Where are they now : Violet Nielson giving service to her church

May 16, 2017
Violet Neilson, the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives.

With two notable firsts in Jamaican history, Violet Neilson, 86 years old, has much to bask in.

She is the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives and the first female president of the Jamaica Agricultural Society  (JAS).

Neilson, who represented East Central St. James in her stint in Parliament, has withdrawn from public life and immersed herself in church, while sharing her knowledge with the people in her district, Somerton, St. James.

“Somerton is still a lovely place to live. I still enjoy being here among the people,” said Nielson, in a recent interview with the WESTERN STAR. “I think Somerton has done well over the years and I hope it will continue.”

Born on July 16, 1931, to Caswell and Ellen Stewart, Neilson spent her formative years in Somerton. movimg to attend Mico Teachers’ College, in Kingston. She returned to Somerton, teaching for 19 years.

“My former teacher invited me to come back to Somerton to teach, so I returned home….I thought that I should offer what I had received to my community,” Neilson reflected.

She steadily immersed herself in the life of Somerton, making her mark in various aspects of community life. Ths included politics, when she became secretary for Dr. Upton Robotham, who served as the MP for the then South East St. James constituency in the early 1970s.


“I never thought I would go into politics, but when the time came it was like I was lifted up and put in the profession,” recalled Nielson. “I used to love politics and, because of that, I served as secretary for Dr. Upton Robotham during his period as our Member of Parliament.”

During those early years as a teacher, Nielson began to deepen her interest in agriculture, bringing the 4-H Club into Somerton and planting the early seed of ‘eat what you grow and grow what you eat’ in the rural community.

In later years, Neilson became president.

Now far removed from the days she walked to corridors power, Neilson has no problems resting on her laurels and giving her service to her church, the Somerton United Church.


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