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Black politicians in Jamaica between Emancipation and World War I
Who can you name? How many Jamaicans can you name who lived between 1865 and 1920? Not counting National Heroes!
Some other questions: 1. When did Black Jamaicans first get the right to vote? 2. Who was the first Black member of the House of Assembly, and when? 3. Who was the first Black member of the Legislative Council, and when? 4. Who was the first woman member of a Jamaican national Legislature, and when?
Constitutional stages I Old Representative System – 1664 -1865 From 1831 the franchise was open to all free adult males on the same terms.
Early Black Politicians in the Vestries Many Blacks served on Parish Vestries between 1834 and 1865: David Lee, one of 2 Blacks elected to Kingston Common Council 1835 Samuel Clarke, member of the St David’s Vestry (10 members, 9 Black); executed at Morant Bay 1865
Early Black Politicians in the Assembly Edward Vickars died 1867; first Black member of the Assembly, for St. Catherine, 1847 -60; Alderman of Kingston; JP. Slogan: ‘Vote for Vickars the Black Man’ Charles Price died 1865; member of the Assembly 1849 -63
Sources: Dr Swithin Wilmot, UWI ‘Baptist Missionaries and Jamaican Politics’ ACH Conference 1980 ‘Growth of Black Political Activity’, Garvey: His Work and Impact, 1988 ‘The Old Order Changeth’, Before and after 1865, 1998 ‘Politics at the “grassroots” in free Jamaica’, Working Slavery, Pricing Freedom, 2002 ‘From Bondage to Political Office’, Jamaica in Slavery and Freedom, 2002 Prof. Gad Heuman, Warwick University Between Black and White, 1981
Constitutional stages II Crown Colony Government – 1866 -1944 1884: new constitutional arrangement set up a partially elected Legislative Council
William Kelly Smith Born c 1820 Died 1901 in Kingston Journalist; teacher; political activist in 1865; imprisoned at Morant Bay in 1865; spokesman for Blacks in Kingston; devout Anglican; many unsuccessful attempts to obtain election to Kingston Council and Legislative Council.
Thomas Harry Born 1821 Died 1903 in Kingston Black shoemaker; member of Port Royal vestry; speaker at Kingston meeting May 1865; imprisoned at Morant Bay October 1865; on Kingston City Council 1885 -91. Dr Archippus Harry, son of Thomas Harry
Matthew Joseph Born a slave in St Andrew in 1831 Died 1901, St Andrew Teacher; poet; member St Andrew Parochial Board 1888 -1901; witness before Royal Commissions in 1866 and 1897. Many other teachers were on Parochial Boards.
Joseph Milward Gordon Born 1853 in St Catherine Died 1893 Pen-keeper; engineer; Freemason; elected top of the poll to St. Catherine Parochial Board 1885 (1 st election under modified Crown Colony Government); 1891 Chairman of St Catherine P B. Hailed as ‘the outstanding representative of the Black population, and the most significant Black politician of his generation. ’
Alexander Dixon Born 1852 in Kingston Died 1917 in Kingston 1899 - First Black member of the Leg. Co. ; member of Kingston City Council 1912 -17; a founder of the National Club, 1909. MLC St Elizabeth 1899 -1904
Josiah Smicle or maybe one of his sons Born in Clarendon (date not known) Died 1900 in St Thomas Anglican catechist and schoolteacher; member of Parochial Boards of St Andrew and St Thomas from early 1890 s; Chairman of St Thomas P B; 2 nd Black member of the MLC St Thomas Legislative Council. 1900
Joseph Robert Love Born 1835/8 in Nassau, Bahamas Died 1914 in Kingston Ordained in Episcopalian Church in 1877; qualified as Doctor, Buffalo, 1880; in Haiti 1881 -90; founded Jamaica Advocate - ran 1894 -1905; People’s Convention 1898 -1903; member of St Andrew MLC for St Andrew P B until his death. 1906 -11
Charles Phillip Lazarus Born 1836 in Kingston Died 1917 in Kingston Left school at 12; became leading iron foundry operator in Kingston; member of the City Council (1899 -? ); JP 1916; supporter of Robert Love’s campaigns; contractor who built Devon House for George Stiebel.
H Percival ‘Pap(p)a’ Jones Born c 1871 in St Mary Died 1922 in Pt Maria Owner of Hotel Manning; cricketer – captain of the Middlesex Cricket Club ; member of the St Mary Parochial Board (1909 -? ); famous for his resemblance to King Edward VII
Jacob Wareham* Born (date unknown) Died 1912 in Kingston Horse dealer and race horse owner from 1880 s;
J J and J B Edwards Born 1865, Ulster Spring, Trelawny Died 1944 in Westmoreland Qualified as doctor Toronto, Edinburgh and Glasgow by 1891; member of St Catherine P B, as was Dr James Josiah his brother, J B Edwards; Edwards both supported Dr Robert Love in his political campaigns.
David Aurelius Corinaldi Born 1834 in Montego Bay Died 1920 in St James Trained as a jeweller; started a newspaper the ‘ 19 th Century’ in Montego Bay in the late 1880 s, later renamed the ‘New Century’; MLC for ‘Noble’ St James 1890 -1920 known as the ‘Father of the House’
Alfred Augustus Fleming Born 1862 in St Catherine Died 1927 in St Catherine 1888 solicitor in Spanish Town; MLC for St Catherine 1911 -20; prominent citizen of Spanish Town, involved in all kinds of local activities.
Other Black Members of the Legislative Council William Buchanan, MLC Hanover, 1910 -11 Fred R Evans, MLC Westmoreland 1911 -1930 ‘JAGS’ MLC Clarendon 1917 - 1942
Daniel L Briscoe Born 1879 probably in Stewart Town, Trelawny Died (not known) Secretary of Artisans’ and Labourers’ Union in Pt Limon, Costa Rica; highly regarded in the Jamaican community. Possibly returned to Kingston and active in Friendly Societies in 1920 s and ’ 30 s.
R M Stimpson Born 1868 in Manchester Died 1936 in Kingston 1898 Qualified as a doctor in Canada; served in Cuba with US Army – 1 st Black doctor to serve with a White regiment; completed training in Scotland in 1902; worked in Jamaica until his death; on Manchester P. B. 1909 -12; in 1934 he was considering standing for Leg. Co.
David Jonathan Phillips Born 1869 in St Ann’s Bay Died 1935 in Kingston Qualified as a doctor in Montreal, Canada, and London, England (1902); won the seat on the Kingston City Council which became vacant on the death of Alexander Dixon in 1917, and held it until 1924; President of the Lucas Cricket Club; Vice-chairman of the Kingston School Board 1926 until his death
Amos Shackleford Born 1887, Charlestown, Portland (Maroon town) Died 1954, Accra, Ghana Went to West Africa in 1913, and became a very prosperous business man in Nigeria and the Gold Coast; involved with founding the Nigerian National member of Democratic Party – Pres. 1946 Lagos Town Council 1929 -36. 54;
E. Ethelred Brown Born 1885, Falmouth, Trelawny Died 1956, New York Unitarian minister; founding member and long-time secretary Jamaica Progressive League; major supporter and fund-raiser for PNP.
Catherine Hart Mc. Kenzie Died 1903, burned to death during the hurricane in August. Studied at Shortwood; married James Mc. Kenzie, had sons who later attended Tuskegee; active in Robert Love’s People’s Convention; gave talk on ‘Woman’s Rights’ at 1901 Convention; secretary of the Pan-African Association in Kingston James Mc. Kenzie, Catherine’s husband; in 1901. He died Dec 31, 1912
POSTSCRIPT: First women elected Mary Morris-Knibb 1944 1 st woman elected to the national Legislature – House of Representatives for a seat in St James 1939 1 st woman elected to a local government council, Kingston Iris Collins
Black politicians in Jamaica The End Researched by Dr Joy Lumsden © 2006 the worthy frog
What can you do? 1. Read books, and look for web sites. 2. Talk to your parents and grandparents about things members of your family have done. 3. Find out what people from your church, school and community did a hundred years ago. 4. Go and have a look at the old newspapers at the NLJ, and UWI library; find out how to access the Gleaner archives online.