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
“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.
“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.