THE DEPENDENCY QUESTION

PREFACE

This book results from an attempt to resolve a conflict. That conflict erupted in 1983, the year of the first visit to the Cayman Islands of H.M. The Queen. Because the British Sovereign is recognised by the Church of England as its Supreme Governor (on earth), the question can be posed, "What is the constitutional relationship of the Sovereign to the Church in the Cayman Islands?" The Cayman Islands are a Dependency of the Crown of Great Britain; simple logic demands, therefore, that Her Majesty, having supreme jurisdiction over all Her subjects, possesses a constitutional ecclesiastical authority in the Cayman Islands that all Anglicans here are bound to accept.

The simple logic of this position is however, complicated by the possibility that the Sovereign's ecclesiastical jurisdiction may have been diminished by the effect of developments occurring in church or state here after the settlement of the Islands. In originally dependent British Islands elsewhere that have since become independent, such as in most of the historically British West Indies, the Anglican churches have also become independent of the Church of England. Although the British Monarch continued to be recognised as Sovereign in some of these independent states, the Anglican churches in these states did not recognise in the Monarch any continuing ecclesiastical authority over them, and it was accepted by authorities in ecclesiastical law that the Sovereign's ecclesiastical authority in these states was "diminished" and therefore no longer operative there as it had once been.

The Cayman Islands, like the Turks and Caicos Islands, Montserrat, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands have not become independent, and whatever may be the case with the others, there is no certainty that the Cayman Islands will ever take any initiative towards political independence. For various reasons the original parts of the Church of England in Turks and Caicos, Montserrat and Anguilla have come to be, or to be regarded as, parts of churches of neighbouring islands that subsequently became independent (though whether the Sovereign's ecclesiastical authority over Her subjects in these dependent Islands has ever been, or can ever be, declared to be diminished may be a subject for further research). The original Church of England in the British Virgin Islands has come to be, or to be regarded as, part of the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A., which is the (Anglican) church of their neighbouring islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands.

By 1983 the 13-year old proposition that the Cayman Islands Church too was part of the Church of its independent island neighbour (Jamaica) was being seriously, and indeed painfully, questioned. In order to resolve that issue considerable research into the history of the Cayman Islands became necessary. "The Dependency Question", a sample of the research of several years into the nature of the relationships between the British authority, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, and their effect upon the history of the Church, was thus conceived and is now brought to birth.

I wish to acknowledge most gratefully the prior and seminal research of Douglas W.G. Calder, who first brought the significance of this matter to my attention and provided much of the legal source material. I also wish to mention with gratitude the work of Elizabeth Wynne Davies, the importance of whose book, referred to on several occasions in this work, seems not to have been fully recognised. I acknowledge also most gratefully the continuing work of the Cayman Islands National Archive under its Director, Dr. Philip Pedley. Without the documents that have already been collected in this modern Archive, especially the Colonial Office correspondence of the nineteenth century with the Governors, I would not have found it possible to succeed in any significant measure in this venture of strengthening the threads of Cayman Islands history. I have been greatly helped by Dr. Pedley and his staff. I am very grateful also to the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (USPG) and the former Librarian of the Rhodes House Library, Oxford, Mr. A.S. Bell who as a result of my enquiries to the Society made available a copy of the Reverend David Wilson's Report of 1837 from the Society's papers on deposit at the Library, to be seen now in the Cayman Islands apparently for the first time since it was written. I am most indebted also to the Archivist of the USPG, Mrs. Catherine Wakeling and the current Rhodes House Librarian, Mrs. Clare Brown who following my enquiry about the relation between the Missionary Society and the Rev'd David Wilson, collaborated in further research on the point and discovered some most helpful information not only about Wilson but even on the position of the Rev'd Thomas Sharpe in 1837, a particularly important detail as it turned out. The resulting letter from Mrs. Wakeling, referred to in my notes on several occasions, was greatly illuminating. I wish to acknowledge my frequent use of other authors who have already written on the Cayman Islands or on topics bearing upon the subject matter of this work, in particular Commissioner Hirst, whose "Notes" were compiled without the benefit of access to source material such as we now enjoy over eighty years later, and the recent author Brian Kieran, who in his work also raised the dependency issue. I wish to acknowledge the role of my own family and of the members of the Church of England in the Cayman Islands and other friends. Many have been the discussions leading to further clarity of thought. Finally I wish to thank those who have published and printed this research. It is offered and dedicated to all the people of the Cayman Islands and in particular to students of the Islands' history, and to Anglicans and other concerned churchmen throughout the world.