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(July 10, 1888 – October 11, 1975)
The Honorable Howell Donald Shillingford, CBE, was a leading agriculturist and politician in colonial Dominica, West Indies, in the mid twentieth century.  He helped spearhead the development of the limejuice and banana industries in the island; and he played a major role in the island’s political evolution from British crown rule to representative government.  For his distinguished service to the island, Britain awarded him the honor of Commander of the British Empire (CBE).
Early Life
Howell Shillingford was born on July 10, 1888.  His father was Thomas Howard Shillingford, an estate owner of English ancestry in the Western District of the island. His mother was Perina Jean-Baptiste, of African and Carib heritage.  Howell was educated at the Dominica Grammar School and later at the Morne Bruce Agricultural School. On graduation, he helped his father, an industrious and ntrepreneurial man, manage his estates. As a result, Howell developed a close relationship with his father, and from an early age was his father’s right hand.  
Limes, Bananas and Rum
It was from these beginnings that Shillingford developed his lifelong love for agriculture.  He was a major force in the development of the limejuice industry in Dominica.  This was at a time when there was a large demand for West Indian limejuice by the British Navy to fight scurvy.  Howell, his brothers and cousins grew limes on their properties for the production of limejuice for export.  Production took place in small, inefficient processing mills.  Subsequently, Howell, with his brothers Newton, Stafford and Denis and cousin Albert Shillingford (of A.C. Shillingford & Co) together built two large central factories where limes were processed, one at Newtown and the other at Soufriere.  The only other factory of similar capacity and efficiency was the English-owned L. Rose & Company lime factory at Bath Estate outside Roseau. These Shillingford factories provided hundreds of jobs for the communities of Newtown, Loubiere and Soufriere. Following the success of these factories in Dominica, Howell and the Shillingford syndicate expanded, building lime factories in Grenada and Trinidad.  The Grenada factory was managed by Albert’s son Heskeith, while the Trinidad factory was managed by Howell’s brother Stafford.
Subsequently, with falling limejuice production, as withertip and red root diseases decimated the lime trees, Howell Shillingford was in the forefront of the development of the Dominica banana industry. He read widely on banana agronomy and applied new methods of cultivation on his estates.  This information he willingly shared with smaller growers in his district, and with banana farmers at large.   He became one of the largest banana producers in the Western District. And for many years Shillingford served on the board of the Banana Growers Association.  There, quoting Dame Eugenia Charles, he helped “build the industry to a stage where assets had accumulated to the benefit of the grower.” [1]
Through hard work, thrift and astute investment, Shillingford acquired several estates, including Providence [2], Hatton Garden [3] and Macoucherie.  In 1942, at the height of WWII, when German U-boats plied the waters off Dominica and confidence in the future was at a low ebb, Shillingford took the opportunity to buy the bankrupt Macoucherie estate with its small cane mill and rum distillery.  He expanded sugarcane cultivation on his properties and rebuilt the mill and distillery.  Today, under the management of his grandson, Clifton Shillingford, the estate continues producing rum for domestic consumption and export under the Macoucherie label the only local rum made from local sugarcane. [4]
Political Career
But Howell Shillingford also had a long and distinguished career in politics. He was a firm believer in local representation and West Indian integration.  This was at a time when the island was run from the Colonial Office by a local administration consisting of an English Administrator and English heads of departments such as health, police and agriculture, plus members of the local administrative elite, among whom were the Boyds, Latigues, and Nicholses.  In 1924, Britain granted Dominica a restricted franchise based on income or property. This introduced a new era of government in which administrative power began shifting from the old administrative elite to the merchant-planter colored elite, the so-called “mulatto gros boug”, including the Bellots, Rolles, Charles, Garaways, Rivieres, Fadelles, Lockharts and Girauds, among others.  And Shillingford was in the vanguard of this power transfer.  
In the subsequent election of 1925, Shillingford first began serving his country in the island legislature when he was elected to represent his Western District constituency.  He was no “apologist for the colonial order, on the contrary, [he] had challenged the authorities on numerous occasions, [and] had been in the vanguard of the fight for representative government in the 1920s.” [5].  In fact, he was one of the signatories – with Ralph Nichols, Lennox Napier and Phillip Rolle – of Dominica’s first political manifesto [6].  He was re-elected in subsequent elections until 1947 when he was nominated to the Legislature.  He served the island in that capacity for several years. 
With the advent of adult suffrage in 1951, and at the urging of his constituents, Shillingford was again elected to the island legislature [1].  He was re-elected in 1957, and was Minister of Trade and Production and member of Cabinet in the Franklyn Baron government.  In the subsequent 1961 election, when political power began shifting again, from the colored elite to labor, under the impetus of the Edward LeBlanc-led Dominica Labor Party, Shillingford was again successful at the polls though his party was defeated [7].  He served in the opposition for the next five years. But in the 1966 elections, Shillingford was unsuccessful at the polls and retired from politics.
West Indian Self-government
With the West Indian islands governed from the Colonial Office in Britain, Shillingford recognized the need for greater local and regional autonomy, and also the critical role West Indian integration could play in furthering the political and economic fortunes of the islands.  In pursuit of greater domestic and regional autonomy, Shillingford championed constitutional change in the West Indies.  In 1932, he helped organize the West Indies Conference in Dominica.  Together with J.B. Charles, G.F. Ashpitel, R.H. Lockhart and C.E.A. Rawle, Chairman, he was one of Dominica’s delegates to the Conference.  This Conference was the first regional meeting initiated by West Indians themselves to discuss the political and economic future of their islands, and self-government and federation in particular.  The conference concluded that internal self-government must be the first priority [8]. 
Support for Public Education
Shillingford recognized the importance of education for the welfare of the island.  Despite some contrary opinion, he promoted the interest of the working class [9], and was a staunch supporter of public education throughout his career. Even more important, he understood the responsibility of the citizen to give back to the community some of the benefits his community had bestowed upon him.  To back up his support for education, he donated land for building the Colihaut Primary School and its playground, and he provided annual scholarships for poor children to attend secondary school.
Hospitality and Community
Shillingford’s hospitality was legendary.  In those days, there were no roads or hotels for those traveling around the island. Travel was on foot or by horse or launch, and there were many visitors traveling the island on private or government business.  These visitors were always welcome at his home in Batalie, over-nighting or for longer periods; and they were invariably well treated.  In Roseau, the capital, he was a founding member of the Union Club, a social club where members could play tennis and billiards and could entertain their out of town guests.  The Club was a community institution for decades, and one of the most popular venues in Roseau for New Year’s Eve celebrations.  To people in all walks of life, Shillingford was unfailingly gracious and polite; and he was a charitable and generous friend.  To the many who appealed to him in time of need, he proved a patient and considerate banker [1]. Two of his grandsons, Irvine and Grayson Shillingford, and one greatgrandson, Shane Shillingford, played test cricket for the West Indies.
The Honorable Howell Shillingford’s work in the service of his country did not go unrecognized.  In 1949, Britain awarded him the honor of Commander of the British Empire (CBE).  He is remembered for his many years of distinguished public service, his leadership in Dominican agriculture and politics, and his commitment to West Indian self-government.  He died at his home in Roseau on October 11, 1975, age 87.

[1]  Charles, Mary Eugenia. A Tribute to H.D. Shillingford. The New Chronicle, Roseau, Dominica, October 25, 1975
[2]  Watkins, Frederick Henry. Handbook of the Leeward Islands. West India Committee, London, 1924
[3]  Riviere, William (Para).  Historical Notes on the Carib Territory: The Carib Question. The Caribs of Dominica, Dominica Academy of Arts and Sciences, Dec. 2000 (http://daacademy.org/caribhist.html)
[4]  Website of Shillingford Estates Ltd, Aug. 2012 [ http://shillingfordestatesltd.com] 
[5]  Andre, Irving W.  Edward Oliver LeBlanc and the Struggle to Transform Dominica. Pont Casse Press, Roseau, Dominica, 2004, p. 63
[6]  Honychurch, Lennox. The Dominica Story: A History of the Island. Macmillan, London, 1995, p.165
[7]  Stevens, W.S.  A Tribute to Howell Shillingford, C.B.E. The Star Newspaper, Roseau, Dominica, October 24, 1975  
[8]  Honychurch, Lennox. The Dominica Story: A History of the Island. Macmillan, London, 1995, p.164
[9]  Andre, Irving W.  Edward Oliver LeBlanc and the Struggle to Transform Dominica. Pont Casse Press, Roseau, Dominica, 2004, p. 63
Contributed by 
Davison Shillingford
September 2012

Delegates to the West India Conference Held in Dominica in 1932 

Left to Right – Back: J.S. Sainsbury (Barbados), H.D. Shillingford (Dominica), R.M. Anderson (St. Vincent), Capt. G.F. Ashpitel (Dominica), E. Duncan (St. Vincent), H. Wilson (Antigua), J.B. Charles (Dominica), T. Manchester (St. Kitts), R.H. Lockhart (Dominica), W. Wyllis, J.R.R. Casimir (Secretaries) Front: Miss Josephine Roberts (Stenographer), Hon. C.L. Elder (Barbados), C.E.A. Rawle, Chairman 
(Dominica), Hon. J. Fleming (Grenada), Hon. Capt. A.A. Cipriani (Trinidad), G.S.E. Gordon (St. Lucia), W.A. Seaton (St. Kitts), S. Osborne (Montserrat). 

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