Bermuda

Bermuda > INTRODUCTION > Government

Bermuda tricentennial StampBermuda's first official governor, Richard Moore, arrives in 1612, aboard the "Plough". He represents the Virginia Company.

In 1684 the Somers Island Company is dissolved. Britain assumes control of Bermuda’s affairs and sends out Governors on an ongoing basis as official representatives of the Crown.

In 1701 Governor Bennett brings the Silver Oar, emblem of Admiralty jurisdiction, to Bermuda and initiates the practice of placing it before himself at meetings of the Governor’s Council. The Silver Oar is bought by the Bermuda Government in 1721.

In 1799 Turks Island, so long a dependency of Bermuda and the centre of Bermuda’s salt trade, is annexed by the Government of the Bahamas. This annexation has a traumatic effect on Bermuda’s economy.

Bermuda Perot StampIn 1815 Parliament convenes for the first time in Hamilton, meeting in the Town Hall on Front Street until 1826, at which time it moves to the Sessions House on Parliament Hill, its location ever since.

In 1834 "An Act to repeal the laws exclusively applicable to free black and free coloured persons, and to extend to them the laws applicable to white persons, and to fix the qualifications for jurors, voters and the electors and candidates for certain offices and places of trust" is passed. The law includes provisions which increase the property ownership requirement for voters and candidates in General Elections, the purpose behind the increase being to retain political control of the colony in the hands of the wealthier Whites. The increase in property qualifications also applies to voters and candidates in municipal elections.

In 1874 open voting is abolished with the introduction of the secret ballot. And in 1883 Mr. William H.T. Joell, elected as one of the four members of Pembroke Parish, is the first Bermudian Black to sit in the House of Assembly.

In 1888 Bermuda adopts an Executive Council, and the Legislative Council (under the Presidency of the Chief Justice) is established as Bermuda’s second law-making Chamber. The Executive Council later becomes the Cabinet, and the Legislative Council is renamed the Senate after internal self-government is implemented in the second half of the 20th century.

In 1944 women are given the right to vote in Bermuda's elections.

In 1963 The Parliamentary Election Amendment Act gives every Bermudian 25 years and over the right to vote and divides the nine parishes into two double-seat constituencies. The "Watlington Amendment" gives a second or "plus" vote in the constituencies in which they live to landowners who possess property rated above a certain value anywhere on the island. The legislation effectively increases the electorate from approximately 5,500 landlords to about 22,000 potential voters. The father of the "Franchise Act", as it is dubbed, is the Hon. Wesley Leroy Tucker, a black Member representing Devonshire Parish. Bermuda’s first political party, the Progressive Labour Party, is formed in the same year and enters nine candidates in the General Election, of which six are elected to the House of Assembly. In 1964 Bermuda’s second political party, the United Bermuda Party, is formed in October under the leadership of Sir Henry Tucker. The Party is composed of twenty-six politicians who had been elected in 1963 as Independents.

In 1971 Sir Edward Richards becomes Bermuda’s first black Government Leader in December. In 1973, his title is changed to that of Premier, a position that he holds until December 1975.

Today Bermuda's Government consists of the Legislature, the Cabinet, the Judiciary, and the Public Service. It is based on the 'Westminster' model of parliamentary democracy.

For more detailed information, please refer to the Government of Bermuda website.