EARLY PACIFIC VISTORS TO BRITAIN
name of Omai
a man of Ra'iatea (Society Islands), who travelled to England on one of the
ships of Captain Cook's second voyage to the Pacific, has come once
again to the attention of the British press in recent years because
of concerns over the future of two paintings in which he appears.
One is a spectacular romantic portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds and the
other a portrait with Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander (the naturalists
of Cook's first voyage) by William Parry. While Parry's painting
has been secured by a collaboration between U.K. museums, the future
home of the Reynolds portrait still remains uncertain. It is
on loan to the National Gallery of Ireland until 2011.
less well-known is Lee Boo (Lebu), who travelled from what is now
Palau to England in the late eighteenth century, but died
in London of smallpox.
was the son of Abba Thulle (Ibedul) the rubak, chiefly title-holder,
of Oreor. When the British ship, the Antelope, was wrecked
in Palau in August 1783, the captain and crew gained the protection
Something of his story is told on his
tombstone in the churchyard of St Mary's Rotherhithe.
the memory of prince Lee Boo, a native of the Pelew or Palaos Islands
and Son of Abba Thulle, Rupack or King of the Island Cooroora, Who
departed this Life on the 27th December 1784, aged 20 years, this
stone is inscribed by the Honourable United East India Company as
a testimony of Esteem for the humane and kind treatment afforded
by his Father to the Crew of their Ship, the Antelope, Captain Wilson,
which was Wrecked off that island on the Night of 9th August 1783.
reader, Stop let Nature Claim a tear
A prince of Mine,
LEE BOO, Lies Buried Here."
Boo's tomb in the churchyard
of St Mary's, Rotherhithe, London
on image for fuller pictures)