Hugh Springer

Sir Hugh Worrell Springer GCMG CBE[1] (22 June 1913 – 14 April 1994)[2] was the organiser and first general secretary of the Barbados Workers' Union, and Barbados' fourth governor-general.[3] He was a lawyer, politician and public servant.[4] By an act of Parliament in 1998, Springer was named as one of the eleven National Heroes of Barbados.[5]

Hugh Springer
4th Governor-General of Barbados
In office
24 February 1984 – 6 June 1990
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterHarold Bernard St. John
Errol Barrow
Lloyd Erskine Sandiford
Preceded byDeighton Lisle Ward
Succeeded byNita Barrow
Personal details
Born(1913-06-22)22 June 1913
Saint Michael, British Windward Islands (present day Barbados)
Died14 April 1994(1994-04-14) (aged 80)
Bridgetown, Barbados
SpouseDorothy Gittens
Alma materHarrison College
Hertford College, Oxford

Early life and educationEdit

Springer was educated at Harrison College in Bridgetown, Barbados. Upon receiving a Barbados Scholarship in Classics, Springer studied Greek as an undergraduate at Hertford College, University of Oxford, receiving a BA in 1936.[6]


Law and politicsEdit

He was called to the bar at the Inner Temple in 1938, and subsequently returned to Barbados. He practised law in Barbados from 1938 to 1947.[6]

He co-founded the Progressive League with the barrister Grantley Adams. As General Secretary of the League, Springer transformed it into two initially closely related organisations, the Barbados Labour Party and the Barbados Workers' Union. From 1940 to 1947 he was the General Secretary of the Barbados Labour Party and also General Secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union.[4][6] In 1940 he was elected to the House of Assembly.[6]

Higher educationEdit

Springer perceived Higher Education as vitally important for achieving regional cooperation and integration. He had previously sought employment in education in London in the 1930s, but was rejected on the basis of his ethnicity.[6] In 1938 he taught Classics temporarily at Codrington College.[6] He was a member of the Asquith Commission on Higher Education in the West Indies in the 1950s and sat on the Provisional Council of the University College at Kingston which was founded as an outcome of the commission.[6] In 1947 resigned from the Cabinet of Barbados and took up the position as the Registrar of the University College of West Indies, which he held until 1963, when he became Director until 1966.[6]

International politicsEdit

Following the collapse of the Federation of the West Indies in 1962, Springer dedicated time to considering regional politics.[6] He received a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and a Fellowship of the Harvard Centre for International Affairs where he completed his 1962 book Reflections on the Failure of the First West Indian Federation. During 1962-63 he was a Senior Visiting Fellow at All Souls College, University of Oxford.[6] On returning to Barbados, Springer was appointed as the Director of the Institute of Education at the University of the West Indies.[6]

Commonwealth and international educationEdit

Springer dedicated much of the period from 1964–84 to the areas of commonwealth and international education. He was Assistant Secretary General (Education) at the Commonwealth Secretariat (1966–1970), and Secretary General of the Association of Commonwealth Universities (1970–1980), and served as a Director of the United World Colleges (1978–1990).[6]

He was appointed Governor-General of Barbados in 1984, a position which he held until he retired due to ill-health in 1990.[4]


Springer received an honorary doctorate from Heriot-Watt University in 1976,[7] and was elected as an honorary fellow of Hertford College, Oxford in 1974 and All Souls College in 1988,[8][6] where a portrait of Hugh Springer by Hector Whistler is now on display in the hall of the College.

Springer received a Doctorate of Civil Law from the University of New Brunswick in 1980.[9]

In 1998, Hugh Springer was named as one of the ten Barbadian National Heroes, designated by the Order of National Heroes Act.[10] A biography of Hugh Springer was published in 2008, authored by Kean H. W. Springer.[11] A commemorative stamp of Hugh Springer was issued in 2016 as part of ‘The Builders of Barbados' series.[12]

Selected publicationsEdit

Springer, H.W. 1962. Reflections of the Failure of the First West Indian Federation.

Springer, H. W. 1967 "University-Government Relationships in the West Indies ", in University of London, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, Collected Seminar Papers on Relations between Governments and Universities (London: Institute of Commonwealth Studies)


  1. ^ "No. 49669". The London Gazette. 9 March 1984. p. 3453.
  2. ^ "Sir Hugh Springer". Obituaries. The Times. No. 64933. London. 20 April 1994. p. 19.
  3. ^ Hugh Springer,
  4. ^ a b c Oxford, University of. "Portraying Diversity at Oxford, Equality and Diversity". Retrieved 2019-01-27.
  5. ^ Parliament of Barbados (2009). "Parliament's History". Archived from the original on 23 May 2007. Retrieved 15 November 2011.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Obituary: Sir Hugh Springer". The Independent. 1994-05-03. Retrieved 2019-01-27.
  7. ^ "Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh: Honorary Graduates". Retrieved 2016-04-06.
  8. ^ Schreuder, Deryck M. (3 October 2013). Universities for a New World: Making a Global Network in International Higher Education, 1913-2013. ISBN 9788132117780.
  9. ^ "Pomp and Circumstance | Graduation Ceremonies 1828 - Present". Retrieved 2019-01-27.
  10. ^ "Barbados National Heroes |". Retrieved 2019-01-27.
  11. ^ W., Springer, Kean H. (2013). Truly a gentleman : the Right Excellent Sir Hugh Worrell Springer (Epub ed.). Kingston: Ian Randle Publishers. ISBN 9789766377038. OCLC 760141779.
  12. ^ "The Builders of Barbados - new definitive stamps January 2016 | Barbados Stamps". Retrieved 2019-01-27.

External linksEdit

Trade union offices
Preceded by
New position
General Secretary of the Barbados Workers' Union
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Governor General of Barbados
Succeeded by