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Mini Biographies of Scots and Scots Descendants (A)
Adams, Alexander


Married 1: a relative of Kalaimoku, who died in childbirth.
Married 2: daughter of Isaac Davis, Hawaii
Married 3:  ?  by whom he had 8 legitimate children.
Altogether he had 15 children.

Came to Oahu, Hawaii in 1811 in the American ship Albatross of Boston,  under Captain Winship.
King Kamehameha I's "Little Fleet" was placed under his direction, consisting of 9 square-rigged vessels and 15 smaller craft.

Kamehameha was kind and generous to him, giving him one of his own lands, called Niu, and all upon it, situated a little to the eastward of Diamond Hill; a survey of which is in the Consulate and Land Commission.  He retired to this property after serving as Honolulu harbor pilot for nearly thirty years.
He was at Kailua, on the Island of Hawaii in 1820 when the first seven pioneer missionaries with their wives and three Sandwich Islanders arrived.  That was a  year after King Rio Rio {Liholiho } (Kamehameha II) son and successor to Kamehameha I, had destroyed the idols and done away with heathen tabus.  He helped persuade the king to consent to the missionaries taking up residence in Hawaii.  He is said to have inspired the design of the present Hawaiian flag, putting the Union Jack in the upper corner.
"A Biographical Dictionary History Makers of Hawaii," by A. Grove Day, March 1984 by  Mutual Publishing of Honolulu states:
Adams, Alexander (1780-1870).  Born in Forfarshire, Scotland, Adams went to sea at the age of 12 and served in the Royal Navy until 1810, when he arrived in Hawaii on the American ship Albatross.  He took up residence ashore and through the good offices of John Young was placed in command of the small collection of vessels owned by Kamehameha I.  Adams sailed the king and crew of the brig Kaahumanu to Kauai in 1816 to expel the Russian filibusters under Georg Anton Scheffer. Adams is supposed to have inspired the design of the present Hawaii flag, putting the Union Jack in the upper corner.  On a voyage to China in 1817 with a cargo of sandalwood, Adams was refused entrance to the harbor of Macao because the colors were not recognized.
Along with Young, Adams advised Kamehameha II to allow the American missionaries to remain in the kingdom.  When the monarch left for England in 1823, Adams was asked to act as pilot for the port of Honolulu, a post he held for nearly 30 years.  He then retired to his estate of more than two thousand acres granted to him by Kamehameha I in Kalihi, Oahu.  Adams married three times, twice to daughters of John Harbottle, harbor pilot; the sisters had been reared at the court of Queen Kaahumanu.
From the book The Builders of Hawaii:

"Intimate friend and confidential advisor of Kamehameha the Great, who entrusted to him the command of the king's fleet, Capt. Alexander Adams, the first regular pilot for the port of Honolulu, was one of the most picturesque figures of that colorful epoch in Hawaiian history when a pagan monarch ruled the islands in semi-barbaric splendor.

"For some thirty years Capt Adams and his family were close to the reigning house and in recognition of his services to the crown he and his heirs were granted a perpetual land holding by King Kamehameha I and his queen, Kaahumanu, of more than 2,000 acres, extending from the mountains to the sea, and embracing that portion of Oahu known as Niu, near Honolulu.  Much of this land was valuable, and with it were granted fully and freely fish and water rights, all other rights, and the country home of the king and queen.  The land grant was still held intact in 1925 by Mrs. Charles Lucas, a granddaughter of Capt. Adams. 

"Adams took the king in the brig 'Kaahumanu' of 260 tons, 16 guns and a crew of 48 men to Atooi, Kauai, to assist in expelling the Russians from that island.

"Born in Forfarshire, Scotland in 1780, for 4 years, from the time he was 12 until he passed his 16th birthday, he served as an apprentice on the brig 'Zephyr,' belonging to Husson & Co., of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.  He made two voyages to Calcutta a little later, became second mate and served in that capacity for eight years on the 'Lancaster.'  In 1807 he was drafted into naval service on the 'Elizabeth' and served on the coasts of Spain and Portugal until 1810.

"War came between the United States and Great Britain, and refusing to serve any longer under the American flag, Capt.Adams took up his residence ashore at Hawaii in 1810 and became a friend of John Young, the favorite and advisor of Kamehameha I.  Shortly thereafter the king's little fleet was placed under Capt. Adams' command, which during one period of the  sandalwood trade consisted of nine square rigged vessels and 15 smaller craft. 

"When the first missionaries from New England arrived in Hawaii in 1820 they were met by a group of the king's followers, including Capt. Adams.  The monarch was much adverse to allowing the missionaries to land, but was finally persuaded to do so by Capt. Adams and John Young.  He remained in command of the royal fleet until Kamehameha II sailed for England in 1823, when the captain was asked to stay in Hawaii, assist the governor and act as pilot for the port of Honolulu.  He held the post for nearly 30 years.  After retirement, he lived at Kalihi, Honolulu, and cultivated fruit.

"He married three times, two of his wives being the Harbottle sisters, who were reared by Queen Kaahumanu and were favorites at court.  According to his personal account, he was the father of 15 children, eight of whom were by his third wife.  Among his children were Mrs. George Gray, Mrs. William Auld, William and Isaac Adams, Mrs. C.Phelps, and Mrs. Andrew Bannister."

From the Hawaiian Gazette, 1871, Nov. 1, pg. 2:  Adams, Alexander, Capt.: Died at his residence on Hotel Street, Honolulu, Oct. 27, 1871.  Aged nearly 92 years, native of Scotland, Resident of these islands since 1810.  In employ of Kamehameha I and took his brig, the Forrester to China with Sandalwood.  First pilot of Honolulu 1817-1844.  Oldest foreign resident and formerly in the British Navy.

From the Hawaiian Gazette, 1896, June 5 pg. 6:  First wife died in child birth and a relative of Karaimoku (Kalaimoku).  Second wife a daughter of Isaac Davis.  Separated after eight years.  Third wife (name not given) still living.  Fifteen children, 10 still alive.  Testimony of Capt. Adams before the Land Commission of 1848.  Note: Home formerly on corner of Hotel Street and Adams Lane."

From the family information of Marjorie Kahookele (
Occupation: Brig Pilot for the Kaahumanu, formerly the Forrester, purchased by King Kamehameha in 04-16-1816
Education: 1st Pilot of Honolulu 1817-1844
Note: Capt. Adams left Scotland age 12, worked 4 years aboard "Zephyr" belonging to Husson & Co. Newcastle on Tyne England. Age 16, left Zephyr, joined "Calcutta" on the Lancaster for 2 trips. Drafted into Naval service aboard "Elizabeth" during the Sea battle of Trafalgar, 1805. Possibly arrived in Hawaii 1809. Anchored in Kawaihae Bay on 01-21-1816, aboard "Forrester".  Purchased with Sandlewood, King Kamehameha made trade with Adams, and Capt. Ebbetts. Purchase had to be done with the condition that Adams command the ship. The Forrester's name was changed to "Kaahumanu". It was mostly a cargo and dispatch vessel. He served for the Hawaiian Government under Kamehameha, and in 03-07-1817, King Kamehameha Sent Adams to China on a Sandlewood voyage, crewmembers died while in route due to changes in climate. While in China, ordered to pay $3000. in port charges. Upon returning 10-05-1817, Hilo , and hearing of the charges Adams had to pay, King Kamehameha ordered Hawaii do the same. After 30 years of piloting, Adams retired, resided in Kalihi and was great host to many. Adams kept a journal which his notes were taken from and printed in Honolulu Star Bulltein 05-04-1935. He is noted for the  controversy on the making of the Hawaiian flag and the british jack in the flag. He had three wives, Sarah "Sally" Davis, daughter of Isaac Davis, Sarah Harbottle separated after 8 years. Third wife, Charlotte Harbottle(d.09-23-1893), still lived at the time of his death. He had 15 children and at the time of his death, 10 were currently alive. Last address was the corner of Hotel St andAdams Lane in Oahu. Advertiser: 08-27/30-1927 "The Journal of Alexander Adams "Testimony Before The Land Commission of 1848 Hawaiian Gazette 1896 June 5, P6. C1.Brittish in Hawaii by Chris Cook Honolulu Star Bulletin 05-04-1935 p4 "Adventures in the History of Hawaii No.5 Adams, the "Auld" pilot Hawaiian Gazette 1871 Nov. 1 p2c4

Thanks to Sandra DiNanni for this information

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