Thursday, January 8, 2009

Allan Hughan's journalistic prowess.

It has already been shown that Allan Hughan was very fond of putting pen to paper, and also that he was an extremely articulate, intelligent man.It is not, therefore, surprising that he added another feather to his cap whilst living in Noumea- that of a working journalist.
The very interesting book, "The Making Of A Rebel- Captain Donald Macleod of the New Hebrides" by Katherine Stirling Kerr Cawsey(published in 1998)has several references to Allan Hughan, all of which show another side of his talents. The summary on the book's back reads as follows:
" Tarred as a blackbirder, Donald Macleod participated in settlement and trading in the Pacific Islands from 1868 until his death in 1894. Although he did not participate in the labour trade, he has been unfairly maligned in history books. British and French colonists, anxious to achieve political ends, used Macleod as a whipping boy, as did the New Hebrides Mission. After extensive research, his great-niece, Katherine Stirling Kerr Cawsey, found that Macleod enjoyed a good reputation among Islanders, settlers, traders and some colonial officials and missionaries; he was not the villain that many others had painted him. This book offers hitherto unknown data about trading conditions and Islander participation and revelatory discussion of the politics of the day, as well as an intimate portrait of a survivor in a rough and controversial era."
This book is partially available in 'limited preview' format on Googlebooks, but I tracked down a copy of the book for my own purchase, and am delighted that I did so as it is wonderfully researched and makes for compelling reading. I obtained my copy from "The Institute of Pacific Studies, University of the South Pacific,P.O Box 1168, Suva, Fiji.'
An appendix at the back of the book is particularly helpful in that it gives a summary of the main characters in the saga of Noumea in the 1870s. My Allan Hughan's paragraph, on page 543, gave the following information:
An Englishman who arrived in Noumea from Sydney about 1870. He was a photographer by profession, living and conducting his business in Rue Sebastopol. Was a regular correspondent to the Sydney Morning Herald with a column entitled 'New Caledonia'. Justice Gorrie in Fiji designated Hughan as "the blood-thirsty ruffian who is the correspondent of the Sydney Morning Herald in Noumea." Hughan was certainly not that. Macleod had many friendly dealings with him. His sympathies were always British. He had no time for John Higginson. In a letter to E.L Layard, the British Consul, Hughan was contemptuous of a petition got up by Higginson, John Morgan and friends to have him removed. "The large majority of my countrymen and country women here would rejoice at the utter discomfort of a mean cowardly attack, worthy of the originator." "
John Higginson( pictured above) was an Englishman of Irish ancestry who in 1859 at the age of 20 had arrived in New Caledonia without a cent to his name. He worked for pioneer James Paddon, then realised the advantages of supplying New Caledonia from Australia instead of France and worked to that end in establishing himself as a trader between the two colonies.His sympathies were always with the French, and in 1876 he became a naturalized Frenchman.
It is intriguing that Higginson and Allan Hughan should become enemies. Both were English-born, and Allan certainly displayed an enormous fondness for the French nation when he was rescued French naval ships in 1870 after the sinking of the Pilot. I think he always maintained a healthy respect for France, but he was an Englishman before all else,and obviously judged Higginson and his cronies and found them wanting.

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