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Frederick 'Sleepy' Smith
(6 July 1924 - 11 July 2016)
Sir Frederick Gladstone 'Sleepy' Smith, KA, MBE, QC
Former Jurist and Cabinet Minister in Barbados

Sir Frederick Smith was a former politician and Attorney-General of Barbados. He was also former Chief Justice of the Turks and Caicos Islands, President of the Court of Appeal of Grenada, and Assistant Attorney General of Cameroon.

Early life and education

Sir Frederick Gladstone Smith, affectionately known as "Sleepy" was born on 6 July 1924 to Cecil Gladstone Smith and his wife Lilian Angelique. He was one of 11 children.  He was educated at Combermere School from 1934 to 1936, and Harrison College, from 1936 to 1944.  His legal career began with studies at Grays Inn, London in 1949, which saw him a few years later establishing a private practice in Barbados in 1952.

Sir Frederick is best known to the foreign press as lead counsel for the Great Train Robber, Ronald Biggs, whom he saved from extradition to the UK when Biggs was kidnapped in Brazil and brought to Barbados.


Sir Frederick Smith was also one of the founding fathers of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP). He served on the first Provisional General Council and as the first party Chairman from 1955 to 1956.

He was first elected to the Barbados House of Assembly in 1956, one year after the formation of the DLP.  He served as the first Attorney General of an independent Barbados from 1966 to 1971. During his Tenure as Attorney General he championed the passing of critical legislation, including the Severance pay Act, and those relating to National Insurance and Social Security.  He also served as Minister of Communications and Works from 1971 to 1975; and Minister of Education and Sports, from 1975 to 1976.  He was Leader of the Opposition from 1976 to 1978.

Sir Frederick successfully contested the St. Andrew seat in 1956 on a DLP ticket under the double member system.  He placed second to the Barbados Labour Party (BLP)'s Ermy Bourne in a three person race.  He however did not contest the 1961 or 1996 elections.  He served in the senate from 1966 to 1971. 

In 1971, Sir Frederick returned to the House of Assembly after successfully contested the St. Michael South Central seat against Ronald Mapp of the BLP.  He retained his seat in the 1976 election, in which the DLP only won three seats.  He served as Leader of Opposition from 1976 to 1978 before returning the reigns to political leader Errol Barrow. He retired from the House Assembly and bowed out of elective politics in 1978.  Dr. Richard Haynes won retained the St. Michael South Central for the DLP in 6 July 1978 by-election.  Sir Frederick later briefly served in the Senate for the period 1986 to 1987, following the return of the DLP to office.

Outside of the political arena, Sir Frederick lent his legal skills to the region.  He worked in Jamaica and directly with the Foreign Office in England on revising the Cayman Islands constitution in 1991.  He was also former non-resident Chief Justice of the Turks and Caicos Islands (1987); and a Justice of the Court of Appeal of Grenada (Jul 1981 – Jan 1984).  He also served as Crown Counsel in Jamaica (1958-1962); Assistant Attorney General in the Federal Republic of Cameroon (1962); and Senior Counsel Republic of Guyana (1971).  He also served as Vice-President of the Barbados Bar Association (BBA, 1978-1979); President of the BBA (1979-1980); and Vice-President Organization of Caribbean Bar Association.
Sir Frederick was outspoken in saying it is time for Barbados to do away with its affiliation with the Barbadian monarchy and to become an independent republic.

Honours and awards

Sir Frederick was knighted (Knight of St. Andrew) by Queen Elizabeth II in November 1987 for his outstanding service in the legal profession and as a parliamentarian.  He was conferred with the honorary degree, Doctor of Laws (LLD) in 2006, by Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, Sir George Alleyne.

The St. James Secondary School, located at Trents, St. James, Barbados was renamed in his honour on Friday, 23 November 2012.

Personal life

On 6 February 1958, Sir Frederick married Jamaican Lois Ernesta Douglas, a retired medical doctor; and they have one son, Craig, and one daughter, Astrid.

Sir Frederick also had a passion for religion and was a long-standing lay preacher in the Methodist Church, serving across all its circuits in Barbados.

In August 2015, Sir Frederick published his memoir Dreaming A Nation: Sir Frederick Smith and the Barbados Journey (co-authored by Alan Smith).


Sir Frederick died at his home on 11 July 2016, aged 92. He was accorded and Official Funeral on Friday, 5 August 2016 at the James Street Methodist Church, followed by a private internment.


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Sir Frederick Smith
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Sir Frederick Smith with a young David Thompson
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Sir Frederick Smith
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Sir Frederick Smith
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Sir Frederick Smith
Sir Frederick Smith - We Bajans series
Sir Frederick Sleepy Smith Barbados oldest living Parliamentarian


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Frederick Smith
Occupation Attorney-at-Law, Jurist, Politician
Date of Birth 6 July 1924
Place of Birth Barbados
Date of Death 11 July 2016 (aged 92)
Place of Death Barbados
Notable Accomplishments
Founding member of the Democratic Labour Party
Attorney General of Barbados: 1966 - 1971
Chief Justice of the Turks and Caicos Islands: 1987
Justice of the Court of Appeal of Grenada: Jul 1981 – Jan 1984
Barbados Barbados
Leaders of the Opposition of Barbados
Democratic Labour Party

 National Heroes
 Caribbean Leaders
 Women in Caribbean Politics
 Caribbean Nobel Laureates
 Order of the Caribbean Community Recipients
 In Memoriam
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