The Official Register of Electors has been updated for the quarter beginning July 1, 2014.You may search it here.

[Researched at the National Archives]

 

 According to our records the first formal type of elected Government was first introduced in December 1831.  However, prior to this the Islands were administered by a number of Magistrates and Senior Magistrates, and some times even by a Custos,  appointed by the Governor of Jamaica. This system of Government worked well while the population remained relatively small but as the population increased a number of problems were experienced because of weaknesses in the system. [See “Founded upon the Seas” Chap. 5 “The Beginnings of Self-Government” By M.Craton] The first Magistrates ruled with some references to Jamaican Law. In 1802, as Edward Corbet had noted  in his Report,”The Magistrates are understood to have the same power as those in this island [Jamaica], but when any new measure is to be adopted it is generally submitted by them to the consideration  of the population at large.” This seemed to have been a very democratic manner of dealing with affairs of state, but not everyone was pleased as this led to some confusion and conflict.

By at least 1823, the Chief Magistrate, James Coe Sr., and the other “Magistrates and principal inhabitants” of Grand Cayman apparently felt they needed a more formal system of lawmaking and set of laws. Accordingly, they asked for and got commissions for several more Magistrates from Governor Lord Manchester.

Then on 13 December 1823, the Magistrates and “principal inhabitants” held a meeting at William Eden’s residence at Pedro St. James. Their first decision was to lease the Pedro property from William Eden for £5. 6s. 8d a year. It would be used as an animal pound, court-house, and jail, with a daily payment of 2s. 11d authorized whenever there was a prisoner.

Other laws were passed at this time, which dealt with roaming livestock, duties on dry goods, provisions, liquor, or any kind of merchandize sold by any non-inhabitant. Another law, which prohibited the sale of liquors, wines, by any slave, was also passed at this time.

Pedro St. James continued to be the seat of Government, with regular meeting held at this location. On 5th December 1831 a meeting was held at Pedro St. James to form a proper legislative assembly with representatives and Magistrates from each district appointed.-  forming as it were two houses in imitation of the Council and Assembly of Jamaica.

On 10th December 1831, 2 representatives of each were “elected” for the districts of West Bay, George Town, South West Sound, Prospect, and Bodden Town the method of election is not known. These ten representatives later referred to as the “Vestry” assembled for the first time on 31st December 1831 in George Town, and met again on 2nd January 1832. The eight Magistrates met at the same time but in a different room carefully preserving the classic British form of a bicameral legislature. No law was “deemed valid” until it had received the assent of both houses. 

The names of the Magistrates & Representatives at the 1832 meeting were:

 January 1832

Magistrates

John Drayton

Robert Stephen Watler

Waide W. Bodden

John S. Jackson

James Coe Jr.

Abraham O Feurtado

Elin J. Parsons

Nathaniel Glover

 

Vestrymen

George W. Wood

James Wood

James Coe Snr.

W.  Eden Jr.

John Goodhew

James Parsons Snr.

William James Bodden

Howard Lindsay Thompson

Samuel Parsons

William Bodden

 

The following is a summary of subsequent elections results.

 1839

 George Town

Wm. James Bodden

Thomas S Thompson

Wm. A. Thompson

James E. Parsons

 

Bodden Town

Richard Carter

Thomas Greenwood

George McCoy

John B. Wood

J. D. Watler

Joseph Bodden Jr.

P. McLaughlin

 Spotts & Prospect

James S. Jackson

William R. Bodden

Tabulon Farrell

 

South Sound

Shin Parsons

John Goodhew

 

West Bay

William Brown

D. J. S. Bodden

 Records not found for some years between, further research may reveal these records.

 12TH AUGUST 1909  Meeting  George Town, Court House

 George S. S. Hirst MBE  Commissioner

 Justices of the Peace

Edmund Parsons

William M. Coe

W. C. Watler

A. Crighton

William Farrington

R. Coe Wood

J. S. Webster

 Vestrymen

George Town

Rev. R. C. Young

A.     J. Roberts

C.     J. H. Goring

Thomas Coe

Malcolm McTaggart

 Prospect

T. P. Thompson

J. D. Watler

 Bodden Town

Nunes Stewart

William. L. Powell

Hy. H. Thompson

William L. Bodden

E. J. Lyon

 

West Bay

Philip Ebanks

J. T. Ebanks

Hubert L. Ebanks

 

North Side

Thomas Rankine

 At another meeting on 16th Septemebr 1909  held at the Commissioner’s Residence in George Town,.the following persons attended:

 Justices of the Peace

 E.      Parsons

 William M. Coe

A.     E. Panton

W. Farrington

A.     Crighton

M. McTaggart

J. S. Webster

 

Vestrymen

George Town

Rev.  R. C. Young

A.     J. Roberts

  Malcolm McTaggart

 

 Prospect

D.     V. Thompson

J. D. Watler

 

 Bodden Town

W. L. Powell

E.      J. Lyon

H. H. Thompson

N. Stewart

Wm. L. Bodden

 

 East End

   R. C. Kennedy

  West Bay

J. T.  Ebanks

H. L. Ebanks

 

 North Side

J. Miller  

These two meetings were held only a few weeks apart, and the records show that some member were present at both meetings while some were absent for one. The names in attendance show names that do not appear before this [Please note the name of the East End Vestryman]. We do not know when these members were elected. At yet another meeting the following year the records show a different group of Vestrymen representing the different districts, although some of the same persons remain. The list of persons attending this meeting are:

 

Justices of the Peace

F.    Parsons

G. Alexander Crighton

H.  Robert  Coe  Wood

William Conwell Watler

I.     S/ Webster

 

Vestrymen

George Town

Malcolm McTaggart

Thomas Coe

C.J. H. Goring

H. Orrin Merren

J. J. Byrd

 

  Prospect

Denham C. Bush

James Darling Watler

James C. Crighton

Robert Crighton

 

 Bodden Town

H. H. Thompson

Nunes Stewart

Samuel Elmslie Watler

J. S. Bodden

Richard P. Bodden

East End

Gilbert McLaughlin

Anthony Conolly

 West Bay

W. J. Bodden

Hubert L. Bodden

 North Side

Benjamin Ebanks

1911

During a meeting in 1911 George Town Vestryman, C. J. H. Goring quoted the writer Wm. Shakespeare. The Commissioner, not being a Shakespeare scholar did not understand the meaning of what was said, recessed the house to do research on the particular passage of Shakespeare before reconvening the sitting again later.

 

1922

In 1922 an Election was held but the records of the results are not complete. These to be added after later research.

1932

The results of the 1932 Elections are more complete.  Records show that the Elections took place on different dates of the same month of August, in different Districts. The results were as follows:

 

George Town

Cuthbert Heath Bodden

James Ashford Panton

Charles Joseph Henry Goring

Henry Orren Merren Jr.

Austin Seymour

 

Bodden Town

Logan Bodden

Willie T. Bodden

Rev.S. F. Douse

Emile P. Watler

Bunyan Watler

 

East End

Ennis McLaughlin

Wilfred Conolly

Anthony Conolly

 

North Side

William Wilbanks Miller

Earnest Ebanks

 

West Bay

Thomas W. Farrington

Samuel M. Farrington

Thomas A. Ebanks

 

Lesser Islands (Cayman Brac & Little Cayman)

Edwin Walton

Robert Leitch

Robert C. Foster

Edward H. Foster

 1948

An Election was held in August 1948 which was noteworthy. Polling was held in the different districts starting from the 10th August. The first Poll was held in George Town on the 10th August which ended in a tie between two candidates H. M. Coe and another candidate, which made it impossible to declare 5 candidates for George Town, this resulted in a By-Election for George Town, ordered for 14th August.  The By-Election, however, ended in a tie again between H. M. Coe and A. Berkley Bush resulting in another By-Election being ordered for the 19th August.

At this point Mr. H. M. Coe wrote a strong letter to the Commissioner expressing his feelings that it seemed impossible to have three elections with two candidates tied three times. He suggested the possibility of tampering, and called for an investigation.   

The new By-Election was held on the 19th August, this time with definitive results. The results of the whole Island Elections are listed below for easy reference.

 Lesser Islands (Cayman Brac & Little Cayman)

Edwin Adolphus Carter

Charles Gerald Kirkconnell

Keith Parker Tibbetts

Robert Clifton Foster

 

Prospect

Selwyn Eden

Emmis Forbes

Andrew Bush

 

Bodden Town

John Bodden

Henry McCoy

Alfred Biddle Bodden

William Benjamin McCoy

John Bunyan Watler

 

East End

Theophilus Bodden

Lincoln Bodden

Joseph McLean

 

North Side

Cromwell Ebanks

Bunyan Whittaker

 

West Bay

Edison McNee Ebanks

J. Stafford Ebanks

Charles Garfield Farrington

J.       Prentice Powell

James Cadian Ebanks

 

George Town

Roy Edison McTaggart

Ormond Lauder Panton

Edgar Ducan Merren

Allen Berkley Bush

Hugh Malcolm Coe

 

Also during the 1948 Elections a letter was received by the Commissioner from a group of women in George Town, expressing their right to vote and run for Election. Up until this time, women did not vote though there seemed to have been no law prohibiting women from voting. We find no reply to this letter but the matter was raised again in 1956 and finally was settled in 1959. For more details of this women’s campaign please see  “Founded upon the Seas”,  History of the Cayman Islands Chap. 14

 [See letter inserted for names Reproduced from History of the Cayman Islands]

Petition for Women to Vote

  

 

 This letter started a controversy, which lasted until 1959 when women finally got the right to vote and run for office. [See complete history in “Founded Upon the Seas

 

1956  Elections

 Lesser Islands

Keith Parker Tibbetts

Arnold Atherline Foster

Robert Clifton Foster

Charles Gerald Kirkconnell

 

West Bay

Spurgeon A. Ebanks

J. Stafford Banks

J. Garston Smith

Owen Farrington

James C. Ebanks

 

George Town

Ormond L. Panton

Edgar Ducan Merren

William Wallace Bodden

Hugh Malcolm Coe

Allen Berkley Bush

 

North Side

Kenneth Chisholm

Olney Ebanks

 

East End

W. Allen McLaughlin

N. Rudolph McLaughlin

Lincoln Bodden

 

Bodden Town

A. Biddle Bodden

Rev. George H. Ricketts

James Berry

Harold Stewart

William B. McCoy

 

Prospect

Lindberg Eden

Lawrence Thompson

Carl Thompson

 In 1959 the Cayman Islands were granted their first Constitution and Universal Sufferage, the Assembly changed from the Assembly of Vestry to the Legislative Assembly and twelve members were elected, there were also three Official Members, and three Nominated Members.

Excerpt from speech made by His Excellency the Governor on 2nd October ,1959 from the Secretary of State for the Colonies on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom.

   “ … The first meeting of the Legislative Assembly fort the Cayman Islands under the new Constitution provided for by Order made by Her Majesty the Queen in Council on the 13th of May, 1959 … You have today a Legislative Assembly to which twelve members have been elected for the first time on the basis of universal adult sufferage.”

 -Address by His Excellency the Governor to Legislative Assembly for the Cayman Islands.

The new Legislative Assembly was comprised of the following:

 

President  Major A. H. Donald  O.B.E. Administrator

 Official Members

Hon. James Rufus Astwood

Hon. Earnest Ottey Panton M. H. E. JP

Desmond Vere Watler , J. P.

Nominated Members

Emmis Mortimer Forbes,  J.P.

Hon. Capt. Theophilus Rearie Bodden

William Warren Conolly

Elected Members

West Bay

Arthur H. Ebanks

J. Cadian Ebanks

Hon. T. William Farrington

 

George Town

Dr. Roy E. McTaggart

E.      Ducan Merren

A.     Colin Panton

 

Lesser Islands

Noland B. Foster

Keith P. Tibbetts

 

Bodden Town

Malcolm Eden

James A. Miller

 

East End

Hon. Wm. Allen McLaughlin

 

North Side

Craddock Ebanks

 

Executive Council

Hon. Major A. H. Donald  O.B.E.  Administrator

 

Official Members

Hon. James Rufus Astwood

Hon. Ernest Ottey Panton M.B.E. J.P.

 

Nominated Members

Hon. Capt, Theophilus Rearie Bodden

 

Elected Members

Hon. T. William Farrington

Hon. William Allen McLaughlin

 The 1959 Elections was a turning point for the Elections Process in the Cayman Islands as the women finally had a voice and were able to run for Elections, and hold Office. This move came at a pivotal time in the Islands development, as a large percentage of the men were away at sea and were not available to fill many key posts.

During the early 1960’s a move to establish a West Indies Federation of the British Colonies in the Caribbean, the Cayman Islands took a stand against joining the Federation which would have led to political changes for the Cayman Islands. This controversy lasted almost two years and ended with the Federation being scrapped, Jamaica moving into independence, and the Cayman Islands reverting to full colony status.  

The next change to the Constitution came in 1972 as a result of select committees appointed by the Legislative assembly in 1966, 67, and 69 but nothing was achieved until 1972. In June 1970 the Earl of Oxford and Asquith was appointed by the Commonwealth Office to examine the situation and make recommendations. He arrived in January the next year and met with the people in the Cayman Islands. It was soon realized that the people wanted very little changes and certainly no significant constitutional  advancements. In the end the new constitution came into force on 22nd August, 1972.It made some significant changes but stopped short of full self government. One of the changes introduced a “Member” and “Portfolio” system of governing for the first time instead of a full Ministerial Government. The 1972 Constitution established the qualifications for being a “Caymanian” and the criteria for voting and running for Political Office.