Patricia Abraham, Mother in 1964 Tragedy in British Guiana (Guyana), Dies at 98

Patricia Abraham, Mother in 1964 Tragedy in Guyana, Dies at 98

HISTORY: British Guiana – The New York Times Archives | 12 June 1964

Patricia Abraham

Patricia Abraham

Eight in Family Are Killed in British Guiana Bombing

GEORGETOWN, British Guiana, June 12, 1964 Arthur Abraham, 47 years old, who was once permanent secretary in Premier Cheddi B. Jagan‘s office, and seven of his nine children died today when their city home was burned down after terrorists had thrown two bombs into it. The children, four girls and three boys, were from 6 to 10 years old.

Mr. Abraham was transferred to the Ministry of Works six months ago, after documents disappeared from his office.

The bombs were thrown as the family slept. Mrs. Patricia Abraham escaped by jumping through a window. The other two children were away from home.  

Terrorists also tried to burn down the home of Senator Ann Jardim, a member of the United Force party of Peter D’Aguiar.

Today’s deaths brought to 46 the number of persons killed in the 121-day‐old strike of sugar workers.


Fast Forward to February 2017 Catholic Standard Obituary reporting ….

Patricia Abraham, Mother in 1964 Tragedy Dies at 98

….from the Catholic Standard (Friday, Feb. 10/17).







Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  • demerwater  On 02/15/2017 at 11:06 am

    I was at that stage, questioning and challenging everything – even my own existence. I was (still am) Catholic. I had attended ‘Saints’ and had retained a liking for Chemistry.
    The tragedy was overwhelming. The children’s death aroused an outrage of mothers (you had to know Guyanese mothers of that era!) from Queenstown to Albuoystown. A couple of years earlier, Godfrey Teixeira was killed when the Enmore school bus was bombed. “May your death shock people!” Father Petrie had solemnly intoned at that eulogy. It did.
    A credible conspiracy theory ran something like this, “As long as the dead are confined to East Indian and Black people, nothing will be done. If the ‘elite’ (middle / upper class) were targeted, then you will see action”. Do you remember Gunraj? Monroe? Kowsilla?
    The PPP was blamed … and I remember my father and his younger brother conceding to me, that the space under an ‘inside stairs’ was the ideal location for a young science student’s home lab; and where a fire could be easily started … or start spontaneously! – my own theory. I had been there; fooling around with candles, torchlight (‘D’ size) batteries and bulbs – and started a fire or two, quickly put out and all evidence of the mishap ‘scrubbed clean’.
    The house in which the Abraham family lived, had all of the above – that inviting space under the stairway between floors, and inquiring, exploring minds.
    I will remember to light a candle for the repose of the soul of Patricia Abraham.
    I will feel that I am doing it for a departed matriarch in my extended family.

  • Ron Saywack  On 02/15/2017 at 5:20 pm

    “The PPP was blamed …”

    Who exactly blamed the PPP?

    Based on what is known, one can plausibly lay the blame on the Burnham-instigated race riots of that time.

    Patricia Abraham had worked as a secretary in Dr. Cheddi Jagan’s office. As such, her house could have been targeted by marauding thugs. Blaming the PPP appears to be a red herring.

  • demerwater  On 02/16/2017 at 6:38 am

    “The PPP was blamed”. I did not mean the statement to be the subject of a present day debate. I was trying to render some context to an event which touched my very soul and helped to shape my conscience; which form an indestructible core of what I am – here and now – fifty something years later.

  • Clyde Duncan  On 02/18/2017 at 7:38 pm

    On 17 February 1964, the Guiana Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU) called a country-wide strike to demand recognition as the bargaining agent for the country’s sugar workers.

    A new Governor, Sir Richard Luyt, arrived in Guyana to succeed Sir Ralph Grey and he was sworn in on 7 March 1964.

    The PPP Government objected to his appointment, saying that Grey’s successor should be a Guyanese and the PPP Ministers refused to attend the swearing-in ceremony.

    No doubt, this objection to Luyt’s appointment was one of the reasons the new Governor was to display a bias against the PPP Government for the remainder of 1964.

    From early in 1964, the British Government began a process to reduce the powers of the Guyana Government.

    In the first instance, on 26 February, by a special order signed by the Queen, a military force styled the Special Service Unit, under direct control of the Governor, was established.

    Then on 26 March, an Order in Council signed by the Queen gave the Governor full powers to make regulations for registration of voters for the elections under proportional representation.

    The Government was relieved of any authority on this matter. Then on 29 May, the British Government vastly extended the emergency powers of the Governor.

    The constitution was also amended by the British Government to prevent the Council of Ministers to have any control over the Governor’s new powers.

    The constitution was further amended by the British Government on 23 June to allow for the new electoral system of proportional representation and for the election of a unicameral House of Assembly comprising of 53 members.

    In effect, these acts reduced the constitutional authority of the Guyana Government since they removed the powers held by the Ministers and placed them in the hands of the Governor, who by mid-1964 – had become a virtual dictator.

    Armed with these dictatorial powers, Governor Luyt on 13 June ordered the detention of 32 members of the PPP, including some legislators and Deputy Premier Brindley Benn, after accusing them of instigating the racial disturbances.

    The detention of the PPP legislators caused the PPP to become a “minority” in the legislature. According to Dr. Jagan, this “amounted to a suspension of the constitution”.

    The GAWU finally called off the strike on 25 July without the recognition issue being resolved. Nevertheless, the terror and violence continued.

    In Georgetown, a senior civil servant, Arthur Abraham, and his seven children were killed when their home was set on fire.

  • Ron Saywack  On 02/20/2017 at 8:31 am

    It must also be noted that the Indians (the Indentured replacements for the emancipated slaves) were conned into coming over to the West Indies to work on the sugar plantations with a ‘fat’ chance to significantly improve their standards of living.

    The colonial masters were, contractually and morally, obligated to provide steady employment for the workers, for which they were brought over. But that was more like wishful thinking!

    In 1964, cane-cutters at Leonara (West Demerara) were rudely informed by management on 6 February that they could only provide employment for half of the workers. The shocked workers then pleaded with management that work be provided for all of them, not just half, but their plea fell on deaf ears, as was customary practice by the stoic Planters.

    Consequently, the workers decided to go on strike en masse the following day. Later that month, workers from every estate in the country joined the strike in a show of solidarity. They then called on the GAWU to represent them as they did not trust the MPCA, the anti-government union.

    The workers’ motive was purely to keep working to provide for their families. They did not decide to go on strike to ignite trouble or for political reasons as some would seem to insinuate. For the cane-cutters, it was an ongoing struggle for economic survival under very dire circumstances.

  • Clyde Duncan  On 02/20/2017 at 10:40 am

    I suppose this forum entitles all of us the privilege of expressing our opinions.

    However, I am aghast when some get on board with what we call today, “fake news”; “alternative facts”; “alternative language” and assert that their version is RIGHT.

    Arthur Abraham [a man] who was a Permanent Secretary in the office of Premier, Dr. Cheddi B Jagan, was re-assigned to another ministry after documents allegedly disappeared from the office of the premier and found its way to the Office of the Governor of British Guiana.

    The Abraham home was subsequently fire-bombed, allegedly by unknown terrorists.

  • Ron Saywack  On 02/20/2017 at 2:43 pm

    A contemporary of Authur Abraham wrote:

    “The silence of survivors of the urban middle class community who knew Arthur Abraham is almost deafening as if Arthur Abraham did not exist. However … I now break my silence and commit to this letter what I know of Arthur Abraham.

    He was Secretary to the Governor, and in that office, he functioned like a ministerial Permanent Secretary to His Excellency. He was also Clerk (de facto Secretary) to Her Majesty’s 1957-1961 Executive Council which was the policy making body of the then Government of British Guiana.

    He was not Dr Jagan’s Permanent Secretary.

    He was, of course, privy to state secrets and official information in the Governor’s Office and in the Executive Council during his tenure as Secretary to the Governor and Clerk to the Executive Council.

    However, giving out of information in respect of state matters to unauthorised sources was a criminal offence under the Oath of Office of Secretary to the Governor, the Oath of Office of Clerk to the Executive Council and the Official Secrets Act of the Civil Service.

    Arthur Abraham would have been formally sworn to faithfully and loyally uphold the conditions of these statutory instruments.

    Dr Jagan was Premier and Minister of Development and Planning in the new government that came into office soon after the August 16, 1961 general election. Arthur Abraham helped briefly in the transition of the Executive Council to the Council of Ministers, after which he proceeded on his vacation leave.

    The permanent secretaries to Dr. Jagan were Mr Clifton Low a Chee and Mr Harold Rabindranath Persaud…” Rampersaud Tiwari.

  • Cecil Sawh  On 05/16/2017 at 4:40 am

    These are the events that needs to be publicised in the media often, so the Public know where they come from and where they are going.

    • Cecil Sawh  On 05/16/2017 at 11:00 am

      It is the duty of every Guyanese to read your history, and make sure that no one is ever injured or killed again Violence is not the solution to problems, it must be Dialogue .Just look at other nations, how they manufacture and export their products. When you make things,you create jobs,when you sell, you earn money. and when you add the two together, it equals a higher quality of life for you and your family.AND give your country recognition. The rest is up to YOU.

  • B.N. Barr  On 04/13/2018 at 8:24 pm

    This is so sad! I just read about it. I am doing an art history project which has brought the family name of Abraham to my attention, as I study the life’s of the successful Victorian artist Maude Goodman. I’ve read about how Maude gave some paintings to Benjamin Victor Abraham in the late 1800’s and as these may have been passed down I can’t help but wonder if these paintings were also a tragic loss as a result of this attack and the subsequent burning of the house? If these were the descendants of BV Abraham could that have been the case? Which means we may never know what those paintings looked like or who the portraits were of?

  • IRWIN DANDRADE  On 05/14/2021 at 9:41 pm

    I was in that house when the fire started at 9 years old, I lived at 98 Hadfield next door and while my grandmother was “gaffing” with aunty Pat, I was playing with the girls My name is Irwin Dandrade and I still remember that night.

    • Chris  On 05/15/2021 at 5:08 am

      Hello Irvin:

      What else would you like to tell us about the fire?

      I understand you were only a child then.

      An opinion, a fact or whatever you were told about the incident would be greatly appreciated.

      Thanks, Chris.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: