Harriet Kawahinekipi
Full name
Elizabeth Peke Davis
House Kekaulike
Father Isaac Davis Aikake
Mother Kalukuna

Elizabeth Peke Davis or sometimes Betty Davis (1803–1860) was a Hawaiian high chiefess, being the hapa haole daughter of Isaac Davis, the Welsh advisor of Kamehameha I, who helped him unify the island in 1810. She was the wife of George Prince Kaumualiʻi, also known as Humehume.

Early life[edit]

Betty was born on February 12, 1803[1][2] or December 24, 1803, at Waimea, Hawaii Island. Her 45-year-old father, Isaac Davis from Milford Haven, Wales, known as ʻAikake by Hawaiians, was one of Kamehameha's closest friends and advisors. He was given vast tracts of land and treated like nobility due to his service. Her mother was the chiefess Kalukuna, a distant relative of Kamehameha I, and her father's second wife.[3] She was given the name of Elizabeth and often referred to as Betty or Peke, the Hawaiian version of Betty. She was the youngest sister of Sarah Kaniaulono Davis and George Hueu Davis.

Tragedy would strike her father in 1810. ʻAikake was poisoned by the chiefs who disliked the peaceful capitulation of the Kingdom of Kauaʻi, under King Kaumualiʻi, into a vassal state of King Kamehameha.[4] After his death, his companion, John Young, looked after Betty and her brother and sister. Two of them were living with him in 1807, and after Davis's murder Young continued to raise them along with his five children James, her future-brother-in-law; Fanny, mother of Emma Rooke; Grace, hānai (foster) mother of Emma; John, future premier or kuhina nui; and Jane, mother of Peter Kaeo and Albert Kunuiakea, at his homestead at Kawaihae. In his will, dated 1834, Young divided his lands equally between all his and Davis's children.[5]


Betty married twice. Her first marriage was to Humehume, known as George Prince Kaumualiʻi, the son of King Kaumualiʻi and a commoner. George was five years her senior and a veteran of the War of 1812. Due to her mother-in-law's status, George was not in line to follow the father as King or even vassal king of Kauaʻi. George was well educated, having been to New England for an education.[1] The decisive battle was fought near Hanapepe. Here the Kauaian rebels were completely routed. Humehume and Betty were brought to Honolulu, where he died less than two years later.[6] Betty was a widow at age 23. George and Betty had a son in early 1821, but the boy died in February 1823. Mercy Whitney described the burial: "A regular procession of two and two followed the corpse. Going into the fort in which the grave was dug seemed like entering a burying ground, more so than anything I have witnessed since I left America." The fort referred to was Paʻulaʻula o Hipo, a former heiau. The infant was part Hawaiian and part foreign, a veritable conjugation of blood and culture.[7] The only surviving issue of this union was a daughter, born in 1823 prior to their exile. The little girl was named Harriet Kaumualiʻi, following her father's surname. Kawahinekipi Betty and George might have had another daughter in 1821, that was given to another chiefess because George had no desire for a girl.[8]

Betty's second marriage was to Antone Sylva, also known as Antonio Sylva (1807–1887), and this match was childless.[9]

Later life[edit]

American missionary Hiram Bingham described Betty in 1824: "Betty was more fair, of more European feature and slender make than most of her countrywomen at the age of 25 or 30; more taciturn, thoughtful, sedate, and retiring than others of equal rank and intelligence. She had derived some advantages from the instructions of the missionaries, and manifested some concern for her salvation. But her circumstances differed little from those of the wife of a petty chief of the lowest rank."[10]

She died in 1860.[11]


  1. ^ a b Hawaiian Genealogy of Kekoolani and Other Families - pafg15 - Generated by Personal Ancestral File kekoolani.org
  2. ^ i341.html ancestry.com
  3. ^ Day, Arthur Grove (1984). History Makers of Hawaii: a Biographical Dictionary. Honolulu: Mutual Publishing. p. 32. ISBN 0935180095. 
  4. ^ koc27 ancestry.com
  5. ^ Campbell, Ian Christopher (1998) "Gone Native" in Polynesia: Captivity Narratives and Experiences from the South Pacific Greenwood Publishing Group ISBN 0-313-30787-3. p.46
  6. ^ Hawaii, Lei of Islands: A History of Catholic Hawaii By Adele Marie Lemon
  7. ^ Hawaii's Russian Adventure: A New Look at Old History By Peter R. Mills. Page 141
  8. ^ Hawaii's Russian Adventure: A New Look at Old History By Peter R. Mills. Page 258
  9. ^ "Antone Sylva". Our Family History and Ancestry. Families of Old Hawaii. Retrieved 2010-02-16. [permanent dead link]
  10. ^ Hiram Bingham I (1855) [1848]. A Residence of Twenty-one Years in the Sandwich Islands (Third ed.). H.D. Goodwin. p. 230. 
  11. ^ Kameʻeleihiwa, Lilikalā (1992). Native Land and Foreign Desires. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press. p. 274. ISBN 0-930897-59-5.