Fri | Jun 24, 2022
Remembering distinguished Jamaicans

The civil servants

Published:Sunday | June 19, 2022 | 12:06 AM
Horace Barber
Horace Barber
This 1964 photograph shows Allan Abrahams, retiring permanent secretary in the ministry of communications and works, is presented with a silver salver and goblet by his secretary, Sybil Wood. Mrs. Abrahams is at centre.
This 1964 photograph shows Allan Abrahams, retiring permanent secretary in the ministry of communications and works, is presented with a silver salver and goblet by his secretary, Sybil Wood. Mrs. Abrahams is at centre.
Robert Lightbourne delivering an address. (From left) are Sewell Mowatt, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Labour;  Edwin Allen, Mrs. Molly Butz, chairman of the Training School Committee;  Professor Don Lundberg and Russell Lewars, general manager of
Robert Lightbourne delivering an address. (From left) are Sewell Mowatt, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Labour; Edwin Allen, Mrs. Molly Butz, chairman of the Training School Committee; Professor Don Lundberg and Russell Lewars, general manager of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association.
Barbara Marsh, cookery student at Kingston Technical School with the Minister of Education, Florizel Glasspole (left). Alistair Tompson (centre) shows the contents of a saucepan to Reginald Mais, permanent secretary.
Barbara Marsh, cookery student at Kingston Technical School with the Minister of Education, Florizel Glasspole (left). Alistair Tompson (centre) shows the contents of a saucepan to Reginald Mais, permanent secretary.
In this 1962 photograph Sir Alexander Bustamante, premier of Jamaica, receives from H. C. Minor, manager of the Jamaican Branch of Texaco Caribbean Incorporated, a cheque for 5,000 pounds towards s Jamaica’ Independence Celebrations. At left is Vincent M
In this 1962 photograph Sir Alexander Bustamante, premier of Jamaica, receives from H. C. Minor, manager of the Jamaican Branch of Texaco Caribbean Incorporated, a cheque for 5,000 pounds towards s Jamaica’ Independence Celebrations. At left is Vincent McFarlane, permanent secretary to the Premier.
In this 1958 photograph Noel Nethersole, minister of finance (centre), Edgerton Richardson, financial secretary (right) and Ewart Forrest, acting attorney general, are seen at Palisadoes Airport.
In this 1958 photograph Noel Nethersole, minister of finance (centre), Edgerton Richardson, financial secretary (right) and Ewart Forrest, acting attorney general, are seen at Palisadoes Airport.
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In this series of articles, I have looked at the politicians elected from 1944 to 1962 and specifically those who served as government ministers in this momentous period. But, the ministers could not function effectively without the support of the civil servants.

The permanent secretaries and their staff in the various ministries played a critical role as Jamaica became a self-governing territory and progressed through Federation and on to Independence on August 6, 1962. The colonial civil service was a major source of administrative (white collar) employment in Jamaica and it provided opportunities to pursue advanced studies and training on the job.

It should be noted that the Jamaica Civil Service Association was established in 1919 aimed at improving conditions of work, opportunities for promotion, and emoluments. Thus, there was a pool of quite experienced professionals who oversaw Jamaica’s transition to Independence.

The permanent secretaries included:

• Edgerton Rudolph Richardson: financial secretary, Ministry of Finance – born in St. Catherine in 1912. Richardson attended Calabar High School. He may have done some studies at Oxford University after entering the civil service in 1933.

• Vincent Homer McFarlane: Ministry of Development/Office of the Premier. He was born in New York, in 1914, and was educated at Cornwall College, Montego Bay. He completed courses at Rhodes House, Oxford and the the University of London after entering the civil service in 1934.

• Vivian Courtenay (V.C.) Smith: Ministry of Trade and Industry. Smith was born in Hanover in 1916 and was educated at St. Simon’s College and Oxford University, England. He entered the civil service in 1939.

• Reginald Eustace Aston Mais: Ministry of Education. Mais was born in Kingston in 1907 and was educated at Calabar High School. He entered the civil service in 1924.

• Norman Augustus Hussey: acting permanent secretary (Ministry of Education) born in Lawrence Tavern, St. Andrew in 1903 and was educated at St. George’s College. He entered the civil service in 1923.

• Basil Willoughby Lynch: Ministry of Agriculture and Lands. Lynch was born in Ginger Hill, St. Elizabeth, in 1908, and was educated at Happy Grove School in Portland. He entered the civil service in 1933.

• Sewell W. Mowatt: Ministry of Labour. He was born in Falmouth, Trelawny, in 1909 and attended Cornwall College. He entered the civil service around 1928.

• Allan Rose Abrahams: Ministry of Communications and Works. Abrahams was born in St. Andrew, and was educated at Jamaica College. He began his civil service career in 1927.

• Patrick (Pat) Walter Constantine (P.W.C.) Burke: Ministry of Health. Pat Burke was born in Kingston in 1920. He was educated at Worthing High School and Jamaica College and went on to London University. He entered the civil service in 1938.

• Frederick Eutrope Degazon: Ministries of Home Affairs and Local Government. He was born in Castries, St. Lucia in 1913 and was educated there. He went to the University of London. He was employed in Jamaica’s civil service from the 1950s into the 1960s.

Important heads of government departments included:

• George (G) Arthur Brown: director, Central Planning Unit (now PIOJ). He was born in St. Elizabeth in 1922. He attended St. Simon’s College, and joined the civil service in 1941. He studied accounting privately. In 1946, he was awarded the Issa Scholarship and attended the London School of Economics.

• Horace George Barber: director, Investment Division, Ministry of Finance. He was born in Kingston in 1922, and attended Jamaica College. He went to Cambridge University in England and joined the civil service in the 1950s.

Some of these men went on, after Independence, to hold high executive positions in finance and development, at the local and international levels, and in the Foreign Service following the establishment of Jamaica’s Ministry of External Affairs in 1962.

Contributed by Marcia Thomas