Our People
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Written in collaboration with Alphonso Barker
Inez Barker

Inez Barker was born on the 29th May 1911 and christened Inez Susanna Billinghurst Walker. Her father was Frederick Alfred Walker an estate manager living in Old Road. Her mother was Catherine Louisa nee French, who was born Antigua but who was living in Old Road at the time of her marriage to Walker. Catherine described herself as a seamstress on her marriage certificate The children grew up in their maternal grandfather’s house – the Manhattan. After his death, the property was sold, and Catherine bought a two storey building on the West Square Street. Inez and her older brother Charles were educated at the Convent School in Basseterre where the discipline of the home was further encouraged and where their mother’s eloquence in standard English was reinforced. 


Inez married George Barker in her early twenties. He was a Guyanese sugar boiler who came to St. Kitts to work at the Basseterre Sugar factory. George Barker was a champion cyclist in his country and he introduced cycling as a sport in St. Kitts. Barker also brought his photographic skills to Basseterre. The couple had three sons who grew up in the family home on the Square which also housed the Photo Studio on the ground floor.

Inez Barker and son
Inez Barker and son


Barker encouraged his young wife to participate in his photography sessions and she proved to have a talent for it. Not only did she learn the techniques of using the camera, and developing negatives, her calm and easy manner made the sitters feel comfortable. She knew how to pose them to the best effect and was very adapt at dealing with children, catching their attention for the camera at just the right moment. When George Barker died in 1939, his very young widow was able to step into his trade and continue the business.


At a time when the mass appeal of photography was in its infancy, Inez Barker’s skill at making her subjects feel comfortable attracted people to her studio. Many went to her for passport photographs when they were preparing to migrate in search of work, others would wander to it to send photographs to family and friends abroad or to capture the outfit that they felt great in. She photographed cricket and football teams both local and visitors and Regiments stationed in St. Kitts. Her dark room was used to develop negatives for Police investigations as the Force did not have one at the time. Mrs. Barker was the photographer of weddings and special events and then from 1957 Carnival became an annual event that kept her very busy. She served on the Organizing Committee and took photographs of the various shows and parades. Through hard work and professionalism, she became the first Kittitian woman to work as a photographer.


Two rooms in the Barker Household were set aside as guest rooms. These were often occupied by visitors to Basseterre. Cricketers in particular found this to be an inexpensive arrangement when traveling for matches. They would bring boxes of food to share with the hosts who gave them lodgings and they also shared descriptions of matches and travels. Mrs. Barker enjoyed meeting people and loved to hear their stories. She had friends in many Caribbean islands, North America and the UK. She was generously hospitable. Whenever friends and family visited, she organized picnics at Frigate Bay and took along food, drinks and her camera. She also enjoyed writing letters and would often be seen awaiting appointments with a notebook on her lap composing her messages to friends and family abroad.


On a small but heavy New National sewing machine that her mother had bought while in England, Inez Barker sewed new clothes and repaired the ones her sons wore giving them a lesson in frugality. She also refused to replace her machine with a Singer, that was the craze at the time. Mrs. Barker was able to send her three sons to Convent School and then to the Grammar School. She kept discipline within her household while allowing her sons to enjoy good company and participate in cultural events. Her love of history – Kittitian, West Indian and African - ensured that they grew up with a sense of pride in their heritage and they quickly learnt to appreciate the people in the community who had contributed to its development.


Despite the energy it must have taken to bring up three boys on her own, Mrs. Barker was an active member of the Methodist Church and still found time to become involved in community programmes. She worked with in the Million Penny Scheme launched by Millie Neverson to raise funds to provide a home for orphaned children and in the Lunch Room which provided meals for the needy children of the town during the Second World War.


Inez Barker, known as Dolly, was a great photographer because she loved people and she had a zest for life that was infectious. A woman with a big heart, her funeral in April 1977 was attended many including friends who made the journey to St. Kitts to say their final good-byes as well as dignitaries of the island.


 

Ismay Burt

Ismay Burt was the daughter of Hennrietta Edmeade of Sandown Road, New Town. She was born on the 20th March 1916. She was educated at the Girls’ School where Isa Bardley was headteacher. It was Bradley’s custom, at the time, to pick bright students to become pupil teachers and then advance them to teachers’ training. Young Ismay was chosen for the teaching career. Her home became a meeting place for others following the same path. She was eventually awarded a scholarship to the Spring Garden Teacher Training College in Antigua where she excelled.


On her return to St. Kitts, Burt taught at the Basseterre Boys School where she prepared students for the annual common entrance and Scholarship examination for admission to the Grammar School. Teacher Buttie, as she was affectionately called, encouraged her students to do their best and proudly followed their achievements through like. The late Joseph S Archibald QAC described her as a ”Light to all. Because of her there was no darkness or guile.” At the same time she was also “the passport needed for the adult functions without which one did not bother to ask for permission to attend.”


In 1946 Miss Burt along with four others from the Leeward Islands earned a grant through the Department of Development and Welfare in the West Indies to learn handicrafts in Trindade. She became a specialist teacher and, on her return, facilitated a workshop to share her newly acquired knowledge with other teachers. This was held at the pavilion at Warner Park and was attended by at least one teacher from every public school. She taught hat weaving and the making of bags purses, placemats, fans and baskets out of screw pine. Her training sessions were designed to encourage independence and enhanced earrings especially among young women. Burt took this development in her career so seriously that she often used her own resources to make classes possible. She also organized exhibitions of the work produced by her trainees.


Miss Burt was an active member of the Newtown Community especially through Hope Chapel. In the nearby Lodge building she hosted an annual Christmas programme featuring the Newtown Junior Choir which she trained. She organized the Christmas Tree lighting at Ponds Pasture and made sure there were gifts for the less privileged in the community. Teacher Burt also organized parties for returning nationals at Christmas.


When she retired from teaching, Ismay Burt continued to teach handcrafts to teachers in training. and during the summer vacation. She organized a Golden Age Club out of her home in Birdrock. She was a member of the Soul Carnival Organising Committee and served on the Social Security board.


Ismay Almyra Burt died on the 8th May 2001

Clement Malone
Clement Malone

 Clement Malone was born in 1883 in Antigua into a coloured family whose members had risen to prominence as merchants, clergymen, lawyers and schoolmasters. He was educated at the Antigua Grammar School and after leaving school was employed as a teacher for one term. It was a position that young Clement did not regret leaving. He entered the civil service of the Leeward Islands and, for a number of years, was assigned to St. Kitts as a clerk in the Treasury Department.

After obtaining study leave, he proceeded to London and enrolled as a law student. He was called to the bar at Middle Temple in 1916 during the early stages of World War I. On returning to Antigua, he was called to the bar of the Leeward Islands and then settled to practice his profession in St. Kitts. The following year he married Ethel Malone and together they had three sons.

The charming “ Mr Clem” as he was affectionately known by the people of St. Kitts and Nevis, quickly gained the trust, respect and affection of the community. His thorough knowledge of the law, his tenacity in maintaining his point of view and his courtesy won him the admiration of Bench and Bar alike and earned him considerable patronage. Within a short time his law practice extended to Antigua, Montserrat and at times Dominica. He even had the unusual experience of representing a man in St. Maarten in a Dutch court. His clients ranged from ordinary men and women to the powerful Barclays Bank and Royal Bank of Canada. When, in 1921 Malone applied for an appointment in the civil service, Administrator Burdon’s reported that he bears a high character in the community and is suitable for employment in any legal post for which colour is not a bar.

On the 28th December 1918, Malone and a small group of coloured middle class professional and business men formed the St. Kitts Representative Government Association (RGA) with a mission ‘to secure the achievement of popular representative government’’. By the following year, 330 men had become members of the RGA and Clement Malone was its President. In a Petition addressed to His Majesty, the RGA requested a franchise that was exclusively adult male who either owned real property valued at £50 or over, or paid an annual rent of £10, or made a yearly salary of £50 or an income of £30. Acting Administrator Wrigley described the Association as a creation of Clement Malone whom he accused of seeking public attention and dismissed it as lacking in support from among the influential persons of the Presidency.
The RGAs efforts produced no tangible results and it quickly disappeared from the scene but it was replaced in 1922 by the Taxpayers’ Association. Its target was the introduction of Income Tax and as based on the premise that persons who paid taxes should have a say in government and so it made issue of all the shortcomings of the colonial administration. Once again Malone was an active member. To counteract the opposition, Burdon recommended that Clement Malone be appointed to the Council but he saw no reason for equality of representation between the planters and the other social classes. In 1925, Administrator St. Johnston recommended that Malone be offered a place on the Executive Council on the grounds that he found the lawyer to be moderate in his views when he fully appreciated the real necessity for a proposal made by Government. However when the offer came Clement Malone declined to accept as he had publicly expressed the view that a member of the Legislative Council should not hold a position on the Executive of the Presidency of St. Kitts and Nevis. Later he changed his mind and accepted to serve on the Executive of the Colony which met in Antigua.

In 1935, Malone found himself caught up in the events that came to be known as the Buckley Riots. Along with Thomas Manchester, Victor John and William Seaton he did his best to defuse the tension caused by the heightened expectations of sugar workers. Their sympathetic, common sense approach persuaded a significant number to return to their homes but was not enough to put an end to the agitation of the remaining crowd. When in March, and April a number of persons were brought to trial charged with causing riots and other related offenses, Malone was there to take the case. He scathingly pointed out discrepancies in the evidence delivered by members of the police force whom he accused of collaborating to bring about guilty verdicts. His defence was described as aggressive, and successful. It certainly persuaded a jury consisting of middle class businessmen to acquit the accused. The following year the planters of St. Kitts and Nevis came in conflict with the St. Kitts (Basseterre) Sugar Factory over the price to be paid for canes supplied to the Factory. Clement Malone and J. R. Yearwood were sent to London to represent the planters’ interests. The negotiation produced an increase in the price of cane.

The 1937 election was contested by the Workers’ League and individual members of the Agricultural and Commercial Society. Clement Malone ran as an independent candidate and often appeared on the platform with W.E.L. Walwyn and P. Ryan but was endorsed by both organisations. As a result he won the largest number of votes from the small electorate. In politics, Malone proved himself to be a popular politician. Although at times an outspoken critic of Government, his sane judgement, and fearlessness won him the sometimes uncertain respect of the Administration and the esteem of the people.

On the 24th April 1940, Malone was appointed Puisine Judge to the newly constituted Supreme Court of the Leeward and Windward islands. This meant that he could not contest the elections of September that same year. His appointment was greeted with a sense of satisfaction among the people of the colony who saw it as a just reward for years of professionalism.

Clement Malone also served on various boards and committees. He was a moving spirit on the Education Board and Vice-President of the Cricket and Football Associations. In 1943 he was appointed to a Board of Inquiry into the trade dispute between the Sugar Producers Association and the St. Kitts Nevis Trade and Labour Union. The recommendations said that the Bonus to sugar workers should continue, that it should be paid in December and that it should be calculated solely on a percentage of the wages earned during the year. Estate pay books were to be made available to the Federal Labour Officer or an officer of the Trade Union in case of dissatisfaction on the part of a worker.

In 1942 Clement Malone succeeded Sir Wilfred Wigley as Chief Justice of the Leeward and Windward Islands. For the third time a coloured West Indian was being appointed to the highest judicial post in a colony. (Previous appointments were Conrad Reeves, Chief Justice of Barbados and Charles Lewis, Chief Justice of Sierra Leone.} This appointment meant that the new Chief Justice and his family would have to take up residence in Grenada. Two years later His Lordship received a knighthood in recognition for his commitment to the law and his contribution to society.

In Grenada, Malone soon found himself involved once again in social issues. 1947 saw the launching of the Grenada Cooperative Nutmeg Association. Whose objectives were to secure more stable price, to end the competition between Grenadian exporters, to eliminate the middleman and increase profits and to set standards of quality. Malone was foremost among those who spoke in support of the association and on that occasion his views were aired on radio in a speech entitled “A West Indian University.”

In 1951, it was his birthplace that needed his calm approach to volatile issues. That year Antigua found itself in the throes of a general Strike. The planters stopped the crop, claiming that it was a waste of resources to reap a crop of less than seven thousand tons a week. Other matters added fuel to the flames and in April the sugar curers at the factory refused to clean the mixers. Furthermore the AT&LU had not informed the employers that May 1st was to be celebrated as Labour Day and workers were to be called off the job. After May Day workers from all walks of life refused to return to their jobs and the AT&LU demanded the reinstatement of the sugar curers. Sir Clement Malone, who had retired from the Bench the previous year was called upon to head a Commission of Inquiry into the matter. and the adversaries were given the opportunity to air their differences. The proceedings started on the 11th June but were disrupted when a state of emergency was declared. British Troops had been called in and the AT&LU refused to appear before the Commission. The hearings ended on the 2nd August and in its report the Malone Commission accused the AT&LU of striking first and thinking later. The report sharply criticized the AT&LU but saw no reason for banning strikes. It also recommended the nationalization of the sugar industry in Antigua.

The 1950s saw the creation of a Federation of the West Indies. Sir Clements’s statements demonstrated a more down to earth approach to the initiative. he felt that practicalities should come before politics and suggested that the coordination of transport and communications services and a better marketing of the economic resources of the region should be the first steps towards creating a meaningful political unit in the West Indies.

Sir Clement Malone died in Trinidad on the 9th April 1967 at the home of his eldest son. He was 84 years old and still enjoying the respect and adulation of many West Indians.

 

Pam Tyson

Pamela Ann Mabel Tyson was born on the 7th April 1932 to Veronica nee Peters and her husband Warren Tyson. Her father was an employee of J W Thurston and Vo, Ltd who rose through the ranks because of his diligence and sense of responsibility.


Like him, Pamela worked her way up in the civil service. She started as a substitute in the Crown Attorney’s Chambers then served at the Post Office and Treasury Department. In 1951 she was appointed Junior Clerk and once again found herself in the Crown Attorney’s Chambers, where she performed secretarial duties, quickly earning a promotion to Senior Clerk. From the start of her career, Miss Tyson understood that being a civil servant required flexibility as well as being able and willing to server wherever ones expertise was required.


Tyson had a flair for organization and management, and in 1964 this earned her an appointment as Executive Officer in charge of the Central Registry. In 1967 she was transferred to the Health Department, then in 1980 she was promoted to the post of Personal Assistant to the Premier. Sir Kennedy Simmonds admitted that appointing her as Personal Assistant was one of the best decisions he had ever made. He had discovered her abilities when in the 1970s she was President of the Netball Association and he was Vice-President. She ended her career as a civil servant in 1995.


However, it was in Netball that Pam Tyson made her biggest impact. She was a founding member of the St. Kitts Netball Association, formerly known as the St. Kitts Netball League. She worked her way through the posts of Treasurer, Vice President and President between 1966 and 1986. She was the first President of the St. Kitts Netball Association and the First President of the Caribbean Netball Association. She became Manager and Head of the Delegation to the World Tournament. She was also the First Vice President of the West Indies Netball Board of Control.

Throughout her involvement with the game, the personal interest she showed enabled the young sportswomen to rise from the ordinary to the extra ordinary. She motivated the netballers to strive for excellence, constantly reminding them that size should not be a limitation, and encouraging a balance between sport and scholarship

Under her leadership the St. Kitts Netball team made its mark in the region. In recognition of her contribution Netball City was renamed after her and is now known as the Pam Tyson Netball Complex. A speaker at the renaming said “Whenever one speaks about netball, the name Pamela Tyson has to be first and foremost. She is the foundation upon which our star players were made, because of her strong leadership qualities and the discipline she instilled in them.”

Her accomplishments made her a citizen of the sporting world as she became Manager and Head of the Delegation to the World Tournament. She was also the First Vice President of the West Indies Netball Board of Control.


For 40 years, Tyson was also the director of the Choir at the Co-Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. She was an active member of the the Business and Professional Women’s Organization and the recipient of numerous awards for her contributions to Sport and community development. Pam Tyson died in Trinidad on the 11 February 2013.

Mary Charles George

 

Mary Georgina Charles-George was born on 19 July 1913 to Henry Elijah Charles and Frances Ann nee Carey of Phillips Village. Both of her parents were skilled people who had grown up in the same village. Henry was a carpenter and Frances as a seamstress. Mary was their first child and they instilled in her a good work ethic and a great sense of pride.


As a child she attended the Estridge Moravian School and obtained her 7th Standard certificate then at the age of 13, she became a pupil teacher. Her father died in 1928 when Mary was only 15 years old. The family belonged to the Moravian congregation and the church facilitated her teacher’s training at the Spring Gardens Teachers Training College in Antigua by way of a scholarship. For about a year after graduation she was without a job but she offered her services to the same school that had initiated her education.


Mary Charles later taught at St. Paul’s, Trinity Palmetto Point, Molineux, and Cayon, taking on the role not only of teacher and head teacher but also of mentor and counsellor for many young persons and younger teachers. She strongly believed in solidarity within the profession and was involved Teachers Associations in St. Kitts as well as in the Caribbean Union of Teachers.


Miss Charles was also very community minded and often participated in the beautification of her village. She also took an active interest in the lives of youths. Then in 1957, following the death of her sister, she became the guardian of five nephews and still she continued to mentor others outside the home. Those who were not employed she assisted with the preparation of job applications. She encourage parents to consider sending their promising off-spring to study in England. She gave opportunities to girls who had become pregnant while still in school to do their final exams. While she believed strongly that youths should not waste their lives, she also realized that that sometimes they needed a helping hand whether this meant nudging a young woman to study nursing abroad or putting in a good word for a deserving person with a prospective employer.


Writing about his experiences at Trinity School, Sir Probyn Innis singled our Mary Charles as a teacher par-excellence “There was no formal Parent-Teacher Association at Trinity School at that time, but “Teacher Mary” had ways and means of reaching the parents to urge them to do what she considered to be the best for their children”. Even while on vacation in England, Charles continued her campaign to improve the prospects of young people in St. Kitts. When she came across parents who had gone to England leaving children with relatives, she encouraged them to send for their children believing that they would be better off with their parents. Many heeded her advice even if they had to do so, one child at a time.


Outside of school, Mary Charles was the moving force behind organizing the Molineux Cricket Club. She enjoyed a good game of cricket as long as the Sunday games were played after “Church Time”, that is not before one o’clock. She also organized the Christ Church Literary & Debating Society which exposed individuals to many cultural, social and educational events. There were regular club meetings which helped with the development of leadership skills; outings and picnics to places of interest and the fund-raising dances.


Mary Charles retired from the government service in 1970 and in the 1971 election, she became the first woman to present herself as a candidate in a general election in St. Kitts and Nevis. She ran on the ticket of the People’s Action Movement against a very popular candidate, E St. John Payne, of the Labour Party and lost. The following year she moved to the Virgin Islands where once again she joined the teaching profession. In 1975, she married Valdemar George and they settled in Christiansted. Mary Charles-George retired from teaching in 1978 and in 1979, she was made a life-time member of the Caribbean Union of Teachers In recognition of her many years of service to education, She was awarded the Order of the British Empire in the New Year’s Honours for 1985 and a hospital in Molyneux was named in her honour in 1986. Mary Charles-George died on the 18 March 2008

National Archives
Government Headquarters
Church Street
Basseterre
St. Kitts, West Indies

Tel: 869-467-1422 | 869-467-1208
Website: www.nationalarchives.gov.kn
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