Biographies of Jamaican Personalities (P-Z)






Cyril Everard Palmer
(1940 - )

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Mr. Palmer was born in Kendal ,
Hanover in 1940 and was educated at KendalElementary School. He studied at Mico Teachers’ College in Kingstonand later still at LakesideUniversityin Canada.  He worked as a journalist with the Gleaner Company before embarking on a career as an author.

He was a prolific author of children’s books set in the Jamaican countryside and has received high praise for the excellence of his craftsmanship and sympathetic humour.  Mr. Palmer has published The Cloud with the Silver Lining, Big Doc Bitterroot, The Sun Salutes You, The Hummingbird People, The Wooing of Beppo Tate, A Cow Called Boy, Babba and Mr. Big, My Father Sun Sun Johnson.  An adult book, A Broken Vessel was published in 1960 by the Jamaica Pioneer Press.

Everald Palmer has been recognized for his great work in Jamaican Literature. 

Among his awards are:  

  • Certificate of Merit by the Jamaican Reading Association for contribution to Jamaican Children Literature

  • 1977 Silver Musgrave Medal for Literature from the Institute of Jamaica

  • In 1999 he was honoured at a ceremony held in Hanover where a message from the Canadian High Commissioner John Robinson, read by Councillor at the Canadian High Commission Robert Richard, described Mr. Palmer as ‘the master of the rural Caribbean tale for any readership, adult or juvenile’.

Mr. Palmer has been living in Canada since 1974 where he has been teaching and writing.

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The Rt. Hon. Percival James Patterson
(1935 -  )

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Percival James Patterson was born in 1935.  His parents Henry Patterson, a farmer and Ina James, a primary school teacher were both from the parish of
Hanover. He was educated at Somerton Primary School, St. James and won a Purscell Trust Scholarship to Calabar High School, from which he graduated in 1953.  From there he went on to the University of the West Indies (UWI) at Mona, and graduated in 1958 with a B.A. (Honours) in English.

He studied Law at the London School of Economics (LSE), where he was awarded the Leverhume Scholarship and the Sir Hughes Parry prize for Excellence in the Law of Contracts.  He graduated from that institution in 1963 with an LL.B.  Mr. Patterson was called to the Bar at MiddleTemplein 1963 and also admitted to the Jamaican Bar in that year.

P.J. Patterson began political activity at the UWI where he was one of the founders of the Political Club.  As its President, he presided at the first political address given in the Caribbean by the late Dr. Eric Williams, founder of Trinidad and Tobago’s People’s National Movement.

In 1955, Mr. Patterson took part in a UWI project, which brought him into contact with several prominent members of the People’s National Party (PNP).  Also in that year, he made his first appearance as a speaker on a political platform in the election campaign for the candidate for Western Hanover .  After that, political involvement took precedence over every other interest in his life.  On several occasions he even interrupted his academic studies to participate in political activities.

After graduating from the UWI he joined the PNP’s organising staff in 1958.  His early training and service were in St. Thomas, St. Catherine, St. Elizabeth, Manchesterand Westmoreland.  He moved on to membership on the National and Executive Councils in 1964.  He was elected a Vice-President of the PNP in 1969 and served as Party Chairman from 1983.

Mr. Patterson’s distinguished Cabinet career began in 1972, with his appointment as Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism.  Since then he served as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade (1978-1980); Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development, Planning and Production (1989-1990) and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Planning (1990-1991).

He was appointed Prime Minister of Jamaica in March 1992, following his election as President of the PNP, on the retirement of former Prime Minister the late Michael Manley. Mr. Patterson was returned to office following the national elections of 1993, and now has the distinction of being the first Prime Minister to be sworn in for a fourth consecutive term of office, after he led the PNP to victory in the elections of October 2002.

Noted among Prime Minister Patterson’s list of achievements is his decision to make education be Administration’s top priority.  To this end, the largest portions of successive national budgets have been allocated towards the sector.  His goal is to integrate Information Technology throughout all levels of the education spectrum and the wider society.  Mr. Patterson also created the National Commission on Science and Technology in 1993 and was the first to directly link Jamaica’s science and technology initiatives with the nation’s industrial policy.

As Prime Minister, he spearheaded Jamaica ’s cessation of an 18-year borrowing relationship with the International Monetary Fund, which effectively created a platform for Jamaica to once again exercise control over its economic affairs.  Prime Minister Patterson has also promulgated a National Industrial Policy, a blue print for the nation’s growth and development in the 21st century. 

The Prime Minister’s social agenda has spawned the creation of a NationalLandand Shelter Policy and resulted in the accelerated provision of housing solutions for the people of Jamaica.  Special arrangements have also been made for the elderly and low-income earners to benefit from the National Housing Trust by way of a special low interest rate.  He also conceptualized and implemented the Operation Pride Programme, a comprehensive shelter programme that is helping to regularize informal settlements and fulfill the country’s housing needs.

Mr. Patterson’s tenure has witnessed the re-introduction of the National Youth Service, the creation of the Special Training and Empowerment Programme (STEP) and the introduction of the Jamaica Drug for the Elderly Programme.  These programmes are all aimed at assisting the most vulnerable groups in the society, with emphasis on the young and the elderly.  Mr. Patterson’s commitment to the country’s growth and development is underpinned by his insistence upon adherence to democratic principles, integrity in public life and strong ethic and moral principles.

Prime Minister Patterson is respected worldwide as an astute international statesman who has made a mark in such organisations as the United Nations, the Group of 77, the Commonwealth, the Non-Aligned Movement, the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group, the Association of Caribbean States, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and many others.  He has chaired the Group of 15 developing nations (G-15) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).  He has also served as Chairman of the Caricom Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on External Negotiations.

Mr. Patterson has utilitised his legal and negotiating skills in the international arena, especially as one of the leading architects of the LOME Convention between the ACP states and the European Union which was first signed in 1975.  He was also one of the principal participants in the evolution of the Caribbean Free Trade Area into CARICOM. Mr. Patterson was appointed to the Privy Council and is the recipient of several international awards.  These include:

  • Order of Aguila Aztec, Mexico (1990)
  • Order of Liberator Simon Bolivar (First Class), Venezuela(1992) 
  • The Great Cross of the Order of Bernardo O’Higgins, Chile(1992)
  • Order of San Marti, Argentina (1992)
  • Order of Gran Cruz Gonzalo Jiminez de Quesada, Colombia (1994)
  • Order of Fransisco Morazan in the rank of Gran Cruz Placa de Oro, Honduras (1994)
  • Order of Jose Marti, Cuba (1997)Order of the Volta ,Ghana(1999)
  • Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Agricola Medal, awarded in Jamaica (2001)
  • Juan Mora Fernandez, Great Silver Cross, Costa Rica (2001)

The Prime Minister has also been bestowed with academic awards by tertiary institutions worldwide, which include:

  • Honorary Doctor of Letters, Northeastern University, USA (1994)
  • Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws, Brown University, USA (1998)

Mr. Patterson’s interests include jazz, Jamaican music and such spectator sports as cricket, boxing, tennis and track and field.

He has a son, daughter and granddaughter.


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Victor Stafford Reid
(1913 - 1987)

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Vic Reid was born in
Kingston on May 1, 1913 to Alexander and Margaret Reid.  He was educated at Central Primary and the KingstonTechnicalHigh School .  During his early life he worked as a farm overseer, a newspaper reporter and at different times edited the weekly newspaper Public Opinion and the news magazine Spotlight.


1949 – New Day
This was the first West Indian novel to be written in dialect form.  It attracted wide and intense attention by literacy critics both in the
United States and Britain. 

1958 – The Leopard
This was published simultaneously in
England and the United State.  Vic Reid was the first Jamaican novelist writing and working in Jamaicawhose work was published in both places at the same time.

1960 – Sixty-Five
This publication, under the joint imprint of Jamaica’s Ministry of Education and Longman’s Green and Co., marked the beginning of the Blue Mountain Library series of books which aimed to produce books especially chosen for West Indian children of middle and upper schools.

  • 1967 – The Young Warriors
  • 1971 – Peter of MountEphraim
  • 1976 – The Jamaicans
  • 1983 – Nanny Town
  • 1985 – Horses of the Morning

This is a biography of National hero, Rt. Excellent N.W. Manley.

Public Offices Held

  • 1969 – President, JamaicaLibrary Association
  • 1974-1981 – Chairman , JamaicaNational Heritage Trust Commission
  • 1980 – Chairman, Historic Foundation Research Centres 


  • 1950 – Silver Musgrave Medal in the Field of Literature   
  • 1958 and 1959 – The Non-resident CanadaFellowship
  • 1976 – Gold Musgrave Medal in the field of Literature
  • 1980 – Order of Jamaica
  • 1981 – Norman Manley Foundation Award for Excellence for his contribution to Literature to Jamaica.

Reid’s works have become standard text books for black studies in Jamaica, the Caribbean,Englandand North America .  He died August 25, 1987 , aged 74.


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Walter Adolphe Roberts
(1886 - 1962)

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Walter Adolphe Roberts, historian, poet novelist, journalist and patriot was born 1886 in
Kingston , Jamaica .  He was the son of Adolphus Roberts a clergyman Curate of the KingstonParishChurch, Chaplain at Port Royal and Rector at Luidas Vale.  His mother Josephine Fannie (nee Napier), was of French ancestry.  Walter Adolphe spent his early years at his home near Mandeville, Manchesterwhere he received his early education.  He was entirely educated by private tutors, mostly his father.  He spoke both French and Spanish which assisted him in his many travels to France, Spain, Belgium, Italy, Latin America , the U.S.A. and Britain .

In 1902, at age 16 he became a reporter for the Daily Gleaner and by 1903 was sub-editor of the Leader, a weekly founded by a former editor of the Gleaner.  He left Jamaicain 1904 for the United Statesto pursue a career in journalism.  Between 1914 and1916 he became the war correspondent in Europe for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and in 1918 he was appointed editor of Ainslee’s Magazine, a fiction monthly and remained in charge for three years.  During his stay in New Yorkhe edited various periodicals including Brief Stories and the American Parade.

In 1917 he married Katherine Amelis Hickey but the marriage ended in divorce in 1923.

His first literary publication Pierrot Wounded and Other Poems appeared in 1919, followed in 1928 by Pan and Peacocks, The Mind Reader in 1929, The Moralist in 1931, Sir Henry Morgan: Buccaneer and Governor in 1933 and Semmes of the Alabama in 1938.  In 1931, he produced Mayor Harding of New Yorkunder the pseudonym Stephen Endicott.  During the 1930s he turned seriously to writing books, adopting as his special field the history, politics and literature of the Caribbean area.  In 1940 he published what is hismost widely known historical work The Caribbean: the Story of Our Sea of Destiny.

Of paramount interest to him was Jamaica and her problems and in 1936 he founded the Jamaica Progressive League, an association of Jamaicans living in the United States dedicated to achieving self government for Jamaica.

Throughout the 1940s and early 1950s he continued writing and publishing novels, poems as well as historical works.  In 1941 The Pomegranate appeared, followed in 1942 by The French in the West Indies , Royal Street in 1944, Brave Mardi Gras in 1946, Lake Pontchartrain , all these centering on life in New Orleans.  In 1948 Creole Dust and Lands of the Inner Sea came out.  The Single star was published in 1949 and tells of Cuba during the War of Independence (1895-98). 

From as far back as the 1950s Walter Adolphe became president of many organizations in Jamaicaincluding the Jamaica Historical Society (1955-57), Jamaica Library Association (1958), The Poetry League of Jamaica and the Natural History Society of Jamaica.  He was also chairman of the Board of Governors to the Institute of Jamaicaat the time of his death, September 14, 1962 at the age of 76.

Awards and Medals

  • 1941 – Silver Musgrave Medal from the Institute of Jamaicain recognition of his achievement in Literature.
  • 1950 – Carlos Manuel de Cespedes Order of Merit from the Cuban Government. 
  • 1954 – Gold Musgrave Medal from the Institute of Jamaicain recognition of his ‘notable contributions in the field of History and Literature’. 
  • 1955 – Honoured by the City of Kingstonand given symbolic ‘Key to the City’. 
  • 1957 – Citation by the School of Inter-American Studiesof the Ministry of Florida for outstanding contribution in the field of Inter-American relations.  In that year also presented with scroll by the Jamaica Progressive League, honouring him as its founder on their 20th anniversary. 
  • 1961 – The Queen honoured him by bestowing the title of Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. 
  • 1977 – Given the posthumous award Commander of the Order of Distinction by the Jamaican Government.


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Dr. Joyce Robinson

Dr. Joyce Lilieth Robinson  OJ, CD, MBE, FLA, LLD (Hon.)
(1925 - 2013)

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Dr. the Honourable Joyce Robinson has had a long and distinguished career in education. She started at the early age of 16½ and has blazed a trail ever since. The numerous awards she has received are evidence of the contribution she has made to nation building. 

Joyce Lawson was born in St. James on July 2, 1925 to Mr. and Mrs. Teddy Lawson. She became an orphan quite early on the death of her father and mother when she was 4 and 6 respectively. Due to this tragedy, Joyce went to live with her maternal grandmother while her other siblings, two elder brothers, went to live with other relatives. She was later adopted by Mr. and Mrs. F. E. Stewart who were close relatives of her deceased parents.

It was at the age of seven that Joyce Lawson began attending school for the first time at the Black River Primary where her adopted mother was a teacher at that time. She could neither read nor write but her teachers were impressed with her level of intelligence. She later attended the Water Valley Primary School. 

At the age of 12 Joyce received a full scholarship to attend St. Simon's College located on East Street in Kingston. It was at St. Simon's that she became exposed to the concept of "work and study" which she practiced throughout her adult life. At 16½ Joyce became a student-teacher, giving lessons in English, Mathematics, Geography and History in the Girls Department of the College. After finishing school as well as 2½ years of teaching at St. Simon's, she moved back to Black River to help her adopted mother manage the high school. It took only a few years for her to be promoted to the post of Principal, and this was before reaching the age of 25. 

While working at the Black River High School, Joyce volunteered her services in  setting up the St. Elizabeth Public Library. It was here that her interest in librarianship became apparent. In 1949 she was offered a job as a Library Assistant with the newly formed Jamaica Library Service, thus beginning her 25 years of service there. During her first four years she did external studies with the Library Association of Great Britain and received her Associate of the Library Association (ALA) diploma in 1954. It was only after 5 years at the Jamaica Library Service, that Joyce now age 30 was promoted to the post of Deputy Director. Within the same year she was made Acting Director, a position she held for two years. As Mrs. Joyce Robinson,  she remained the director from 1957 to1976. During this period she received a scholarship to the Northwestern Polytechnic in London, England. Here she successfully read for her Fellow of the Library Association (FLA) designation in 1959.

While being Director of the Jamaica Library Service, Mrs. Robinson also served on the National Literacy Board as this was one of her many passions. In 1973, she was transferred on secondment to spearhead the National Literacy Programme. Under her leadership the movement was transformed and the name was also changed to the Jamaica Movement for the Advancement of Literacy (JAMAL). In 1976 she formally became Director of the JAMAL Foundation and remained until1981. The number of graduates from JAMAL up to 1979 was 200,000 adult readers. Mrs. Robinson also served as the first Chairman of the Board of Management of the National Library of Jamaica.

In 1980 Mrs. Robinson was given yet another hat to wear. This time she was recommended for the post of General Manager of the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC). This was yet another pioneering venture for her as she took over the JBC when television was changing from black and white to colour transmission.  She served as General Manager from 1981-1982. 

In 1982 she was appointed on yet another ground-breaking project. This time around she was charged with the responsibility of setting up an institution to address the unemployment problems among young people, the Human Employment and Resource Training (HEART) agency. According to Dr. Robinson, employment went up by 6% in 1986 and was attributed to inputs from the HEART programme. A total of 50,000 trainees were placed in jobs under her administration which lasted from 1982 to 1990. Dr. Robinson retired from active employment in 1991. She later opened a consultancy offering services in adult education, management and skills training. She also continued as a volunteer in numerous organizations such as the St. Elizabeth Homecoming Foundation, the Jamaica Institute of Management (JIM), the Jamaica Council for Adult Education and the National Commission for UNESCO among others. 

Born in an era where male domination was very much in vogue, Dr. the Honourable Joyce Robinson has managed to overcome this successfully holding several top positions in jobs that were considered "men's work".

Dr. Robinson is the mother of  two children Dr. Ann Bridgewater, a medical practitioner and Anthony Robinson, a computer specialist. 

Honours and Awards      

  • Honorary Degree of Laws LL.D by the University of the West Indies, Mona for outstanding pioneering work in Library and Literacy 1990
  • Order of Jamaica (OJ) by the Government of Jamaica for Public Service 1987
  • Woman of Distinction Award (Bureau of Women's Affairs) 1985
  • Honourable Mention, Nadeshda K. Krupskya Literacy Prize (UNESCO)
  • Carl Milan Lecture Award by the American Library Association. Special International Award to lecture in 12 university library schools in the United States and Canada 1979
  • Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws by the Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, Canada, for outstanding pioneering work in Libraries and Literacy 1979
  • Commander of the Order of Distinction (CD) by the Government of Jamaica for Public Service in the field of Librarianship and Literacy 1975.
  • The Unity Award of the United Manchester Association for individual personal contribution in maintaining a United Jamaica in 1973
  • Honorary Vice President, The Library Association of Great Britain 1973
  • Silver Musgrave Medal of the Institute of Jamaica for outstanding contribution to Public Library Work in Jamaica 1970  
  • Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)  for contribution to the development of the Jamaica Library Service 1959

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Oliver Samuels
(1948 - )

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Oliver Adolphus Samuels, actor and comedian was born November 4, 1948 in Harmony Hall, St. Mary. He grew up on a banana plantation where his father worked as a casual labourer and his mother sold items on the estate. His involvement in drama began in his childhood where, at the age of seven he and the other children on the plantation would sing and recite poetry on Friday nights.

Oliver's life tells the story of a poor boy who made good. He fetched water from a river, he walked miles to and from school as early as age five. He helped his ailing mother in undertaking several chores around the home. He firmly maintains however, that he did not feel at all downtrodden because he was born in poverty. This was so because his mother would not encourage such feelings.  Her mantra was with hard work you could make it. 

Mr. Samuels went to the Salvation Army School, Rose Bank Primary and then attended the high school in Highgate, after which he went to the Dinthill Technical High School. He said that his school career at Dinthill offered no scope for the development of his innate dramatic creativity. 

After school he worked as a storekeeper at the Orange River Agricultural Station and then moved to Kingston with the encouragement of his friends. He landed a clerical job at the Water Commission and then took a job in proof-reading at the Gleaner Company, where he stayed for only one day. 

After failing in his attempt to contact well-known theatre personalities, he enrolled in the Jamaica Theatre School from 1971 to1973. While at the University he did odd jobs to earn his keep. 

During his three years at the Jamaica Theatre School, Oliver participated in various productions. His first play was "A Raisin in the Sun", in which he was a voice off stage. His role as "the coolie" in the play "Servant of Two Masters" had the Gleaner critic, the late Henry Milner commenting that he was "labouring under a misconception". This statement made Mr. Samuels even more determined to prove the critic wrong and it also formed the basis of his inspiration to strive for perfection. His popularity however increased when he appeared in his first pantomime "Music Boy". Even Mr. Milner had nothing bad to say about Oliver's character "Moon Drops". In fact, Oliver went on to become one of his favourite actors, getting constant good reviews. Role after role followed and Oliver Samuels soon became a household name. 

Oliver is an avid reader in politics, social affairs and religion. He has appeared in no fewer than 13 pantomimes playing major roles. He has also appeared in more than 30 other productions. Some of his pantomime appearances include "Music Boy", "Queenie's Daughter", "Dickance for Fippance", "Hail Columbus", "The Witch", "Johnny Reggae", "Ginneral B", "The Pirate Princess", "Trash", "The Hon. All Purpose" and "The Dancing Princess"

He has also appeared in overseas productions such as "The Fight Against Slavery", the British Broadcasting Corporation's television series aired in 1974. There were other BBC productions such as "My Father Son Son Johnson", "Chef" and "Brothers and Sisters"

Oliver attained another zenith in his very funny television series, "Oliver", "Oliver at Large" and "Large and in Charge". This series established him as one of Jamaica's actor of comedy. An album with the well-known single "Oliver Yu Large" was also produced and has done well on the local and overseas market. 

Oliver Samuels more recently appeared in the soap opera "Royal Palm Estate" produced by Lennie Little-White. He appeared as "Son-Son". He has also appeared in one Italian and two German films. 

Presently Oliver works at Mack D's Auto Sales and Rentals where he is the Marketing and Public Relations Manager. He is also a Director in the company.  

Mr. Samuels has five children, 3 boys and twin daughters. He recently adopted another daughter who is now in high school.


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The Rt. Hon. Sir Donald Sangster
(1911 - 1967)

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Sir Donald was born on
October 26, 1911 . He was the son of the late W. B. Sangster, Commissioned Land Surveyor of St. Elizabeth, and Mrs. Sangster. He was educated at Munro College(1921-1929) and was admitted to practice as a solicitor in Jamaica in 1937.

Donald Sangster was a versatile sportsman, participating actively in cricket, football, athletics and boxing while attending college. This interest in sports continued after he left MunroCollege , and at one time he was captain of the St. Elizabeth Parish team in the Nethersole Cricket Cup Competition.

He began his political career at the age of twenty-one when he campaigned and won a seat in the St. Elizabeth Parochial Board on June 22, 1933 .  He became Vice-Chairman of his Parochial Board in 1941, and Chairman in 1949.           

In 1944 he made his first bid to enter national politics when as an Independent Candidate he contested the South St.Elizabethconstituency seat, and lost.  He joined the Jamaica Labour Party and subsequently won his seat in the General Election of 1949.  His political career in national politics suffered a temporary set-back in February 1955, when his party lost the General Election and he himself lost his seat in South St.Elizabeth.  Later that year he however successfully contested a by-election for the North-East Clarendon constituency.

Sir Donald was a member of the House of Representatives since 1949, and was First Deputy Leader of the JLP since 1950.  He was Leader of the House from 1953 to 1955, and was reappointed to this post in 1962.  In June 1966, Sir Donald relinquished this post.  At the time of his death he represented the constituency of North Central Clarendon in Parliament.

He was Minister of Social Welfare from 1950 to 1953 and Minister of Finance from 1953 until 1955 when his party lost the General Elections.  In 1962 when the JLP was returned to office he was appointed Minister of Finance and subsequently Deputy Prime Minister.

He was appointed to act as Prime Minister, Minister of External Affairs and Minister of Defence in January 1965 as a result of the illness of the Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Sir Alexander Bustamante.  While acting Sir Donald retained the post of Minister of Finance.  He had previously acted for a short while as Prime Minister in 1964.

Consequent on the victory of the JLP in the General Elections on February 21, 1967 , and the resignation of Sir Alexander Bustamante, he was appointed Prime Minister on February 22, 1967 , retaining at the same time the posts of Minister of Finance and Minister of Defence.

Mr. Sangster was Jamaica’s delegate to the Commonwealth Parliament Conferences in New Zealand in 1950, Ceylon in 1952, and Malaysia in 1963, and he was Chairman of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in 1964 and Chairman at its Conference, which was held in Jamaica in that year.

He was Jamaica ’s representative on the West Indies Regional Economic Committee from 1950 to 1955, and Leader of Jamaica’s delegations to the Commonwealth Economic Consultative Council Conferences in 1951, 1963-1966.  Jamaica was the host country for this conference in 1955 and Sir Donald presided.  He also led Jamaica ’s delegation to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings in Washington(1963-1966).  He had been a Governor of the World Bank and IMF since 1963.

Sir Donald was a member ofJamaica’s delegation to the Heads of Commonwealth Caribbean conference in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad in 1963 and in Kingston, Jamaicain 1964.  He also led the delegation to these conferences in Georgetown , Guyana in 1965 and in Bridgetown, Barbadosin 1966.  He also led Jamaica’s delegation to the Canada-Commonwealth Caribbean Countries in Ottawa in July 1966.

Mr. Sangster accompanied Sir Alexander Bustamante to the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference in London in 1962 and he attended this conference as Sir Alexander’s representative in 1964.  Sir Donald attended as Acting Prime Minister, the conferences in London in 1965, Lagos in 1966.

He was a member of the Joint Committee of Parliament, which framed the Constitution for Independent Jamaica, and he was a member of the delegation that went to England in 1962 to discuss it with the British Government.

He was Chairman of the University of the West Indies Grants Committee since 1963.

Sir Donald served on a number of public boards and committees during his lifetime.  He had been a member of Manning’s Home Advisory Committee, and of the East and West St. Elizabeth School Boards.  He had been a Director of Jamaica Vegetables Ltd., from 1943 to 1949, and he also played a prominent part in the scouting activities of St. Elizabeth.  He had been a member of the Munro and Dickenson Trust, the Black River Drainage and Irrigation Board and also a member of the Board of Governors of the Institute of Jamaica.

After his party’s success at the 1967 General Election and his appointment as Prime Minister, Sir Donald had just completed forming his Cabinet when he became ill.  He died on April 5, 1967.

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Mary Seacole

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Mary Seacole was born Mary Joan Grant in Kingston, Jamaica in 1805 to a Creole mother and a Scottish father. It was from her mother that she inherited her interest in nursing. Her mother, nicknamed "the Doctress", kept a lodging house at East Street, Kingston where she nursed army officers and their families from Up Park Camp. At age twelve, after much observation, Seacole was allowed to help her mother with the patients.

In 1836, Seacole married Edwin Horatio Seacole, an invalid, who is said to have been the godson of British naval hero Admiral Horatio Nelson. Still newly-weds, they moved to Black River where they established a store; he died soon after, however. Seacole’s mother also died later, leaving her to operate the nursing home in Kingston.

Although Seacole was one of the victims of the Cholera epidemic in 1850 in Jamaica, she traveled to Panama to set up a hotel with her brother. While there, she diagnosed what might have been the first case of cholera to occur in that region. Again, in 1853 when yellow fever raged all over Jamaica, Seacole’s skills were brought to the fore. She returned to Panama in 1854. Her arrival coincided with the cholera epidemic in that country. Here she aided in medically treating Cholera victims and as a result became known as the ‘yellow woman from Jamaica with the cholera medicine’.

Later in 1853, when Turkey declared war on Russia and intense fighting took place in the Crimean Peninsula, she decided to offer her services as a nurse. Many soldiers were dying not only from war wounds, but also illnesses such as cholera and dysentery. Seacole believed that her experience with these diseases would be of value in the Crimea.

In her endeavour to work as a nurse in the Crimea, she wrote a letter introducing herself to Florence Nightingale, who was responsible for the group of nurses going to the Crimea. Nonetheless, such attempt was unsuccessful. Thereafter, she continued to seek assistance and support in going to the Crimea; her repeated attempts proved futile, however. Consequently, she decided to go on her own and used the assets she had to build a facility (referred to as a mess table and the ‘British Hotel’) in the Crimea. This facility provided medical, food, and other services and was used mainly by officers.

The Mess-table, as Seacole called it, was established in Spring Hill, two miles from Balaclava and a mile from the British headquarters. Before long, the facility became a fixture of the war because of the services it offered. In addition to the services she provided at the ‘British Hotel’, she made ‘home visits’ to the campsites and procured supplies that were otherwise unavailable.

Seacole would set out carrying bags of lint, bandages, needles, thread and medicine accompanied by mules loaded with sandwiches and other food, wine and spirits, arriving on the battle-field at dawn.  Such activities were no doubt risky nevertheless she was devoted to her cause. Seacole returned to London deeply in debt. However, the British Commander in Chief of the Crimea forces and the duke of Wellington and New Castle organised a four-day festival of music and gave her the proceeds.

Subsequently, she published an autobiography, entitled, The Wonderful Adventures of Mary Seacole, which included her time in the Crimea.

Mary Seacole died in England in 1881.


The memory of Mary Seacole was first honoured by the nurses of Jamaica, when in 1954 they named their projected headquarters ‘Mary Seacole House’.

Nine years later the Association acquired a life-sized bust of Mary Seacole, which stands in the foyer in the headquarters. The bust is a reproduction done by a Jamaican sculptor, Mr. Curtis Johnston, of the original one located at the Institute of Jamaica.

After her return to England, Mary Seacole was presented with the Crimean medal, which the Jamaica Government in 1991 awarded her posthumously with the country's third highest honour, the Order of Merit.

The female hall of residence at the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies also bears her name in recognition of her distinguished contribution to medicine, healing and nursing.

The British Government in 1993 announced a Bursary in her name valued at $25,000

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The Rt. Hon. Edward Seaga

The Rt. Hon. Edward Seaga
(1930 - )

The Rt. Hon. Edward Phillip George Seaga, P.C., M.P., LL.D., former Prime Minister (1980-89), Leader of the Opposition since 1989, was born on May 28, 1930 to the late Phillip George Seaga and Erna Seaga (nee Maxwell).  He was educated at Wolmer’s Boys’ School inJamaicaand graduated from HarvardUniversityin 1952 with a Bachelor’s Degree in the Social Sciences.

On August 22, 1965 Mr. Seaga married Elizabeth “Mitsy” Constantine, Miss Jamaica 1965.  They have two sons, Christopher and Andrew and a daughter Anabella.  This marriage dissolved in 1995 and the following year, on June 14, he married Carla Vendryes.  They have a daughter.

Mr. Seaga plays tennis, hunts and collects Jamaican folk music.  A keen gardener and amateur landscaper, Mr. Seaga has translated his love for plants and flowers into the beautiful Enchanted Garden Resort, which has become a unique attraction in Jamaica.  He is also a member of the Kingston Cricket Club, various hunting clubs and the Jamaica Skeet Club.

Mr. Seaga’s political career began in 1959 when Sir Alexander Bustamante, the founder of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), nominated him to serve in the Upper House of the Jamaica Legislature in the Legislative Council (later the Senate).  His appointment at age 29 made him the youngest member ever appointed to the Legislative Council, which established the framework for national independence in August 1962.

In April 1962 Mr. Seaga was elected Member of Parliament for Western Kingston and he has held that seat for 40 consecutive years.  He is the only person who has been re-elected as Member of Parliament for that constituency for more than one term and is the longest serving M.P. in the history of Jamaica.  Immediately after winning his seat in 1962, Mr. Seaga was appointed to the Cabinet as Minister of Development and Welfare.  Following the 1967 General Elections, he was made Minister of Finance and Planning and in 1974 he became Leader of the JLP and the Parliamentary Opposition until the General Elections of October 30, 1980 when the Jamaica Labour Party won a landslide victory over the People’s National Party (PNP).

The mandate of Mr. Seaga and the JLP was renewed in the uncontested 1983 General Elections.  He remained Prime Minister until February 1989.  Mr. Seaga was also Minister of Finance and Planning, and his portfolio included responsibilities for information and culture.  Several economic and social programmes, which have had a significant impact on Jamaica’s growth and development, were conceived and initiated by Mr. Seaga.

Financial Development

Mr. Seaga has established, encouraged, promoted or introduced several institutions, which have contributed to the modernization and development of the financial sector.  These include the Jamaica Stock Exchange (1969), Jamaica Unit Trust (1970), Jamaica Mortgage Bank (1973), National Development Bank (1981), the Agricultural Credit Bank (1981), the Ex-Im Bank (1986) and the Students’ Loan Bureau.

He promoted the modernization of commercial agriculture by introducing high technology and stimulating agricultural enterprise in new crops.  He put unused and underutilized publicly owned lands tow work.  The highly successful Jamaica National Investment Promotion Ltd. (now JAMPRO), was created by him in 1981 as a one-stop investment organization to promote local and overseas investment in Jamaica.

Under his administration, in the 1980s, the Income and Corporate Tax System was comprehensively reformed and modernized to make it more equitable and efficient.  Mr. Seaga also introduced modern computerized technology into the administration and organisation of revenue collection in which each taxpayer would be assigned a Taxpayer Registration Number (TRN).  He overhauled the indirect tax system by combining a number of taxes into a single General Consumption Tax (GCT).

As Minister of Finance, Mr. Seaga represented Jamaicaas governor of the International Monetray Fund, the Inter-American Development Bank and the Caribbean Development Bank.

Urban and Rural Development and the Environment

In the 1960s Mr. Seaga transformed the country’s then worst slum, “Back-O-Wall”, into a modern, low-income residential community, renamed TivoliGardens.  Mr. Seaga also established the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) in 1968.  Through the UDC the waterfronts of Kingston, Ocho Rios and Montego Bay were developed into major resort, residential, port and office complexes.  Among other accomplishments, the UDC has spearheaded the development of Negril as a resort area.  Notably, two-thirds of the choice land for development was acquired by the UDC at Mr. Seaga’s initiative to establish a land bank.  This formed the basis for planned developments such as Hellshire, BloddyBay(Negril), Sevilleand Auchindown (Westmoreland)).

In 1985 Mr. Seaga established the MetropolitanParksand Markets (MPM) as a subsidiary of the UDC to be responsible for public cleansing, beautification and the maintenance of the parks and markets in the city of Kingstonand other specified urban areas.

Human Resource Development

Mr. Seaga’s most satisfying area of creative endeavour has been the creation of several outstanding social enterprises especially for young people.  Among them are the Human Employment and Resource Training Programme (HEART), which began in 1983 and provides job-related training for school-leavers and drop-outs on a wide scale throughout Jamaica.

Cultural Development

He created and established the Jamaica Festival, (in which institutions compete annually in the literary, performing, plastic and graphic arts, as well as culinary skills, leading up to the Independencecelebrations.  This festival has become the showcase of Jamaican talent and the cradle of our traditional cultural expressions.

In the 1960s while he was Minister of Development and Welfare, Mr. Seaga gave popular music (Ska) its first exposure to the international scene by promoting overseas tours of Jamaican artistes. This laid the foundation for the international emergence of Reggae, now popular worldwide.

International Initiatives

Mr. Seaga promoted the concept of an international “cultural bank” leading to the establishment of the International Fund for the promotion of Culture (IFPC) by UNESCO in the 1970s.

In the 1980s, he played a leading role in the establishment of the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) conceived as a “Marshall Plan” for the Caribbean and promoted the concept of a human facility, later adopted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as the Short Term Advisory Service (STAS) to provide low-cost short-time expertise from the international private sector for developing countries.


  • In 1981 Queen Elizabeth II appointed Mr. Seaga as a member of her Majesty’s Privy Council.  Mr. Seaga has also been honoured by several countries:

  • The Republic of Venezuela – Grand Collar de Libertador (1981)

  • The Republic of Venezuela– Gold Mercury International Award (1981)

  • TheRepublic of Korea– Grand Gwangwa Medal, Order of Diplomatic Service Merit (1981)

  • The FederalRepublic of Germany – Grand Cross of the Order of Merit (1982)

  • Mexico – Order of the Aztec Eagle (1987)

  • He is the recipient of several prestigious international awards:

  • Gleaner Honour Awards: Man of the Year, 1980 and 1981

  • Avenue of the AmericasAssociation, N.Y. – Gold Key Award (1981)

  • Pan American Development Foundation Inter-American Man of the Year Development Award (1983)

  • Dr. Martin Luther King Humanitarian Award

  • United Nations Environment Programme – the Environmental Leadership Awards (1987)

Honorary Degrees

  • University of Miami, LL.D. (1981)
  • Tampa University, LL.D. (1982)
  • University of South Carolina , LL.D. (1983)
  • Boston University, LL.D. (1983)
  • Hartford University, LL.D. (1987)

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Olive Senior
(1938 -  )

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Olive Senior was born in 1938 and grew up in rural
Jamaica.She spent her life in the world of words.  She started when she was still a student at the Montego BayHigh School , working with the Gleaner during her vacations.  At CarltonUniversityin Ottawa, Canadashe took a degree in Print Journalism.  After her return to Jamaica, she once more worked with the Gleaner until, as a Thomson Scholar, she went on to the United Kingdomfor further studies in Communication.

Olive Senior’s writing career has been an unusual combination of the practical and the creative.  On the practical side, apart from her years in journalism, she has been Publications Editor of the Institute of Socialand Economic Research at the University of the West Indies , and has written two non-fiction books:  The Message is Change, in 1972 and the widely popular A-Z of Jamaican Heritage in 1983.  She served as Managing Director of Institute of Jamaica Publications and Editor of Jamaica Journal, a magazine which consistently maintained an extremely high standard while presenting the history and culture of Jamaicato its people and the world at large.  This dual role demanded an extensive knowledge of the realities of publishing magazines and books in Jamaica , together with an awareness of and sensitivity to the needs and sensibilities of writers.

Her collection of poetry, Talking of Trees published in 1985, explores an inner life, searches for origins and follows threads into a more distant history.  In 1987, her anthology of short stories, Summer Lightning was published by Longmans.  This collection included prizewinning stories from Festival Literacy Competitions.

Olive has won several awards for her poetry and short stories including the Institute of Jamaica Centenary Medalfor Creative Writing in 1979.  In 1987 she was given international recognition when she carried off the Commonwealth Prize for Literature.  Following that she was awarded the Silver Musgrave Medal in 1988 for her outstanding contribution in the field of Literature.  Olive Senior on October 16, 2003 was awarded the Norman Washington Manley Award for Excellence in the field of Preservation of our Cultural Heritage.

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The Rt. Hon. Hugh Lawson Shearer

The Rt. Hon. Hugh Lawson Shearer
(1923 - 2004)

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Born on
May 18, 1923 at Martha Brae, Trelawny, close to the sugar and banana areas.  He attended St. Simon’s College as a Parish Scholarship winner.  He joined the BITU’s staff in April 1941 attached to the union’s weekly paper “Jamaica Worker”.  His first promotion came in 1943, when Sir Alexander Bustamante newly released from Detention Camp, took over editorship of the paper and took Hugh Shearer under his wings from then.  As Bustamante became more involved with the Jamaica Labour Party, Mr. Shearer went on to further promotion within the union and acquired a Government Trade Union scholarship in 1947-48.

He first moved into the political field when he was elected a Councillor of the KSAC in 1947.  He was appointed Island Supervisor of the BITU and elected Vice-President of the union, at around the same time.  He was elected to the House of Representatives as a member for Western Kingston 1955-59, and on being defeated was appointed to the Legislative Council.  He was a member of the Senate (and its leader) from 1962 to 1967, at the same time filling the role of Jamaica’s chief spokesman on foreign affairs as Deputy Chief of Mission at the United Nations.  In 1967 he was elected M.P. for Southern Clarendon and appointed Prime Minister on the death of Sir Donald Sangster in 1967.

As a trade unionist he has had a distinguished career, particularly as a negotiator.  His trade union activities have served him in good stead, having brought him through the years into contact with a wide cross-section of the community – workers, civil servants, employers, traders, associations – giving him a wide knowledge of social and economic conditions in fields that matter fundamentally to Jamaican life.

In the political field he was at the same time prominent as a JLP representative and shared political activity with the union programme and after Bustamante, was recognized as the JLP spokesman for the working class sector of the community.  Due to Bustamante’s increasing involvement with Government, Mr. Shearer took over complete charge of the BITU, and this made him a force to be reckoned with in JLP councils. He held a seat in the JLP Executive as the leading representative of the BITU and that was a position of strength.

As a Prime Minister (1967-1972) he presided over Jamaica ’s most productive years. During this period three new alumina refineries and three large convention hotels were constructed or started. These formed the base of today’s mining and tourism industries, now the countries two largest foreign exchange earners.

Also Mr. Shearer is credited with changing the pace of education in Jamaica with his programme to double secondary school enrollment. Fifty new secondary schools were built as a result.

On the international scene, Mr. Shearer in 1963 initiated the movement in the United Nations for declaring 1968 as “The International Year of Human Rights” celebrated worldwide.

Mr. Shearer also piloted the move to have Jamaica selected as headquarters for The Law of the Sea Authority.

Indeed Hugh Shearer can claim glory. He spent over 50 years in service to his country and in pursuit of the great future he envisioned for his homeland and the greater world community.

He died on July 5, 2004 at the age of eighty-one.

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Sir Philip Manderson Sherlock

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Sir Philip Sherlock was born at Manchioneal, Portland, on February 25, 1902. He is the son of a Methodist minister, the Reverend Terence Manderson Sherlock and Adina Sherlock. He married Grace Marjorie Verity on December 2, 1942 and together they had three children. 

Sir Philip was educated at Calabar High School. He began his teaching career at his alma mater at the age of 17 as a junior master. In 1927, by private study, he gained the degree of Bachelor of Arts from London University, in England, the first achievement in a long and distinguished career in education.

He also taught at Manchester High School for two years, followed by Wolmer's Boys School in Kingston where he was the headmaster in 1932, making him the youngest in the island at the time. 

Philip Sherlock worked for 20 years in the schoolroom before leaving the teaching profession to enter directly into the cultural mainstream of Jamaica. In 1938 he took up an appointment as Secretary of the Institute of Jamaica, the national centre for the promotion of Literature, Arts and Science. His years at the Institute were characterized by his desire to bring the institution to the service of the educational needs of Jamaica. Among his achievements were: 

  1. the revival and development of the Science Programme
  2. the development of a lecture hall, art gallery, science museum and archives
  3. the opening of the Junior Centre at East Street in 1940 and a centre in Half-Way-Tree in 1941

Among his many experiments, Sir Philip describes as "the biggest course in education" he ever took was his tenure as Education Officer with the Jamaica Welfare Limited. This was a philanthropic organization he joined in 1945 on the invitation of National Hero, Norman Manley where he was able to work at the grassroots to develop leadership in the community. 

His crowning achievement came in 1964 when he succeeded Sir Arthur Lewis as the Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, having previously served as Pro Vice-Chancellor. Under his brilliant leadership, the UWI grew in importance and prestige, and stands today as his lasting monument. In this capacity, Sir Philip had also brought with him several years of service to an institution that he had served since the time of its inception in 1948. He had been the first Director of Extra Mural Studies, Vice Principal and Acting Principal of the University College of the West Indies as it was called prior to 1962. He was the founding principal of the new campus at St. Augustine, Trinidad, and undertook the establishment of the Faculty of Engineering as well as transformed and incorporated the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture into that Campus. 

Blessed with quiet dignity, wit and easy charm, Philip Sherlock also had the gifts of oratory and poetry, at both of which he excelled. He was internationally recognized as a leading Caribbean scholar, lecturer and author. His interest in the history, literature and folklore of the region made him the author of many publications. 

Some of his publications include "West Indian Story", "Land and People of the West  Indies" and "West Indian Folk Tales". In 1976, he produced "Shout for Freedom", a poetic tribute to Sam Sharpe, one of Jamaica's National Heroes. He was also a regular contributor to the Gleaner with his articles of historical and cultural interest. 

Sir Philip completed his life of scholarship with the writing of the epic work "The Story of the Jamaican People (1997) which he did in partnership with Dr. Hazel Bennett. 

Sir Philip Sherlock died on December 4, 2000 at the age of 98. 

Honours and Awards    

  • The Order of CARICOM, 1998
  • Norman Washington Manley Award for Excellence in the field of Education, Social and Cultural Development, 1992
  • Pelican Award from the Guild of Graduates of the University of the West Indies, 1991
  • Order of Merit (O.M.). October 16, 1989. Bestowed on persons who have received international distinction
  • Government of Venezuela's Band of Honour of the Order of Andres Bello, in recognition of the success of the Association of Caribbean Universities and Research Institution (UNICA) of which he was the General Secretary, 1978
  • Honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from the University of Miami, 1971
  • Gold Musgrave Medal for his contribution in History and Literature, 1966
  • Knight of the British Empire in 1966
  • Commander of the British Empire (C.B.E.), 1956


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The Most Honourable Portia Simpson-Miller
(1945 -  )

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History was made in Jamaica when on February 26, 2006 Mrs. Simpson-Miller was elected as the first female president of the People’s National Party (PNP) and on March 21, 2006 when she was sworn in as Jamaica’s first female Prime Minister.

 Portia Simpson-Miller was born on December 12, 1945 in the rural community of Wood Hall, St. Catherine. She is married to Errald Miller.

Mrs. Simpson Miller received her formal education at the Marlie Hill Primary School; the former St. Martin’s High School and Jamaica Commercial Institute. Mrs. Simpson-Miller also received a Degree in Public Administration from the Union Institute of Miami. Several years later, in 2002 the Institute conferred upon Mrs. Simpson-Miller the degree of Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. The award of this honorary degree was quite significant as Mrs. Simpson-Miller is the first graduate to have received the Institute’s honorary degree. In addition, Mrs. Simpson Miller holds the Certificate in Advanced Management from the University of California at Berkley and a Certificate in Public Relations and Advanced Management from the Institute of Management and Production, Jamaica.

 1974 was the beginning of Mrs. Simpson-Miller’s career in representational politics. She was asked to represent the People’s National Party in the Municipal elections of 1974 representing the Trench Town area. Mrs. Simpson-Miller’s surprising success in the Municipal elections made way for her to be nominated as a candidate for the general elections. This was also another success story with her winning in both the 1976 and 1980 general elections. She has also been Member of Parliament for South-West St. Andrew since 1989. Mrs. Simpson-Miller has been one of the most successful and popular female politicians in Jamaica.

The Prime Minister has served in several areas of the People’s National Party:

Councilor in the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation 1974 
Member of Parliament for South-West St. Andrew since 1976
Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and in the Office of the Prime Minister 1977
PNP Vice President 1978
President of the Women’s Movement of the PNP 1983
Minister of Labour, Social Security and Sport  1989
Minister of Tourism and Sport 2000
Minister of Local Government Community Development and Sport  2002

Her accomplishments include reform to the Overseas Farm workers program through the Overseas Recruitment Centre for Farm Workers. It was also Mrs. Portia Simpson’s initiative which resulted in the significant growth in the National Insurance Fund which benefits pensioners. She also had high on her agenda the employment of youth and women.

 Mrs. Simpson-Miller is an avid supporter of Jamaican athletes and she would be seen at many sports events often dressed in the National colours. It was also under the leadership of Portia Simpson-Miller as Sports Minister that the Indoor Sports Facility at the National Stadium was built and the Sports Development Foundation established.

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Sir Hans Sloane

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In his long life. Sir Hans Sloane, scientist, noted physician and collector, amassed one of the greatest collections of plants, animals, antiquities, coins and many other objects/memorabilia of his time. These items formed the core of the British Museum and later the National History Museum. 

Sloane was born in the town of Killyleagh, Ireland, on the 16th of April, 1660. His father Alexander was an Ulsterman and his mother, Sarah was the daughter of a minister of religion.     

In his youth, Sloane took tremendous interest in Natural History Studies and the urge  for the collection of specimens grew on him till it became the ruling passion of his life. Ill health however affected his pursuits as at the age of 16, Sloane suffered from an ailment known as haemoptysis. This is a form of haemorrhage through the air passages and this interfered with his botanical quests, though not dampening his love for it. 

In 1679 he moved to London to study Chemistry, Botany an d Physics. He subsequently went on to Paris where he studied Medicine at the University of Orange. He graduated in 1683 as a medical doctor at the age of 23. He returned to London in 1683 bringing with him a collection of plants, which he presented to the celebrated naturalist John Ray. 

In 1685 Sloane was elected a Fellow of the prestigious Royal Society which was founded to bring together scientists for weekly meetings where they could witness experimenting and discuss scientific topics. In 1687 he was also made a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. Sir Hans later693-1712 and then President from 1727-1741 succeeding Sir Isaac Newton. 

It was in 1687 that Sloane went on to become the Secretary of the of the Royal Society from 1ne was given the opportunity to travel to Jamaica as physician to the then Governor, the 2nd Duke of Albermarle, Christopher Monke. During the three (3) months voyage, Sloane made observations on phosphorescence in the water and the habit of sea birds. He carefully recorded sights of the grampus and the porpoise, as well as the flying fish and the chambered nautilus. Sloane spent 15 months in Jamaica.

It was on the 19th December, 1687 that Sir Hans and the Governor entered the Port Royal Harbour. During his stay Sloane made extensive notes on the local flora and fauna, the customs of the local inhabitants and natural phenomena such as earthquakes. He amassed a collection of over 800 objects of Natural History, as well as, full-size drawings of many plants, birds, fruits, molluscs, insects and fish among many other specimens when he left for England in 1689. He then began to work on the information he had gathered in Jamaica and in 1696, published a list of the plants he had collected, the "Catalogus Plantarum  Quae Insula Jamaica", often referred to as the "Catalogue". 

In 1707 he published the first volume of his celebrated work, "A Voyage to the Island of Madera, Barbados, Nieves, St. Christopher and Jamaica with the Natural History of the herbs and trees, four-footed beast, fishes, birds, insects, reptiles, etc., of the last of those Islands". This publication made a valuable contribution to made a valuable contribution to Natural History and threw light on the important aspects of Jamaica's history as it gives a rare insight into the life of 17th century West Indies. To date it remains the most comprehensive account of the flora of Jamaica and the botanical specimens it was based upon. 

This book is an extensive introduction to the wealth of detail about the lives of the inhabitants of Jamaica, its climate, its trade links and agriculture, as well as, information about neighbouring islands. As a physician and botanist, Sloane took particular interest in the medicinal plants used by both the settlers and slaves as well as the other remedies they used such as cupping and bleeding. 

Perhaps the most significant of the hundred of plants and animals Sloane collected and studied was the cocoa bean from which the locals made a dark, bitter drink. Sloane came up with the idea of boiling the beans in sugared milk, which made it far more palatable. This drink was the first milk chocolate, which he believed brought many health benefits. The recipe later became the basis for many chocolate drinks and bars and Sloane's name was used to sell it, even into the 19th century. 

The second volume of Sloane's work did not appear until 1725 and contains much information on the fauna of Jamaica, as well as, its plant life and is as richly illustrated as the first volume. By the time he died, Sloane amassed thousands of natural history objects, books and artworks. He left his priceless collections, which was worth the sum of £ 20,000. After his death, money raised by a lottery was used to purchase the collection and so was created the British Museum at Bloomsbury and later its offspring, The Natural History Museum at South Kensington. Sloane's collection are regularly consulted by scientists and artists to this day.  

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The Hon. Mr. Justice Edward Zacca
(1931 -  )


Barrister at Law and Puisne Judge

Edward Zacca was born on July 26, 1931 to Wadie Zacca and Angel Shoucair. Edward Zacca married to Hope Margaret, the daughter of George Haddad (J.P. and Merchant) on October 19, 1958. They shared two children Christopher and Karen.

He attended Kingston  College from 1941 - 1947 and was called to the Bar in Middle Temple, London on February 9,  1954. From 1952 - 53 he was the President of the Hans Crescent Colonial Students' Residence. On June 29, 1954, Zacca was admitted to practice and was appointed Clerk of Courts January 1958. He became Acting Registrate Magistrate for St. Catherine, RM for St. Mary and St. James(1960-65) and RM for St. Andrew (1965-1968).

On January 2, 1985, he was sworn in as Chief Justice of Jamaica by Sir Florizel Glaspole at Kings House where he pledge to carry out his duties without partiality, fear or favour. Zacca step up to the Privy Council when he was accepted by the UK Privy Council on September 1, 1992 to one of its members. Zacca was the fourth Caribbean Chief Justice to be appointed to the Privy Council and the first from Jamaica.  Here he was not allowed to sit on any appeal being heard from Jamaica but will be eligible to do so for appeals from other Caribbean and Commonwealth countries.

Edward Zacca was known for enjoying all types of outdoor sports and have been affiliated to several clubs.  He retired on July 25, 1996 after giving thirty eight years in the judicial service.

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His Excellency The Most Honourable Professor Kenneth O. Hall, ON, OJ
(1941 -   )

Professor Kenneth Octavius Hall became Jamaica’s fifth Governor General on February 15, 2006. He succeeds Sir Howard Cooke, who served as Governor General for 15 years. Professor Hall brings to his post of Governor General extensive academic, administrative and professional experiences gained in the Caribbean and elsewhere.

Professor Kenneth Hall was born on April 24, 1941 and hails from the Parish of Hanover. He is married to Rheima Holding and has one daughter. He earned a Degree in History from the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona in 1966; he obtained a postgraduate diploma from the Institute of International Relations, UWI, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago; a Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy Degrees from Queen’s University, Canada. In 2004 Professor Hall was the recipient of one of Jamaica’s national honours, Order of Jamaica and is a member of the Order of Nation.

His Excellency began his career as a teacher at Ruseas High School in Hanover, where he taught from 1961-1963. Professor Hall’s professional experience at the tertiary level began with the post of teaching assistant at UWI, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago 1966-1967. He then lectured in History at the University of the West Indies, Mona 1972-1973.

Most of Professor Hall’s professional experience was gained at the State University of New York (SUNY) where he served a professor from 1982-1994. At SUNY he was Professor of American Studies and History at the University’s’ Old Westbury and Oswego campuses respectively. In addition to holding the position of Professor at SUNY, Prof. Hall also held administrative positions of Dean of Faculty, Vice President of Academic Affairs, Old Westbury and Assistant Provost and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Albany.

Upon his return to the Caribbean in 1994, Professor Hall was appointed Deputy Secretary General of CARICOM. Two years later, in 1966 he took up the post of Pro-Vice Chancellor/Principal of UWI, Mona. In 2003 he was appointed Chairman of the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC). Professor Hall also served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Mona Institute of Business located at UWI, Mona.

Professor Hall has been affiliated with several associations. He has also served as Consultant, to several local and international organizations. His Excellency also has to his credit several books, articles and papers. His publications include:

  • The Caribbean Community: beyond survival
  • Caribbean imperatives: regional governance
  • Contending with destiny: the Caribbean in the 21st century
  • Integrate or perish: perspectives of leaders of the integration movement, 1963-1969.
  • Rex: Rex Nettleford, selected speeches 


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Mrs. Amy Blanche Robertson
(1926 - 2007)


Mrs. Amy Robertson was born on August 26, 1926 in the parish of Hanover. She was educated at the Montego Bay High School, Loughborough College and the University of the West Indies. Amy Robertson is one of the first Jamaicans to receive formal qualification as a Librarian and served for more than fifty (50) years in the field of Librarianship. Her career began as a volunteer at what became the St. James Parish Library, where she served in various capacities for 26 years (1946-1972). Her most notable position in the Jamaica Library Service was as supervisor of the School Library Service. Mrs. Robertson became an expert in the field of school librarianship and traveled to many countries to promote the value of school libraries.

She is also a founding member of the Jamaica Library Association, renamed Library and Information Association of Jamaica (LIAJA). Mrs. Robertson was elected a President of LIAJA in 1974.   She was also a member of the team that launched the International Association of School Librarianship in Jamaica. Mrs. Robertson served as president of the International Association of School Librarianship for two, consecutive, three-year terms. 

From 1972 – 1992, Mrs. Robertson worked as Documentalist at the School of Education, University of the West Indies (UWI). While at UWI, she developed a library for the newly formed School of Education. Other professional positions held by Mrs. Robertson include part-time lecturer in the Department of Library and Information Studies and external examiner for the Teacher Librarian Course in Teacher’s Colleges. Following her retirement Mrs. Robertson continued her contribution to the field of Librarianship by serving a part-time librarian at the Jamaica Library Service and the National Library of Jamaica.

Mrs. Robertson in collaboration with Hazel Bennett and Janet White compiled the Select Bibliography of Education in the Commonwealth Caribbean which was a well-needed resource for educators. Other publications to her credit include School Libraries in the British West Indies and Libraries for Youth with Special Reference to the Commonwealth Caribbean as well as publications in journals, particularly on the subjects of children literature and school librarianship.

In 2005, the Council of the Institute of Jamaica awarded Mrs. Amy Robertson the Bronze Musgrave Medal for merit for her contribution to the development of libraries in Jamaica.

Other awards received by Mrs. Robertson include the Centenary Medal of the Institute of Jamaica; Professional Societies Association in Jamaica Medal for excellence in Performance, 1994; Department of Library and Information Studies Prize named in honour of Mrs. Robertson for the best B. Ed. Graduate Student. 


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Abraham Issa CBE, OJ
(1905 - 1984)

Abraham “Abe” Elias Issa (affectionately called Mr. Jamaica) was born on October 10, 1905 in Kingston. He was educated at the St. George’s College, Kingston and the Holy Cross College, Worcester, U.S.A. On his return to the island, he entered the family dry goods business – E. A. Issa and Bros. Abraham Issa is regarded as one of the pioneers of the Jamaican tourist industry, entering the industry when his family bought the Myrtle Bank Hotel on the Kingston Harbour in 1943.

His distinguished contribution to the Jamaican tourist industry was cemented when in 1949, he built the Tower Isle Hotel in St. Mary; which became the first resort hotel to be opened all year round. It was the decision to build Tower Isle (now Couples) on Jamaica’s north coast, which led to the development of the north coast and signaled the modernization of Jamaica’s tourism.

Subsequently, Abe Issa began appealing to the government to pay more attention to developing the tourism industry. In 1955, he became the first Chairman of the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTA) and held this post until 1962. He also served as president of the Caribbean Tourism Association, while simultaneously being the chairman and director of some thirty six (36) companies. As the Chairman of the JTA, Abe Issa worked earnestly to promote Jamaica as a year round destination. Throughout his life, he dedicated his time to modernizing Jamaica’s tourist sector with the establishment of hotels and investments in advertising. Abe Issa had become to be known worldwide as “Mr. Jamaica”.

Abe Issa also the lead the way in the development of the New Kingston business district. In 1959, with his involvement in the development of the Caymanas Park Racing Track, the old Knutsford Park Racing track was transformed into a central and active commercial area. He also established the first supermarket in Jamaica-Hi-Lo and the first shopping center-Tropical Plaza.

Mr. Issa received various awards for his work in tourism; in 1960 Queen Elizabeth II conferred on him the Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE). In 1980, he received the Order of Jamaica for his work in tourism. This was followed by another major Jamaican award, the Norman Manley Award for Excellence in 1984. Abraham Issa was also a member of the Senate and board member for many other companies.

Abraham Issa, “father of Jamaica’s modern tourism industry”, businessman, philanthropist and Jamaican extraordinaire died November 29, 1984.  


1.  B/N (Biographical Notes) files - National Library of Jamaica -, Issa, Abraham

2.  Martin, Emile. Reflections on Tourism. Montego Bay:  Unlimited Exposures Ltd, 1994.

3.  Miranda Jean. “Abe Issa; Father of Jamaican Tourism”, Skywritings, August 1985.

4. “Tourism 1984”. 25th Anniversary Publication Norman Manley Award Foundation. 1994.


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Courtney Walsh gestures during a press conference in New Delhi on Monday

Courtney Walsh
(1962 -  )

Courtney Andrew Walsh was born on the 30th of October 1962 to parents Joan Wollaston and Eric Walsh and raised on Molynes Road in the Half Way Tree area of Kingston.

A lanky six footer Courtney Walsh, known by close relatives and friends as ‘Mark’ or ‘Cuddy,’ grew up to be a very ambitious young man. The Melbourne Cricket club was the starting point of this legend. Born on the southern wall at Melbourne, Courtney grew up on cricket, hearing the sound of bat hitting ball, evening after evening.

During his high school years he attended Excelsior High school, there Courtney specialized in Accounts and Commerce, however, he was most passionate about cricket. Courtney joined the Sunlight Cup Cricket team at Excelsior where he made local history as the only school boy to capture all 10 wickets in an inning in a match against Camperdown High.

Walsh was selected as a member of the Jamaica youth team in 1983 where he contributed towards the team’s victories. Two clubs sought to have his services. One of which was Gloucestershire, who he signed a contract with in 1984 that lasted for 14 years before it ended acrimoniously late in 1998. There he got the nickname ‘Duracell’, because of his ability to bowl long spells.

Courtney was member of The West Indies Cricket team for 18 years starting on his journey to success in 1984 – 85 when he had his test debut against Australia at Perth. Courtney took his first wicket, M.G. Wood caught by R.B. Richardson for 56.

In 1988, Courtney took a unique Hat Trick in the first test of the 1988-89 series against Australia in Brisbane with last ball of first innings and first two balls of his first spell in the second innings. By 1994, Walsh was appointed West Indies captain for a tour of India and New Zealand. In 1995, he had his test careers best bowling performance of 7-37 in the second test against New Zealand in Wellington. He became the second Jamaican and the seventh West Indian bowler to take 200 wickets in test cricket when he trapped Bast Ali, leg before wicket in the second innings of the second test against Pakistan at Kensington Oval. Also, Courtney achieved his landmark 300-test wickets during the sixth and final test against England at the Oval. Walsh continued to create history in 1998 when he became West Indies leading Wicket-taker in tests when he passed Malcolm Marshall’s Mark of 376 wickets in his first test against South Africa in Johannesburg. In 1999, when he became the first West Indian and only third bowler in test history, after Kapil Dev (434) and Sir Richard Hadlee (431), to take 400 test wickets.

On March 27, 2000, Courtney Walsh achieved another major milestone by reaching the 500 test wicket mark. This was achieved against South Africa in Port of Spain when he trapped J.H. Kallis, leg before wicket for zero. His 519th and last wicket came when he bowled A. Donald for 10 in the match West Indies played against South Africa at Kingston in 2000- 01 thus setting the world record for the most test wickets taken. It was on this day, April 23rd, 2001 that Courtney Walsh announced his retirement from international cricket.

Courtney Walsh mastered the art of bowling but unfortunately not batting. Walsh now holds the record for the highest number of test ducks (43) whenever he bats. The ‘energizer bunny’, ‘workhorse’, ‘war horse’, ‘old soldier’, ‘veteran’, ‘iron man’ – names which acknowledge the reliability, stamina, perseverance and sheer will that have kept him playing long past the average life of a fast bowler.

Some rewards for his great achievements, honours and awards include:

  • 131 test matches, the most by any West India
  • In 1987 - one of the Wisdens five cricketers of the year for 1986
  • 1999 - Carreras Sportsman for 1998
  • 11th of March 1999 - Ambassador at large and special envoy of the Government of Jamaica by the then Prime Minister P.J. Patterson. Courtney also received the key to the city of Kingston, along with a citation and a copy granting him his keys
  • October 11th, 2001 - the University of West Indies Guild of Graduates prestigious Pelican Award under the theme, “Humanity, Humility and Excellence
  • The Chaconia Medal (gold), which is the second highest honor in Trinidad and Tobago.
  • March 2001 - the Barbadian Honor, the Gold Crown of Merit during the third Cable and Wireless Test in Bridgetown presented by Sir Clifford Husbands (Barbadian Governor General)
  • 2001 - University of the West Indies Guild of Graduates prestigious Pelican Award
  • June 20th, 2005 - road where Melbourne Cricket Club is located was renamed ‘Courtney Walsh Drive’, which was previously known as Derrymore road.
  • 1993 - The Order of Distinction Commander Class (CD) and the Order of Jamaica (OJ), Jamaica’s 3rd highest National Honor.
  • Walsh has an award named after him consisting of a trophy and $500,000, which will be presented to athletes who have represented Jamaica in sports and who have reflected high performance, the qualities of National pride, fine conduct on and off the field and grit and determination.  

Courtney now resides in upper St. Andrew with his two children, Courtney Walsh Junior, whose life ambition is to become the best bowler in the world, and Crystal Walsh. He is also an entrepreneur who owns a sports shop called ‘Walsh’s Sports shop’ and a restaurant named “Cuddies” which is one of the most popular sports bar and grill in Jamaica.


  1. Baksh, Vaneisa. ‘Considering Walsh: profile on of the greatest fast bowlers of all time’. BWIA Caribbean Beat, Sep-Oct 1999.
  2. B/ N (Biographical Notes) files: Courtney Walsh – containing newspaper clippings with Biographical information on Courtney Walsh.
  3. H/N (Historical Notes) files: Honours Jamaica – containing newspaper clippings of Honours and Awards given.
  4. Walsh, Courtney. Heart of a Lion. Lancaster Publishing Ltd, England 1999.
  5. Manning, Gareth. KASAC bowls over ‘Cuddy’ with honor. The Gleaner, Wednesday June 22, 2005 Pg. A7


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Rev. Henry Ward
(1879 - 1981)

Early Life

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Reverend Henry Ward, Presbyterian Minister, teacher and headmaster is highly regarded as one of the pioneers of Early Childhood Education in Jamaica. Henry Ward was born on the 28th day of May, 1879 in the district of Golden Grove, St. Ann. He attended Clapham Primary School and St. Georges Primary School where he not only passed the Pupil Teachers Examination with distinction, but also attained the Exhibitioner’s Scholarship in 1899 to pursue studies at Mico Teacher’s College. At Mico, Ward founded the institution’s debating team, while successfully pursuing his studies, which resulted in him being the ‘Honours Man of the Year’ for the graduating class of 1900.

Subsequently, he became the headmaster of Ebenezer Primary School in Manchester where he served for nine years. During these nine years, Ebenezer was rated by education inspectors as one of the top elementary schools in Jamaica. One year, it obtained all the top spots in the Pupil Teachers’ Examination. As a consequence, Ward received offers for a number of posts which he declined, instead opting to study at Woodlands Theological College in South Manchester. During his first year at Woodlands he was also president of the Jamaica Union of Teachers after being nominated as president elect the previous year.

In 1915, Ward was ordained as a Presbyterian Minister and offered a position as Head of the Teacher Training College Department at the Hope Wadell Institute in Calabar, Nigeria (offer made by Foreign Mission Committee of the Church of Scotland). Here he spent six years, training three hundred (300) teachers. He also established an agricultural school and a church.

Return to Jamaica

On returning to Jamaica in 1923, Ward settled in Islington, St. Mary where he served as pastor of the Presbyterian Church for forty four (44) years and established Jamaica’s first basic school, then called ‘play centres.’ The name subsequently changed as many parents were of the view that this name was suggestive of play more than education. From this came Ward’s development of the basic school movement. He also started a community training centre for teaching crafts to girls and unemployed mothers and was the manager of Water Valley School in St. Mary, which he significantly helped to rescue from failure and insufficient enrollment.

Later, Ward helped to establish Meadowbrook High School; he was one of its founders and also the first chairman of its board of governors from 1959 to 1969. Other schools of which he was a founding member include: St. Andrew High, Knox College and Cayman High School. Ward also contributed to the former Board of Education as a member for twenty five (25) years. He also advised the Ministry of Education on several matters relating to education such as staggered school hours and teaching sex education.

As a man who firmly believed in serving his nation, Ward continued to work until his “official” retirement at age ninety (90) in spite of a stroke in 1967. In the Gleaner’s publication of its Sunday Magazine, dated May 13, 1979, he remarked at a function at Meadowbrook High School, “So long ago I decided by the grace of God to live for the people, the children, the nation and to use Henry Ward as an instrument for that undertaking.”

Awards & Honours

His contribution to education as well as other fields of work including religion and social work did not go unrecognized. He received:

  • The Distinguished Service Award from the Kiwanis of St. Mary in 1972
  • The Order of Distinction from the Government of Jamaica in 1972
  • The establishment of the Ward Scholarship by the Jamaica Banana Producers’ Association in 1975
  • The establishment of the Henry Ward Scholarship at Gordon Cornwall Theological Seminary in 1978
  •  A certificate of Honour from the Jamaica Catholic Education Association in 1978

  • The Service Award from Mico Old Students’ Association in 1979

Though Ward had a varied career, he left an indelible mark on the education and religious landscape of Jamaica. On his 100th birthday, The United Church of Jamaica and Cayman, and the Mico Old Students’ Association gave a vivid summarized description of not only Henry Ward’s career path, but also his character— “A man inspired and inspiring, scholar, teacher, preacher, politician, prophet, pioneer, missionary, ambassador, orator, educator, social worker, farmer, writer, critic, administrator, counselor, director, dreamer, planner and builder, a man richly endowed with excellent qualities.”

Henry Ward died at the age of a hundred and two (102) on June 4, 1981.



“Rev. Henry Ward: Pastor, educator retires at 90.” Sunday Gleaner, 9 Feb. 1969. Kingston:

“Rev. Henry Ward Dies at 102.” Daily Gleaner, 4 Jun. 1981.

Souvenir Citation: Rev. Henry Ward J.P., O.D., Centenarian, The united Church of Jamaica and Grand Cayman, and MICO Old Students’ Association, May 28, 1979.

“Self died to Me, Long Ago Says Henry Ward.” The Sunday Gleaner Magazine. 13 May 1979.


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Manley Elisha West
(1929 - 2012)

Professor Manley Elisha West, pioneer pharmacologist, was born on March 17, 1929 in Fairy Hill, Portland. After completing his secondary studies at the Titchfield High School, Professor West went on to the Kingston then Thames High School in Surrey, London, followed by the University of London. It was there that he pursued his dream of becoming a pharmacologist. In 1967, he graduated from the University of London with a Doctor of Philosophy in Pharmacology. He also studied at various institutions including: Cambridge University, where he studied Ocular Pharmacology, Yale University and Sloan Kettering Institute in the United States of America where he studied Cancer Chemotherapy, Ottawa University in Canada, where he studied Experimental open-heart surgery and Belgrade University in Yugoslavia, where he studied advanced toxicology.

Professor West began his journey at the University of the West Indies in 1964 as an assistant lecturer in Pharmacology and in 1968 was appointed Lecturer and Chief Internal Examiner. After serving as Acting Head of the Department of Pharmacology in 1975, he was later appointed in that same year as Head of the Department of Pharmacology, Chief Internal Examiner and Dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences. He was appointed Professor of Pharmacology in 1981 and worked until his retirement in 2010, at the age of eighty. Professor West was the first Jamaican and West Indian to be appointed as Professor of Pharmacology in the Department of Pharmacology in the Medical Faculty of the University of the West Indies, Mona.

He has also served the University of the West Indies in many areas such as:

  • Pre-Clinical Vice Dean (four years)

  • Dean of the Faculty of Medicine (one year)

  • Head of the Pharmacology department (five years)

 Manley West is however, best known for his pioneering work in the utilization of ganja for the treatment of glaucoma. The interest in ganja as a treatment for glaucoma began with a mere observation. It was observed that country folk who used homemade eyewash consisting of ganja and fishermen who drank ganja tea, tended to have improved night vision. So with the encouragement of Dr. Albert Lockhart, an ophthalmologist who had learnt through a scientific presentation that persons who used marijuana had lower intraocular pressure than non-users, the pair spent ten years on developing the drug Canasol®. Today, Canasol® is still one of the most commonly used drugs by patients afflicted by glaucoma. Professor West, along with Dr. Lockhart, went on to utilize cannabis in the development of new drugs, Asmasol®- which treats bronchial asthma, coughs and colds and another drug Canavert®- a drug that stabilizes the part of the brain that controls motion sickness. Professor West’s contribution to the medical and pharmacological field enabled Jamaica to be considered and recognized internationally and his work further facilitated him in becoming the recipient of many awards such as:

  • World Health Organization Fellowship to research Cancer Chemotherapy at the Sloane Kettering Institute in New York.

  • The Canadian International Award for Cardio-vascular Pharmacology which he took up at the Ottawa University in Canada.

  • The Centenary Medal for Outstanding Contribution to Natural Sciences from the Institute of Jamaica in 1981.

  • Gold Musgrave Medal in 1994 from the Institute of Jamaica for his pioneering work in the development of Canasol.

  • The FAO/United Nations/Jamaica World Food Day "Biodiversity Award" for contribution to Ophthalmic Medicine in Jamaica.

  • The Order of Merit from the Jamaican government for his contribution to medicine in 1987.

When Professor West was not engaged in some pioneering work, he could be found exercising his farming capabilities, by growing coconuts and vegetables in Portland.  He married Eugenie, a registered nurse, and fathered eight children- Julie, Jacqueline, Peter, Colette, Paula, Paul, Mark and Dionne. Manley West died April 24, 2012.


§  B/N -West, Manley (National Library of Jamaica file)

§  H/N -University of the West Indies-Medical Faculty (National Library of Jamaica file)

§   “Research for Development” University of the West Indies, 2009

§  “Remembering a Pioneer, Mentor and Friend”. West Indian Medical Journal.16.2 (2012).

§  Obituaries. The Gleaner. Wednesday May 2, 2012.

§  “Manley West, a pioneer in Bio-chemistry.” The Gleaner. Monday March 1, 1999.


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Dr. Cicely Delphine Williams, OM, CMG
(1893 - 1992)

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Born December 2, 1893 at Kew Park, Bethel Town, Westmoreland Jamaica. Cicely Delphine Williams the second daughter and forth child of six which Margaret Farewell bore to James Rowland Williams. At a tender age, Cicely was involved in the caring of others, her mother along with a number of friends started a health clinic for young mothers. This is where Cicely and her sisters were taught first aid to help with emergencies.

 In 1906, Cicely Williams went to England to study, she first attended Bath High School then Somerville College were she obtained her BA., in 1920.She then attended Oxford University were she obtained a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery in 1923.  In 1938, she attained a Diploma in Tropical Nutrition and Hygiene.

 As a result of extensive studies Cicely’s career took her to various countries but before her overseas travels, she did Montessori teaching in Kingston. In 1917, she worked as a Scientific Technician in Boston Massachusetts.  She then served as house physician to The South London Hospital for Women and Children and at Kings College.  In 1929, Dr. Williams then applied to the British Colonial Medical Service; she was posted to the Gold Coast (now Ghana) where she spent seven years. It was there she diagnosed Kwashiorkor (Protein Calorie Malnutrition – the disease of the displaced baby).

In 1936, she was transferred to Malaya as a Pediatrician to the College of Medicine in Singapore. Whilst in the state of Trengganu as State Medical Officer when the Japanese invaded in 1942, she became a prisoner of war and was placed in the notorious Changi Prison Camp. While imprisoned, she became the head of the women and children camp and was punished for taking a stand in their interest.  In 1945 the day of the allied victory over Nazi Germany found Cicely in the hospital near dead, she was nursed back to death by some old Malayan friends. In 1948, Cicely became the first head of the World Health Organisation’s Maternal and Child Health organization in Geneva. In 1949, she was also the first appointed for the same Health Organisation’s Maternal and Child Health organization in South East Asia region.

Dr. Cicely Williams played a significant role in the Research Study of Vomiting Sickness among children in Jamaica between 1951 and 1953. During the years 1953-1955 Dr. Williams became Senior Lecturer in Nutrition at London University. In 1960, she went to Beirut as a professor of Maternal and Child Health at the American University where she remained for four years.  At age 70, in 1964 she became an adviser in the training programme of the Family Planning Association. 

In her nineties Dr. Williams was an active speaker, giving speeches in Israel, Pakistan and Nepal.

During her tenure Dr. Williams made a great contribution to literature by recording experiences and observations. Some of her publications are as follows:

“The story of kwashiorkor”, Courrier volume 13 page 361, 1963.

“A Nutritional Disease of children associated with a Maize Diet”, Archives of Disease in Childhood volume 8 page 423, 1933.

“Child Health in the Gold Coast”, the Lancet, January 8 1938 page 97.

“Whither Welfare”, British Medical Journal, volume 1 page 719, 1941.

Dr. Williams also co-authored a book with Dr. Derrick Jelliffe entitled “Mother and Child Health- Delivering the Services” which was published in 1972.


  • James Spence Memorial Gold Medal by the British Pediatrics Society, 1965.
  • Goldberger Award of the American Medical Association, 1967. (Dr. Williams was the first foreign recipient of this award)
  • Companion of the order of St. Michael and St. George C.G.M., 1968.
  • Honorary Doctorate by the University of the West Indies, 1969.
  • Martha Elliot Award in Maternal and Child Health, American Public Health, 1971.
  • Dawson Williams Prize in Pediatrics from the British Medical Association, 1972.
  • Honorary Degree from the University of Maryland and Honorary Citizenship of the State of Maryland, U. S. A., 1973.
  •  Order of Merit in recognition of distinguished work in the area of Maternal and Child Health and Infant Nutrition, 1975.
  • Food and Agricultural Organisation Ceres Medal Featuring Dr. Cicely Williams, 1977.

Dr. Cicely Delphine Williams a woman of whom not only Jamaica, but all, are justly proud died in England in 1992 at the age of 98.


  1. B/N Dr. Cicely Williams
  2. Craddock, S. Retired Except on Demand Life of Dr. Cicely Williams. Oxford: Green College, 1983.
  3. Dally, A. Cicely: The story of a Doctor. London: Victor Gollancz, 1968.   
  4. Patterson, S.  A Small Corner Of The Jamaican Tapestry. : S.E. Paterson,1972.

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Marjorie Prentice Saunders

In 2005, she published her autobiography, Born to Serve: The Pioneering Ministries Marjorie Sanders, a publication which is indicative of her contribution to the religious and education landscape of Jamaica.  Born in 1913, Marjorie Saunders (popularly called Madge Saunders) was raised in a middle class family in Galina, St. Mary, and was the sixth of seven children for her parents. Her mother, Ida Myers Saunders, died at a young age, and her father, Walter E. Saunders, was a wharf keeper and manager of Kerr and Company in Port Maria. She studied at Free Hill School in Port Maria, St. Mary, St. Colm’s Missionary College in Edinburgh, Bethlehem Moravian Training College in St. Elizabeth, and at London University where she attained a Certificate of Proficiency in Religious Knowledge.

Life’s Work

Saunders, from a young age, was actively involved in the religious and educational life of Jamaica. At the age of fourteen, following her success in the Pupil Teachers Examinations, she taught as a voluntary pupil teacher at Galina Primary School in St. Mary. Here she began to develop her understanding of education and decided to advance her knowledge in the field through Bethlehem Moravian Teachers’ College in St. Elizabeth. She successfully completed three years (1946-1948) at the College, where she was head girl for the entire period of her study. Not only was she the head girl for three years, she was the first to have had acquired such a position in the first year of study.

After graduating from teachers’ college, Saunders served as the principal of Hopeton Primary School, a Moravian Institution. As a result of her father’s illness, she had to retire from this post in order to care for him in Galina St. Mary. Here, she worked as a teacher at Galina Primary School, a post in which she previously served. While serving in this post, Saunders established arguably, the first school kitchen in Jamaica. This provided meals for students who came from deprived economic circumstances.

Saunders’s service at Galina Primary ended when she decided to become a committed servant of the Presbyterian Faith. She had always had an interest in religious work, but in 1965, an offer from the Presbyterian Church to be trained in Scotland for three years expedited her decision to become a Presbyterian worker. She accepted the offer and was trained at St. Colm’s Missionary College in Edinburgh, Scotland, where she successfully completed the training programme; she was the first native Jamaican female to have had such training.

While studying in Britain, Saunders used her time to do religious work. She was Associate Minister of St. James Presbyterian Church, Sheffield, England. In this post, she was able, it is believed, to have “served as a ‘bridge’ in a truly theological sense between the migrant and largely coloured community and white host community of Great Britain. One of the ways in which she did this was through the publication of a handbook, “Living in Britain”, for migrants in Britain. She was also:

  • Founder and First President of the International Friendship Guild, St. James Presbyterian Church
  • Member of the Sheffield Council of Churches and the Sheffield Radio Council
  • Executive member of the Sheffield Committee for Community Relations
  • Official School Visitor Sheffield Education Department
  • Vice President of the West Indian Association Sheffield
  • Member of the Migrant Standing Committee of the British Council of Churches  

Education and religion were indispensable to her life. Following her return to Jamaica, in 1976, Saunders became not just the first female minister of religion, but later, an icon in the United Church of Jamaica and Grand Cayman, where she was assigned to the Salem branch in St. Mary. Although this was the first religious post in which Saunders served on her return from Britain, it was not the first time she was doing religious work in Jamaica. She had served as the first fulltime Youth Organizer of the Presbyterian Church of Jamaica, a member of the Synodical Council of the Presbyterian Church of Jamaica and the Executive Committee of the Assembly of the Reformed Church in the Caribbean.

In the field of education, Saunders continued to make a marked contribution. Out of concern about the lack of teacher training, particularly in early childhood education, she helped to establish formal training for early childhood teachers. One of the ways which she started this was to train six teachers, all from different parishes, for a period of six weeks. These teachers were the first trained basic school teachers Jamaica had. She was also instrumental in the creation of Mona and Iona Preparatory Schools, Meadowbrook High School, and the Kelly Lawson School, an institution for training teachers and youth workers (Peace Women Across the Globe, 2013).

Saunders died on the 2nd of March 2009, but her work never went unnoticed. Her accolades include:

  • Nobel Peace Prize Nominee, 2005

  • Certificate and Badge of Honour for meritorious service, 1960



  • Atty, Dan Perky. “The Reverend Marjorie Prentice Saunders.” United Church of Jamaica and Grand Cayman Islands, March 1981.
  • Guy, Henry A. & Lavern Bailey. Women of Distinction in Jamaica. Kingston: Golding Printing Service, 1978.

  • Laing, Ellis. “Madge Saunders: ‘Born to Serve’.” Kingston: The Gleaner

  • “Born to Serve: the Pioneering Ministries of Marjorie Prentice Saunders.” The Sunday Observer, 18 September, 2005.

  • Neita, Clifton. Who’s Who Jamaica British West Indies 1954. Kingston: Who’s Who Jamaica Limited, 1954.

  • “Marjorie Prentice has Passed Away.” Peace Women Across the Globe.


Millicent Small
(1946 - )


Millicent Dolly May Small, popularly known as Millie Small was the first Jamaican singer to expose Jamaican popular music on the international scene with a song which became the first million-selling Jamaican song. Her rendition of “My Boy Lollipop” became the first Jamaican song to make it on the British and American music charts reaching number one in Britain and number two in the United States in 1964.

Millie Small was born in Vere, Clarendon on October 6, 1946. She was the daughter of an overseer on a sugar plantation and the youngest of a family of twelve. She was one of the very few female early ska era singers who originated from Clarendon.

In 1960, Small won a singing contest in at the popular Vere Johns Opportunity Hour talent contest at the Palladium Theatre in Montego Bay. She got about 10 shillings for her prize. This success leads her to team up with Roy Panton at just twelve and a half years old, to form the duo Roy & Millie, who both recorded the song “We’ll Meet” for producer Clement “Coxsone” Dodd. She also did the song “Sugar Plum” for Coxsone, which was also a duet. Soon after she was heading the Jamaican disc hit parade. Small was paid the sum of £23 for three successful records.

When, founder of Island Records Label Chris Blackwell was twenty six he heard one of Millie’s local hits. He convinced Sir Coxsone that he could launch Small’s career if she came under his management. Blackwell brought her to England in late 1963 when she was old enough to travel alone. In later years Millie said that “I hadn’t planned on being a star, but I always wanted to be a singer, and I felt like it was my destiny to go to England.”

Chris Blackwell exclaimed that when he brought Millie to London his friends thought he was mad because calypso was the popular music then. Blackwell was actually the one who decided that Millie should do a cover of an American rhythm and blues song, My Boy Lollipop, originally done by Barbie Gaye in 1957. “My Boy Lollipop” is still regarded as one of the all-time biggest selling reggae or ska discs. Arley Cha who in 2006 was Millie’s producer said that the song still continues to be played every day across the United States, in every State, on CBS FM radio. In the same year the song held the number three spot for the greatest all time hit single for 1964,  number one and two were the Beatles and Rolling Stones respectively. Blackwell  had certainly surprised his critics as “My Boy Lollipop” went on to top the British charts  reaching number one in March 1964, eventually selling over seven million copies worldwide. It was also the first major hit for Island Records. The song reportedly stayed in the Nigerian Top Ten for six years. It had set the pace for subsequent chart toppers in England, Desmond Dekker’s “Israelites” and “Double Barrell” by Dave and Ansel Collins. Although Millie made little success with her follow up song “Sweet William” and others she toured Africa twice in the mid-1960s which secured her a place in history allowing the wider world to become familiar with Jamaican music.

Millie Small enjoyed popularity and success during the early period of her career. On her first visit to the United States while at the Kennedy International Airport, press photographers, newsmen, magazine editors, radio and television crews were there to   meet They danced and laughed with her on what could be described as one of the warmest and most unusual receptions accorded to a foreign recording artist. Her flight was named The Lollipop Special as she received the world’s largest lollipop. She was idolized by many fans as was evident when the Port Authority police had to restrain an enthusiastic crowd of fans that went wild. Over thirty policemen had to surround Millie when they chanted “Sweet William” and tried to get through the protective barricade just to touch her. This was followed by a hectic schedule with the media, interviews and photo sessions.

In 1964, when Millie Small returned to Jamaica, she was greeted with a massive welcome home greeting party. She was escorted by police motorcycle to greet Prime Minister Sir Alexander Bustamante, and the Governor General of Jamaica. She was feted with ceremonies befitting royal visitors.

Probably the highlight of her success and popularity occurred when she returned to the United States for the New York World’s Fair 1964. The organizers had designated August 12th as Millie Small Day at the fair. Millie was the center of attraction on that day.  Music critics hailed Small as the greatest singing sensation since the Beatles.

Millie Small had recorded a number of other songs however, there was only two other hit singles
, “Sweet William” and “Bloodshot Eyes”. There was also another popular song called “Oh Henry”.

On 6 August 2011, the 49th anniversary of the country's independence, the Governor-General of Jamaica conferred the Order of Distinction in the rank of Commander (CD) upon Millicent (Millie) Dolly May Small, for her contribution to the development of the Jamaican music industry. The award was accepted on her behalf by former Prime Minister Edward Seaga.


Simons, Judith. “Magnificent Millie gets into the Hit Parade.” The Star 28 April 1964: 18. Print.

 “When England went mad for Lollipop.” The Sunday Observer 29 March 1998:  

 “Millie not so ‘small’ anymore.”  The Sunday Gleaner 15 October 2006:  Teenville Magazine, Issue #2, 1964. Electronic.


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