Vincent McFayden


William Robinson Clarke

‘Ex-labourer became valet to ‘lord of the manor’

1922 - 2005

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When Vincent McFayden came to England on the Empire Windrush, he headed straight for 54 Upper Brook Street in London’s Mayfair, the address of one of the richest men in England, Felix Fenston.

Vincent was to be his valet at Braboeuf Manor in Guildford, Surrey, where, according to the 1948 electoral roll, he would work with six other ‘below the stairs’ staff. It was a far cry from his previous work abroad, which was as an ‘industrial labourer’ alongside hundreds of other young Jamaican men in the USA for 12 months, starting in March 1945.

Vincent Bancroft McFayden was born at 57 Oxford Street, downtown Kingston in Jamaica, on January 7, 1922, the son of Clovis Aleric McFayden, a cable clerk, and Gladys Maud McFayden, née Chaplin. Clovis was chair of the Kingston Benefit Association in 1927 and a senior member of the Freemasons.

In 1944, Vincent married Dolores ‘Renie’ Webster in Kingston and at the time was working as a clerk. When he sailed to England on the Windrush, Renie stayed behind, but they would be reunited when Vincent returned home for good. The lifelong couple had six children together.

Vincent’s new boss, Fenston, had served in the Intelligence Corps during the Second World War but left the army after losing a leg in a motorcycle accident and had worked on commercial property, where he made his fortune. In 1951, the number of staff at Braboeuf Manor had fallen and Vincent himself left to train as a chef.

He finally returned to Jamaica in 1957 and had mixed memories of England. Reminiscing fondly about the vagaries of the English weather and Yorkshire pudding, he also recalled how difficult it was for Black people to get decent accommodation, forcing them to live in poorly heated, overcrowded conditions.

In June 1977, Vincent returned to England for a holiday with Renie and Suzanne, a daughter who was born in 1965. Renie and Suzanne remained for six weeks but Vincent could obtain only two weeks’ leave from his employers, the Caribbean Construction Company. The holiday was split between time with Renie’s brother, Headley, in London and Vincent’s brother, Kenneth, in Manchester.

Vincent next worked as a liaison officer for Appliance Trading Ltd for 15 years before emigrating to the USA in 2000. He died in Hernando, Citrus, Florida, on April 29, 2005. His beloved Renie also died in Hernando, on July 28, 2020. Suzanne is now an author and a leading collector of modern and contemporary art and a sponsor of national and international humanitarian efforts to feed the hungry.

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