Prime Ministers of Jamaica: Hugh Shearer

The Rt. Hon. Hugh Shearer at Jamaica House.

















The Right Honourable Hugh Lawson Shearer


The Most Honourable Hugh Lawson Shearer was Jamaica’s third Prime Minister. On the passing of Sir Donald Sangster, Mr. Shearer was chosen to be Prime Minister of Jamaica. He was sworn in on April 11, 1967.


May 18, 1923 in Martha Brae just outside of Falmouth, Trelawny.


During his tenure as Prime Minister, Jamaica attained its highest ever-gross domestic product (GDP) per capita – US$2,300 – based on rapid growth in agriculture, mining and tourism.
He also started a system of major highways, the first being the Kingston to Spanish Town Highway, and laid the plans for other by-pass routes, which would remove bottlenecks in all major towns.
He became President of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU) in 1977 and in the ensuing years built the Union into the largest in the English-speaking Caribbean.
He made significant improvements to the education system. The New Deal Programme was designed to provide a sound education for every child in Jamaica, and, for the first time, the prospect of a totally educated population became a real possibility.
In Foreign Affairs, he gained the concession for a managed market for Caribbean bananas through shrewd bargaining at the Commonwealth Conference in Zambia. The banana arrangements have been a lifeline for the Caribbean industry, despite fierce international opposition, and were replaced in 2000 after a major international dispute.
Mr. Shearer also played a leading role in the discussions and negotiations leading up to the establishment in 1980 of the Joint Trade Union Research Institute, the first of its kind in the Caribbean.
Two national honours were conferred on Mr. Shearer during his lifetime, the Order of Jamaica on May 23, 1990 and the Order of the Nation on October 21, 2002.


  • Editor at the BITU’s newspaper “Jamaica Worker”
  • Assistant General Secretary, Island Supervisor (1953), Vice President (1960) and President (1977) of the BITU
  • Senator
  • Member of Parliament for St. Andrew Central (1947) and Southern Clarendon (1967)
  • Minister of External Affairs (1967)


His parents were James Shearer a World War One ex-serviceman and Esther Lindo, a dressmaker. He married Dr. Denise Eldemire Shearer.  He had two sons, Howard and Lance and three daughters Hope, Hillary and Heather.  
Hugh Shearer died on July 5, 2004



"This is Jamaica: Leaders since 1962".