Sir Harold Bernard St. John (1931 – 2004), affectionately known as “Bree”, succeeded Prime Minister Tom Adams upon his sudden death on March 11th 1985.
Bree St. John was the 3rd Prime Minister of Barbados.
A professionally trained lawyer, St. John was educated and received his degree from London University in 1953. The Inner Temple called St. John to the Bar the next year. St. John practiced law in Barbados, Trinidad and throughout the eastern English-speaking Caribbean.
Upon his return to Barbados, Bree St. John joined the BLP in 1959 while Barbados was still a British colony. He was elected into the newly formed House of Assembly following independence in 1966.
St. John served as a member of the opposition in the Senate between 1971 and 1976 before returning to the House of Assembly in 1976 where he served under then Prime Minister and leader of the BLP, the Right Honourable ‘Tom’ Adams.
Under Adam’s administration, St. John went on to hold the titles of:
— Deputy Prime Minister
— Minister of Trade and Industry
— Minister of Tourism
Upon Adam’s death, St. John took leadership of the BLP and assumed the role of Prime Minister. Although Adams had done much to promote the BLP, a strong conservative bent and a focus on regional militarism left the Bajan populace divided. St. John served as the 3rd Prime Minister of Barbados for only one year when he lost the general elections in 1986.
After the Democratic Labour Party (DLP)’s landslide election victory under the leadership of Errol Barrow in May 1986, St. John left Cabinet to become a political back-bencher under then BLP party leader Owen Arthur.
After his party was re-elected under Arthur’s leadership in 1994, St. John accepted the post of deputy prime minister which he maintained until 1999.
St. John was most noted for his commitment to the tourism industry as well as regional integration, cooperation and development.
In 1994, Bree St. John was awarded one of Barbados’ highest national honors when he was conferred the title of Knight of St. Andrew.
Bree St. John was born on the 16th of August 1931 in the parish of Christ Church; a constituency which he represented for many years as a statesman. On 29 February 2004, Bernard “Bree” St. John succumbed to cancer in Bridgetown at the age of 72. His body was laid to rest at Christ Church Parish Church.
Sir Harold St. John was described by Senator Allan Fields as a “man of total integrity and impeccable character” and a “stalwart Barbadian who gave unstintingly of his service.”
St. John and his wife Lady Stella (nee Hope) boast a son and two daughters – Bryte, Charmaine and Nicole.
Author: Brett Callaghan