Genealogy research in Fiji

This post was originally published on 22 December 2008 on my Genealogy in NSW Blog site. I had since created a new blog – Fiji Genealogy –  with much more information about Fiji research, but that site is broken and I haven’t worked out how to fix it.

Levuka 101-0129_IMG_300x200I have recently spent a week in Fiji researching my father’s family. My father is a part-European Fijian whose European ancestors arrived in Fiji in the early to mid-1800’s. Since civil registration began only in the 1870s with the Cession of Fiji to Great Britain there are very few records from before this time to show when people were born, married or died. There is very little available online for Fijian research – it’s all microfilm and paper documents. The Fiji Genweb is a good place to start.

My trip to Fiji was unexpected and so I was not as prepared as I would otherwise have been for some serious research. I had not looked into addresses, opening hours, holdings and catalogues. I had seen a few references to original records in literature so I knew to go to the National Archives of Fiji, for example, but I didn’t know where it was, how accessible the records were, or how long a search would take.

The websites of these institutions are not as informative as we have come to expect in Western countries. There are no online catalogues or contact details.

National Archives of Fiji

The National Archives has a reading room at their main facility in Suva. Their websitegives minimal information on what they hold but I found the staff to be helpful and informative, guiding me in the direction of useful records. The reading room is hot, with overhead fans and open windows providing the only cooling. If you can avoid the summer months – November-February – then I would advise it. Digital cameras can be used. They close for lunch most days from 1pm to 2pm.

Among the many records they hold are the Land Claims Commission Reports from the 1870s and 1880s. When Fiji was ceded to Britain in 1874 one of the first tasks undertaken by the new government was to require all non-indigenous landholders to apply to have their holdings confirmed. The majority of claims were allowed and titles issued, but a great many were not.

The files contain the resulting report by the Commissioner and quite often the original application form, evidence taken, interim reports and occasionally maps of the relevant land. As the land was often acquired by the claimant’s father or grandfather the report may be the only evidence of prior generations, as civil registration of births, deaths and marriages was only introduced by the British at the same time.

There is an index in the reading room that points you to the file number, which can then be ordered. What is provided is a photocopy of the pages in the original file, which can be digitally photographed.

The birth, death and marriage indexes and registrations filmed by the LDS Church up to the 1960s are also held. These films can be ordered from Australia, and I do order them, but the convenience of having all the films on-site allows a lot of research to be performed in a much shorter time.

Catholic Church

The first Riley to enter Fiji was said (by my father) to be a Catholic lay preacher who settled in Verata on the east coast of Viti Levu and donated land given to him by the local chief to the Church to build a mission. I spent a day looking for evidence of this in the Catholic Church archives in Suva, next to the cathedral in Pratt Street. The first missionaries were French, and much of their correspondence, diaries and reports are available to study. They are in French so I took lots of digital photographs and now have to sort through them for names of people and places I recognise, as I don’t speak or read French.There is also correspondence with the Colonial Secretary and other government officials.

Parish registers are kept within the parishes, so the very helpful sisters were unable to help me find records of baptisms or marriages from before civil registration began. I will have to visit the parish church, in Natovi, next time.

Suva City Library

The library holds many books on history and culture that may be useful to the family historian. I spent a very pleasant afternoon in the air-conditioned Reference Library upstairs. Photocopies are 20 cents (Fijian) per page and must be paid for at the main desk downstairs. The receipt is then given to the librarian in the Reference Library along with the book to be copied.

Wesleyan Methodist Church

The Wesleyan Methodist Church is the oldest established church in Fiji, with the first missionaries arriving in 1835, and has the largest membership today. I reasoned that if the only religious presence is Wesleyan and you want your baby baptised then you will have him baptised by a Wesleyan. A phone call to the Church told me that the archives have all been transferred to the National Archives of Fiji. A catalogue of holdings for the Methodist Church in the National Archives told me that permission from the Church is required to look at most of the records. So that will be a job for next time.

There is, however, a bound photocopy of the first Wesleyan registers of baptisms and marriages in the Reading Room of the National Archives of Fiji. I spent a very enjoyable half hour browsing through this and I found some relevant names. The original whites followed some local customs, one of which was multiple wives. I do not know if the wives were consecutive or simultaneous but the missionaries persuaded many of them to formally marry one wife, and some of these marriages appear in the pages of the register.

What next?

Research in Fiji takes longer than in Sydney, and I didn’t get done as much as I would have liked. It was hot, the person I needed wasn’t available, and it took longer than I expected for things to happen. Next time I will be better prepared. I will revisit the National Archives to look at Wesleyan records, Colonial Secretary’s correspondence, and other records that I will uncover from my advance preparation, and I will try some other repositories:

LDS Family History Centre

The LDS Church is quite active in Fiji, as elsewhere. My information (admittedly hearsay) is that they are only open one day per week and the day that I visited (Thursday) the building was locked up. If I had looked at their website (and if the website is accurate) I would have known that the Centre I visited closed at 3pm that day. I was also told that they have records not available elsewhere in Fiji, although I don’t know what those records might be. I will try again next trip.

University of the South Pacific

The University of the South Pacific covers all countries of the South Pacific region. The main campus library has an online catalogue which would be worth checking before a visit, as would the Pacific Collection. The library contains many books, theses and papers that would be useful for historical research.

They also have an online bookshop (in US dollars) with a good range of books on Fijian history and culture and quite high delivery costs by courier. Get to the bookshop in person if you can.

The Fijian Museum

The museum of any country is always worth a visit to get an idea of life in a previous era. The Museum has published reprints of books of historical interest, including accounts by the first Wesleyan missionaries, and sells them in their shop. I’d been to the Fijian Museum on a previous trip and didn’t get the chance to check their bookshop again. They also have an excellent journal. You can join the Friends of the Fiji Museum through their website.

Department of Lands and Surveys

The Department of Lands and Surveys has maps and plans and records of ownership of land in Fiji. Only 10% of Fiji is freehold, with 90% being Crown or Native Title. Land title searching can be difficult at the best of times so I’m holding this one off until I’m better prepared. I want to find out what happened to the land after the formal Claims in the 1870s were approved.

Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages Department

I did not have any reason to go to the Registrar, as the indexes and registrations I need are on LDS microfilm. I had already built a spreadsheet of index entries for the births, marriages and deaths of non-indigenous nationals with some film numbers and so I could request the films immediately at the National Archives. I would have done more of this than I did but it was just so hot, and the microfilm reader does not focus well on the whole frame at once, requiring two photos for each registration. Still, I was pleased with the birth registrations that I got.

NOTE – I have not been back to Fiji for research since 2008 and things may have changed since then. I really hope the National Archives of Fiji has a new microfilm reader in the Reading Room!

Sources:

Websites:

For websites follow the links above.

Books:

Calvert, James. Fiji and the Fijians, Vol. II, Mission History, Edited by George Stringer Rowe. Suva, Fiji: Fiji Museum, 2003; first published in London in 1858.

Walsh, Crosbie. Fiji: An Encyclopaedic Atlas. Suva, Fiji: University of the South Pacific, 2006.

Young, John. Adventurous Spirits, Australian Migrant Society in Pre-Cession Fiji. St Lucia, Queensland: University of Queensland Press, 1984.

 

Do you know who is in these photographs?

UniNewcastle A5050-072 small

Many libraries and universities in Australia and elsewhere hold the collections of missionaries, researchers and other travellers to the Pacific Islands. This photograph of a gathering in Lambasa was taken by Archdeacon A.N. Williamson of the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle during his travels to Fiji some time between 1900 and 1930. He took many other photographs, some depicting individuals, such as this one:

UniNewcastle A5050-138 small

Archdeacon Williamson’s collection is held by the University of Newcastle and has been shared on Flickr and on Trove. Have a look through them and see if there are any people or places that you recognise, and if there are, the University would love to hear from you!

How to trace your Fijian family history

I have added a new page to explain the basics of tracing Fijian family history, called How Do I Trace My Family History? This page explains how to find birth, marriage and death certificates so that you can fill in a family tree, such as this one.

Pedigree Chart

Another useful form is a Family Group Sheet. This allows you to record whole families, including all the children.

Family Group Sheet

You can download some forms to help you:

There are other ways to find your family history, by copying what other people have put on Ancestry or other such sites, but you can’t be sure that what they have done is correct, or that they are tracing the wrong family.

The only way to be sure is to find the records yourself, or find someone who has found them and cites their sources for every piece of information that they have.

My own Fiji family history has names such as Riley, Whippy, Simpson, Brown, Andrews, and O’Connor. If any of these names are familiar to you please have a look at my family tree website at http://caroleriley.id.au/familyTree/, which contains details and sources of all the people in my tree who have died. I do not publish details of living people for privacy reasons.

Not just Wikipedia

Wikipedia has become the go-to source for an initial overview of any topic, from American history to episodes of Doctor Who. Historical figures are usually well-represented, and I can look up King Henry VIII or Captain James Cook and get a fairly good idea of his life.

But what if the person you are searching for isn’t there? Wikipedia has aternatives.

Here I am searching for David Whippy, one of my ancestors who settled in Fiji in 1825.

David Whippy Search results

The first result is probably relevant. When I go to the article, however, the link in the article to David Whippy gives me this:

David Whippy on Wikipedia

I am tempted now to write an article for David Whippy myself, and one day I will. In the meantime, Wikipedia offers alternatives in its ‘sister projects’:

David Whippy sister projects

Wikibooks is a collaborative, open-source project to build textbooks, including children’s books and cookbooks. There are currently 2,686 books on computing, languages, history, and much more. Nothing on Fiji, but there is one called A Concise New Zealand History. The book on Australian history is not yet finished.

Wikiquotes is a free compendium of quotes, with sources and links back to Wikipedia for more information. There are quotes from famous people, literary works, films and TV shows, proverbs and much more.

Wikisource is ‘a free library that anyone can improve’, with a current total of 287,335 texts in English. It has everything from out-of-copyright fiction to United States Senate Committee testimony. The portal page for the history of Australia lists many sources for the colonisation and exploration of the country.

Wikiversity aims to ‘set learning free’, creating educational resources for teachers, students and researchers. The current total is 20,467 resources. The page for Australia is part of the Comparative law and justice project and is a good introduction to the court system in the country.

Wikimedia Commons is an exceptional source of images and videos, to which anyone can contribute. There are currently over 17 million files from archives, libraries, and people like us. The copyright restrictions are specified for each file.

There are many other projects:

Wiki projects

The only one of these projects to have a result for David Whippy was Wikisource, which has a book called Forty Years in the Pacific by Frank Coffee, published in 1920. The chapter on Fiji mentions David Whippy as one of the claimants made by the American settlers on Cakobau, the self-proclaimed King of Fiji. It is a book I hadn’t come across before, but as David Whippy died in 1871 Coffee can not be expected to have known Whippy personally.

I did search for pictures of Levuka in Wikimedia Commons and found a couple of beauties from Dumont D’Urville’s 1842 expedition:

Levuka

The copyright explanation for different countries is helpful for knowing whether you can republish it in your country.

Wikipedia projects won’t replace Google as a source of information, but it’s worth checking to see what they have for those elusive Fijian ancestors.

Ordering films in the new FamilySearch

FamilySearch, or what we used to know as the Family History Library, has an enormous number of resources for family historians in their library in Salt Lake City. They have travelled the world collecting original material by microfilming it, and these microfilms can be ‘borrowed’. If you have a FamilSearch Center nearby, or a society library designated for lending films, you can borrow the films and research them without having to travel to Salt Lake City. In most cases the microfilms were also donated back to the archive or repository, protecting the original records from wear and tear.

Go to FamilySearch and click on the word Catalog under the main heading.

The new catalog search looks like this:

FamilySearch catalog

When I’ve typed in ‘Fiji’ I get a long list of possible places. I think it’s best to just use ‘Fiji’ to start with, without getting too specific.

FamilySearch results for Fiji

Birth, marriage and death records are held under Civil registration. If you click on any of these entries you will see what records they hold. For example, if I click on Land and property – indexes I can see:

Fiji land and property indexes

If I click on the last of these I can see the individual film entries. The film numbers are what I need to order the film:

Fiji land records card index

To order a film, you can click on the film number, which takes you to another page: https://familysearch.org/films/. You need to be signed in to do this; signing up is easy and free. You can order a film on short-term loan for 90 days or long-term loan for extended periods.

Just enter the film number:Film ordering

My most convenient library is the Society of Australian Genealogists and the website remembers that setting for me. You can change it at any time.

You can then go on to find more films, or checkout and pay by credit card or PayPal.

Once you’ve placed your order and paid for it you can track the status of your order at any time. You’ll get an email when the film has been received by your library, and you can go there and look at the film. Some libraries charge an extra fee for handling the film on top of what FamilySearch charges.

Bear in mind that the 90 days starts on the day the film is sent, not the day it arrives in your library. So get in and look at it as soon as you can.

Fijian savages in Sydney, 1847

Bell'sLife in Sydney 18471120 p1

Apparently the Fijian natives who were brought to Sydney in the 1840s as ships’ crew and so on made a nuisance of themselves once they were left to their own devices. This article shows the difference in the cultures of the Fijians and Europeans.

THE FEEJEE SAVAGES
THESE fiendish looking cannibals have become a complete nuisance in the city. They enter without ceremony at everyopen door, and demand food, clothing, andmoney in a tone and manner at once impudent and threatening. Surely somemeans of subsistence and place of shelter ought to be furnished these unfortunate wretches by their importers, or is it the intention of these gentlemen that Government shall be at the expense of re-shipping them for the Islands? Why do not thepolice interfere to prevent their intrusion into the residences of the citizens? When our christian paupers are interdicted from the solicitation of public charity, is that privilege to be accorded to a horde of anthropophagi, who have been introduced into the country at the instance of a private individual? Or is it because the object for which they were seduced from their native wilds has failed, that they are now mercilessly left to their fate by their self-created masters, and that the citizens are subjected to insult and outragefrom a mob of starving, and consequently, desperate intruders?

Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer, Saturday 20 November 1847, page 1.

The Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer was publishedfrom 1845 to 1860, and was not afraid to make the opinion of its editors’ known.

General information of the Feejee Islands, 1847

Sydney Chronicle 23Jun1847 page2The Sydney Chronicle, an early Sydney newspaper, was published from 1846 to 1848. The following article about Fiji was published for the interest of readers. Despite the unusual spelling it gives a good picture of life at that time.

THE FEEJEE ISLANDS. We have been favoured with some general information relative to these Islands, which will, no doubt be found interesting to most of our readers. We have, therefore, appended it in a concise form.

EXTENT AND POPULATION.–The group contains upwards of fifty inhabited Islands, besides a considerable number of islets. Of these Islands, the largest is Vanaulever (or Big Island), which is about three hundred and sixty miles in circumference, andcontains a population of nearly 40,000. The next in size is Vitilevu, which is three hundred miles in circumference, and contains a population of from 20,000 to 30,000. The remaining Islands are of various sizes down to ten miles only in circumference, with an average population of from 80 to 100 persons to the square mile. The Island of Ovalau, mentioned in the narrative which appeared in our number of the 16th, is thirty miles in circumference, and contains a population of about 3000. It is impossible to make any accurate estimate as to the entire population of the group, but it must be immense.

CLIMATE AND PRODUCTIONS.—The climate of this group is particularly healthful, extremes of heat and cold being never felt, and besides the ordinary productions of the South Sea Islands, such as yams, taro, arrowroot, sweet potatoe, &c., the Islands produce coffee, sugar-cane, and cotton. No European fruits have been tried there except the grape, and the few vines which have been planted have been found to succeed particularly well. Pigs are numerous, but there is yet but few cattle. The basis of all the Islands is coral, and there are many of them mountainous, but there is an abundance of level land for agricultural purposes, and the forests yield an inexhaustible supply of timber adapted for ship building. The principal articles of export are beche le mer, cocoa nut oil, and tortoise shell.

HABITS AND DISPOSITIONS OF THE FEJEANS. The Fejeans are an intelligent race, although not so keen as the New Zealanders and some other of the Polynesian tribes; they are however, very industrious, being in this respect superior to any of these races. They cultivate the earth and rear abundance of provisions not only for their own consumption but for sale; so that it is not the want of provisions but their depraved appetite which induces them to indulge in cannibalism. Their fondness for war is the chief curse of the race, and prevents them from enjoying that happiness which their beautiful and fruitful country would otherwise afford them. To strangers they are exceedingly hospitable, and willshare with them to the last morsel of provisions. Of their warlike propensities and the efforts which are made to attain conquest, a sufficient proof is afforded by the fact that in the last expedition undertaken by Saru, the chief of Bow, no less than 15,000 lighting men were engaged. The Fejeans have double war canoes, capable in some instances, of carrying about 300 men. The dress of these islanders is composed of Tapa, a cloth made from the Inner bark of a tree in the same manner as that worn by the other natives of the South Sea Islands, although the fashion of wearing it is different. Their original arms were bows and arrows, spears and clubs, but firearms are now superseding these weapons. RELIGION.- The Fejeans aire heathens but not idolaters, and have a numerous priesthood. The priests are called Nambattas, and there are man houses where the spirits of the Gods they worship are said to dwell. A house of this kind is called Boura, and besides its sacred character as a resting place for the Fejean deities, it is a species of Town Hall where all strangers come to relate their business, and where all public matters are discussed. In these houses strangers are also lodged. The Wesleyan missionaries who are numerous, have made a good many converts, and there are two French priests at Lakambo, who have made some progress. The principal station of the Wesleyans is at Vava, where they have a printing press. The natives, after their conversion to Christianity, be-come exceedingly docile.

CIVIL GOVERNMENT AND GRADES IN SOCIETY. The government of the Fejees is an absolute monarchy. Saru, the Chief of Bow, having become, by the success of his late expedition, Tua Viti or king of Fejee (Fejee, we may here remark, is an European misnomer, the name of the islands and nation, according to the native tongue, being Viti,) has an immense revenue, tribute being paid to him in kind, by all his dependants; and, so great is his power, that he has only to demand and to receive. His Majesty is treated with great respect by his subjects, who approach him on their hands and knees whenever they have occasion to address him. Next to the Tua or king, there are a class of sovereign chiefs called Turanga Koro, who are the heads of subordinate districts or states, and over whom the supreme chief has but a mere feudal superiority. The next grade in society is that of the Matanafan[?] or owner of the land. These “lords of the manor”  receive no particular rent for their patrimony, but possess great influence, antd are generally about the persons of the chiefs. Every old man can make   seunet- every woman can make the tapa, or cloth with which the people are clothed, and every one can cultivate the ground ; but there are a few trades which are exclusively practised in particular fami- lies, being in fact hereditary. These are the mataso[?] or carpenter, the kiwi or fisherman, the mati-na- kouro or manufacturer of earthenware, and the mati-na-emba or mat maker; the last are principally women. Besides the persons in authority above named, every district or state sends to the neigh- bouring states an officer, called a matacambon whose situation and privileges are precisely analagous to those of the European ambassador, his person being sacred from violence during the more turbulent times. The great bulk of the population consists of the kassi, or poor people, who cultivate the ground; but there is a still lower class – the Barnboola, these are the slaves who have been taken in war, and may be killed and eaten by their captors at pleasure. The law of inheritance is very different here from what it is at most of the other South Sea Islands, nobility, and property being inherited by the male instead of the female line.

EUROPEAN SETTLERS.- The European and American settlers are about sixty in number, and are for the most part married to native wives. The number of half caste children is very great, and at the town of Soalevir, which is the principal settlement of the Europeans, there are no less than 96. These enterprising men are of a superior class to those who are found at most of the other islands in the South Seas, and are employed in ship building, as pilots or as traders among the various islands of the group. They possess among them no less than eleven small vessels, all decked, varying in size from six to thirty tons, which are all armed with swivels. No opposition is offered by the chiefs to Europeansettlements, and a new settler is readily allowed sufficient land for a house and garden. Provisions are plentiful and cheap, being procured by barter for the ordinary articles of trade – arms, ammunition, hardware, &c., but as these articles are only to be procured from the vessels which call there for supplies, the settlers have generally to pay a high price for them.

HARBOURS. – The group abounds with harbours and good anchorage may be found anywhere among the Islands, with a muddy bottom, at from thirty to five fathoms. There are, however, many coral reefs, but as competent European pilots can at all times be procured, the trade among these islands may be pursued without danger.

* The above particulars were communicated by a person who has been for seventeen years a resident on the Islands, and may, therefore, be relied upon as accurate. The only inaccuracies worthy of note in the narrative which appeared in a previous number are in the names of the principal chief and of two Europeans. The chief who was called Sam in our last, is the before mentioned Saru, King of Feejee.The man whose murder was mentioned in the fourth paragraph, was named Wilson, instead of Nelson, and he whose life was so much sought after by Saru  was named Pickering, instead of Tickay. This man was a native of Sydney, and has a mother still living in this city.

Source – Sydney Chronicle, Wednesday 23rd June 1847, page 2. Accessed on Trove 29 April 2012.

Gazetteer of Central Polynesia, 1857

A gazetteer of Central Polynesia was published in the Sydney Morning Herald over some months in 1857. Included were placenames in Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.

It can be seen that the spelling is not what we know today, so be mindful of this when you search.

I have added the articles making up the gazetteer into a list called ‘Fiji gazetteer’ on the Trove website at http://trove.nla.gov.au/list?id=13361

Here is an example from Friday 3rd July 1857, covering the first half of the listing for places beginning with N.

SMH 1857 Gazetteer Central Polynesia N detail

If you come across a placename in an old book or document that you can’t recognise, perhaps it is listed here with a spelling that you wouldn’t have suspected.

 

Blue Books

Fiji Blue Book 1893Blue books were used to send data back to the Colonial Office in London about how the Colony was doing. Every Colony had to send one every year, including Fiji. From what I can find out they started in 1876 and finished in 1940. The task usually fell to the office of the Colonial Secretary.

Blue Books give a snapshot of the country in time, and since the snapshots are taken every year you can get an idea of how the country is developing over time. Revenue and expenditure, population, education, imports and and exports, agriculture, total grants of land, gaols and prisoners, criminals, lunatic asylums, hospitals, charitable institutions, banks, railways and roads; nothing was overlooked. The British Government was paying for this colony and it wanted to know what it was getting for its money.

Blue Books also list government employees. All of them. So if your person of interest was working in the government or holder of a recognised native office you can follow him or her over time to see what position was held.

The headings listed in the Contents page for 1890 were:

Blue Book Contents 1890

Here is a piece of a random page from the List of Officers on page 77 of the 1890 edition:

List of officers

You can see everyone here from the Chief of Rotuma and the Buli Bua down to a clerk in Suva Hospital and another in Levuka Post Office. The numbers in the right column refer to the page in the report where the job is described. I’m sorry I didn’t check the page where the Chief’s jobs are described!

Another interesting section is the answers to set questions about prisons:

Prisons and Prisoners 1890 p197

As onerous a task as it must have been for the Colonial Secretary and his Office to compile these reports every year, we historians must be grateful that they did so.

The Mitchell Library in Sydney has a collection from 1890 to 1940.

The National Library of Australia has them on microfilm from 1876 to 1940 with some gaps.

The University of Queensland has a run from 1889 to 1940.

Other Australian libraries have shorter runs. Check Trove for details.

House of Commons Parliamentary Papers

House of Commons Parliamentary PapersBefore Fiji was ceded to Great Britain in 1874 there was quite a bit of documentation flowing backwards and forwards between various members of the British Government, and much of it was printed and distributed for the benefit of the Members of the House of Commons. Once Fiji became a colony there were various reports and correspondence tabled. Although rarely mentioning individuals by name it is very useful to historians.

The Parliamentary Papers for the British House of Commons have been digitised and categorised for the use of researchers. The website is http://parlipapers.chadwyck.co.uk but you need to have a login and password to enter it.

Fortunately, if you have a Library Card from the National Library of Australia you can access the site for free. Just go to the Library’s homepage and click on eResources in the top right hand corner. Here you can enter your Library Card number and your family name. If you don’t have a Library Card you can request one, and it will be posted within a couple of weeks.

Once you’ve logged in using your Library Card go down to Find a resource and type in ‘House of Commons’. Accept the terms and conditions. If you then Browse Subject Catalogue you need to get down to The dominions and colonies:

HCPP Fiji

As you can see there are documents for other Pacific Islands as well. Here is the list of documents for the years 1801-1900 under the heading Fiji Islands:

1862 [2995] Fiji islands. Correspondence relative to the Fiji islands.

1871 (435) Fiji Islands. Return to an address of the honourable the House of Commons, dated 24 April 1871;–for, copies or extracts of correspondence and documents relating to the Feejee Islands, in so far as the same relate to their annexation to the colonial empire of this country, or otherwise affording protection to British subjects resident in those islands.”

1872 [C.509] Fiji Islands. Further correspondence relating to the Fiji Islands.

1873 (76) Fiji Islands (instructions to naval officer). Copy of any instructions that may have been sent to the naval officer commanding in the pacific relative to the line of conduct to be adopted by commanders of Her Majesty’s vessels towards the so-called government of the Fiji.

1873 (124) Fiji islands (correspondence with New South Wales). Copies of despatches to the Governor of New South Wales (subsequent to letter 88 of 3rd November 1371, published in parliamentary paper, no. 509, of 1872), respecting the acknowledgment of the government set up by a section of the white settlers in the Fiji islands, as well as of the minutes or correspondence which have passed between the Governor of New South Wales and his executive council on the same subject.

1873 (337) Fiji Islands. Copy of a despatch from Captain Chapman, of Her Majesty’s ship “dido,” to Commodore Stirling, 29th March 1873, with its enclosures, relative to the dispute between the Fiji Government and the white settlers of the district of Ba, in the Fiji Islands.

1874 [C.983] Fiji Islands. Copy of a letter addressed to Commodore Goodenough, R.N., and E. L. Layard, Esq., Her Majesty’s consul in Fiji, instructing them to report upon various questions connected with the Fiji Islands: with enclosures.

1874 [C.1011] Report of Commodore Goodenough and and Mr. Consul Layard on the offer of the cession of the Fiji Islands to the British crown.

1875 [C.1114] [C.1337] Correspondence respecting the colony of Fiji.

1876 (399) Fiji (measles). Copy of letter from the Admiralty to Commodore Hoskins, conveying their views on the alleged introduction of measles into Fiji by the officers of Her Majesty’s ship “Dido.”

1876 (408) Fiji (measles). Copy of the letter from the secretary of state for the colonies to the Governor of Fiji, communicating the views of Her Majesty’s Government as to the responsibility of the administrator of the colony and the acting colonial secretary for the introduction of measles into Fiji.

1876 [C.1404] [C.1624] Further correspondence respecting the colony of Fiji.

1877 [C.1826] Further correspondence relative to the colony of Fiji.

1877 [C.1880] Fiji. Correspondence in connexion with the native produce taxes in Fiji.

1878 (111) Polynesian labourers. Copies of ordinances introduced by Sir Arthur Gordon to regulate treatment of Polynesian labourers, and the introduction of Indian coolies into Fiji; and, of correspondence relating to these ordinances between the Colonial Office and the Government of Fiji.

1878 (285) Marriages (Fiji). A bill to remove doubts as to the validity of certain marriages solemnized in the islands of Fiji prior to their erection into a British colony.

1880 (411) Fiji (ship “Leonidas”). Copy or extracts of the correspondence which took place between Mr. Des Vœux, administrator of Fiji, and the Secretary of State for the Colonies, relative to the detention of the coolie ship “Leonidas” at Nasova in May 1879, in consequence of an outbreak of smallpox on board, and also any reports showing the successful efforts of the administrator to prevent the introduction of the disease into Fiji.

1883 [C.3584] [C.3815] Fiji. Correspondence relative to land claims in Fiji. Maps will be found at page 64.

1884-85 [C.4433] Fiji. Further correspondence respecting claims of German subjects to land in Fiji. (In continuation of [C.-3584] of April 1883 and [C.-3815] of August 1883.) A map will be found at page 78.

1884-85 [C.4434] Fiji. Correspondence relating to the native population of Fiji. Part I.–Native labour ordinances. Part II.–Condition of the native population.

1887 [C.5039] Fiji. Correspondence relating to the native population of Fiji. (In continuation of [C.–4434] May 1885.) Maps will be found at pages 40, 72, and 74.

1888 [C.5249-37] Her Majesty’s colonial possessions. No. 34. Fiji. Report on the blue book for 1887.

1890 [C.5897-9] Her Majesty’s colonial possessions. No. 79. Fiji. Report on the blue book for 1888. (In continuation of colonial possessions report no. 34.)

1890-91 [C.6221-5] Her Majesty’s colonial possessions. No. 116. Fiji. Report on the blue book for 1889. (In continuation of Colonial possessions report no. 79.)

1892 [C.6829] Colonial reports.–Annual. No. 45. Fiji. Annual report for 1890. (For report for 1889, see Colonial Report no. 116, Old Series.)

1893-94 [C.6857-22] Colonial reports.–Annual. No. 72. Fiji. Annual report for 1891. (For report for 1890, see Colonial Report [Annual] No. 45.)

1893-94 [C.6857-47] Colonial reports.–Annual. No. 97. Fiji. Annual report for 1892. (For report for 1891, see Colonial Report [Annual] No. 72.)

1895 [C.7629-10] Colonial reports.–Annual. No. 127. Fiji. Annual report for 1893. (For report for 1892, see colonial report [Annual] no. 97.)

1895 [C.7679] Fiji. Further correspondence respecting the affairs of Fiji and the native population. (In continuation of [C. 5039, April 1887].)

1896 [C.7944-5] Colonial reports.–Annual. No. 153. Fiji. Annual report for 1894. (For report for 1893, see colonial report [Annual] no. 127.)

1898 [C.8650-1] Colonial reports.–Annual. No. 203. Fiji. Report on trade for 1896.

1898 [C.8650-15] Colonial reports–annual. No. 217. Fiji. Annual report for 1896.

1899 [C.9046-12] Colonial reports–annual. No. 244. Fiji. Annual report for 1897. (For report for 1896, see no. 217.)

1899 [C.9498-2] Colonial reports–annual. No. 268. Fiji. Annual report for 1898. (For report for 1897, see no. 244)

1900 [Cd.354-2] Colonial reports–Annual. No. 296. Fiji. Report for 1899. (For report for 1898, see no. 268.)

The documents are all downloadable as PDF files, and some of them are quite large. Here is an example from the 1871 collection of documents and despatches related to the Fiji Islands “in so far as the same relate to their annexation to the colonial empire of this country, or otherwise affording protection to British subjects resident in those islands.”

HOUSE OF COMMONS PAPERS; ACCOUNTS AND PAPERS, Volume/Page XLVII.777; Return to an address of the honourable the House of Commons, dated 24 April 1871, Paper (435), page 3.

These documents are indispensable to historians and are easily obtainable for Australian residents. Libraries and universities in other countries may have similar arrangements, so it’s worth checking.