Charlesworth T Samuel

December 27th, 1938- Charlesworth Theophilus Samuel was born to Hezekiah Samuel (Swetes) and Georgiana Williams (Liberta). He was raised in the village of Swetes in an area known as Aaron’s Farm and completed his primary education at the Swetes Government School before moving on to the All Saints Secondary School.

Upon completing school, Samuel had his sights set on becoming a surveyor and interned briefly with the Public Works Department as a Suveyor Trainee, but was encouraged to proceed on a much different path. At the age of 19, he began his career in education as a teacher at the Swetes Government School. Shortly after he got married and started his family. By the time he was about the age of 25,he was appointed Principal of the John Hughes Primary School (1965). In 1967, after being awarded a scholarship by the Mill Reef Club, he relocated his family to Barbados where he pursued a Bachelor’s Degree in the Natural Sciences, majoring in Physics at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus.

Upon graduating and returning to Antigua in 1972, Samuel returned to teaching as a science teacher at the Princess Margaret School. After one year he was promoted to Principal of the Jennings Secondary School where he served until 1975 when he resigned to pursue his political aspirations. He also served as President of the Antigua & Barbuda Union of Teachers from 1974 to 1976.

According to his son, Clement Samuel, ‘my father always had an interest in good governance and was a bit of an activist’; this, coupled with his dissatisfaction with the government of the day sparked the development of his political career. While in university Samuel became quite active, returning home to assist in the campaign of Progressive Labour Movement (PLM) candidate, Wilbert E. Sterling who represented what was then the St. Luke’s constituency. St. Luke’s comprised Swetes, Buckleys. John Hughes and Bendals.

In 1971, the PLM were successful in winning the general elections, however, Sterling who was not granted a ministerial appointment retaliate by crossing the floor and joining the Antigua Labour Party (ALP). As a result, the PLM had to make a fresh candidate selection for the area for the next general election and Samuel became their choice.

In his first outing on the PLM ticket in 1976, Samuel went up against Sterling and was successful in winning the seat. He would continue to maintain this seat as a stronghold, first as a PLM candidate and then as a United Progressive Party (UPP) candidate with the exception of 1984 when he ran independently and lost to ALP candidate, Eustace Cochrane by 50 votes. It is noteworthy that in the runup to the 1984 election St. Luke’s boundaries were modified to include a large portion of All Saints and the constituency was thus renamed All Saints East and St. Lukes as it is known today.  He was appointed as senator, serving  leader of the opposition in the Upper House of Parliament from 1984 to 1989.

Mr. Samuel sat out the 1989 election but returned as a candidate in 1994 under the UPP’s umbrella.

Though Samuel continually won his seat, he remained an opposition Member of Parliament (MP) until 2004. As a parliamentarian, he earned a lot less than a Principal and, with a growing family, needed to boost his income. This resulted in him taking on a full time job in the secondary level of the Sunnyside Tutorial School teaching the sciences and as an underwriter for Life of Barbados Insurance Co, Ltd.  His son, Clement, recalls his statement following the PLM’s 1976 defeat,’If you’re going into politics, be self-sufficient first’ and acting upon his own word, Samuel began pursuing a law degree through distance learning with the University of London. Despite setbacks, limited resources and the responsibilities of  full-time father and husband, politician and teacher, he was called to the Bar in Antigua and Barbuda in 1992.

In 2004, the UPP was successful at the Polls and formed the new government; Samuel was appointed as Minister of Agriculture,Lands, the Environment, Marine Resources and Food Production  which connected with a long time passion of his. As a child, he had been exposed to farming and rearing of animals by his father and he continued this practice into his adult life. His experience in the field positioned him to be an ideal advocate. He also served in the 2007 UPP administration under Prime Minister Hon. Baldwin Spencer.

In January 2008, while still a sitting Member of Parliament, Samuel was found dead. He was laid to rest during a State funeral on February 19th, 2008. At the time of his death, he was one of two remaining Members of Parliament who were present at the inaugural sitting of the 1981 parliamentary session (Independence).

Hon Charlesworth T Samuel and Family. Photo Credit: Family Album

In remembering his father, Clement notes that as a family man, Mr. Samuel set very high standards for his children and always instilled the importance of working for the community and always giving back. As a representative for his constituency, the Honourable Charlesworth Samuel proved to be just as committed through the bonds he formed with his constituents. Despite not residing in the constituency, his presence was very much felt consistently. Clement recalls that the family continued to worship and be active in the Swetes Wesleyan Holiness Church and Saturdays were carved out as a day for spending time in the area in addition to other days when he would visit.

The John Hughes Primary School was renamed the Charlesworth T Samuel Primary School in honour of Mr. Samuel’s service to the nation in politics and education.