Lawyer Manley - Vol. 1
Lawyer Manley - Vol. 1
On 2 February 1955, Norman Washington Manley, QC, MM, gave up his lucrative law practice to become Chief Minister of Jamaica. "I have spent my life on many cases", he said, "and now I turn my back for good and all on that life and take into my hands the case of the people of Jamaica." He was sixty-one years old. In the thirty-three years from 1922 to 1955, he had become, in the words of his legal colleagues, "the doyen of the local Bar"; a "legend" whose memory would "remain a benediction".
By now the road that led to his fame is well known. Born on 4 July 1893 at Roxburgh, Manchester, where his father was a produce dealer, Manley attended Jamaica College and became a notable schoolboy athlete. In 1914 he won the Rhodes Scholarship and left Jamaica later that year for England and Oxford to study law and read for the Bar. His studies were interrupted by the war where he saw active service at Ypres and the Somme and was awarded the Military Medal. His younger brother, Roy, was killed in action. Manley returned to Oxford in 1919 where he took second class honours in the Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL) at Jesus College, and delivered a "brilliant" paper on Samuel Butler which provoked a heated argument about evolution despite some days when he thought he and his peers "all very foolish" and wondered why "we didn't clear out and do something sensible" such as "till the soil or breed chickens".
Manley was the Prizeman (Essay) at Gray's lnn and was called to the Bar on 20 April 1921. In June that year he married his cousin, Edna Swithenbank, in London. Come August 1922, Manley, along with his bride and infant son Douglas, returned to Jamaica after spending some time in London reading in Chambers as a pupil of S.C.N. Goodman, and observing the practice of the English courts. Then began his formidable and illustrious career at the Bar. By his own account, "it started slowly, but two very exciting cases caught public attention". Both involved murder between intimates: Rex v. Spalding in September 1924 (see Vol. One, p. 103) saw Luther Spalding charged with the murder of his paramour, Miriam Ross, whose body was discovered buried in his banana field. Two years later, a young woman, Louise Walker, hit the headlines when she was accused of murdering her lover, Stedman Case (see Vol. One, p. 149). The majority of murders committed in Jamaica from the late nineteenth century to 1926 were . . .