James Kānehoa

James Young Kānehoa (1797–1851) was a member of the court of King Kamehameha II and Kamehameha III during the Kingdom of Hawaii. Sometimes he is confused with his half-brother John Kalaipaihala Young II known as Keoni Ana.

James Young Kānehoa
Born(1797-08-07)August 7, 1797
Kawaihae, Hawaii
DiedOctober 1, 1851(1851-10-01) (aged 54)
Honolulu, Oahu
BurialOctober 4, 1851[1]
SpouseSarah Kaniaulono Davis
IssueJane Lahilahi Kānehoa Young
Alebada Keliimaikai Kaeo
Full name
James Kānehoa Young
FatherJohn Young Olohana


He was born August 7, 1797 at Kawaihae, Hawaii. His father was John Young who was the British advisor of Kamehameha I.[3][4][5] Kānehoa was Young's second son by his first wife, the chiefess Namokuelua of Oahu aristocracy. His mother was of chiefly rank, though not high. Kānehoa had an elder brother named Robert Young, born in 1796. His father had four children from another wife named Kaʻōanaʻeha who was the niece of Kamehameha I. His half-siblings were Fanny Kekela, Grace Kamaikui, Jane Lahilahi, and John Kalaipaihala.

He left Hawaii at a young age, perhaps at the age of nine. He was sent to the United States to be educated along with his brother Robert. Robert would join the US Army and die in the War of 1812. He became a merchant mariner like his father; for many years he sailed between Philadelphia, his home port, and England. Eventually, his experience abroad and his fluency in English led to recognition by Kamehameha II when Kānehoa returned to Hawaii.[6] Kānehoa was entrusted with the official letters of introduction and served as translator. Kamehameha II, his queen and three other chiefs contracted the measles and died abroad. He survived and interpreted for High Chief Boki, the new leader of the royal party, when he met King George IV. Kānehoa accompanied the bodies of his king and queen back to Honolulu aboard HMS Blonde in 1825.

He served as a member of the House of Nobles during Kamehameha III's reign from 1845 to 1851. From 1846 he was a member of the first Board of Land Commissioners under Kamehameha III.[7] Other members were William Richards, John Ricord, John Papa ʻĪʻī, and Zorobabela Kaʻauwai. Their duties were to settle or quiet land claims during the Great Mahele.[8] He also was the governor of Maui 1842–1851[9] when he had to deal with a smallpox epidemic. In later life, he attitude was one of melancholy.[10]:139 He died October 1, 1851, not long after his stepmother Kaʻōanaʻeha. In his last illness, he was a patient at Rooke House, the place so connected with the Young family. After his funeral, his remains were deposited at the Pohukaina Tomb, located on grounds of ʻIolani Palace.[1] It isn't certain if his remains are still buried in the plot at Pohukaina or if they ever transported along with those of other members of the Young family and other royals to the newly constructed Royal Mausoleum at Mauna ʻAla in 1865.

Marriage and children

Kānehoa married three times. His first marriage was to Sarah Kaniaulono Davis, the daughter of Isaac Davis, his father's comrade in arms. The wedding ceremony was performed by an English chaplain, and Mrs. Laura Judd states that it may have been the first Christian marriage in the Hawaiian Islands. He and Sarah had no children of their own but they hānai (adopted) one from Kānehoa's sister Jane Lahilahi and her husband Joshua Kaeo. This boy was named Keliimaikai Kaeo and called Alebada.[4] One other marriage was to Haale and they had a daughter named Jane Lahilahi Young (1812–1862). Jane married a chief name Nuʻuanu and had a son named Samuel Nuʻuanu.[4]

Kānehoa's last marriage was to Hikoni Kahele. Kānehoa willed most of his landholdings to Alebada but he died on October 13, 1851, shortly after his adoptive father.[4] During the last six years of his life, he got to know his young niece Emma Rooke. He made his wishes clear to his wife, Hikoni, that his home in Lawai, a large ahupuaʻa that he owned in the district of Koloa, Kauaʻi where he served as a judge for a time, should one day be given to her. The rest of his lands were inherited by his widow and after her death willed to Emma.[6]

Family tree


  1. "Untitled". The Polynesian. 8 (21). Honolulu. October 4, 1851. p. 2. Retrieved July 3, 2016.
  2. Hawaii reports : cases determined in the Supreme Court of the Territory of Hawaii. Honolulu: Government Press. 1866. p. 205.
  3. "James Kanehoa Young". Our Family History and Ancestry. Families of Old Hawaii. Retrieved 2009-12-02.
  4. "KANEHOA, JAMES YOUNG Alii A ward LCA 8518- B, M.A.43" (PDF). Kanaka Genealogy web site. Retrieved March 25, 2012.
  5. John F. G. Stokes (1939). "Nationality of John Young, A Chief of Hawaii". Hawaiian Journal of History. Hawaiian Historical Society: 13–38. hdl:10524/38.
  6. George S. Kanahele (1999). Emma: Hawai'i's Remarkable Queen: a Biography. University of Hawaii Press. pp. 45–46. ISBN 9780824822408.
  7. "Kanehoa, James Young office record". state archives digital collections. state of Hawaii. Archived from the original on 2011-10-07. Retrieved 2009-11-25.
  8. Kahana: How the Land Was Lost By Robert H. Stauffer. Page 11
  9. "Governor of Maui, Molokai and Lanai" (PDF). state archives digital collections. state of Hawaii. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-21. Retrieved 2009-12-02.
  10. S. S. Hill (1856). Travels in the Sandwich and Society Islands. Chapman & Hall.
Preceded by
Kalākua Kaheiheimālie
Royal Governor of Maui
1842 – October 1, 1851
Succeeded by
Paul Nahaolelua
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