July 12, 2022
William Henry Thomas Joell
Carpenter; Co-founder, The Berkeley Institute; First Black Member of Parliament
1838 - 1885
In what one historian has described as a major breakthrough for black Bermudians, William H. T. Joell became the black person to win a seat in the House of Parliament in May 1883. He was elected under the banner of the Pembroke Political Association. His political career was cut short by his death in 1885 at age 47. He was succeeded by John Henry Thomas Jackson, who was the second black person elected to the House.
A carpenter and cabinet-maker by trade, William Joell carved the original staircase of Wesley Methodist Church and was one of the founders of the first Co-operative store on Court Street. He also built Glebe Road, Pembroke, which was the first to connect the Glebe lands with the city of Hamilton.
William Joell also made a significant contribution in education as one of the 11 founders of the Berkeley Educational Society, which established The Berkeley Institute in 1897.