Hamilton Lavity Stoutt

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H. Lavity Stoutt

Hamilton Lavity Stoutt (7 March 1929 – 14 May 1995) was the first and longest serving Chief Minister of the British Virgin Islands, winning five general elections (1967, 1979, 1986, 1991 and 1995) and serving three non-consecutive terms of office from 1967 to 1971, again from 1979 to 1983 and again from 1986 until his death in 1995. He also served as a parliamentarian in the Legislative Council from 1957 until 1967 prior to the adoption of the 1967 constitution,[1] and at the time of his death was thought to be the longest serving Parliamentarian in the Caribbean.[2] He was a founder of and the leader of the United Party, but after splitting from the party in 1971 went on to found the Virgin Islands Party.

Since Stoutt's death in 1995, a public holiday has been declared annually in his memory on his birthday, 7 March.

The H. Lavity Stoutt Community College in Tortola bears his name. Stoutt himself left school after his primary school education, and obituary writers have suggested that it was his own lack of a formal education which so strongly inspired him to create and promote opportunities for BVIslanders to further their own educations.[3]

During his lifetime, Lavity Stoutt was extremely fond of the quote from Proverbs 29:18 - "Where there is no vision, the people perish", a phrase he would recite frequently when arguing in favour of development projects.[4]

Electoral history[edit]

H. Lavity Stoutt electoral history
Year District Party Votes Percentage Winning/losing margin Result
1957 1st District Non-party election -- -- -- Won
1960 1st District Non-party election -- -- -- Won
1963 1st District Non-party election 215 68.0% +114 Won
1967 1st District BVI United Party 221 65.4% +54 Won
1971 1st District Virgin Islands Party -- -- -- Won
1975 1st District Virgin Islands Party 334 75.1% +223 Won
1979 1st District Virgin Islands Party 328 57% +72 Won
1983 1st District Virgin Islands Party 421 53.0% +85 Won
1986 1st District Virgin Islands Party 416 64.9% +203 Won
1990 1st District Virgin Islands Party 520 85.8% +464 Won
1995 1st District Virgin Islands Party 489 68.3% +292 Won

Lavity Stoutt's percentage of the votes in the 1990 general election remain records for a district seat in the British Virgin Islands (the margin of victory was a record at the time, but has since been surpassed). Stoutt's 11 electoral victories are also a record (Ralph T. O'Neal has 10 victories, and would tie Stoutt if he runs and wins in the 2015 general election). Stoutt's 38 years as a parliamentarian was a record, but was surpassed by Ralph O'Neal in late 2013.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Stoutt was born on 7 March 1929 in Long Bay, Tortola. He was the eighth child of Isaiah and Iallia Stoutt. He was married once, and had two sons and three daughters. He was a staunch Methodist, and served as both a Sunday school superintendent and a lay preacher.[6]

Political Offices[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
New office
Chief Minister of the British Virgin Islands
1967–1971
Succeeded by
Willard Wheatley
Preceded by
Willard Wheatley
Chief Minister of the British Virgin Islands
1979–1983
Succeeded by
Cyril Romney
Preceded by
Cyril Romney
Chief Minister of the British Virgin Islands
1986–1995
Succeeded by
Ralph T. O'Neal
Preceded by
Q.W. Osborne
Leader of the Opposition
1971-1975
Succeeded by
Austin Henley
Preceded by
Willard Wheatley
Leader of the Opposition
1983-1986
Succeeded by
Ralph T. O'Neal
Preceded by
Wilfred W. Smith
Member for the 1st District
1957-1995
Succeeded by
Angel Smith

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ "Lavity Stoutt". Encyclopedia Brittanica. Retrieved 2012-03-04. 
  2. ^ "OBITUARY : H. Lavity Stoutt". The Independent. 23 May 1995. 
  3. ^ "OBITUARY : H. Lavity Stoutt". The Independent. 23 May 1995. 
  4. ^ "Stoutt for BVI". Retrieved 2012-03-04. 
  5. ^ Lavity Stoutt died shortly after the commencement of his 11th term. But during the early part of Lavity Stoutt's political career electoral terms only lasted 3 years (since 1967 they have lasted 4 years), both which account for how Stoutt served more terms than O'Neal, but O'Neal's career as a legislator was longer. Stoutt's was first elected in April 1957 and died in May 1995, and so served just under 38 years and 2 months. O'Neal was first elected on 1 September 1975, and so passed Lavity Stoutt on or about 1 November 2013.
  6. ^ "OBITUARY : H. Lavity Stoutt". The Independent. 23 May 1995.