27 September, 2008


Not many people can boast that their birth certificate is the country’s constitution. Billy Herbert was one. But, he has now passed on. James Woodley was another. But, he has passed on too. I wonder how many of us are left.

I am a Kittitian by birth. St Kitts is my native island. I had grown up in Trinidad and Jamaica. My Dad worked in those islands while I was a youngster. It never occurred to me to spend the rest of my life in either of those islands. I did not belong to them. I have inherited from my late father citizenships in both Grenada and St Vincent and the Grenadines. We never visited either of them when I was growing up. I knew no one there. To this day, I do not know if I have a single cousin living in either of those countries.

The Anguilla Revolution took place in 1967. At that time, I was a student in London. I closely followed events leading up to and after the Revolution. Members of my family lived in both St Kitts and Anguilla. In St Kitts, I had an uncle, Frank Henville QC. He was a well known lawyer of his time. He invited me to come and join him to do my law pupilage. So, when I had completed my law studies in the summer of 1971, I chose to return to Basseterre. There, I did my pupilage, and eventually hung out my shingle and started up my law practice.

Five years later, in August 1976, the Executive Council of Anguilla consisted of Ronald Webster, Emile Gumbs, Idalia Gumbs, and Albena Lake-Hodge. They invited me to come to Anguilla to serve as the Magistrate. That job lasted for four years. Then, I hung up my shingle in The Valley and went back into private practice, this time in Anguilla.

In 1980, the Peoples’ Action Movement of St Kitts and Nevis won the general election. Dr Kennedy Simmonds became the Prime Minister. Billy Herbert was one of his advisers. Billy was also the constitutional adviser to the Anguilla government. St Kitts-Nevis began to prepare for independence from Britain. Anguilla was about to become legally and constitutionally separated from St Kitts for the first time since 1825. The major objective of the Anguilla Revolution was in sight.

One problem was what to do with the many Anguillians who had chosen to work and to spend the rest of their lives in St Kitts. Would they suddenly become foreigners? And, the Kittitians such as Billy and myself who lived and worked in Anguilla? Were we to be made foreigners? The three governments of St Kitts-Nevis, Anguilla and the UK worked out a solution. All Kittitians living in Anguilla on the day of the legal separation of Anguilla would for the purposes of the Anguilla Constitution be deemed to have been born in Anguilla. All Anguillians living in St Kitts or Nevis on that day would be deemed to have been born in St Kitts-Nevis.

And, so we got section 4(3) of the Anguilla Constitution Order 1982:

If a person who was born in St. Christopher or in Nevis before 19th December 1980 is ordinarily resident in Anguilla, having been so resident since that date, he shall be treated for the purposes of section 80(2) of the Constitution as if he had been born in Anguilla.”

Section 80(2) of the Constitution is the section that provides who is an Anguillian belonger. It reads:

“(2) For the purposes of this Constitution a person shall be regarded as belonging to Anguilla if that person—

(a) is a British Dependent Territories citizen—

(i) who was born in Anguilla, whether before or after the commencement of the British Nationality Act 1981 . . .”

So it is that I can claim with pride that the Anguilla Constitution Order is my Anguillian birth certificate. My birthday is the 19th December 1980. As I recall, twenty-eight is a good age to be!

Being born in Anguilla is one of the conditions or qualifications for election to the House of Assembly. Look out Eddie, here I come!


  1. While many of us would be extremely pleased if you contested the seat of Lazy Eddie, I don't think Maggie would allow you to do this. Are you announcing your divorce or is this a joke?

  2. Well, at least now we know as much about you as the Americans know about Sarah Palin!

    The story I heard is that you are an Englishman who came to Anguilla to live about 30 years ago.

    I will assume that you version is the correct one!

  3. I went to the Immigration Dept to submit a Belonger Status application on behalf of my son. I was told that because his dad was born in St Kitts, my son could not obtain a certificate, but would only be eligible for endorsement in his passport as a Belonger. Apart from the incredibility of this advice, the Immigration official failed to identify that his case falls squarely within s.4 of the Ordinance. How many people have been turned away, made to face dejection because of blatantly incorrect advice from the Government? And this was not a low-level staff member I was dealing with. What is the point of having written laws when the people employed to apply it do not themselves carry a sense of responsibility and importance in what they are doing? Most of them do not have a clue what the law says - and instead take the law into their own hands with their own interpretations and conclusions?! Surely notwithstanding the financial crisis, the GOA can spare Some money to educate their staff in order to provide reliable and efficient service for the people?? It is a matter of prioritising where the money goes!!


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