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HOW SCOUTING CAME TO JAMAICA

 

As we very well remember, Lord Robert Baden Powell founded the Scout Movement in England in 1907.  This Uniformed Movement is now a worldwide Organization, mainly for boys, and is often described as a boy’s game, but a man’s job.  How did the Scout Movement come to Jamaica?  It came here in 1910, over 90 years ago, through the efforts of the Rev’d Joseph William Graham, M.A. Anglican Clergyman, Scholar and Poet.  Who was he and how was it that he influenced the commencement of the Scout Movement in Jamaica?  Indeed it is a fascinating and heart-warming story of vision and courage.

 

The Rev’d Joseph William Graham, son of Mr. Joseph Graham, school master and Church Catechist and his wife Julia (nee Stewart, was born at Chichester, Hanover on the 11th May 1868.  He was educated by private tuition, then at the MICO Training College and St. Peter’s College.  He was among the first four students to have commenced their studies at the Anglican Theological Training Institution, which was then established in Spanish Town.  Rev’d Graham later received the degree of Master of Arts, from Durham University.  He was ordained as a Deacon of the Anglican Church on the 12th February 1893 and after a year, was ordained a Priest at the hands of Archbishop Enos Nutall, at the Kingston Parish Church on St. Matthews Day, February 24, 1894.

 

The Rev’d Graham served at many cures in Jamaica, including St. Paul’s, Moore Town; St. Georges, Blackstonedge; Holy Trinity, Linstead; St. Luke’s Balaclava and St. Paul’s, Little London, where he retired in March 1953.

 

At one time he was Assistant Headmaster at the Titchfield High School in Port Antonio, and was the Headmaster at the Beckford and Smith’s High School (now St. Jago High School), Spanish Town during the period 1928 193.  He was also a member of the Executive of the Kingston Restoration Committee set up after the Great Earthquake of January 1907. 

 

It was during a visit to England in 1908 that the Rev’d Graham met an old friend at the Franco British Exhibition who had been in touch with Lord (then Sir) Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scout Movement in England.  “B.P” was then preparing his paper “ Scouting for Boys” and the friend promised to send the first issue to him, which he did.

 

Back home, The Rev’d Graham who was at the time the headmaster of a private Secondary School in Brown’s Town, St. Ann, requested the Education Authorities to help him start the movement.  There was little response.  Nevertheless, he persevered on his own and the Troop was born in St. Ann.  It was soon after that, on 28th February 1911, that Mr. Harry Mills, an Engineer of the Jamaica Government Railway, and a former member of the 22nd Brighton Troop in England, established the first Troop in the Capital city.

 

In 1912, Mr. F.S. Massias established the first Scout Troop in St. Catherine.  It was through the activities of this Spanish Town Troop, that the Guide Movement was established in Jamaica in 1915, and the Cub Scout in 1916.  As a poet, with the pen name “GRAEMe”, he published two volumes of poems: “Round the Blue Light” and “In Memoriam”, as well as a novel “The Land of Havila”.

 

In 1894, he married Gertrude Ann Vermont and the union produced five sons and one daughter.  His hobbies were reading, traveling and gardening.  While in retirement he lived at his home, “Upperby” in Newport Manchester.

 

He died on the 18th October 1953 at the age of 85.  He was buried in the churchyard of the Snowden Anglican Church, Manchester on the 19th October 1953.

Prepared by T.O.B. Goldson J.P., D.P.A., M.P.H., F.R.S.H.

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