His voice was his instrument- Dr Gary Ellsworth Burgess

Dr. Gary Ellsworth Burgess was the eldest of seven children born in 1938.Like most Bermudian born children he had been given the nickname ‘Buddy’. Gary came up with his extended family of uncles and aunts. He seem to display the gift for music at an early age. He attended the Berkeley Institute and upon graduation left Bermuda to attend an overseas university. He made his home in Buffalo New York  and became a professor at the University of New York. Gary became a professional musician  his voice became his instrument. He performed as an Opera Singer on several continents and most of the major opera houses of the world. His extensive musical education earned him degrees from Wilberforce University, the Julliard School of Music, Academia di Santa Cecelia, Indiana University and the Curtis Institute of Music. He was a master Teacher in Bratislava, Prague, Sao Paulo, Ottawa,  for most of the major Universities across the United States. He was director of the Opera Department, Music Director of Theatre Department and Drama and professor of Voice during his tenure in Buffalo, New York. He staged and directed more than 40 Operas. Dr. Burgess  made his first American Debut as a Tenor in 1973 with the San Francisco Opera Company singing seven roles in the same season.Debuts followed at the Metropolitan Opera in New York among others. In 1973 he made a debut in Europe with the Greek National Opera singing the leading Tenor roles. When Dr. Burgess retired in 1998 he returned to Bermuda and took a post with the Ministry of Cultural Affairs as a programme Director and Director of the Bermuda Philharmonic Society during that tenure  he wrote and premiered two Symphonies for the Philharmonic Orchestra. “Dawn of a New Day.’ and The Bermuda Symphony based on the discovery of Bermuda. He founded and directed the Boys Choir at the Bermuda Cathedral for six years. He retired for the second time. He received the National Opera Association Legacy Award for his contribution to music and Opera. In 2005 Dr. Burgess was engaged by the Chinese Government to be one of the directors to open  the New Center for performing Arts in Beijing directing ‘Puccini’s madam Butterfly.’ That same year he was invited  to serve on an International panel of judges for the Ningbo International Vocal Competition. In 2008 he was guest soloist with the Ensemble Singers while touring in Barbados. It is a great feeling to know that this individual who accomplished so much in life well deserves to be recorded as a part of our history. He was a next door neighbour in the well-known area of North Village Pembroke. I’ve never doubted good can come out  of North Village if we never squander the opportunities that come our way. Great work Dr. Burgess thanks for the contributions to our Island.

A Double Dose of Ambition- Alvin Embrose ‘Hambone’ Brangman

DSC00280Alvin Embrose Hambone’ Brangman was born in 1923 and lived in middle town  Pembroke to Editha G. Simmons and Charles Embrose Brangman. Alvin’s early education was at Central School and Neversons’ Secondary School. At age 15 he was sent to Mr. E.C.Smith a skill carpenter who taught him in carpentry designs. Alvin had been given another gift that of music. At a very early age he could be found tinkering with the piano keys and he became a gifted pianist. His first debut was with a group known as the  ‘The four Spots ‘. He played with other local talented musicians like Winfield ‘Happy Smith, the Aldano Sextet, Freddie Matthews, Ernie Leader and his band Graham Bean and his Latinaires and Hubert Smith and his Coral Islanders. He performed in many local establishments. Alvin like most local musicians had to have a second job and he worked for the Bermuda Electric light company for 20 years before retiring. He was well-traveled and one place on his bucket was to visit South Africa and this he did and had the great pleasure of meeting Nelson Mandela. Alvin enjoy local holidays like cupmatch and Good Friday like most elders of his era he was a great kite maker and they were always colourful and specially designed. He was honored and inducted into the Bermuda music hall of fame in March of 2011 not just for his musical talent but also for his gift of writing poetry. Alvin gave his all to his community  and left no stone unturned in his musical talent and legacy to his island home Bermuda.

Mr. Music Man —–George Smith

If ever one wanted to hear a sultry musical voice they needed to look no further than George Smith. George was born with music in his veins. He was the son of Hubert Smith a well-known talent in his own right. George loved music he not only sang with his fathers’ band the Coral islanders but he also had a group of his own known as the Xanadu. He played the maracas, Congo Drums and guitar. He was the type of singer one could lend an ear to whenever he stood on stage. He shared the stage on occasion with his close friend Eugene Steed a musical icon clearly equal to many. One of the favorite selections George sang during the Christmas season was   ‘A child is born’ he was soft-spoken and had a dashing smile. He played in many local hotels in Bermuda. He had the pleasure of performing for Princess Margaret and Prince Charles during a Royal visit to Bermuda. George was not only a classy singer but a self-employed painter and he enjoyed deep-sea fishing. He was given a Government award  for his contribution to tourism and a bravery award for saving the life of a young child from the North Shore waters. He was a J.P (Justice of the Peace). President of the Diabetes Association and a member of the Pembroke Parish Council. The voice of this angel was silenced after a long illness but the memory of his melodious music will live on.

DSC00275George Smith

BFSA President’s Report Years 2015-2016

The Bermuda Friendly Societies Association has been in existence since 2001. Established and operated on the format of the old Friendly Societies Council which brought selected members of the various lodges together to make decisions regarding the body of lodges that existed in Bermuda from 1848. The Friendly Societies now having remaining within their ranks six lodges and as such are making every effort the keep these noble and historical institution functioning.  So it is with this in mind that  a report submitted by the serving President of the society be recorded here:

BFSA President’s Report Years 2015-2016( In brief)

The records/minutes of the BFSA and the report of the Recording Secretary give an accurate detail of the events of my immediate past term as President of the Bermuda Friendly Societies Association between 2015 to 2016. It has been my delight to contribute to the organization and I thank all officers who have steadfastly supported me and done whatever they could to ensure we have maintained our existence and also done what they could to further our presence. I have requested and been granted a leave of absence for a few months and I also acknowledge at this point there is a proposal, if successful, members of the immediate past executive be returned for a further 2 year term. I will always endeavour to give my best to the organization.

I will add some personal perspectives to the overview of the past two years. I note that there has been a series of various declines. An effort to rejuvenate the Bermuda Friendly Societies Council as an internal body, charged to deal with long-term issues and principles of our movement met with some early success but has fallen away due to a lack of support by various Orders. Without the necessary support to action a project, it seems that unless there is some looming catastrophe, other priorities and demands of life tend to take the attention of the membership. This is seen replicated in declining attendances of ordinary members at general monthly meetings of the BFSA and many lodge delegates are continuously absent. It is further observed, that many lodges are struggling with attendance of their members at their regular meetings,and so this is an ongoing malaise. The cure is up until now unknown to me and unfortunately, we have not generated the necessary energy for a comprehensive discussion and search for solutions.

In celebratory contrast, there are some positives to be noted. First and foremost we must salute the Sisters for their increased membership, though welcoming new initiated members to the Household of Ruth (GUOOF), and to the Loyal Mayflower Lodge (IOOFMU). We hope that this may be a spur for a similar new energy within the Brothers Lodges. Meanwhile, we look forward to the seasoned ‘ Sisters ensuring that the new Sisters grow steadily and competently to be able to serve and advance our interest. I certainly pledge my full support and assistance.

I have noted with great anticipation, a very encouraging passion, that is especially strong in the ‘middle and young seniors’ age groups for more knowledge about the Friendly Societies. This suggest that we have a real opportunity to build on the successful exhibitions that were held in 2015. In August an exhibition was held by us at the Masterworks Museum which created several firsts and which was very well received by Masterworks members, visitors and locals. In Bermuda the Friendly Societies predated the Trade Unions and were the vehicle for the start of trade unionism locally, often providing the earliest memberships and leaders. We have broadened the public interest and awareness although starting from a very small base.


There was a work rally held at the Loyal Irresistible Lodge which was well supported by both the BFSA executive and membership and our Somerset colleagues in the West End. The community was out in force. A grand start was made and much was accomplished. A work rally also took place  for the Princess Royal Union Lodge (IOGS and DOS) on Cobb’s Hill Road in Warwick it was a more modest turnout but this was a welcome beginning. There will be an exhibition of lodge material associated with the Good Samaritans Lodges of Paget/Warwick and the parish’s communities. This is in an effort to restore the knowledge of the ‘treasured memories and contributions ‘ of our seniors, and also to inform the current generations so that they are aware of the legacy that belongs to them through their predecessors involvement in these particular Friendly Societies.

In summary, we are jubilant in saying that we have continued to hold together and to even bolster our efforts in some areas. However the quietude in most areas and from many of the membership seems to have lead to many forms of excuses, which are certainly inexcusable in the vast majority of cases when we contemplate the nature and history of the Friendly Society movement locally. We must be reminded , that in far harsher climate our fore bearers sought after and achieved so much in a comparatively short time by, simultaneously, uniting and supporting each other’s independence. Members consistently did their duty and were pleased to make their contribution. We salute those who made those monumental efforts of our successes of yesterday. We salute those who continue to make commendable efforts today. We further value those who go the extra mile’ in service in so many ways; and we implore the new members and the quiet ‘seasoned’ members to remember our watchword ‘Strength in Unity” . We must work together and hold each accountable for the finest efforts, and support each other to excel in new endeavours for the good of our Orders, in particular, and all of  humanity, in general.

Written with affections of love for fellows; Purity of heartfelt intent; and Truth of mind.

Respectfully , Bro. Michael Bradshaw President (BFSA 2015-2016)

Bermudian Friendly Society History

Sister Gloria Tuzo PPGM

Sister Gloria Tuzo


Sister Ruth Simons

They say that knowledge is power but sometimes too much of one thing is not as good as we hope it would be. Nevertheless I’m prepared to add a brief series of historical information on some aspects of Bermuda history and how religion, early schooling and the Friendly Society movement  played its’ role in the lives of the Black Bermudian population.

Researchers trace the origins of Fraternal Organizations from the Israelites through the Romans and into Britain up to the time of the formation of the Guilds. Note however that most Oddfellows terminology has biblical origins and takes it names from the old Testament Characters. For many years the name Friendly Societies has been mentioned world-wide, here in Bermuda it is no exception. It must be stated here that when we refer to Friendly Societies this includes the establishment of various organizations that came into being since 587 B.C when many people who were exiled banded together in a brotherhood for mutual support and defense. When we mention Oddfellows they were persons that came out of the early formation of Guilds and these organizations worked under the same premise of Oddfellows.

Over the 300 years the idea of ordinary people joining together to improve their situation met with various degrees of opposition, but groups like Oddfellows survived by adapting their roles to social support functions. Friendly Societies were the predecessors of modern-day trade Unions.  Oddfellows started here in Bermuda as early as 1848 and subsequently introduced a number of benefits to members. Many people therefore joined Societies like the Oddfellows to obtain all forms of support. These Societies made vast contributions to the Island of Bermuda. From 1848 the Island gradually formed some 51 Orders. They cared for the sick and distressed, educated children, supported the widows, formed marching bands and Guilds, built homes, churches and theatres, supported other orphan homes, built nursing establishments and assisted in the support of black nurses education. They were the ones who took the risk and represented the slave captives on board the ship ‘Enterprise” which wrecked here during a storm in 1835. Under the leader ship of Brother Julian Tucker President of the Friendly Societies Institution and his lodge brothers they obtained the freedom of 78 slaves.  They were the institutions that initiated friendly family games of cricket at lodge picnics between their respective lodges. On several occasions the youth lodges were selected to play the adult lodges in friendly cricket games. At the yearly picnics, teams from either end of the Island played each other and the first official Cup match was held in 1902 between two lodges. It was a few years later that  two respective clubs Somerset in the West and St. Georges in the East got involved and the grand classic has been played by them ever since for a cup. Many persons question the ribbon colours but the lodge members know how they came about and what they represent. Lodges were the first to start an assurance scheme and savings clubs to assist their members financially. The longest club remaining open for 110 years.  Suffice it to say that some of the most notable movements within Bermuda involved members of the Friendly Societies.

One of  the greatest and most daring was the Marcus Garvey movement which hit the island between 1919-1921 although their headquarters was at the Church of God on Angle Street Hamilton the organizers were Rev. E.B. Grant and Rev. R.H. Tobitt and they along with many of their wives were graveyites. It was at that time a greater political awareness to blacks. Black business sprang up everywhere and black men and women began to speak out and establish their own business like soda factories, small variety stores better known as ‘Ma and Pa stores’. One thing that remained constant between 1834-1934 and became extremely noticeable was that most of the black leaders were lodgemen.  Should I repeat and say that Oddfellowship  played a major role in the establishment of this island Yes! Should it continue? Yes! Will they be accepted for the contributions made throughout this Island ? In many respects NO! Why? because until we learn to look within our history and accept the reality and relay the truth that Oddfellows with their business savvy and offers of friendship was all that we had and if we continue to deny this fact we deny the greatest portion of our history and our true beginnings into this Island and Society. There is so much more history to be told as we struggle to hold our place in this Island so let me pass on the contributions of two of our very productive sisters from the Loyal Mayflower Lodge.


Ruth born in Bermuda as Ruth Elizabeth Lightbourne spent her early childhood in the city of Hamilton, during her early teens her family moved to Paget where she lived until her marriage to Clarence Simons in 1934. They were able to build their own home and raise a productive family. Sister Ruth was the type of person that left nothing to chance and after her children grew she took up studies at the Adult Education Centre and became a tutor for young women. After the death of her husband  she became a savvy property manager and shrewd financial investor. She studied Art and learn to play the Guitar. Ruth joined the lodge in 1958 and studiously applied herself to the workings of the Order. She became a Noble Grand in 1964 and ultimately worked her way into the Hamilton District and served as Provincial Grand Master of the District. She was chosen to represent her Lodge on two occasions at overseas conferences. She joined delegates from around the world celebrating the 175  Jubilee of the Manchester Unity in Blackpool. She received an award  for long and dedicated service from her Lodge in November 1999. She easily lived up to the principles of her lodge and displayed it throughout her life.

Gloria  Elizabeth  was born in Somerset and was lovingly raised by her grandparents Mr. & Mrs. William Binns.  Gloria lived by the wise words that her grandfather instilled in her ‘ no one was better  than her no matter who they were.’ Those words gave her the self-esteem as she developed throughout her life. Her early education was at West End Primary School before moving to North Shore Pembroke. In her teen years she attended Berkeley Institute where she met the love of her life, Ross Tuzo.  Gloria studied under Dr. Kenneth Robinson himself a noted personality in Education and Bermuda.  Sister Gloria made her presence felt as she worked in various establishments and her career path lead her into the role of manageress of the women’s department of A.S. coopers; She was political minded and joined the United Warwick Progressive Club under the late Martin T. Wilson and Juvenile Lodge of the Independent Order of Oddfellows Manchester Unity. After raising her  family Sister Tuzo resumed her lodge activities and she worked her way within the Mayflower Lodge. She became Noble Grand in 1965 and later excelled in the role of Provincial Grandmaster of the Hamilton District. On several occasions she served as Installing Master. Sister Gloria credited her lodge for teaching her the art of parliamentary procedures, public speaking and social welfare including international fellowship. She was a supporter of the Arts and served in the executive of the Bermuda Ballet Association under the chairmanship of Sir John Swan. Sister Gloria was a giver and gave lots of her time to family and friends . She boasted about her husband himself a noted musician and praised her children and grandchildren . Truly when people refered to her as a diva they were not far wrong. She showed her delight as the younger members worked their way throughout the Order next to her family it was one of her great loves.  These sisters left those of us who continue to try to keep Oddfellowship alive with a mammoth task and large shoes to fill. They were true sisters and Oddfellows and the Grand Lodge above is certainly gleaming with two of the brightest stars from Oddfellowship.

submitted Joy Wilson-Tucker author/Historian/Researcher































came into being since 587 BC when people who were exiled banded together in a brotherhood for mutual support and defense. When we mention Oddfellows  they were persons

















persons that came out of the early formationof Guilds and these organizations worked under the same premise of oddfellow. Over the next 300 years the idea of ordinary people joining together to improve their situation met with various degrees of opposition,but groups like Oddfellows survived by adapting their roles to social support functions. Friendly Societies were the predecessors of modern-day trade unions.






world wide. Here in Bermuda it is no exception but most time with a bit of uncertainty because of the lack of information. When Wwhen

concerning the history and the important role they played in the history and development of the black race. It must be stated here that when we refer to Friendly Societies this includes the establishment of various organizations that came into being since 587 BC when many people who were exiled banded together in a brotherhood for mutural support and defence. When we mention Oddfellows they were the persons that came out of the early formation of guilds and these organizations worked under the same premise of Oddfellows. Over the next 300 hundred years the idea of ordinary people joining together to improve their situation met with various degrees of opposition , but groups like Oddfellowssurvivedby adaptingtheir roles to social support function. FriendlySocieties were the predecessors of modern-daytrade unions.



The Bermudian Slaves were masters at the helm and many historians relate facts.Bermuda has long been known as a place where slaves and indentured servants struggled to obtain their place in Society once they gained their freedom. One of the most notable trades came to the fore well before Emancipation was that of building and sailing ships.. Local Pilots were some of the most knowledgable to maneuver around the reefs of Bermuda so the local pilots were encouraged after the collapse of the Somers Isle Company in 1684 to apply this trade.Bermuda disappointed by its failing in the tobacco and agriculture industry moved into the Maritime Commerce allowing Whaling,fishing,shipbuilding smuggling and even privateering to take over.By 1700 fishing boats appeared in abundance and they were operated by Bermudians.By 1800’s a surge of acts regarding the regulations of pilots was put into practice. This brought about the titles of Master & Warden of Pilots. All vessels were required to pay pilot fees. Wardens were authorized to license branch pilots and made by- laws to instruct pilots.By 1812 legislation prevented unskilled persons from becoming pilots unless they took an examination and they were also forced to register their boats.

JAMES JEMMY DARRELL is a well known name about Bermuda he was among the slaves who assisted Lt. Thomas Hurd  a British Surveyor sent to Bermuda to carry out a marine survey on the island.  Black pilots had extensive knowledge of the Inlets  bays and coastlines in the island. On May 1795 two years after Hurd began his survey Jemmy Darrell maneuvered Rear Admiral George Murrary’s huge Gun Ship HMS Resolution into a deep anchorage know as Murray’s anchorage on the North Shore near Tobacco Bay, St. George’s. Because of this vast and safe task Jemmy was made a kings’ pilot and given his freedom by Admiral Murray. Jemmy Darrell, Jacob Pitcarn and Tom Bean were appointed the first Kings pilots.Although free men they had no legal rights. They could not serve on a jury, or testify in court. Least of all they could not Will any property they acquired to any of their heirs. Only two pilots later petition to stay here in Bermuda and keep their property they were Jemmy Darrell and Jacob Picarn. Jemmy eventually Willed his property to his heirs.

STEPHEN BENJAMIN RICHARDSON 1800-1879 born a slave always had a desire to become a pilot. An alert and intelligent young man he quickly advanced in his chosen career. He saved enough to purchase his freedom and in later years the freedom of his wife for 30 pounds.He was one of 38 free blacks who signed a petition addressed to the government for the removal of disabilities under which free blacks and free people of colour had to labour.He was classed a hero when he saved a young woman from a near fatal accident in 1838.Stephen was issued a certificate of competence by captain by Captain Edward Franklin of the Royal mail Steam ship Tweed after he piloted the vessel out of Castle Harbour.Stephen Richardson was  able to purchase property in St. Georges’ near the Golf course in 1847. He later built his home on this land and named it “Northside”. He was one of 563 signatures who petitioned against the importation of farm labour. He was classed as one of the most skillful branch pilots of his time and for many years held the position of Pilot examiner.  Both Jemmy Darrell and Stephen Richardson homes have been selected to be put on the Bermuda Foundation African Diaspora Trail.

.James B. Richardson

An Anniversary to remember

DSC00173On Sunday 31st. May 2015 the Loyal Mayflower Lodge celebrated its’ 96th Anniversary.Hosting this event was the newly installed Sister Joy Wilson-Tucker. Sister Wilson-Tucker resumed this seat again after some fifteen years. It was a beautiful sunny day and this added to the excitement of the event. The day started with the unveiling of an African Diaspora site plaque under the auspices of the Bermuda African Diaspora Foundation. The site was the Manchester Unity Hall and lot of land where  the Colonial  Opera House Theatre once stood. The history centered around these buildings is vast being built-in 1908- and 1923 respectively. and the site is well deserving of being chosen to be among the Heritage Trail. The event started at 3.30 with the unveiling of the plaque.The prayer was given by Sister Violet Brangman Past Grand and serving as the newly elected Vice grand of the sisters’ lodge. Assisting with the unveiling was the Provincial Grand Master of the Hamilton District Brother Norbert Simmons, Ms. Maxine Esdaille  Director and Chairperson of the Bermuda  Diaspora Foundation and Mrs. Joy Wilson-Tucker also a director on the board. The service was held in the upper hall beautifully decorated in  the subordinate  colours of blue and white. The theme for the day was Heritage ‘Woman  of Substance”  the welcome was given by Sister Marion Tannock  Past Grand and the  scripture Proverbs 31 Chapter 10-31 was read by Sister Sherma Calder Right Supporter to the Vice grand. The history of the women who were responsible for fighting to get a female Lodge established was read by the Noble grand sister Wilson-Tucker and a beautiful liturgical dance was performed by six-year-old Isis Tucker daughter of Ryan and Bernadette Tucker as a dedication to the past and present sisters. This was her Debut in front of a large gathering as some 75 people in attendance enjoyed the festivities. Ms. Esdaille gave a most inspiring presentation on the topic and the showing of a video added to the historical knowledge for all present. Thanks was given to the speaker by member Sister Clara Saunders newly installed conductor. Greetings and well wishes  came from several lodges and organizations. Sister Deborah Burgess and her staff gave great service in the catering department. It was an event full of pleasure with the singing of  We’re marching to Zion and  to God be the Glory. Well done to the sisters of the Loyal Mayflower Lodge Keep up the good work.