Henry Weatherhead and family


William Robinson Clarke

‘Travel went with the job for top Bajan doctor’

1899 - 1953

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Surgeon Henry Weatherhead had booked a cabin on the Empire Windrush with his wife Annie and daughter Annie Pamela. They lived in Barbados, where the Weatherhead family could trace its roots back to the 18th century. Like other passengers from the island, the family had to first of all make the 211-mile-journey to Port of Spain in Trinidad to board the ship.

The Weatherheads were the only Barbados- based family to sail on the Windrush and did not stay in England for long. In August 1948, they left Southampton for Malaya where Henry had a job waiting for him. Over the next few years, they moved around Asia with Henry’s work, travelling between England, Singapore and British North Borneo.

Henry Douglas Weatherhead was born in St Michael, Barbados, on January 9, 1899. His wife was born in Montserrat on September 22, 1896, and Annie Pamela, in Antigua on January 23, 1930.

During the First World War, Henry had served as a second lieutenant with the British West Indies Regiment. He travelled to England in September 1919 to study medicine at St Thomas’ Hospital in London, sailing from New York to Southampton. In August 1922, while still studying at St Thomas’, he visited Barbados, returning to London via Plymouth in December of that year.

After qualifying as a doctor in January 1926, he left England for a break in Barbados, still giving his address as St Thomas’ Hospital. By 1930, he was living at 34 Princes Square in Bayswater, London, and working as a surgeon. In 1934, the London Gazette reported that King George V had appointed Henry as a nominated official member of the Legislative Council of St Lucia. Then in 1936, Henry was appointed an official member of the Executive of the Island of St Lucia.

In 1941, Henry and Annie sailed from Trinidad to New York for a six-month stay. It was Annie’s first time in the USA. Henry was later appointed chief medical officer for Barbados. On January 13, 1945, following an outbreak of meningitis on the island, he broadcast an appeal that all Barbadians should avoid crowds and kissing their children. Shortly afterwards, all schools and places of public entertainment were closed to prevent the spread of the disease.

Following the release of the 1945 Moyne Commission report looking into labour unrest in the West Indies during the 1930s, Henry lobbied for the urgent need for new legislation governing health care in Barbados and recommended the entire re-organisation of the island’s health care sector.

Henry’s career had taken him from Barbados to England, New York, St Lucia and Asia, and he also spent time working in Cuba. He died in 1953 aged 54. Annie died in Manchester, Jamaica, on August 9, 1965. Annie Pamela, also died in the same parish on May 23, 1983.

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