Major Teddy Goddard – a Bajan policeman from below the cliff

Major Teddy Goddard (Theodore Percival Alleyne Goddard) was born ‘below the cliff’ in Clifton Hall Woods, Barbados in 1883. Children born into poor white families had little prospect of bettering their position. Teddy Goddard, had little idea when he enlisted in the army in 1903 for three years that he would be transported to the Transvaal, South Africa at the end of the Boer War (1899 – 1902), let alone that he would rise from a mere Private in the Lancashire Fusiliers to an acting Lieutenant-Colonel in the Barbados Police Force. He never forgot his humble beginnings and for this he won the deepest affection of his colleagues and respect of all quarters of Bajan society.

In December 1944, Sir Grattan Bushe, the normally calm Governor of Barbados, was in a complete flap. The Barbadian electorate had elected nine new members under the franchise which was extended to Black people who were not property holders. He wrote a secret telegram to London complaining that many of the new members of the Assembly were “of low mentality and character, and all holding extreme views. There are already indications of irresponsibility of action: and it is clearly going to be a most difficult House. But apart from that, the whole atmosphere is electric.”

If this was not bad enough, the Governor realised that it was he who would have to do something about it himself – the top brass in the local government were not available to provide the support he was used to rely on. “Perrin has, on medical advice, to take leave. The Chief Justice is ill in Canada. There is no Colonial Secretary, and Goddard, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, has died suddenly.”

What struck me about this cri de coeur was the complaint that Goddard had rather inconveniently died. I decided to find out more about Major Goddard.

In 1944, the Barbadian Police were led by two West Indian born men at a time when it was more usual for senior officers to be sent out from London after serving in other colonies of the British Empire. Colonel Duke, the Police Commissioner was born in Montserrat to an Irish doctor in Government service. He had taken over the Police in Barbados in 1939 after the departure of Colonel Dickens who had not performed well during the 1937 riots. Duke on the other hand was a highly respected officer in the Leeward Islands Police and been in charge of quelling the 1936 St.Kitts riots. His deputy, Major Goddard, born in Barbados, had joined the Police in 1906 and in January 1941 was awarded the King’s Police & Fire Services Medal “For Distinguished Service”.

Although Teddy Goddard was ten years older than Oriel Duke, the two men at the top of the Force had much in common. As a twenty year old Teddy volunteered for army service and served in South Africa with the Lancashire Fusiliers, taking part in the pacification measures at the end of the Boer Wars (1899 – 1902). Oriel volunteered for the West Indian Regiment at the start of the First World War and served in the Royal Fusiliers in Flanders and was awarded the Military Medal twice. Both men enjoyed the military model of police force organisation. Both men were at ease with their fellow man, whatever their race.

Theodore Percival Alleyne Goddard

Theodore (Teddy) Percival Alleyne Goddard was born in Barbados in 1883. Not to a plantation owning family but a poor white family living ‘below the cliff’. His father was Benjamin Isaiah Goddard, recorded as a shoe maker in the marriage record to Louise Catherine Gibson, a seamstress. When Richard Goddard wrote about his grandfather Teddy Goddard, in an article for the Barbados Museum’s Journal,1 he did not mention that his great grandfather, Benjamin Goddard had been a policeman too. The clue Richard missed was in Teddy’s marriage record to Consuelo McNichol on 6th October 1913 where Benjamin Goddard’s occupation is stated as: Policeman.

Major Teddy Goddard a Bajan policeman from below the cliff
Teddy Goddard’s marriage to Consuelo McNichol on 6th October 1913.
Teddy Goddard’s father, Benjamin Goddard occupation is listed as: Policeman.
Jubilee (Police) Medal issued in 1887 to Teddy’s father Benjamin Goddard.

It is quite possible that Benjamin was a shoemaker employed by the police force. There were still one N.C.O. and two constables employed as shoemakers in 1945.2 Amongst the belongings of Teddy was a Jubilee (Police) Medal issued in 1887 – when Teddy was four years old, so clearly not his!

Teddy didn’t follow his father into the Force straightaway. At the age of 20 he enlisted for three years to serve with the 3rd Lancashire Fusiliers who in 1903 were based at the Garrison, Barbados. His discharge papers gave his trade as cycle fitter. Perhaps he didn’t realise that he was destined to serve abroad, but he was soon on a ship for South Africa. He was based in Pretoria where the Fusiliers were charged with keeping the recently negotiated peace with the Boers and ensuring the dispersal of Boer refugees from the ‘reconcentrado’ camps. Essentially a policing function. On the completion of his three years of service he was discharged and returned to Barbados.

It seems that Teddy Goddard was initially recruited to the police in 1906 as a bicycle repairer, but his army experience led to his quick promotion. In 1909 he was a ‘Drilling Sergeant’ and over the years became renowned in Bajan circles for being able to lick raw recruits into orderly display ranks. It was said that ‘he imparted dash in any ceremonial parade’ under his command.

Unusually for the time, Teddy was promoted to Inspector of Police on 1st July 1922. This was a new additional Inspector post and the Colonial Office considered applications by seven officers. Sergeant Major T. A. Goddard was recommended for the new position and was appointed.3

His superiors had come to rely on his skills in defusing volatile situations: it was Goddard who had quietly and effectively quelled a police strike in the 1920s which was palmed off as ‘a minor incident by the Inspector General of Police, Lieutenant Colonel M. B. Harrell. His career steadily progressed and from 3rd June 1926 he became Acting Deputy Inspector General of Police until 1st November 1936. These ten years were finally recognised when he became the first Deputy Commissioner of Police.

1937 Riots

The most important attribute shared by Duke and Goddard was their ability to mix with all sections of the Bajan population, from Planter to merchant; from shop keeper to the lowest labourer. Both men led from the front. During the 1937 riots it was Goddard who was on the front line.

Clement Payne and the 1937 Riots are now a celebrated part of Barbadian history. Golden Square is now an open area rather than the slum area of twisted alleyways which was impossible to police effectively in the 1930s. The Riots are remembered for the 14 killed and 47 wounded (including policemen). There was a Commission appointed to look into the riot and the causes of the riot. It reported in November 1937 and largely exonerated the police.4 The riots ended after the police had been armed and marine reinforcements from HMS Apollo arrived. Mary Chamberlain5 wrote:

“The fact that riots had taken place was a major shock to the Barbadian system – and more so was the violence of their suppression. The authorities had over-reacted. Police action was brutal and intimidating. Fourteen fatalities – more than those incurred by Jamaica or Trinidad with their far higher populations when they had similar problems – were truly shocking.”

Clement Payne was an activist from Trinidad arguing for better conditions on the island and better pay. He was deported on a legal point – he had lied about being born in Barbados when he arrived earlier in the year. He was fined and he wished to appeal before being deported. The Commission’s report stated:

“Payne gave notice of appeal and, being released, pending the hearing of his appeal, held the meeting he had convened in Golden Square the same night and proposed that a procession should march to Government House next day to protest to His Excellency the Governor forthwith against the fine.

In fairness we must add that he appears to have advised his followers that the procession should be conducted in an orderly manner and that no one should take offensive weapons. The next day about 8am he led a procession of his followers to Government House and at the entrance he was stopped by a body of Police under Major Goddard, who advised him that if he wished to interview His Excellency the Governor the proper course was to arrange for this through the Private Secretary. As Payne persisted in demanding an interview with the Governor forthwith and as the large crowd which accompanied him refused to disperse when called upon by the Police to do so, Payne and some of his followers were arrested under Section 54(2) of the Highways Act 1900 – 7. They were placed before the Police Magistrate the same day and all except Payne were released on personal bail pending the hearing of the case.

At this point it is convenient to express our opinion of the conduct of the Police in making the arrests. The view has been expressed by the Rev. Francis Godson, M.L.C., and others that the Police might with advantage have allowed Payne a little more latitude. With this view we do not agree. After Payne refused to follow the advice offered him by Major Goddard and the crowd refused to disperse it was the clear duty of the Police to take action for the preservation of law and order. We are of the opinion that in this matter the Police acted in a proper and indeed praiseworthy manner. Their duty was clear and unequivocal and they are to be congratulated on performing it promptly and with as little friction as possible.”

The main disturbances occurred on the following days. The Police Commissioner, Dickens, told the Inquiry that “knowing the law-abiding character of the people, he did not anticipate further trouble.” This turned out to be a misjudgement as the rioting spread across the island.

Colonel W.S. Dickens

Colonel Dickens arrived in Barbados in August 1932, full of enthusiasm to modernise the Police. “My one aim is for the efficiency of the Force and the benefit of the entire community”6. He came with a record as an experienced crime investigator and finger-print expert. He renamed the Detective Department as the Criminal Investigation Department (as it was called in London’s Metropolitan Police). A more publicly noticeable change was dropping the white tunic for the khaki jacket worn with a white shirt and blue tie.

Despite the modernisation of the force effected by Dickens the moral was low. The Official Report for 1936 recorded that there were 460 men in the force. Sixty-five N.C.O.s and constables were officially reprimanded with 145 being fined. Six men were dismissed. On the other hand the Detectives were working “indefatigably well”.7

By the end of his tenure, police morale was at an all time low and he was recalled to England under a cloud in 1939. On his departure Major Goddard became Acting Commissioner of Police; the first native born Barbadian to rise through the ranks to such a high position in the Force.

Major Teddy Goddard’s Final years

Major Teddy Goddard a Bajan policeman from below the cliff
The King’s Police and Fire Services Medal “For Distinguished Service” awarded to Major Goddard in the 1st January 1941 New Years Honours.

Major Goddard’s tenure as acting Commissioner did not last long; Colonel Duke arrived in Barbados from Antigua at the end of 1939. Goddard’s remit as Deputy Commissioner was quite wide. He was in charge of the Police Training School, the Harbour Police and was Censor under the Cinematographic Film Censorship Act.

He clearly impressed the new Commissioner of Police and he was awarded the King’s Police and Fire Services Medal “For Distinguished Service” on 1st January 1941. At the time he was Acting Lieutenant Colonel but the appointment had not been confirmed when he died suddenly.

Major Goddard died unexpectedly on 6th December 1944. He was known as an exceptionally strong man for his age, 61.

“The community was shocked to hear of his death of a heart attack, after a few days’ illness.”

Barbados Advocate, 6th December 1944.

Major Teddy Goddard’s obituary8 read:

“An excellent physique, a heart that knew no fear, and thorough knowledge of the manly art,9 made him the peril of tougher sections and his kind consideration and willingness to help, gathered him their respect. An unswerving loyalty to duty brought an advance and in a short time he became a sergeant, and then drill instructor of the Force.

Barbados Advocate, 6th December 1944.

Major Teddy Goddard the officer who had come through the ranks, never forgot his humble beginnings and for this he won the deepest affection of his colleagues and respect of all quarters of Bajan society.

Major Teddy Goddard a Bajan policeman from below the cliff
Press cuttings announcing that Major Goddard is to be Acting Commissioner of Police following Colonel W.S.Dickens departure in 1939.


  1. Theodore Percival Alleyne Goddard: From Below the Cliff to Acting Commissioner of Police. The Journal of the Barbados Museum & Historical Society – vol LIX.
  2. Report on the Barbados Police by W.A. Calver, 1945. Para 135.
  3. CO 28/301/30. Colonial Office papers. National Archives, Kew, London, UK.
  4. Report of the Commission appointed to enquire into The Disturbances which took place in Barbados on the 27th July 1937 and subsequent days. 2nd November 1937. “The Deane Commission.”
  5. Mary Chamberlain. Empire and Nation-Building in the Caribbean: Barbados, 1937-66.
  6. The Daily Gleaner, 15th September 1932.
  7. Sunday Express, London. 5th June 1937.
  8. Barbados Advocate, 6th December 1944.
  9. Probably a reference to police Jiu Jitsu rather than boxing.

Also see:

Response to “Major Teddy Goddard – a Bajan policeman from below the cliff”

  1. Carol Bayersdorfer

    This was such an interesting piece.
    I am very impressed with the research that goes into these articles.
    Most appreciatively
    Carol Bayersdorfer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Search BajanThings

Subscribe to BajanThings

If you would like to be kept informed when there are updates to BajanThings please click here to subscribe to the BajanThings e-mail update notification. Whenever there is new content added to BajanThings you will receive an e-mail telling you of the update.

SOLV Technology - Find . Inform . Engage.

A BajanThings Recommendation
Barbados Island life: photographs and stories by Craig Burleigh that celebrate Barbados island life in the 1970s

Notice Board

Contact BajanThings