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Nicholas Loney: Lonely and Forgotten

Submitted by on September 29, 2011 – 6:14 pm23 Comments

Muelle Loney

Called the Father of Iloilo’s Sugar Industry, there is more to this gentle Englishman who, by love and romance to this tropical islands, settled at Iloilo as a trader in 1851 and was appointed the British Vice Consul in 1856.

Many credit him in developing the sugar industry which led to the sugar bonanza and eventually opening Iloilo to international sugar trade. Today, few Ilonggos know Nicholas Loney and his impact to Iloilo’s economy in the mid-19th century; a monument erected in memory of him can still be found at the end of Muelle Loney (Loney Waterfront) though it’s in dilapidated state.

So who was Nicholas Loney?

Born at Plymouth, England in 1826, he is the son of Admiral Loney of the Royal Navy. He first resided at South America but later decided to settle at Iloilo in 1856. As an appointed British Vice Consul on the time that general trade at Iloilo is flourishing, his function is to provide assistance and information to British and other foreign merchants. As a businessman, Loney is the first foreigner to put up a merchant firm in the city, Loney & Co.

Sugar production at the time was rising due to growing price of sugar in Manila and Loney further helped the hacienderos and farmers by providing loans, and purchasing modern machinery from Europe through his firm, Loney & Ker Co. thus increasing the efficiency of sugar production in Iloilo.

Loney and the Textile Industry

Some historical references suggest the relationship of Lonely and the untimely demise of Iloilo’s textile industry. Upon his arrival at Iloilo, Loney reported that the exported fabrics of Iloilo amounted from 400,000 Mexican pesos to 1,000,000 pesos annually. Located in a colony with an agriculture-dominant economy, Iloilo has attained remarkable degree of development in manufacturing textile. Loney even reported that almost every household has a wooden or bamboo loom for weaving. Sinamays and Pinas at that time are Iloilo’s major exports to other parts of the colony. Ilonggo textiles are always in demand and are usually every Thursday at the famous Jaro Market. Loney, claimed by some references as an agent of Glasgow and Manchester textile firms, was tasked to promote the cheaper British textile as a substitute for Ilonggo cloths and to encourage production of sugar to feed the growing number of British refineries. In the process of this task came the death of Iloilo textile industry as cheap British cloth entered the market and competed with Ilonggo textile.

The Economic Growth of Iloilo and the Sugar Boom of Late 19th Century

Muelle Loney Iloilo

Nicholas Loney also encouraged improvements in infrastructure of the international port of Iloilo. He led the gradual reclamation of the western bank of Iloilo River and the construction of the Calle Progreso (present day Isidro De Rama Street) which became the location of numerous sugar warehouses at his time. Upon his death, Iloilo’s sugar exports amounted from 12,000 piculs to almost 300,000 and were in demand in England, America and Australia.

With prosperity coming from the sugar industry, Iloilo became the premier city of the islands; second only to Manila. Iloilo became another jewel in the monarch’s crown and was elevated to city status (ayuntamiento) in 1890.

Nicholas LoneyDeath and Iloilo’s Loss

Loney died on April 23, 1869 due to typhoid fever while exploring Mount Kanlaon in Negros. He died at young age of 41 and his loss was mourned by Iloilo.

Spanish, foreigners and Ilonggos in great numbers attended his burial. It was reported that hundreds of carriages, others driven by carabaos, escorted Loney to his resting place.

His name for many years was respected and venerated by Ilonggos for his great interest in developing the sugar industry of Iloilo.

On March 1904, the Municipal Council of Iloilo passed a resolution naming the long stretch of road along Iloilo Port as Muelle Loney or Loney Waterfront in honor of the Father of Sugar Industry of Iloilo.

Muelle Loney Iloilo City

Today, few people know Loney and his contributions to Iloilo’s economy. A monument found at the corner of Muelle Loney with a rusted marker still serves as a reminder of his efforts to improve Iloilo’s trade and sugar industry. But to ordinary people, the name Loney is only related to the avenue at Iloilo’s waterfront. Lonely at the end of his street, Nicholas Loney is forgotten and unnoticed by motorists or by passers.

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  • John Earle says:

    I have just completed an MA is History and my dissertation was on Nicholas Loney and his work in Iloilo and Negros.

    One question that I have been unable to answer is when exactly the Loney statue on muelle Loney was erected. Have you any information about this?


    • Mark Segador says:

      Hi John! Congratulations on your completion of your MA!
      I cannot tell for sure when the monument was erected as there are no marker to remind us of. Unfortunately, I’m inadequately resourced to answer. (hmmm, a trip to UP’s Center for Western Visayan Studies is severely warranted)

      The NHI marker beside the monument also does not have any date on it, except the 1981 date on the NHI logo (which could mean the marker was placed there after 1981). But I cannot tell if the NHI marker and the monument were separately placed there.

      anyway, hopefully I can find an answer to your question as I got curious on this one now as well. =)

    • Mark Segador says:

      Hi John! it took me months to find answer to your question.

      the statue of Loney at the waterfront was unveiled on March 1981 which was witnessed by British Ambassador William Bently (who proposed the memorial in 1977) and Philippine Sugar Commission Chairman Roberto Benedicto. The sculptor commissioned to execute the work was Leonides S. Valdez. The statue shows evidence of Valdez’s own research on Loney and his era. As the statue was meant to face the waterfront, Loney’s hair and part of his cloak is flying in the wind. the right clutches what was meant to be a pocket bible indicative of his stern religious character. years before the statue was colored, as renovation happened, the statue was colored entirely blue. hope i answered your question fully.

      some of the texts are exactly from Professor Funtecha’s Historical Landmarks and Monuments of Iloilo (1999).

  • Darlene says:

    Hello Mark!

    I really appreciate your website and for providing a history of Nicholas Loney. I think his beginning in Iloilo need to be taught in Iloilo schools so that what he’s done for Iloilo will not be forgotten. Do you know if his history is part of Iloilo’s tourism? Thanks!

    • Mark Segador says:

      yeah, local history and heritage in particular should be taught in our schools. usually the roots of the sugar boom that led to the rise of Iloilo City in the late 19th century is attributed to Nicholas Loney. The city government mentions his name in its brochures and in promoting Iloilo. There was also a time when a British Ambassador together with our mayor honored the noble Englishman.

      • Jonah Rey Palmares says:

        Mark Thank you for sharing the The History of our Barangay……I appreciate your Efforts….I will be using your research to read this during our fiesta June 9, 2012………God bless… I really like it……..

  • coy says:

    What I really wish is that the mayor should clear those shanties besides the monument. Just kind of respect to Loney for the contribution he has extended to Iloilo City and Ilonggos.

  • pat portsnouth says:

    An ancestor, William WHITTOME died in Ilolio)about1882 age 59.He was from a family of steam mill engineers in Norfolk, England. I have been trying for years to find something about him…anything! The name is very rare but I ahve still been unbale to find out even if he married/had children.

    Can you help please. He was probably born about 1823.

    • Mark Segador says:

      as to that, i cannot tell for sure how can i search that. but rest assured if i crossed the name in my readings i’ll definitely update you here

      • Pat Portsmouth says:

        Thanks for your reply, Mark. Because there was mention of Loney bringing in a steam engine for the sugar industry I wondered if that was when William Whttome went to Ilolio. If he worked with Loney perhaps there is a mention of his death in a local newspaper if old copies are in the Archives of the City. I can find no trace of him in the English census so he may have arrived there (and married and had children?). I have copy of his death certificate issued by the British Consulate so he couldd well have been an associate of Loney.

        I shall have to google the City and get some more background. It would seem that William was there before the Americans moved in.


        • Mark Segador says:

          yes definitely, if he came at the time of Loney, he arrived way before the Americans did. hmmm, i wonder where can we find archives of old newspapers here in Iloilo. As of now, i have no idea. anyone can help me and pat here? =)

    • ignacio illenberger says:

      Dear Pat Portsmouth:

      There was a cemetery for foreigners in Iloilo City along the shoreline that is now Rizal Street. The cemetery grew from
      the grave of the British Vice-Consul at Iloilo, Nicholas Loney.
      Loney was buried there in April 24, 1869. Sometime in early
      1870, the grateful Iloilo citizen built a monument over his
      grave that started the establishment of the Cementerio de los
      Extranjeros (Cemetery for the Foreigners). The locals called it
      the British Cemetery because many Britishers were buried there. These Britishers were technicians in the burgeoning sugar industry developed by Hong Kong based Pale Hongs, among them the Taller Visayas run by Strachan and McMurray. After the Pacific War, the remains were exhumed by the British Government to give way to urban expansion. Your Manila embassy should have records of this event
      and where the remains were transferred. IGNACIO ILLENBERGER

      • John Earle says:


        Thank you for this additional information. I have two questions:

        1. Do you have any evidence to show more clearly the location of the Foreigners’ cemetery – old maps, books, etc.?

        2. You say that the remains were exhumed by the British Government after the war to allow for urban expansion. Do you know of any further documentary evidence for this? Do you know where the remains were reburied?

        Any information would be very helpful for my academic research which would become available to everyone when completed.

        Best wishes,

        John Earle

  • Vic says:

    Hello Mark , would you please tell me what is your source about Muelle Loney Death? and how he died of typhoid fever? Thank you.

    • Mark Segador says:

      Hi Vic! I went back on my researches and i would like to re-post here some of the entries in Iloilo City Boy’s post (http://iloilocityboy.blogspot.com/2011/06/letters-of-nicholas-loney-postscript.html)

      The preceding is the last of the Loney letters in the possession of his grandniece. Three years after it was written, he died of typhoid fever in the island of Negros. His nephew, who was then in Cebu, wrote to England a letter dated May 2, 1869 which gives an account of his sudden demise in the following words:

      “You must have heard by last mail the sad news of Uncle Nicholas’ death. I had a long letter from him describing his Canlaon Expedition dated the 15th of April so that his illness must have been very short. We have only just heard of it and can hardly realize it yet. When he hurt his foot, some time ago, he was laid up in the house for some time without exercise and consequently got very fat and the sudden violent exercise he had the other day going up Canlaon must have brought on the gastric fever of which he died but I can’t say for certain as we have had no particulars yet.

      May 3. The Sudoesta has just arrived and Captain Fass was in Iloilo at the time of Uncle N.’s death. He says that all Iloilo followed him to his grave and that over 100 carriages besides lots of buffalo carts filled with people were there. He was buried under some palm trees by the sea shore in the prettiest site that could be found and they are going to erect a monument there. Captain Fass was allowed to read the Protestant burial service over his grave. He says that poor Uncle Robert is very very much cut up. Mr. Ker wants very much to go over there in this present steamer but it will not be possible.

      The Governor of Iloilo is a very nice man. When Capt. Fass and Mr. Gardner were searching for a place to bury him they applied to the Governor for permission. His answer was ‘Choose the prettiest place on anyone’s ground on the Island of Panay and bury him there and I will be answerable for the consequences.’ And again when they were at the grave a Padre made some objections about reading the burial service when he stood up before the thousands of people collected and said, ‘It is of no importance whether he was a Roman Catholic or a Protestant all I know is that he was a Christian.’

      I believe that Aunt Leontine intends going home as soon as she can find anyone to go with. People are continually calling at our office to know if it’s true that Don Nicolas is dead, they can’t believe it. I can’t make my letter very long this time as we are all in such confusion and have heaps and heaps of work to do for the steamer, besides two hemp vessels and one large sugar one. I don’t give you any more particulars of Uncle N’s death as doubtlessly you have already heard all from Uncle Robert.

      Last week Mr. Ker and I managed to reach the top of the high mountains that are seen from here. It was a very hard pull as the sides of the mountain were like so – we saw an old Indian on the top who had lived there all his life and we asked him if he had ever seen a white man there before and he said ‘No, you are the first that have ever been up here.’ It was quite cool up there, but I don’t think that we ever should have come down again if we had not found a beautiful spring of water at the very top. We had a splendid view from the top..

      A tribute to his memory appeared in the Iloilo newspaper “El Tiempo” of March 3, 1904 as follows:

      ‘The Municipal Council of this City resolved at its last evening’s session that the waterfront of Iloilo be called from henceforth “Muelle Loney (Loney Waterfront).

      We congratulate the Municipal Council on this resolution.

      The name of Nicholas Loney is held in this region of the Visayas with great respect and veneration: he was a philanthropist who gave impulse to the cultivation of the principal production of these provinces, sugar, besides initiating other works which are still remembered.

      The following are the biographical data of N. Loney: He was born in Plymouth, England; son of the late Admiral Loney, R.N. of this town. At first he went to reside in South America, but after a short stay there, came to the Philippine Islands arriving at Iloilo about the year 1856, being the first British Vice Consul appointed to this post, which was opened to general trade at the same time. He was also the first foreign merchant to establish himself in this City.

      The cultivation of sugar was then in this district almost nil, but he fomented it to such an extent that from that time it became an important article of export, and the first foreign vessel, which was also English, which entered Iloilo in 1860 – was loaded with sugar for Australia with Messrs. Loney & Co., of which firm N. Loney was partner.

      This firm at that time represented in Iloilo the Manila Houses of Russell & Sturgis (American) and Ker & Co. (English). Loney & Co. were owners of the Matabas Estate in Talisay (Negros) in which they set up the largest steam mill in the Islands. Nicholas Loney furnished Sir John Bowring with much of the information contained in his book on the Philippines. He married Mademoiselle Leontine Traschler and had two children.

      What was a mud flat, where now stands the go-downs on the waterfront, i.e. Progreso Street, from the house, now the property of Messrs. de la Rama & Sons (adjoining the military Commissary Store) to Melliza Street; thence to the last go-down towards the North, was filled in under his initiative.

      The privations experienced during an ascent of the Volcano Canlaon in Negros brought on typhoid fever of which he died on April 22, 1869.

      His name was for many years respected and venerated by the natives of the whole province, and still today many old residents remember him gratefully for the great interest in all that related with the sugar industry in the Provinces of Iloilo and Negros. In the British Cemetery of this City there is a marble monument erected by voluntary subscription amongst the Spaniards, foreigners and native residents of Iloilo, Jaro and Molo which was inaugurated in 1870 and bears the following inscription in English, Spanish, French and Visayan on its four sides:


      Nicholas Loney

      Of Plymouth, England

      Who was H.M. Vice Consul in this Port

      Died the 22nd April 1869

      Aged 41 Years

      This monument is erected by his numerous friends, Spaniards, foreigners and natives, as a slight testimony of the esteem and remembrance in which his memory will be held by all who knew him
      The island of Negros ought also to dedicate a remembrance to the memory of such a famous name since she owes the progress of her agriculture in a great measure to the disinterested philanthropy of W. Nicholas Loney.”

  • Vic says:

    I greatly appreciate your invaluable gesture Mark.
    I read it all and QED. the causal association of Gastric Fever , and otherwise known as Enteric Fever is very strong with Typhoid Fever or Desentery which is common during 1800’s.
    Everything that happened in the past goes down in history and might have been left unremembered by the succeding generation. Monument is good reminder of those momentous past.
    He was loved by the locals who should have close contact with Ilongo Sugar Barons from Molo and Jaro like Araneta , Lopez , Lacson , Locsin , Jalandoni and Ledesma who help these families prospered and gave livehood over people of Negros Occidental.
    my heartfelt thanks to you Mark

  • John Earle says:

    It is good to know that some people are still interested in Nicholas Loney.

    Mark, Thanks for the additional information. If anyone wishes to follow up anything here, I have presented a copy of my MA dissertation to the Negros Museum in Bacolod City and it can be read/consulted by anyone interested. Equally, I would be happy to answer any specific questions sent to me at either johnearle@btinternet.com (personal) or cje213@exeter.ac.uk (university) or posted on here.

    My dissertation also deals in more detail with how Loney came to be appointed to the post of British Vice-Consul in Iloilo City, what he actually did to help the local economy and why trade increased significantly following his appointment. I have spent many days and weeks in the National Archives in London reading Loney’s original letters and reports so my research is based on original documents. The book ‘Sugar Is Sweet’ by Demy Sonza is also a great source of information, bearing in mind that it is almost 40 years since it was published.

    John Earle

    • Mark Segador says:

      Hi Sir John Earle! I hope we can also provide a copy of your dissertation here in Museo Iloilo (Museum of Iloilo). Thank you very much for sharing this very important part of our history. Nicholas Loney is one of the pillars of Iloilo’s economic growth in the 19th century.

      • Butch Bacaoco says:

        Hi, John & Mark! I Butch Bacaoco, former editor-in-chief of Sunstar Bacolod newspaper. I am part of a Bacolod-based team which is writing a book on muscuvado. Of course, research led me to Loney. Your posts on the man are very enlightening and informative, some of which I also came across in sugar industry literature.

        I have not gone to Negros Museum yet to read John’s dissertation. I am interested in the European market where Loney sold the sugar (which I presume were in muscuvado form, considering that it was only in the early 20th century that centrifugal mills from the US arrived in our country).

        We know that he sent sugar from Iloilo port to Australia. However, I have not read any mention of him sending the sugar to England(which was among the booming refinery centers at that time) or any part of Europe for that matter. I presume he also sent sugar to England and Europe, perhaps on the return trip of ships which brought the iron mills from Glasgow?

        Your assistance on this matter will be greatly appreciated and will definitely be credited in the book which we aim to publish in the first half of this year.

        Salamat gid!

    • joselito bolivar says:

      hello gud day? i want to read about your dissertaion. where can i find a copy of you dissertation? thank you very much.

  • joselito bolivar says:

    i would like to ask if ou could provide me the names of the british associated with nicolas looney.

  • Tex Alinsug says:

    What are the words in the stone? I mean the marker

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