Wesley LeRoy Tucker
Businessman, parliamentarian
Born September 23, 1907

W.L. “Bip” Tucker played a leading role in business and politics during the turbulent 1950s and 1960s. Bermuda’s leaders were coming under intense pressure from blacks—and the United Kingdom government—to abolish segregation and the property-based voting system. The battle for full voting rights, or universal adult suffrage, was played out on two fronts. Tucker led the fight in Parliament.

He is known as the ‘Father of the Franchise Bill’ for piloting through Parliament the bill that led to all adults over age 25 getting full voting rights in 1963. It fell short of full universal adult suffrage, but excluding the bill that gave female property owners the right to vote in 1944, it was the first major change to Bermuda’s voting system in 300 years.

Tucker also made his mark in other areas: he was the first black person appointed to the Executive Council, the forerunner of Cabinet, and the first black president of the Bermuda Employers' Council.

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The Berkeley Institute opens
September 1897

A new era in education began when The Berkeley Institute opened at Samaritan’s Lodge on Court Street, Hamilton with 27 students. 

The school was the realisation of a dream that began 18 years earlier when businessman Samuel David Robinson invited five men to his new home, Wantley, on Princess Street, Hamilton on October 6, 1879 to discuss the feasibility of opening a high school.

Six men joined the original five at a follow-up meeting on October 9. They established The Berkeley Educational Society, and spent the next 18 years raising funds and public support for the school.

The school was named after George Berkeley (1685-1753), an Anglo-Irish philosopher and Anglican bishop, whose plan to establish a college in Bermuda for Native Americans a century earlier had foundered.

All but one of the 27 students were black, several of them the children of Samuel David Robinson.  (See our biography of Wenona Robinson.)

Five months after the school had opened, students were being prepared to take Cambridge exams  in scripture, Latin, French, English language and literature.

The first headmaster was George DaCosta of Jamaica. He served in the post for 37 years.     

The founders were insistent about establishing a fully integrated school, but were unsuccessful. Berkeley became the leading high school for black Bermudians during the era of segregation. 

 

 




Samuel David Robinson - The Berkeley Institute was the realisation of his dream.


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