For years I have admired this painting of Queen Lilioukalani, and I have been lucky to have seen it hanging in Iolani Palace in Honoulu, Hawaii. I recently noticed that the artist’s name was William F. Cogswell. Did you ever do a double take when you saw a familiar surname? This one piqued my interest because it is an ancestor’s name, and Cogswell is not a common name. John Cogswell (1592 – 1669) was born in Wiltshire, England and settled in Ipswich, Massachusetts. The name Cogswell is still common in Ipswich and New England.
My mother was born in Ipswich, and generations of her family lived there and in Essex (the former Chebacco Parish of Ipswich). My grandparents and generations of family are buried at the Spring Street Cemetery, right on the same road as the Cogswell Grant. This property is now a museum home run by Historic New England. I was very familiar with the surname. The artist John Cogswell is a very distant cousin- check out the genealogy listed at the bottom of this post.
William F. Cogswell (1819 – 1903) the artist, was born in Fabius, New York, not too far from where his ancestors lived in Massachusetts. He was a self taught artist who painted portraits in New York City. He removed to California in 1873 where he lived for the rest of his life, except for a few voyages to Hawaii where he painted the ali’I (nobility). He also painted Ulysses S. Grant (this painting now hangs in the U.S. Senate) and Abraham Lincoln (now in the White House).
I love this painting because I had seen it reproduced many times in books and online, but seeing it in person on the walls of Iolani Palace was eye opening. She is wearing a butterfly ornament in her hair. I had seen this same piece of jewelry in the palace museum, and bought several replicas for the women in our family. This is a piece of jewelry she bought in London when she was invited to Queen Victoria’s Jubilee celebration, and the same trip when she stopped in Boston to visit with my relatives, her husband’s family in 1887. The original pin has springs so the wings quiver.
In the painting the Queen is also wearing her “Hawaiian heirloom” bracelet. Liliuokalani started this tradition when Queen Victoria gave her a bracelet of mourning jewelry in honor of Prince Albert’s death. She loved the style and commissioned several to bring back for her ladies in waiting. They were so popular in Hawaii that the tradition spread and changed to include the wearer’s name. You can see many women wearing them in Hawaii, and you can order one as a souvenir when you visit Hawaii. Queen Liliuokalani’s bracelet was engraved with the words “Hoomanao mau” ( "a lasting remembrance") and is in the museum at Iolani Palace. Another one of her bracelets is on display at Washington Place, and another at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu.
Not only is this painting seen reproduced in print, the image you see here of the Queen Liliuokalani has been reproduced in costumes and dolls wearing the exact same dress and jewelry. It is truly a favorite painting of the beloved Queen. And it is serendipity that the artist and I share a common ancestor.
Costume from the “Take Back Halloween” website http://takebackhalloween.org/liliuokalani/
William F. Cogswell’s genealogy:
Generation 1: John Cogswell, born about 1592 in Westbury Leigh, Wiltshire, England, died 29 December 1669 in Ipswich, Massachusetts; married on 10 September 1615 in Westbury Leigh to Elizabeth Thompson, daughter of William and Phillis Thompson. These are my 9th great grandparents.
Generation 2: John Cogswell, born about 1622 in Ipswich and died 27 September 1653 at sea, on a ship returning to America from England, married ? These are my 8th great grandparents.
Generation 3: Samuel Cogswell, born 1651 in Ipswich and died 1700 in Lynn, Massachusetts; married on 27 October 1668 in Saybrook, Connecticut to Susanna Haven, daughter of Richard Haven and Susanna Newhall. He is my 7th great uncle.
Generation 4: Joseph Cogswell, born 10 April 1682 in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, died 28 December 1729 in Southington, Connecticut; married Anna Orvis.
Generation 5: Nathan Cogswell, born 20 May 1716 in Southington, died 1743; married on 24 November 1737 in Southington to Susanna Warner.
Generation 6: Solomon Cogswell, born 26 March 1743 in Farmington, Connecticut, died 26 May 1806 in Williamstown, Massachusetts; married Sarah Cowles.
Generation 7: William Cogswell, born 24 July 1789 in Hancock, Massachusetts, died 25 September 1834; married on 3 October 1816 in Fabius, New York to Samantha Petit, daughter of James Petit and Lucy Felt.
Generation 8: William F. Cogswell, born 15 July 1819 in Fabius, New York, died 24 December 1903 at Pasadena, California. He married Isabelle Williams, born in Ireland, and they had 10 children. He is buried at the Evergreen Cemetery in Los Angeles, California. William F. Cogswell is my 5th cousin, 4 generations removed.
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Copyright © 2014, Heather Wilkinson Rojo