Biography: Theophilus Albert Marryshow

Last updated: Friday, 23 October, 2009

Theophilus A. Marryshow

Theophilus Albert Marryshow
The Father of Federation


Theophilus Albert Marryshow was born on 7 November 1887, to Eugenia de Souza of Lucas Street, St George's, Grenada. The son of Prosper Isaac Marryshow, a small black cocoa farmer, who seemed to disappear after 13 January, the day his son was Christened at the Methodist Church, in St. George's.

The young T.A. attended the St. Louis Primary, Roman Catholic School, and later he attended the Methodist School in St. George's. He was not to have the benefit of a secondary school education, but remarkably given his abilities and personal efforts, this was never to hinder him in later life, and he was readily accepted as an intellectual by all who later came into contact with him.

His mentor Donavon, was a coloured Grenadian, of Irish descent, known as the 'lion', due to his red hair. Donavon was the intellectual rebel of his day. He envisioned a Federation of the West Indies, which the young T.A. imbibed, while Donavon also taught him the art of journalism. He became editor of the St. George's Chronicle, and Grenada Gazette in 1908, and then managing editor of The West Indian in 1915.

But Donavon did much more than teach the young T.A. the profession of journalism and newspaper production, he constantly encouraged him in the pursuit of knowledge and was always lending him books and papers.

Like his close friend and counterpart Cipriani, in Trinidad, T.A. was a campaigner for the formation of a West Indian contingent, to fight alongside Britain in World War One. This led to the Governor saying to the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII, on a visit to Grenada in 1920, when presenting Marryshow: "This is Mr.T.Albert Marryshow our leading journalist, He did great work in aid of the Red Cross Fund, and rendered great assistance in recruiting the British West Indian Regiment."

The young T.A. had imbibed much and his extensive reading bore fruits of excellence, when in 1917, just thirty years of age, he was stung to write 'Cycles of Civilisation', which he wrote as a reply to the racist South African, General Jan Christian Smuts, who was in England representing South Africa at the Imperial Conference.

Smuts gave a racist address at a function at the Savoy Hotel where Lord Selbourne presided, and his speech was punctuated by applause, and later published in the Weekly Times of May 30 1917. It is remarkable to note that just one month later, T.A Marryshow replied with 'Cycles of Civilisation – Insights on the Rise and Fall of Nations of Europe, Asia and Africa' This is one of the most remarkable treatise ever to be published, especially as it was so early in the century.

Theophilus Albert Marryshow, was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1943, for his services to the West Indies, and one year later he was appointed to the elitist Executive Council of Grenada. He addressed the Grenada Mutual Association in New York, which prompted the British Embassy to report: "Mr Marryshow proved that his oratorical fire is still there, and that he is the number one statesman in the West Indies. The history of constitutional growth in the West Indies, and the birth and growth of national consciousness over the last 40 years is very largely and inseparably the history of his life and work."

Theophilus Albert Marryshow, after over fifty years unrelenting political agitation, saw his dream come true with the forming of the Federation in 1958, he was appointed a Senator of Federation. Due to his untiring efforts for West Indian unity, his colleagues gave him the title 'Father of Federation'. Marryshow died shortly after the forming of the Federation. With tributes pouring in from all over the world, Perhaps the finest is that title given to him by his peers, 'Father of Federation'. He had been referred to in influential quarters in Britain as The Elder State-man of the West Indies.

Marryshow died on October 6th, 1958.



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