Sir William Henry Doyle was 50 years old, a proper age, all things considered, when, in 1873, he became the first Bahamian to be knighted, at Buckingham Palace by Queen Victoria.
William Henry Doyle, was born in the Bahama Islands, in 1823. He enjoyed a career in politics and a stellar record in the judiciary. Doyle, eventually became, Chief Justice.
Sir William’s star really began to shine, after he was knighted. Doyle, quite naturally became somewhat of a local celebrity. The Bahamas could now boast of a ‘Sir’ in their midst. It was, all things considered, quite an achievement for the little Colony.
Sir William was already a wealthy man. He married when he was about 31 years old. The family, consisting of a wife and one daughter, lived on the fashionable, and then uber-exclusive West Hill Street. His home was called Villa Doyle. From the vantage point, Doyle had a view of Nassau, which only those residing in Government House, could equally boast of.
1874 – Sir William Doyle, Chief Justice of the Bahama Islands, is toasted by the Governor on his return from England
Chief Justice Doyle took a leave of absence in mid 1873. When he returned to Nassau, in early 1874, he returned as Sir William.
William Doyle, Mary S Doyle, and their daughter travelled to England, by boat, leaving on 25 July 1873.
March 1875 – Sir William Doyle, then ten years as Chief Justice of the Bahama Islands, is reappointed to Chief Justice of the Leeward Islands
A year after his knighthood, after enjoying decades as a top Justice, Sir William was appointed to Chief Justice of the Leeward Islands.
This post lasted less than two years.
After his knighthood, something else apparently began to happen to Sir William. He became ill. His illness, it seems, stemmed from sort of mental illness. His death was said to be a direct cause of some sort of mental deterioration.
When this mysterious mental illness became apparent, instead of coming home to Nassau, where his deterioration who have been Island gossip, Sir William went to England. There he spent his remaining time, in a quiet, unassuming area of the English countryside. No one would know him there.
“For some time past Sir William had been residing at Cheltenham, in Gloucestershire, where he died. His illness is attributed to too close an application to his official duties, which seriously affected his mental faculties. The infirmity from which he was suffering being considered permanent, arrangements were made for his retirement from office on the 1st of May, on which day his leave expired.”—- The Nassau Guardian and Bahama Island’s Advocate and Intelligencer WEDNESDAY 28th MAY 1879
February 1877 – Doyle leaves Antigua in the Leeward Islands for the Chief Justice position in Gibraltar
The sudden move for Sir William, was given all the politically correct rumblings, and ingratiating falderal befitting his high stature. What on earth was going on behind closed doors is anyone’s guess. Sir William could have been suddenly hit with any number of mental illnesses, from schizophrenia to early onset Alzheimer’s.
Sir William was only 56 years old when he died in April 1879.
Sir William was interred on 30th April 1879 in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England. He married in 1854 Mary Sarah, daughter of Mr. Samuel Johnson, of Nassau.
By 1893, the Bahama Islands boasted of two more Bahamian knighthoods – Sir George Anderson and Sir Bruce Burnside – but then they had another problem…
In 1893, the powers that be, were complaining that no Bahamian, had been promoted to posts, outside of the colony, for over 13 years.
If one did the math, 13 years prior, was around the time Sir William Henry Doyle died.