Norman A. Niles

Photo courtesy of William Niles.

 

Niles, Norman Arnaud Bradley (1906–1985)

By Glenn O. Phillips

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Glenn O. Phillips, Ph.D. (Howard University, Washington, D.C.), although retired, is actively writing, researching, lecturing, and publishing. He was a professor at Morgan State University, Howard University, and the University of the Southern Caribbean. He has authored and published numerous articles, book reviews, and books, including “The African Diaspora Experience,” “Singing in a Strange Land: The History of the Hanson Place Church,” “African American Leaders of Maryland,” and “The Caribbean Basin Initiative.”

First Published: January 29, 2020

Norman Arnaud Bradley Niles was a trailblazing Caribbean Adventist attorney who served as a distinguished Barbadian jurist, community activist for the dispossessed, and voice for religious liberty. He worked for over 50 years to promote and defend religious rights and support political reformation in the pre- and post-Barbadian independence periods. He became a Seventh-day Adventist in Barbados in the 1930s, when the faith was considered an American cult and its members were ridiculed by the clergy of mainline Christian denominations. He and others demonstrated its positive impact on that society, resulting in its acceptance within his Caribbean community. His initial contact with Adventism came from reading Adventist literature sold by Edith Crawford Moe, part-time colporteur. Despite the stigma, Niles became a baptized member in 1934 and joined the King Street SDA Church in Bridgetown.1

Norman Niles was the son of Frederick and Eva Barker-Niles and was born on September 22, 1906, in Glebe Land, St. George, Barbados. His family consisted of leading members of St. George Anglican Parish Church, of which he was a youth leader who sang in the choir. He attended St. George Anglican Parish Church School and Lynch’s Secondary School in Bridgetown. After, he worked as a junior accountant at a sugar factory and wrote articles for the “Barbados Advocate,” one of the country’s leading newspapers. In 1929, he joined the legal practice of a well-known attorney, D. Lee Sargent, chief counsel to the Barbados House of Assembly.2

On July 10, 1935, Niles married Ina Edith Moe of Bell Gulley, St. Michael, and they had seven children: Lyndrey, William, Norma, Maylene, Enid, Pearl, and Bradley. Niles spent over three decades working for his legal firm while assisting many who could not afford the required fees for his work. In addition to his prolific work within the Barbadian justice system, Niles held numerous church offices such as organist, youth leader, advisor, and Sabbath school teacher. He was also an active advisor to numerous successful politicians and served on the governing board of organizations such as the Boys Scouts and the Barbados Housing Authority. He was a legal counsel for the local SDA conference, the local YMCA, and the Wesleyan Holiness Church of Barbados.3 As Niles became a leader to his church, he sought to share his faith with the wider community and willingly shared his views on the significance of important Christian principles. He authored the article, “The Blessings of Tithe Paying,” in the “Caribbean Union Gleanings.”4

In 1962, the Barbados government granted Niles the right to practice law in Barbados’s courts. He became one of the country’s leading legal authorities despite not having the opportunity to attend law school. In recognition of his contributions to Barbadian society, including his numerous volunteer hours of work on behalf of the poor, one of Barbados’s highway roundabouts bears his name.5

Norman Arnaud Bradley Niles died on January 29, 1985. His funeral was held at the King Street SDA Church, and the country’s leading politicians and jurists attended. He was buried at Westbury Cemetery, St. Michael, Barbados, West Indies.6

Sources

Anniversary Planning Committee. The King Street SDA Church, 1891-1991: One Hundred Years. Bridgetown, Barbados: King Street SDA Church Publication, 1991.

Marshall, Woodville, et. al. “Norman A. Niles Roundabout.” In Of Halls, Hills and Holes: Place Names in Barbados. Bridgetown, Barbados: Barbados Museum & Historical Society, 2016.

Niles, Bradley E. “Profile of Norman A. Niles.” Unpublished manuscript. Bellville, St. Michael, Barbados, West Indies, c. 1985.

Niles, Norman. “The Blessings of Tithe Paying.” Caribbean Union Gleanings. Vol XXX, no. 1, January 1958.

“Norman Niles Laid to Rest.” Sunday Advocate. February 3, 1985.

“Obituary of Norman Arnaud Bradley Niles, 1906-1985.” Funeral Service of Norman A. B. Niles. King Street SDA Church, Bridgetown, Barbados, West Indies. February 2, 1985.

Notes

  1. Anniversary Planning Committee, The King Street SDA Church, 1891-1991: One Hundred Years (Bridgetown, Barbados: King Street SDA Church Publication, 1991), 56.

  2. “Obituary of Norman Arnaud Bradley Niles, 1906-1985,” Funeral Service of Norman A. B. Niles, King Street SDA Church, Bridgetown, Barbados, West Indies, February 2, 1985.

  3. Bradley E. Niles, “Profile of Norman A. Niles,” unpublished manuscript, Bellville, St. Michael, Barbados, West Indies, c. 1985.

  4. Norman Niles, “The Blessings of Tithe Paying,” Caribbean Union Gleanings, vol. XXX, no. 1, January 1958, 2.

  5. Woodville Marshall, et. al. “Norman A. Niles Roundabout,” in Of Halls, Hills and Holes: Place Names in Barbados (Bridgetown, Barbados: Barbados Museum & Historical Society, 2016), 133; and “Norman Niles Laid to Rest,” Sunday Advocate, February 3, 1985, 1.

  6. Ibid.

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Phillips, Glenn O. "Niles, Norman Arnaud Bradley (1906–1985)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 29, 2020. Accessed March 01, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=AC6J.

Phillips, Glenn O. "Niles, Norman Arnaud Bradley (1906–1985)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 29, 2020. Date of access March 01, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=AC6J.

Phillips, Glenn O. (2020, January 29). Niles, Norman Arnaud Bradley (1906–1985). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved March 01, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=AC6J.