William Alexander Bustamante and Adoption

A portrait of Jamaican politician Alexander_Bustamante



Also known as William Aelxander Clarke and Alejandro Bustamanti

First Prime Minister of Jamaica

Little is known for certain about Bustamante's early life, which he seems to have deliberately concealed or fabricated, but he was probably born in Jamaica into poverty, one of 13 children, to an Arawak mother and an Irish father, and spent some years in the USA, apparently without legal papers and for some of the time under an assumed name.

When he returned to Jamaica it was as "the adopted son of a Castilian Spaniard" According to this story he was adopted at the age of 15 by a wealthy Spanish army officer on vacation in Jamaica, and spent some years in Spain, where he was well educated. He joined the Spanish army, then worked in Cuba and Panama, before going to New York, where he became wealthy through judicious investments and money-lending following the stock market crash of 1929. Returning to Jamaica he formed the Bustamante Industrial Trade Unions in 1942, with himself as president for life, and he was arrested for civil disorder in the campaign for Jamaican independence. When independence was achieved in 1962 he was elected the country's first prime minister, and was succeeded in 1967 by his cousin and political rival, Norman Manly.


Dever, Maria, and Dever, Aileen. Relative Origins: Famous Foster and Adopted People. (Portland: National Book Company, 1992) Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia, 1993-97 Dictionary of National Biography Eaton, George E. Alexander Bustamante and Modern Jamaica. (Kingston: Kingston Publishers, 1975) Cartwright, David M. "[Democratic Socialism in Jamaica]." Available at: