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Journal of the Bahamas Historical Society, Volume 4 (October 1982)

by Ruth M. L. Bowe

At the beginning of each Parliamentary session a Speaker is elected for the House of Assembly by its members, subject formerly to the approval of the Governor.1 An elected representative in the House, the Speaker assumes the new dual role of spokesman and representative to the House as a general assembly.2 Secondly, he is chairman of the House and its committees.3 It was this unique and prestigious position that the Honourable Mr. Harcourt Gladstone Malcolm, Esq., C.B.E., K.C. held for twenty-three years in the 'Bahama Islands' House of Assembly.

On 2 February, 1914 Harcourt Malcolm was nominated by Mr. W. C. B. Johnson to fill the vacancy in the Speaker's chair upon the passing of the former Speaker, Dr. Francis Abraham Holmes.4 Once seconded the choice of Speaker was unanimous as no other candidate was proposed.5 The election of Speaker represented the democratic tradition of the Bahamas Assembly to which Harcourt Malcolm adhered and upheld as fervently as his religion.

There was no doubt that this able, though young, politician would assume the chair as he had already proven his worth in the honourable House. Following in the footsteps of his father, the Hon. Ormond Drimmie Malcolm, as lawyer, politician and Speaker, Harcourt Malcolm was destined to achieve the laurels bestowed upon him at the height of his Parliamentary career. Cumulatively, the Hon. Ormond Drimmie Malcolm and the Hon. Harcourt Malcolm served the Bahamas House of Assembly for nearly half a century.6 In turn Harcourt Malcolm was dubbed the "Father of the House"7 as his great, great grandfather, Michael Malcolm, a Scot and founding member of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Kirk, was often described as the "Father of the Kirk".8


If you are interested in the full text of the article, you may order this issue of our Journal for B$5.00 plus s&h by contacting the society.


  1. Harcourt G. Malcolm, Manual of Procedure in the Business of the General Assembly, Nassau, Bahamas, 1934 (Revised Edition) p. 27-28. Presently the election of Speaker of the House of Assembly is done in accordance with Article 50 of The Bahamas Independence Order 1973, the constitution.
  2. ibid
  3. ibid
  4. Votes of the House of Assembly, 1914
  5. ibid, 1914, p. 3
  6. Nassau Guardian 29 December, 1936 and Bahamas Handbook 1975-76, "Prince of the Commoners", Nassau, Bahamas, p. 14-25.
  7. Nassau Guardian, 3 February, 1934.
  8. "The Kirk in Retrospect" St. Andrew's Presbyterian Kirk, 1810-1960, p. 4.