George William Gordon

George William Gordon

 

The Rt. Excellent George William Gordon was born near Mavis Bank, in 1820 to Joseph Gordon, a Scottish Planter, and a slave woman. Joseph Gordon saw that his son had special characteristics and from an early age decided to take an interest in his education. George went to live with his godfather, James Daly, in Black River and there completed his education. Gordon was mostly self-educated.

George William Gordon was a large land owner, shop keeper, produce dealer, preacher, politician, social worker and philanthropist. He started out as an Anglican but changed to Baptist having been baptised into the Baptist Society by Rev. J.M. Phillippo, founder of Jamaica's first Free Village. He later became a leader of the Native Baptist Movement and began building several churches at his own expense, ordained Ministers and was an active evangelist. 

In 1843, at the age of 23, Gordon was elected to the House of Assembly for St. Thomas but his public life began about 1844. He entered politics as an advocate for the poverty-stricken Negro peasants.  In 1865, when the economic condition of Jamaica was at a new low, Gordon spoke openly on behalf of the poor Negroes and with bitter criticism of Lieutenant Governor Edward Eyre.

During this period of oppression on the part of the Negroes, Paul Bogle was very active in revolting against the system of government.  On October 11, Bogle with about 300 men, marched in Morant Bay where the Town Council was in session. There they raided a police station for arms and set the Court House on fire. The Custos, Baron von Ketelhodt, along with fifteen vestrymen was killed. It was from this incident that a warrant was sent out for Gordon's arrest.

Gordon, having heard that a summon was out for his arrest, turned himself in to Governor Eyre. On October 21, 1865  he was sentenced to death. On October 27, 1960, the Jamaican Parliament named the building where the Parliament Meetings would be kept in honour of Gordon. It was named the George William Gordon House, often called 'Gordon House' for short. After independence Gordon was given the nation's highest honor, Order of  National Hero.