THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF TRINIDAD
Publication No. 891.
The Governor of Trinidad to the Secretary of State.
Source:-Public Record Office. St ate Papers Colonial. C.O. 295/55.
Published by the courtesy of the Master of the Rolls and the
Deputy Keeper of the Public Records.
27th February, 1822.
I have the honour to report and pray Your Lordship's
commands upon a point that has been submitted to me
but which for the present I have declined my sanction to.
The circumstance is that of a coloured young man,
a protege of the President of the Medical Board, Dr. Williarrs
who has had the young man educated in Engand as a Surgeon
and he has received his Diploma from the College of Surgeons
in London. On his arrival here, he appeared before and
presented the same to the Medical Board who objected to
his being allowed to practice, his mother being in slavery
at this moment as appeared by the enclosed certificate and
the Petitioner himself registered as such in the year 1813
though subsequently manumitted by a record in the same
Dr. Williams in his behalf petitions that the objections
of the Board may be cancelled and the young man allowed
A copy of my reply herewith transmitted will explain the
views I have taken of the subject agreeable to the proclama-
tion of the 20th December 1814 and I venture to hope will
meet Your Lordship's approval.
On referring to the Spanish Law and the Statutes of the
several Colleges and Universities of that Kindgom, no person
can be enrolled or matriculated in any of the said Colleges,
Universities or any Corporate Body or admitted to be
examined or allowed to receive any degree in any service
or faculty without previously giving proof amongst other
things of his birth or limpieza de sangre.
With respect to Surgeons, the Laws of the 12th Title,
8th Book of the Novissima Recopilacion ordains that no person
but those of good birth and instruction can be admitted to the
matricule of the College of Surgery of St Charles at Madrid
and the same it appears is enacted by the i4th and I6th
Chapters of the General Ordinances for the Royal Colleges
of Surgery throughout that Kingdom.
Notwithstanding the objection laid down by the Spanish
Law as regards coloured people, I am free to admit that to
deprive a person of benefitting by those abilities that friends
or other fortunate circumstances have assisted him in
cultivating, seems a hardship and the question that appears
to me as requiring due reflection is that of removing the
barrier that has hitherto been deemed so essential.
As regards the Medical Profession, it is a matter of less
consequence than in other learned professions as the
introduction of a practitioner of this description rests with
those who call for his attendance and it may appear harsh
to deprive people of colour of the benefit of those talents
they may possess. But as affects other professions, the case
assumes in my humble opinion a different construction,
for instance the law and I feel the more delicate in the matter
as I learn by report that a coloured man is at present in
England qualifying himself for the Bar.
It may be urged by Dr. Williams that a coloured person
has been permitted to practice and that it is a hardship to
refuse others. It may therefore be proper to state the grounds
that I presume induced His Excellency Sir Ralph Woodfor-l
to permit it viz., in the instance of John Baptiste Philip whose
parents were all free married people and of considerable
landed property residing in a quarter of the Island chiefly
composed of coloured people.
Another person John Baptist Louis Birmingham does
not appear to have been admitted by the Governor although
he had produced the necessary certificates to the Board.
In the view I took of the subject, I deemed it under all
circumstances previous to my deciding, proper to take the
sense of His Majesty's Attorney-General and also of His
Majesty's Council and the feeling that prevailed was decidedly
to adopt the measure that I have done until I have the
honour to receive Your Lordship's commands.
I have the honour to be My Lord
Your Lordship's most obedient and humble-servant,
AREAS WILLIAM YOUNG.