Sir Kenneth William Blackburne, KCMG, CMG, OBE
Former Governor-General of Jamaica
Sir Kenneth William Blackburne, K.C.M.G. (1952), C.M.G. (1946), O.B.E. (1939), Captain-General and Governor-in-Chief of Jamaica and its Dependencies (18 December 1957 - August 1962)
Early life and education:
Sir Kenneth William Blackburne was born at Bordon Camp, on 12 December 1907, the elder son of an Anglican curate, Very Reverend Harry William Blackburne, D.S.O., M.C., Dean emeritus of Bristol. He was educated at Marlborough College and Clare College Cambridge where he received an honours degree in modern languages and geography.
Sir Kenneth joined the British Colonial Service and began an administrative career, serving in a variety of posts in Britain’s colonies:
- Nigeria 1930-1935 - Assistant District Officer;
- Galilee, Palestine, 1935-1938 - Assistant District Commissioner and Acting District Commissioner;
- Colonial Office, London, 1938-41 - Assistant Principal and Principal;
- The Gambia, 1941-43 - Colonial Secretary; 1943-47 - Administrative Secretary to the Comptroller for Development and Welfare in the West Indies and Acting Comptroller;
- Colonial Office, 1947-50 - Director of Information Services;
- 1950-56 - Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Leeward Islands.
In 1957 he was transferred to govern the British colony of Jamaica, which was to be his final post before his retirement.
Blackburne governed during a period of political disharmony in Jamaica and one in which Great Britain saw increasing numbers of Jamaican immigrants to its shores. The country was also making its final journey to political independence, which it achieved on August 6, 1962. Blackburne was sworn in that day as independent Jamaica’s first governor-general, having agreed to stay on for a transitional period of several months. He remained in that role until November 30, when he left the Colonial Service and returned to England. He was succeeded as governor-general by Sir Clifford Clarence Campbell, the first native-born Jamaican to serve in that post.
Sir Kenneth was Patron of several causes:
- Commodore Royal Jamaica Yacht Club
- President Alliance Francaise de la Jamaique
- Jamaica Flying Club Ltd.
- Order of St. John and its Foundations in Jamaica
- Amateur Swimming Association of Jamaica
- Army and Air Cadet Force (Jamaica), Boys’ Town
- British West Indies Rifle Association
- Child Welfare Association Limited
- Jamaica Anti-Tuberculosis League
- Jamaica Automobile Association
- Jamaica Branch British Red Cross Society
- Jamaica Cricket Board of Control
- Jamaica Football Association
- Jamaica Historical Society
- Jamaica Society for the Blind Ltd.
- Kingston Charity Organisation Society
- Royal Air Force Association
- The Boys’ Brigade
- The Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association of Jamaica
- The Victoria League
- The Young Men’s Christian Association
- Chief Scout for Jamaica
Sir Kenneth was married in 1935 to Bridgette Senhouse Constant, daughter of James Mackay Wilson, D.L., Currygrane Co. Longford; . They were the parents of one son – Martin Andrew; and one daughter – Jean Alice.
Sir Kenneth's interests included Sailing and Tennis. He was a member of The Anthenaeum, London.
Blackburne published a memoir, Lasting Legacy: A Story of British Colonialism (1976), as well as a guidebook, Nelson’s Dockyard, English Harbour: A Guide (1951; subsequent editions published as The Romance of English Harbour).
Honours and awards
He was knighted in 1952.
Blackburne died in Douglas, Isle of Man, aged 72.