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Samuel Jackman Prescod (1806 - 1871)

In 1806, Samuel Jackman Prescod was born out of wedlock to a free coloured woman by the name of Lydia Smith and a wealthy white landowner by the name of William Prescod. His primary education was gained while attending St. Mary's School and sometime later he was trained as a joiner.

Life as a Writer

His early life reality of being quite vulnerable to society as a result of his complexion, proved to be by no means a hindrance to him as he was determined not to go through life feeling sorry for himself. On the contrary and against all odds, he used his gift of writing to empower those around him, provoke thinking and bring about great awareness of the many social injustices that so plagued the country.


In 1829, his campaign for the liberation of free coloured people gained great strength and in 1831, he successfully won permission for free coloured people to exercise their fundamental right to vote.


It came as no surprise that he would go on to hold the very challenging position of editor at the “New Times” newspaper in March 1836. A mere eight months later, he stepped down from that position as he felt that there was a breach on the part of the “New Times” newspaper. Still eager to get his message out, he later joined “The Liberal” newspaper which was founded by the poor whites for the sole purpose of rectifying social prejudices. For some 25 years, through his continued clever usage of the pen, he persevered to educate, convey thoughts and hopefully unite coloured, blacks and poor whites.


A few months into production, “The Liberal” ran into a financial hurdle. Prescod’s deep seated conviction about the powerful and effectiveness of the media, led him to make a quick decision along with Thomas Harris to buy the media house. Prescod’s revolutionary approach not only landed him a reputation as being a “counselor” and “trouble maker” but also landed him in jail in 1840 charged with criminal libel.


His Political Career

On June 6, 1843, history was made when Prescod was elected as a member of the newest constituency, the City of Bridgetown. This election made him the first non-white to sit in the House of Assembly. Whether he chose to dabble in the media or in politics, it became resoundingly clear that the people were always in favour of his chosen path. With possession of this knowledge, he was able to use his influence to form a political party called "The Liberal Party". Known as the opposition, this party continued his personal fight for social justice.


Prescod’s retirement from Parliament came in 1860 but he later accepted the position as Judge of the Assistant Court of Appeal.


On September 26th, 1871 he died at the age of 65 and he was buried at St. Mary's Church yard in Bridgetown.


Prescod was particularly noted for his work in creating educational facilities for the children of ex-slaves. It comes as no surprise that in 1969, The Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic was established at University Row, Deep Water Harbour in the city of Bridgetown. This institution was named after Samuel Jackman Prescod due to the immeasureable contribution he made to the underprivileged in an effort to improve their standard of living. The Samuel Jackman Precod Polytechnic is currently located in Wildey, St. Michael.




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