Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Letters of Nicholas Loney (Postscript)


The preceding is the last of the Loney letters in the possession of his grandniece. Three years after it was written, he died of typhoid fever in the island of Negros. His nephew, who was then in Cebu, wrote to England a letter dated May 2, 1869 which gives an account of his sudden demise in the following words:

“You must have heard by last mail the sad news of Uncle Nicholas’ death. I had a long letter from him describing his Canlaon Expedition dated the 15th of April so that his illness must have been very short. We have only just heard of it and can hardly realize it yet. When he hurt his foot, some time ago, he was laid up in the house for some time without exercise and consequently got very fat and the sudden violent exercise he had the other day going up Canlaon must have brought on the gastric fever of which he died but I can’t say for certain as we have had no particulars yet.

May 3. The Sudoesta has just arrived and Captain Fass was in Iloilo at the time of Uncle N.’s death. He says that all Iloilo followed him to his grave and that over 100 carriages besides lots of buffalo carts filled with people were there. He was buried under some palm trees by the sea shore in the prettiest site that could be found and they are going to erect a monument there. Captain Fass was allowed to read the Protestant burial service over his grave. He says that poor Uncle Robert is very very much cut up. Mr. Ker wants very much to go over there in this present steamer but it will not be possible.

The Governor of Iloilo is a very nice man. When Capt. Fass and Mr. Gardner were searching for a place to bury him they applied to the Governor for permission. His answer was ‘Choose the prettiest place on anyone’s ground on the Island of Panay and bury him there and I will be answerable for the consequences.’ And again when they were at the grave a Padre made some objections about reading the burial service when he stood up before the thousands of people collected and said, ‘It is of no importance whether he was a Roman Catholic or a Protestant all I know is that he was a Christian.’

I believe that Aunt Leontine intends going home as soon as she can find anyone to go with. People are continually calling at our office to know if it’s true that Don Nicolas is dead, they can’t believe it. I can’t make my letter very long this time as we are all in such confusion and have heaps and heaps of work to do for the steamer, besides two hemp vessels and one large sugar one. I don’t give you any more particulars of Uncle N’s death as doubtlessly you have already heard all from Uncle Robert.

Last week Mr. Ker and I managed to reach the top of the high mountains that are seen from here. It was a very hard pull as the sides of the mountain were like so – we saw an old Indian on the top who had lived there all his life and we asked him if he had ever seen a white man there before and he said ‘No, you are the first that have ever been up here.’ It was quite cool up there, but I don’t think that we ever should have come down again if we had not found a beautiful spring of water at the very top. We had a splendid view from the top..

A tribute to his memory appeared in the Iloilo newspaper “El Tiempo” of March 3, 1904 as follows:

‘The Municipal Council of this City resolved at its last evening’s session that the waterfront of Iloilo be called from henceforth “Muelle Loney (Loney Waterfront).

We congratulate the Municipal Council on this resolution.

The name of Nicholas Loney is held in this region of the Visayas with great respect and veneration: he was a philanthropist who gave impulse to the cultivation of the principal production of these provinces, sugar, besides initiating other works which are still remembered.

The following are the biographical data of N. Loney: He was born in Plymouth, England; son of the late Admiral Loney, R.N. of this town. At first he went to reside in South America, but after a short stay there, came to the Philippine Islands arriving at Iloilo about the year 1856, being the first British Vice Consul appointed to this post, which was opened to general trade at the same time. He was also the first foreign merchant to establish himself in this City.

The cultivation of sugar was then in this district almost nil, but he fomented it to such an extent that from that time it became an important article of export, and the first foreign vessel, which was also English, which entered Iloilo in 1860 – was loaded with sugar for Australia with Messrs. Loney & Co., of which firm N. Loney was partner.

This firm at that time represented in Iloilo the Manila Houses of Russell & Sturgis (American) and Ker & Co. (English). Loney & Co. were owners of the Matabas Estate in Talisay (Negros) in which they set up the largest steam mill in the Islands. Nicholas Loney furnished Sir John Bowring with much of the information contained in his book on the Philippines. He married Mademoiselle Leontine Traschler and had two children.

What was a mud flat, where now stands the go-downs on the waterfront, i.e. Progreso Street, from the house, now the property of Messrs. de la Rama & Sons (adjoining the military Commissary Store) to Melliza Street; thence to the last go-down towards the North, was filled in under his initiative.

The privations experienced during an ascent of the Volcano Canlaon in Negros brought on typhoid fever of which he died on April 22, 1869.

His name was for many years respected and venerated by the natives of the whole province, and still today many old residents remember him gratefully for the great interest in all that related with the sugar industry in the Provinces of Iloilo and Negros. In the British Cemetery of this City there is a marble monument erected by voluntary subscription amongst the Spaniards, foreigners and native residents of Iloilo, Jaro and Molo which was inaugurated in 1870 and bears the following inscription in English, Spanish, French and Visayan on its four sides:


Nicholas Loney

Of Plymouth, England

Who was H.M. Vice Consul in this Port

Died the 22nd April 1869

Aged 41 Years

This monument is erected by his numerous friends, Spaniards, foreigners and natives, as a slight testimony of the esteem and remembrance in which his memory will be held by all who knew him

The island of Negros ought also to dedicate a remembrance to the memory of such a famous name since she owes the progress of her agriculture in a great measure to the disinterested philanthropy of W. Nicholas Loney.”

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