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Loney, Nicholas 1828–1869

Nicholas Loney

Nicholas Loney, British businessman and diplomat, has been called the "Father of the Sugar Industry" in the Philippines. He promoted both the introduction of sugar-milling machinery and the modernization of the Visayan port city of Iloilo (Panay).

Loney, son of an English admiral, came to the Philippines in 1852. When Iloilo was opened to foreign trade, he was appointed British vice-consul there, serving from 1856 until his death of malaria in 1869. During these years he also ran Loney and Ker, a trading firm linked to the Manila Scottish merchants Ker and Company.

Recognizing the potential for sugar of the nearby island of Negros, Loney pioneered the importation of steam-powered mills, offering them on credit to Filipino planters; within a generation Negros had become the Philippine "Sugarland." He also saw the commercial advantage of exporting sugar directly from Iloilo, rather than transshipping through Manila, and helped turn the town from a swampy backwater into a thriving city. Its waterfront was eventually named after him: Muelle Loney.

Historian Alfred McCoy has criticized Loney's contribution to Philippine development, claiming that Loney's "primary aim" in Iloilo was to destroy its textile manufacturing industry in order to substitute imported British cottons, and that his contribution to the sugar industry was merely "incidental."

SEE ALSO Cotton; Empire, British; Empire, Spanish; Harbors; Philippines; Sugar, Molasses, and Rum.


Loney, Nicholas. A Britisher in the Philippines; or, The Letters of Nicholas Loney. Manila: National Library, 1964.

McCoy, Alfred W. "A Queen Dies Slowly: The Rise and Decline of Iloilo City." In Philippine Social History: Global Trade and Local Transformations, ed. Alfred W. McCoy and Ed. C. de Jesus. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1982.

Norman G. Owen

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