Government » Leaders Since Independence

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The Right Excellent Norman Washington Manley, M.M., Q.C., B.C.L., LLD (Hon.)

Jamaica's first and only Premier: July 1959 – July 1962

Named a National Hero in 1969.


Shares with cousin Alexander Bustamante, the honour of being one of the two ‘Founding Fathers’ of Jamaica’s Independence, attained peacefully on August 6, 1962.

Physically attractive with athletic build, dignified bearing, sharp features and piercing eyes. Acknowledged as profound thinker, articulate spokesman, brilliant advocate, and skilful negotiator. Widely acknowledged for impeccable integrity and statesmanlike conduct, he has been described as a man of many parts and many accomplishments.

He studied at Jamaica College, and overseas at Jesus College, Oxford, England. A Rhodes Scholar, he distinguished himself at Oxford and was called to the Bar at Gray’s Inn in 1921. There, he gained the Certificate of Honour in the Bar Finals and copped the Lee Prizeman Award.

Admitted to the Jamaican Bar in 1922.

Military Service
Enlisted in the British Army in 1914 and served in an Artillery Regiment, gaining a Military Medal.

Party Leader
Co-founder with O. T. Fairclough the People’s National Party (1938) and President throughout his political career, until his retirement from politics, due to illness, July 4, 1969

He was an outstanding schoolboy athlete, excellent horseman, and military marksman

July 4, 1893, in Manchester, Jamaica

Thomas Albert Samuel Manley, and wife Margaret

Edna nee Swithenbank, 1921 (d. Feb. 10, 1987)

Douglas and Michael

September 2, 1969

Age at Death
76-years old


The Right Excellent Sir William Alexander Bustamante, G.B.E., LL.D (Hon.)

Jamaica's first Prime Minister: Aug. 6, 1962 – Feb. 27, 1967

Named a National Hero in 1969.


Shares with cousin Norman Washington Manley, the honour of being one of the two ‘Founding Fathers’ of Jamaica’s Independence, attained peacefully, August 6, 1962

Physically impressive, standing approximately 6’5’ with gangling gait. A strong, wiry body and shock of grey hair made him a sort of living legend to the masses whose cause he championed against the colonial powers.

Known for his terse and telling phrases that cut to the quick of things, and for remarkable stamina that made him work tirelessly all over the island, particularly at the waterfront and at the sugar estates, where there were great concentrations of people. He tended to have a dictatorial style, marked nevertheless with sparkling magnanimity.

Elementary schools, and by private tuition

The Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (1938) and the Jamaica Labour Party (1943).

Work Experience
Store Clerk, Bee Keeper, Dairy Farmer, Junior Estate Overseer, Tramcar Inspector, Wall Street Speculator, Money Lender, Trade Unionist.

February 24,1884, Blenheim, Hanover, Jamaica

Robert Constantine Clarke, and wife Mary nee Wilson

Gladys Longbridge, September 7,1962


August 6, 1977

Age at Death
93 years old


The Hon. Sir Donald Sangster, K.C.V.O

Jamaica's second Prime Minister: Feb. 22, 1967 – April 11, 1967


Great social servant and good steward of financial resources. He was a particularly loyal supporter of Sir Alexander and faithful Deputy Leader in the Jamaica Labour Party, from 1949 to 1967. Became involved in politics when 21 years old and served with dedication until sudden illness and death, thirty years later.

Serious, hardworking and every bit a gentleman; much loved, much admired, and widely respected.

He attended Munro College, 1921-1929, where he excelled in academics and participated in cricket, athletics, boxing, and gymnastics.

Immediately after leaving school he entered into legal Apprenticeship to be a Solicitor. He was admitted to practice in Jamaica in 1937

He was a member of numerous boards and committees representing the interests of farmers, boy scouts, educators and sportsmen. He also attended several international conferences on behalf of the Government – in New Zealand, England, Canada, and Barbados.

Work Experience
Solicitor and Pen Keeper.

October 26, 1911, in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica

W. B. Sangster and wife Cassandra



April 11, 1967

Age at Death
51-years old


The Most Hon. Hugh Lawson Shearer, ON, OJ

Jamaica's third Prime Minister: April 11, 1967 – March 2, 1972

The Most Hon. Hugh Lawson Shearer, Jamaica’s third Prime Minister, was born in the village of Martha Brae just outside Falmouth, Trelawny on May 18, 1923. His parents were James Shearer a World War One ex-serviceman, and Esther Lindo, a dressmaker.

He attended the Falmouth Primary school and from there he won the parish scholarship to St. Simon’s College, a privately owned high school in Kingston. He graduated from St. Simon’s in 1940.

Mr. Shearer entered the workforce during a period of intense political and labour turmoil in Jamaica. Sir Alexander Bustamante, the undisputed head of the labour movement and founder of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU), and Norman Manley, head of the first organised political party in Jamaica, the People’s National Party (PNP), were both engaged in the struggle to reshape and redefine the Jamaican society in the period from 1938 to 1944.


Mr. Shearer, who could claim distant kinship to both Bustamante and Manley, was interested in journalism. He was taken on as a trainee journalist on the weekly publication the “Jamaica Worker”, the newspaper of the BITU, understudying Mr. Lynden G. Newland, who was then the paper’s editor. When Mr. Newland became General Secretary of the Union, Mr. Shearer continued working on the paper and eventually became its editor.

While still editor of the paper, Mr. Shearer began to serve his apprenticeship as a trade unionist. He took part with Bustamante and other union officers in union organisation and in negotiations with employers in some of the most important labour disputes. Mr. Shearer got his first taste of party politics during the 1944 elections, when he campaigned for the “Chief”, as Bustamante was then popularly called, in the Western Kingston constituency. The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) won the election and Mr. Shearer continued his work in the BITU.

Three years later, in 1947, Mr. Shearer was appointed Assistant General Secretary of the Union, and in that same year contested and won the Central St. Andrew seat on the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation Council.

In 1948 Mr. Shearer attended a Colonial Development and Welfare Trade Union Scholarship course in Barbados.

In the 1949 elections, Mr. Shearer contested the Western Kingston seat but was defeated by the PNP’s Ken Hill.


In trade union circles, Mr. Shearer was becoming increasingly recognised as a key figure, sitting next to Bustamante in all important negotiations. In 1953 he was appointed Island Supervisor of the BITU.

In the 1955 general elections he was elected to a seat in the House of Representatives even though the JLP lost the elections. He sat in the Opposition benches until he lost his seat in the 1959 elections.

In 1960 he was elected Vice-President of the BITU, second only to Sir Alexander Bustamante who was President General.

In the 1961 referendum campaign to decide whether Jamaica should remain in the West Indies Federation or seek independence alone, the BITU under Hugh Shearer swung its weight behind the JLP’s campaign for Jamaica to go it alone, and the JLP gained a decisive victory.


The JLP won the succeeding general elections and Mr. Shearer was appointed to the Legislative Council. When this was replaced by the Senate he was made Leader of Government Business and a Minister without Portfolio. He was also appointed Deputy Chief of Mission for Jamaica at the United Nations General Assembly and figured in many crucial international issues.

In 1963, Mr. Shearer presented a proposal to the United Nations that 1968 be designation “Human Rights Year”. This proposal was accepted by the UN General Assembly.

Mr. Shearer was a member of the Jamaican delegation at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference in September 1966.

In the 1967 general elections, Mr. Shearer won the Clarendon seat which had been held by Sir Alexander Bustamante before his retirement from active politics.

In the new Government, Mr. Shearer was appointed Minister of External Affairs on February 27, 1967.


On the passing of Sir Donald Sangster, Mr. Shearer was chosen to be Prime Minister of Jamaica. He was sworn in on April 11, 1967.

On January 6, 1969 Mr. Shearer was appointed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as Member of the Privy Council of England.

During his tenure as Prime Minister, Jamaica attained its highest ever-gross domestic product (GDP) per capita – US$2,300 – based on rapid growth in agriculture, mining and tourism.

He also started a system of major highways, the first being the Kingston to Spanish Town Highway, and laid the plans for other by-pass routes, which would remove bottlenecks in all major towns.

Mr. Shearer had a special interest in education, and courtesy of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), he was able to make marked improvements to the existing system, under the New Deal Education Programme. The New Deal Programme was designed to provide a sound education for every child in Jamaica, and, for the first time, the prospect of a totally educated population became a real possibility.

In Foreign Affairs, he gained the concession for a managed market for Caribbean bananas through shrewd bargaining at the Commonwealth Conference in Zambia, when the future of that organization hung in the balance. The British Prime Minister, Edward Heath, later paid tribute to his statesmanship. The banana arrangements have been a lifeline for the Caribbean industry, despite fierce international opposition, (and were replaced in 2000 after a major international dispute).


After the 1972 general elections in which he retained his parliamentary seat, Mr. Shearer was Leader of the Opposition until 1974, when he decided to devote his energies full-time to the Trade Union Movement.

He became President of the BITU in 1977 and in the ensuing years built the Union into the largest in the English-speaking Caribbean.

Mr. Shearer also played a leading role in the discussions and negotiations leading up to the establishment in 1980 of the Joint Trade Union Research Institute, the first of its kind in the Caribbean.

On November 9, 1980 following the victory of the Jamaica Labour Party in the general elections, Mr. Shearer was appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs. Mr. Shearer held this position until 1989 when the PNP won the general elections.

Mr. Shearer continued as Member of Parliament for the Southern Clarendon constituency until he lost the seat in the 1993 general elections. He then retired from active public life.

Two national honours were conferred on Mr. Shearer during his lifetime:

  • The Order of Jamaica on May 23, 1990
  • The Order of the Nation on October 21, 2002

Mr. Shearer was also awarded the Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, by Howard University in 1968 and the University of the West Indies (UWI) in 1994.

Mr. Shearer passed away on July 05, 2004 and is survived by his wife Dr. Denise Eldemire Shearer; sons, Howard and Lance; and daughters, Hope, Hillary and Heather.


The Rt. Hon. Michael Norman Manley, O.M., P.C., B.Sc. (Econ,), LL.D. (Hon.)

Jamaica's fourth Prime Minister:  March 2, 1972 – November 4, 1980, and February 13, 1989 – March 30, 1992

He has impacted the nation with a greater sense of importance and urgency regarding national identity, and, internationally, he has impacted the ideas of capitalist and socialist leaders with his advocacy of Democratic Socialism

Tall, handsome, forceful and flamboyant, Michael Manley has been undoubtedly Jamaica’s most eloquent, visionary, controversial, and dynamic leader since independence.

He studied at Jamaica College (1935-43) and overseas at the London School of Economics (1945-49). There, he came under the influence of Harold Laski, the man more responsible than any other for the training of men who later became Commonwealth Prime Ministers. At the LSE he gained academic honours.

Has been a journalist, trade unionist, party president, senator, Cabinet Minister, Leader of the Opposition, Vice president of the Socialist International, and Prime Minister of Jamaica.

A prolific writer of articles and books. Publications include – The politics of Change (1973), Search for Solutions (1977), JAMAICA: Struggle in the Periphery (1982), Up the Down Escalator (1987), and, A History of West Indies Cricket (1988).

December 10, 1924

Norman Washington Manley, and wife Edna

Jacqueline nee Kemellardski, 1946
Thelma nee Verity, 1955
Barbara nee Lewars, 1968
Beverley nee Anderson, 1972
Glynne nee Jones, 1992

Rachel, Sarah, Natasha, Joseph, David

March 6, 1997

Age at Death
72-years old


The Most Hon. Edward Phillip George Seaga, ON, P.C., M.P., B.A., Y.B.A., LL.D. (Hon.)


Local constituency organization and national cultural development are two areas of particular achievement for Edward Seaga. For forty years was successful in a constituency that no other politician was able to hold for more than five years. His transformation of depressed inner-city areas within his West Kingston constituency, into vibrant communities, made him the unrivalled king of constituency transformation in Jamaica. Culturally, he was the nation’s leading pioneer of ideas and institutions to promote culture, nationally and internationally.

A serious and sharp thinker, witty and gifted in producing the apt, cutting phrase. Despite a dour look most times, he has a great sense of humour and is known widely for his exceptional deeds of kindness and rendering of practical assistance to the poor and needy.

Wolmer’s Boys School, in Jamaica, and in the USA, Harvard University, graduating in 1952 with a degree in the Social Sciences.

Long and impressive record of important and innovative accomplishments, beginning formally with his nomination to the Legislative Council at 29 years old, the youngest person ever to hold that membership. He was Leader of the Jamaica Labour Party since 1974. He became Prime Minister in 1980 and held office for two successive terms.

Booklets – Parent Teacher Relationship, Development of the Child, and, Revival Cults. Also compiler of an album of music – Folk Music of Jamaica – recorded by Ethnic Folkways Library

May 28, 1930 in Boston, Massachusetts, of Jamaican parents travelling then, and brought home when three months old.

Phillip George Seaga and Erna nee Maxwell

Marie Elizabeth ‘Mitzie’ nee Constantine, 1965 
Karla Frances nee Vendryes, 1996

Christopher, Andrew, Anabella, Gabrielle


The Most. Hon. P.J. Patterson, ON, PC, QC, B.A. (Hon.), LL.B.


Jamaica's sixth Prime Minister: March 30, 1992 to March 30, 2006


Jamaica’s most successful politician at national level, breaking the ‘third-term’ barrier. His style of leadership is not to rely on fiery rhetoric, but on fundamental principles of procedure. He has done more than any other political leader to date, to empower his associates and to structure a party committed negotiate peace and settle differences through a reconciling process rather than confrontation. His wide experience at national, regional and international level, as a negotiator, has served him well in office as Prime Minister.

Slim in build, slow of speech, sharp with wit and sure of words. He speaks in measured tones but prudently and perceptively, never missing the essence of issues, and never needing to apologize for statements.

Calabar High School, University College of the West Indies, and London School of Economics, England

He was called to the Bar at Middle Temple in 1963 and later that year admitted to Bar in Jamaica

His long and distinguished political career stretches back formally to 1958 when he joined the People’s National Party. He moved through several levels to be become President in 1992, the year he became Prime Minister. His first Cabinet post was that of Minister of Tourism (1972). 
He has since served as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade (1978-80), Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development Planning and Production (1989-90), and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Planning (1990-91).

April 10, 1935, on Rousseau Road in St. Andrew, Jamaica

Henry Patterson and wife Ina nee James

August 24, 1960 to Shirley Field-Ridley of Guyana (d.1982)

Richard and Sharon


The Most. Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, M.P., Leader of the Opposition

Jamaica's seventh Prime Minister: March 31, 2006 - September 10, 2007

Prime Minister, The Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, the first woman to hold this position in Jamaica, created history on Saturday, February 25, by becoming the first female President-elect of the 68 year-old People’s National Party (PNP).

It was not the first time she created a first in Jamaica’s political history. Thirty-two years after she first entered representational politics, she achieved the most coveted prize in the local political arena--that of becoming Prime Minister of Jamaica.

Known for her passion for the poor and dispossessed, Mrs. Simpson Miller has, since 1989, consistently topped the opinion polls as the best performing Minister of Government and the most popular politician. Since the announcement by Prime Minister P. J. Patterson after the 2002 elections that he would be retiring before the next General Elections, opinion polls have shown that the Jamaican people have favoured her as the best person to succeed Mr. Patterson.

The November 2005 Gleaner/Don Anderson Poll showed that 58% of the Jamaican people felt she was the most suitable person to succeed Mr. Patterson, with a privately commissioned poll showing that figure jumping to approximately 62% in December 2005. She has been a Vice-President of the PNP since 1978 and President of the PNP Women’s Movement since 1983.

In 1974 when she won the tough inner-city constituency of Trench Town West as a Councilor in the Kingston & St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC) for the PNP, it was the first time that the party had won that seat. When she went on in 1976 to win the Constituency of South West St. Andrew in the Parliamentary elections, she had created another first for the party. And, when the Party suffered a massive defeat in the 1980 elections, she emerged as one of only nine PNP representatives who won their seats.

Born in humble circumstances on December 12, 1945, in Wood Hall, St. Catherine, she has never forgotten her roots, and has for decades committed herself to the mission of uplifting the poor and marginalized.

In 1977 she was appointed Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government under the Michael Manley Administration, a post she held until the General Elections of 1980. Serving in the Parliamentary Opposition, she was PNP Spokesperson on Women’s Affairs, Pension, Social Security and Consumer Affairs between 1983 and 1989. Returning to Government in 1989, Mrs. Simpson Miller was appointed Minister of Labour, Social Security and Sport.

There, her prodigious skills in human relations and networking were evident and stood the country in good stead, as the industrial relations climate improved considerably. Those disputes which were brought to the Ministry were skillfully and expeditiously handled by her. As Minister of Labour, Social Security and Sport, Mrs. Simpson Miller took particular interest in the welfare of the country’s overseas farm workers and saw to the improvement of their living standards.

She brought well-needed reforms to the Overseas Farm Workers Programme and established the Overseas Recruitment Centre for Farm Workers. Significantly, she also established a Chair in Labour Relations at the University of the West Indies. Under her watch, too, a number of day-care facilities were instituted islandwide.

She initiated the strategic investment of the National Insurance Fund (NIF), which resulted in growth from $1.5 billion to $20 billion in three years.

In the year 2000, Minister Simpson Miller was given the critical Tourism Ministry and still retained the Sport portfolio. It was during the Minister’s tenure that the new Indoor Sports Facility was built and the Sports Development Foundation established. Mrs. Simpson Miller also had the unique honour of serving as Jamaica’s Sport Minister when Jamaica made its historic and dramatic entry into World Cup Football. It was she who inspired the “Road to France” Campaign which galvanised the entire country in an unprecedented way.

As Minister of Tourism, she had the daunting task of rebuilding the tourism industry after the 9/11 disaster in the United States. She quickly and pro-actively developed strategies which resulted in a quick resuscitation of visitor arrivals to the island, including new visitor arrivals from the European Market.

As Minister of Tourism, too, she successfully lobbied for the resumption of flights from Martin Air and Continental Airlines to Jamaica. And it was under her tenure that the Master Plan for Tourism was completed, setting up the strategic roadmap to the country’s path to sustainable tourism development.

In 2002, after the general elections, she returned to the Local Government portfolio but now to an expanded Ministry of Local Government, Community Development and Sport. Always strong on the issue of the community being at the centre of the development thrust and on “bottom-up” development, her portfolio responsibilities were the right fit for her own philosophy of governance.

So evident was her intensity for issues of local governance and local government reform, that she has been called to serve at the international level. Director of the Commonwealth Local Government Reform, she is also Vice-President of the Inter-American Network of Decentralization, Local Government and Citizens Participation (RIAD); Director of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Centre for Local Government Training (CIFAL) and Chair of the Caribbean Local Government Ministers.

A strong believer in lifelong learning, Mrs. Simpson Miller holds the certificate in Advanced Management from the University of California at Berkeley; a Certificate of Participation in the Executive Programme for Leaders in Development at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, as well as a Certificate in Public Relations and Advanced Management from the Institute of Management and Production (IMP).

Mrs. Simpson Miller also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration from Union Institute and University in Miami, Florida. She is also the recipient of an honorary doctorate from that same institution, which commended her for her “enduring efforts to improve the quality of life for all Jamaican citizens, regardless of race, class, colour and creed.”


The Hon. Orette Bruce Golding, M.P., Prime Minister


Jamaica's eighth Prime Minister: September 11, 2007 - Present

Bruce Golding was born on December 5, 1947. He was educated at Alpha Primary School (1955-1957), St. George’s College (1958-1962) and Jamaica College (1963-1966). He entered the University of the West Indies in 1966 and earned a BSc degree in Economics in 1969. In that same year (1969) he was elected to the Central Executive of the Jamaica Labour Party at the age of 21 and was subsequently elected to Parliament in 1972 at the age of 24. He served as General Secretary of the Jamaica Labour Party (1974-1984) and Chairman (1984-1995). He has had 19 years experience as a Member of Parliament representing the constituencies of West St. Catherine and Central St. Catherine as well as 9 years experience as a Senator.

He was appointed Minister of Construction in 1980 serving in that position until 1989 and in that capacity was elected Chairman of the United Nations Commission on Human Settlements (1984-1985). He was the Opposition Spokesman on Finance and Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (1989-1995). He has served as a member of the Electoral Advisory Committee, the Board of Governors of the Institute of Jamaica and the Board of Directors of the National Lotteries Commission.

In 1995 he resigned from the Jamaica Labour Party and was one of the founders of the National Democratic Movement, serving as its first President (1995-2001). In 2002, he rejoined the Jamaica Labour Party and in November 2003 was again elected Chairman of the Party. He was appointed Senator and Opposition Spokesman on Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade in 2002, and held both positions up to April 2005. On February 20, 2005, he was elected Leader of the Jamaica Labour Party. On April 13, 2005 he was elected Member of Parliament for West Kingston. He was of Leader of the Opposition from April 21, 2005 - September 10, 2007. He was sworn in as Jamaica's eighth Prime Minister on September 11, 2007.

Mr. Golding is a businessman. He and his wife, Lorna, were married in 1972 and have one son and two daughters.

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