Ralph T. O'Neal

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Ralph T. O'Neal

Ralph T. O'Neal (cropped).jpg
O'Neal being appointed as Premier by Governor David Pearey.
Premier of the British Virgin Islands
In office
23 August 2007 – 9 November 2011
MonarchElizabeth II
GovernorDavid Pearey
Inez Archibald (Acting)
William Boyd McCleary
Preceded byOrlando Smith (Chief Minister)
Succeeded byOrlando Smith
In office
15 May 1995 – 17 June 2003
MonarchElizabeth II
GovernorPeter Alfred Penfold
David Mackilligin
Frank Savage
Elton Georges (Acting)
Tom Macan
Preceded byHamilton Lavity Stoutt
Succeeded byOrlando Smith
Personal details
Ralph Telford O'Neal

(1933-12-15)15 December 1933
Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
Died11 November 2019(2019-11-11) (aged 85)
Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Political partyVirgin Islands Party
Alma materUniversity of Oxford

Ralph Telford O'Neal, OBE (15 December 1933 – 11 November 2019)[1] was a politician in the British Virgin Islands. He was the longest ever serving elected representative in the British Virgin Islands, and served as Chief Minister (when the office was so titled) or Premier of the British Virgin Islands for three terms.


Ralph O'Neal was first elected to represent the district for Virgin Gorda and Anegada[2] on 1 September 1975, and he held that seat continuously until the 2015 general election. He is the longest serving elected politician in British Virgin Islands history having served in the House of Assembly and Legislative Council for 39 years, 280 days, and his 10 election victories (including one uncontested) are second only to Lavity Stoutt in the Territory's political history.[3] Ralph O'Neal indicated in 2014 that he would stand down at the 2015 general election.[4]

Ralph O'Neal was first appointed as Chief Minister when Lavity Stoutt died in office on 14 May 1995. He then served as Chief Minister until the 1999 general election, which he won. His party would later lose the 2003 general election, but he would return to power as Premier (as the office was renamed) for the third and final time following a landslide victory in the 2007 general election. He remained in office until 7 November 2011, after the Virgin Islands Party lost its majority following the 2011 general election. His combined 12 years as head of the elected Government is the second longest in the British Virgin Islands, behind only Lavity Stoutt.[citation needed]

Ralph O'Neal also served as Leader of the Opposition in the British Virgin Islands on three occasions – more than any other politician. He first served as opposition leader for the United Party from 1986 to 1988. He then served in the role for the Virgin Islands party from 2003 to 2007, and then finally from 2011 to 2015.[citation needed]

For most of his political career Ralph O'Neal was a member of the Virgin Islands Party, and he led the party from the time of Lavity Stoutt's death, until he stepped down as party leader and was replaced by Julian Fraser. However, like most BVI politicians, Ralph O'Neal has "crossed the floor". He contested his first election, the 1971 general election, unsuccessfully on behalf of the VI Democratic Party. He then ran for office twice as an independent candidate before joining the Virgin Islands Party. Then, in 1983, he left to join the ruling United Party, and contested the 1986 general election on behalf of the United Party. He later rejoined the Virgin Islands Party in 1988 to take up a Ministerial position in Lavity Stoutt's government and was a member of the Virgin Islands party ever since.[citation needed]


Ralph O'Neal was educated at University of Oxford where he studied Economics. He was also property owner and developer in the British Virgin Islands. Apart from his property investments, O'Neal had a number of other commercial interests during his life before serving in the House of Assembly under the Ralph O'Neal Group of Companies.[citation needed]

In October 2016 O'Neal was flown overseas for emergency medical treatment after reportedly suffering a stroke.[5]

O'Neal died peacefully at home on 11 November 2019.[6]

Electoral history[edit]

Ralph T. O'Neal electoral history
Year District Party Votes Percentage Winning/losing margin Result
1971 7th District VI Democratic Party -- -- -- Lost
R. George
1975 7th District Independent 306 64.0% +136 Won
1979 9th District Independent 403 70.8% +234 Won
1983 9th District Virgin Islands Party unopposed Won
1986 9th District United Party 337 47% +91 Won
1990 9th District Virgin Islands Party 445 50.9% +28 Won
1995 9th District Virgin Islands Party 534 66.1% +282 Won
1999 9th District Virgin Islands Party 617 66.2% +317 Won
2003 9th District Virgin Islands Party 596 60.8% +226 Won
2007 9th District Virgin Islands Party 476 47% +9 Won
2011 9th District Virgin Islands Party 565 49.3% +28 Won
Political offices
Preceded by
Hamilton Lavity Stoutt
Chief Minister of the British Virgin Islands
Succeeded by
Orlando Smith
Preceded by
Orlando Smith
as Chief Minister of the British Virgin Islands
Premier of the British Virgin Islands
Preceded by
H. Lavity Stoutt
Leader of the Opposition
Succeeded by
Conrad Maduro
Preceded by
Orlando Smith
Leader of the Opposition
Succeeded by
Orlando Smith
Leader of the Opposition
Succeeded by
Julian Fraser
Preceded by
Reeial George
House of Assembly Member, Anegada and Virgin Gorda
Succeeded by
Hubert O'Neal


  1. ^ "Ralph T. O'Neal, 9th District Representative". The BVI Review.
  2. ^ Then known as the Seventh District; now known as the Ninth District.
  3. ^ Although Stoutt has won more election victories than O'Neal, he served a shorter period in the Legislature because (a) he only served a small part of his 11th and final term prior to his death, and (b) during the early part of Stoutt's career, political terms were only 3 years and not 4.
  4. ^ "Opposition leader to retire". BVI Beacon. 28 May 2014.
  5. ^ "O'Neal To Be Flown Overseas For Treatment". Platinum News. 2 October 2016.
  6. ^ "A territory mourns – Late Premier described as true statesman, legend". BVI News. 2 November 2019.