THURSDAY, MAY 19:

Ladies and gentlemen:

Good Morning!

I am extremely pleased to participate in the launch of this significant collaborative project between two Government Departments involved in the promotion of our Island’s history.  Thanks to extensive brainstorming between the Bermuda Post Office and Bermuda Archives, we are launching the wonderful stamp issue on “Piloting in Bermuda” whilst we, at the same time,  are opening an archival exhibit about an amazing 18th century slave who became one of our first Bermudian pilots.  Of course, I am pleased to note his personal connection with Minister Wilson.

Pilot Jemmy Darrell won not only recognition for his professional piloting abilities, but, of greater significance,  his freedom and the right to be treated, in the words of Governor Crauford in 1796, “as a Man actually and bona fide Free.” He was freed on 1st March, 1796 and commissioned King’s Pilot two months later on 23rd May, 1796.

The documents on display here shed considerable light on the life of Pilot Darrell.  They also give insight into, and ready access to, historical information about Bermuda’s community of slaves and free persons of colour.  Highlighting repressive early 19th century legislation that curtailed the economic and legal rights of Bermuda’s black community, the exhibition documents the bold persistence of a group of men, led by Bermudian pilots, in fighting and redressing this legislation through petitions to the Admiralty and to the Secretary of State for the Colonies. 

I invite you to join me this morning in celebrating the notable achievements of these true “pioneers of progress.” We have on offer a fascinating display of archival documents that have been preserved since the 18th century and which, today, allow us all to engage intimately with Pilot Darrell and to appreciate the many obstacles that he and his contemporaries so bravely overcame.

I wish to salute the staff of the Bermuda Archives for assembling this wonderful exhibition and to express gratitude to the Bermuda Post Office for providing a dedicated space in which members of the public might view these unique manuscripts and images.

Thank you.