Richard Augustus Walcott


Daily Gleaner, June 20, 1908

Passing Away of a Devoted Son of Jamaica
After a Short and Severe Illness.
The Various Important Positions that He Filled in the Island
And the Splendid Services He Rendered.

   It is with deep regret that we re-
cord to-day the death of Mr. Richard
Augustus Walcott, who died at 9.15
o'clock yesterday morning at his home,
No 8 Norman Road in his 49th year.
He had been ill for a short time only,
and although his illness was sharp and
severe, hopes were expressed of his
recovery, but those who were in the
best position to judge were convinced
after the turn he took on Sunday last
that he could not long survive, and
these anticipations have been unfortu-
nately realised.

  Mr. Walcott was a Jamaican; and
one who loved his country, and did all
he could to assist in its advance-
ment. He was born in the parish
of Westmoreland and was educated

   When young Walcott first
came to Kingston, he formed
one of a coterie that flocked
to the old Collegiate to sit at
the feet of the late John Radcliffe, and
William Morrison, and he soon came to
be regarded as one of the most brilliant
of the little band. Distinguished for
his fine literary turn of mind, he was
a great reader, and a good classical
scholar; and he there laid that foun-
dation which made him the sound law-
yer and capable business man he after-
wards became.

   A remarkably clever youngster
his parents decided on a
legal career for him, and on his
leaving school he entered Mr. Palache's
office at Mandevjlle where he served
the first portion of his articles. He
made his first appearance in Kingston
in 1881 to finish his legal studies in the
office of Mr. Eugene L. F. Morais, who
has turned out some of the brighest
and most capable of our lawyers. Mr.
Morais was soon convinced of young
Walcott's ability, and after his admis-
sion to practice as a solicitor on the
27th April 1882 he was called upon to
act for, and carry on Mr. Morais' large
and lucrative practice whilst he was
off the Island. This gave him the
chance to shew what he was made
of, and he won for himself a populari-
ty which he maintained to the last.

   Mr. Walcott left Kingston and re-
turned to Mandeville to join Mr.
Palache, and Mr. A. W. Farquharson,
in partnership, and there they prac-
ticed together until the coming into
operation on the 2nd April 1888 of the
Resident Magistrate's Law - a Law he
assisted in drafting - when he was
offered, and accepted the appointment
of Resident Magistrate for St. James.

   His official career was one of marked
distinction and perhaps it was as a
judge that Mr. Walcott obtained his
greatest success. Apart from his
great knowledge of law
he had a wonderful and distinctive
faculty for dealing with witnesses
owing to his intimate acquaintance
with the people of the country and
their ways, and in every parish that he
presided as a Resident Magistrate -
from Kingston on he won unstinted
praise although in the execution of his
duty he had at times to pull some pop-
ular idol down from its pedestal. His
general knowledge, and especially his
scientific attainments stood him in good
stead, and in many cases he was able
to deal with an expert witness in a
manner which indicated that he knew
as much of the subject as they did.

   Mr. Walcott was an enthusiast in
any cause that he undertook, and he
gave ungrudgingly and unstintedly of
his time and talents to its accomplish-
ment. Devoted to his friends, respec-
ted by his opponents, he was looked up
to by ail, and hardly had an enemy.

   Whilst Mr. Walcott was aiways pop-
ular with his colleagues in the pro-
fession he was, we think, best liked by
the young solicitors to whom he was
always ready to give help and advice,
and a cheery word or two. He was ex-
tremely modest with regard to his
own attainments and he never let an
opportunity slip by of giving a helping
hand to some professional brother.

   "Doing good by stealth, and blushing  
to find it fame." he has left behind a
fine example for others to follow. Cour-
teous and kind in the discharge of his
duties, his memory will long be respect-
ed by all who knew him.

   Like many another man alive to-day
the stress and strain that followed
after the earthquake told upon Mr.
Walcott severely. Among the first to
turn out and offer his services during
his trying period he kept on working
at a pace that must have undermined
the strongest constitution. As a
member of the Rifle Club he came out
with his corps to help in the work of
protecting the citv, and day and night
was at his post. Later on, Sir Alexan-
der Swettenham showed his apprecia-
tion of Mr. Walcott in a marked man-
ner by appointing him special
to try anyone who were caught looting.
Sir Alexander Swettenham's keen
sense of judgment was amply justified
in the selection he made - a selection
that gave every satisfaction, as the
impartiality and sense of justice with
which Mr. Walcott discharged his duties
had a splendid effect on the disorder-
ly element in the city. The rab-
ble realized that in "Judge"
Walcott they had a man who
would mete out even handed justice
to them, and so they decided that it
was much better not to have to appear
before him.

   As soon as things began to settle
down the question of providing for the
stricken people and of making plans
for the restoration of the city had lo
be faced, and Mr. Walcott was to be
found on every committee, rendering
good service. Then came the prepara-
tion of the Building Law, and it is only
those few who along with himself were
up all night for days in succession, and
that too whilst the Legislative Council
was in session, can appreciate the
strain of it all.

   No sooner than this period of activi-
ty was over, the Insurance Litigation
began. And once again fresh worries,
new anxieties, and great mental strain
had to be endured. As one of the so-
licitors selected by the policy holders
committee to instruct counsel in the
first trial at Mandeville. Mr.
Walcott had his fair share of the
work. Then came theTootal Broadhurst
case, with its worries and its disap-
pointments; and with it came the end
of so useful a career.

   In March when it was decided that
the Fire Insurance Companies would
call Curphey as a witness, Mr Walcott
was cabled for to confront him and he
immediately obtained leave from his
duties as Clerk of the Legislative
Council which was sitting at the time
and proceeded to England. He re-
mained there until the case was over,
then he left on the Cunard line steamer
Campania travelling with Sir Sidney
Olivier to New York to catch the
Tagus and come on to Jamaica.

   Mr. William Morrison who was a
a fellow passenger by the Tagus from
New York was deeply moved
on arriving at his Chambers yesterday
morning to hear the sad news of the
death of his colleague.

   When seen by a GLEANER represent-
ative he expressed his sense of the
loss which he felt; not only the pro-
fession but the community had sus-
tained, and gave our representative
the following information.

   "The Campania arrived at New
York at one o'clock on Saturday the
??th May and passengers by her had to
tranship to the Tagus which left at
3 p.rn. It was a terrible day. Rain
was falling all the time, and the fog
hung heavily. Mr. Walcott got wet
in the weather and he remained on
deck tnat night until 10 o'clock before
he went below. He was up next day
but after that he was confined to
his cabin with a slight touch of
fever. He was, however, talking all
the time about what he was going to
do when he got back with regard to
the work of the restoration of King-
ston and to act in union with those
who were working so hard in that dir-
ection. He said, that after all it
might be a thankless task, but he
could not help himself as he had always
to be in the thick of it where work
was to be done. He was considerably
worried and disappointed over the re-
sult of the Tootal Broadhurst case. As
he over and over expressed himself,
we should have won, and as he naively
put it, we should have won, but for
the Judge.

   Mr. Walcott's wide range of attain-
ments and accomplishments and his
rare aptitude for business affairs
caused his services to be in demand in
aiding and assisting in the working of
a number of Companies end other con-
cerns, and his judgment was always
relied on.

   As a Mason Mr. Walcott was emin-
ent. Joining the craft many years ago,
he quickly rose to eminence. He was
made master of his own lodge - the
Kingston - at an early period, and
after serving in the important office of
Grand Registrar in the Grand Lodge,
he last year reached the position of
and up to the time of his death was
possessed of that past rank. He was
an enthusiastic maaon highly respected
by the whole craft and dearly beloved
by his brethren. An enthusiastic
worker, a most entertaining talker,
and a genial host, his death creates a
blank that will be hard to fill. A good
sound lawyer, a man who had the
entire confidence of his colleagues and
of the community, a man of sterling
honesty and integrity the community
is the poorer by his death and the
country mourns a devoted son.

   Mr. Walcott married a sister of Mr.
J. T. Palache, who survives him. His
mother is also still alive and to them
we tender our sincere condolences.

   Mr. Walcott, it may be remembered,
after he was transferred from the
position of Resident Magistrate of
Kingston to that of Resident Magistrate
for Clarendon resigned from the
service and entered into partnership
wi;h the late Hon. William Andrews.
But Mr. Andrews died soon after
and the business was carried
on in the name of the old
firm until 1904 on the admission of
Messrs Kenneth Robinson and H. H.
Dun to the practice as solicitors, who
had served their articles with him,
when he took them into partnership
- another instance of his love
for helping on the younger members
of the profession. To both his young
partners the blow is a hard one.
Apart from business they looked up
to and loved their senior and
they will miss him greatly.

We are asked to state that the
funeral will leave the house No. 8
Norman Road at 9.45 o'clock this
morning for the Railway station. The
coffin will then be carried by train to
Williamsfield and from there to the
Mandeville Parish Church where the
interment will take place.

Daily Gleaner, June 20, 1908
[on the editorial page]
           MR. R. A. WALCOTT.
MR. R. A. WALCOTT'S death is one of
the saddest events of which we have
heard of late, both on account of its
suddenness and of the circumstances
which brought it about. He went to
England for the purpose of helping to
safeguard the interests of the Jamaica
policyholders; on his homeward voy-
age he caught a severe cold; to-day he
lies dead, and before these lines shall
have reached the eyes of many of our
readers he will be laid to rest in his
own quiet and beautiful parish. Mr.
Walcott was one of those men who
look as if they have many years of
useful life before them; he was ener-
getic, cheerful, and took all that came
his way in an optimistic spirit that was
frankly and freely boyish in its buoy-
ancy. His genial manner was typi-
cally Jamaican; his interest in the
country was sincere. He was always
ready to find time for work that brought
no remuneration, and In a commercial
age this alone speaks volumes.
Richard Walcott was a patriot. The
future of this country, its ultimate wel-
fare, the progress and prosperity of
its people were all dear to his heart.
Jamaica stood to him for something
more than a name, and when he could
serve her he gladly did so. His unex-
pected end has caused a pang of
sorrow to ail that have heard it. We
all realize that but for this insurance
litigation and the part he played in
it, he might have been alive to-day.
Perhaps his hour had come, perhaps he
was to die while working for the in-                                                    terests, not of a few clients merely,
but of Kingston as a whole. If it be
so, we shall none the less regard him
as a man who died while doing a pub-
lic duty, and this is how we all should
wish to die.
Ave, frater, atque vale.