Grantley Herbert Adams

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The Right Excellent Sir
Grantley Adams
Grantley Herbert Adams.jpg
1st Prime Minister of the West Indies Federation
In office
18 April 1958 – 31 May 1962
Monarch Elizabeth II
Governor-General Patrick Buchan-Hepburn
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Position abolished
1st Premier of Barbados
In office
1 February 1953 – 17 April 1958
Monarch George VI
Elizabeth II
Governor Alfred Savage
Robert Arundell
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Hugh Cummins
Personal details
Born 28 April 1898
Saint Michael, British Windward Islands
Died 28 November 1971 (1971-11-29) (aged 73)
Saint Michael, Barbados
Political party Barbados Labour
Other political
West Indies Federal Labour
Statue of Sir Grantley Adams in front of the Office of the Cabinet complex in Barbados

Sir Grantley Herbert Adams, CMG, QC (28 April 1898 – 28 November 1971), was a Barbadian and British West Indian statesman. Adams was a founder of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP),[1] and he was named in 1998 as one of the National Heroes of Barbados.[2]

Early life[edit]

Adams was born at Colliston, Government Hill, St. Michael, on 28 April 1898. He was the third child of seven born to Fitzherbert Adams and the former Rosa Frances Turney. Adams was educated at St. Giles and at Harrison College in Barbados. In 1918, he won the BScholarship and departed the following year for his undergraduate studies at Oxford University. Adams played a single match of first-class cricket for Barbados during the 1925–26 season, as a wicket-keeper against British Guiana in the Inter-Colonial Tournament.[3]

Political career[edit]

Adams was president of the Barbados Workers' Union (BWU) from 1941 to 1954. While being a staunch supporter of the monarchy, Adams and his party also demanded more rights for the poor and for the people. Progress toward a more democratic government in Barbados was made in 1942, when the exclusive income qualification was lowered and women were given the right to vote. By 1949, governmental control was wrested from the planters.

Adams became the Prime Minister of the West Indies Federation, defeating Ashford Sinanan by two votes. (Sinanan went on to serve as Leader of the Opposition of Trinidad's Democratic Labour Party.) Adams served this role from 1958 to 1962; Barbados was one of the ten provinces of the West Indies Federation, an organisation doomed by nationalistic attitudes and by the fact that its members, as British colonies, held limited legislative power.

As Premier of Barbados, his leadership failed in attempts to form unions such as the BWU, and his continued defence of the monarchy was used by his opponents as evidence that he was no longer in touch with the needs of his country. Errol Walton Barrow, a fervent reformer, became the new people's advocate. Barrow had left the BLP and formed the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) as a liberal alternative to Adams' conservative government. Barrow instituted many progressive social programmes, including free education for all Barbadians, and the School Meals system. By 1961, Barrow had replaced Adams as Premier and the DLP controlled the government.

Personal life[edit]

Adams was married to Grace Thorne in 1929 at St. John's Church. Their only child, Tom, himself won the Barbados Scholarship and attended Oxford to become a lawyer. Tom Adams was elected as Barbados' second Prime Minister in 1976.


Grantley Adams International Airport, formerly Seawell Airport, located in Christ Church, Barbados, was named after the former Prime Minister in 1976. A statue in honour of Adams is located in front of Government Headquarters at Bay Street, St. Michael.

Adams is one of Barbados' National Heroes.[2] He was the father of Barbados' second Prime Minister following independence, the late J. M. G. "Tom" Adams.

Adams was buried in Bridgetown, Barbados, at the churchyard of the Anglican Cathedral Church of Saint Michael and All Angels on Saint Michael's Row.

The former home of Adams, located on Roebuck Street, Bridgetown, functions as the headquarters of the Barbados Labour Party political group.[citation needed] Adams is featured on the front of the Barbados $100 bill.[2]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • F. A. Hoyos: The Rise of West Indian Democracy: The Life and Times of Sir Grantley Adams, Advocate Press (1963)


  1. ^ Price, Sanka (10 March 2014). "'Political giant' passes away". Daily Nation. Nation Publishing. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  2. ^ a b c "Sir Grantley Adams (1898 - 1971)". Barbados Pocket Guide. Sun Group. 7 February 2012. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  3. ^ Grantley Adams playing statistics CricketArchive; Retrieved 2 December 2014

External links[edit]