Cayman history buff, teacher passes

When Philip Pedley first arrived in
the Cayman Islands in 1971, no one would have
reasonably expected he would end up having the impact on the society that he
eventually did.

“He had dropped out of university
and was just sort of kicking around,” said best friend Michael Bowerman of the
then-20-year-old Mr. Pedley. “He had come here to visit his brother, Dr. Julian
Pedley, who was, I think one of three doctors on the Islands
at the time.”

Philip ended up taking a job as a
lab technician at the old Cayman
Islands High School,
Mr. Bowerman said. But a local sailor and businessman by the name of Captain
Charles Kirkconnell had taken a special interest in the young man – having seen
his obvious talents and intelligence.

“It just wasn’t the right programme
for him at school,” Mr. Bowerman, who was the best man at Mr. Pedley’s wedding,
said. “He was brilliant; he had a great analytical mind and really helped address
issues in the civil service over the past few years.”

That great mind was lost to the
Cayman Islands on Tuesday night, as Mr. Pedley died in a Florida hospital. Mr. Bowerman arrived there
just hours before his friend died.

Mr. Pedley had been diagnosed with
lymphoma in February; generally a treatable form of cancer. But according to
Mr. Bowerman, the chemo-therapy just wasn’t working.

Mr. Pedley is survived by his wife,
Arthurlyn – a West
Bay native – and two sons
James and Jonathan.

Although he excelled in both the
civil service and as a teacher, what Mr. Pedley will most likely be remembered
for in Cayman is his founding work with what has become the National Archive.

After getting his PhD in English
literature in Pennsylvania, USA, with assistance from Captain
Charles, Mr. Pedley was asked in the late-80’s to start the National Archive.

“That’s a lasting legacy,” Mr.
Bowerman said.

“Dr. P” as he was known by the
National Archive staff was remembered as a “historian at heart and a great

West Bay resident Loxley Banks – whose family Mr. Pedley married into – said
the former teacher and civil servant was Cayman’s first National Archives’ director.

“He did a lot of work in London and
Scotland; he brought a lot of things back home to Cayman from Jamaica as well,’
Mr. Banks said.

A few national archives officials,
including Director J. Kimlon Seymour, worked under Mr. Pedley during his time
there and confirmed he was a driving force behind the effort to remember and
honour Cayman’s history.

Mr. Pedley is probably best-known
for the publication of “Founded Upon the Seas: A History of the Cayman Islands and Their People” written by Michael

“He had a passion for all things
Caymanian,” Mrs. Seymour said in a statement. “Dr. Pedley challenged us
intellectually, which brought out the best in us.”  

“He was a man of great integrity, a
great believer in the truth,” Mr. Bowerman said. “He was absolutely as straight
as a dart. You couldn’t get him to betray his principles or his convictions.”

Mr. Pedley was also active in a few
Cayman Islands churches, most recently as an elder at the First Baptist

“His faith was very important to
him,” Mr. Bowerman said.


Mr. Pedley
Photo: File


  1. A life well lived – Dr. Pedley

    It was great sadness that I learned of Dr. Pedley’s passing yesterday. He was a gentleman who truly became one of us; a Caymanian in every sense of the word. He was one of those rare individuals who arrived on our shores and embraced our way of life. He saw much beauty in what and who we were. He did not seek fame or fortune but did his part in preserving the value and character of Cayman. He worked tirelessly in the founding of one of our islands most valuable treasures, the National Archive. His willingness to assist other like minded organizations was always appreciated. Dr. Pedley was a man with intelligence and integrity. His faith in God and love of family were always obvious to those who had the privilege of meeting him.

    I would encourge others to give back to our islands history, culture and built heritage the way he and his wife, Arthurlyn have been known for. There is a shortage of such people in our community. May God walk with his family during this difficult time and may he rest in peace.

  2. Philip Pedley was a man with a humble, gentle and caring heart. His strong faith in the truth of the Bible and its good news of the salvation available to us through Jesus Christ, the Son of God’s sacrifice on the cross, was reflected clearly in the way he lived and worked.

    Philip had a deep passion for God’s word, which he often studied in its original Greek text. Philip served for 15 years as a member and for a time as Chair of the Cayman committee of Wycliffe Bible Translators, an international Christian ministry whose 5,000 missionaries work supported by local churches to translate the Bible into the world’s approximately 2,000 languages which do not yet have any word of scripture. Philip was the first CEO of Wycliffe Caribbean and during his tenure he fostered its vision to change the Caribbean from a ‘mission receiving’ to a ‘mission sending’ area of the world.

    Philip’s ready smile, wise counsel and caring ways will be much missed.

  3. As I returned to work on Wednesday night after being off for almost a week, I recieved my work assignment. I had his room number. I hurried to his room, only to find someone else there. My heart sank. As I asked my colleagues what happened to Mr.Pedley, but I already knew…just needed affirmation.

    Although I only knew him for about 2 months, I have been blessed to have had him in my life. He greeted everyone with a smile, but I felt he grinned a little more when he saw me. He had great stories and a wealth of knowledge. He was a man of great faith; a rare gem.

    To his wife and family, may God bless you and keep you during this difficult time. He will truly be missed.

  4. It was with much sorrow I read of the passing of Dr. Pedley. He was a good friend and a true professional. He was a great help in aiding me in setting up the Mr. and Mrs. W. S Coe memorial collection in the Cayman National Archives. When Mr Coe died we came across many items from his years in public service that we felt should be in the archives. We wanted to know that they would be taken care of as many of them had great personal value to the family. Upon meeing with Dr. Pedley I had no no concerns that the items would be in good hands. He instilled in me the feeling that the items would be preserved for future generations. I was not mistaken in my trusting him. He was a true professional. The islands were lucky to have had his guidance in setting up the archives. He trained the staff well and I am sure they will continue the fine job he did in preserving Caymans history for its future generations. Rest well dear friend in the knowledge that you have left a great legacy for the people of Cayman.

  5. It was such a shock to hear about Mr. Pedley’s passing today. What loss. What grief and sadness I feel for Lyn and her family.

    The Pedleys went to our church when Philip was working on his Ph.D. in Philadelphia and Lyn taught at the school I attended (junior high and highschool). I was always fond of them both – fond memories all around.

    I’d say what I remember about Mr. Pedley the most was what a good listener he was. As a teenaged girl I remember him at social events asking about my life and what I thought about this or that debatable issue. He was such a good example for me in the sense that an adult male was actually considering what I said, and speaking to me like my opinions were of value. A very rare occurrance for a New Jersey teenager! LOL! I will carry those moments with me always, you know? It’s something a woman doesn’t easily forget.

    My heart aches for the pain that Lyn and their kids must be feeling. I’m glad their faith keeps them strong and kept Mr. Pedley strong until the very last whisper of breath.

    A hui hou (until we meet again) Mr. Pedley!

    Amy Herchig
    Honolulu, HI.

  6. I am greatly saddened by the passing of Phil. He was my college roommate and we have stayed in touch over the years. Phil had a great sense of humor and we shared the wonderful experiences of college together. He was always thoughtful of others and a brilliant student. Perhaps he will best be remember for his steady approach to all things – unflappable and not distraqcted from his principles Christian approach to all of life. He will be greatly missed.