History of the Legislature

Bermuda's Parliament one of the oldest known Legislatures dates back to 1st August 1620. On that day the then incumbent Governor, Nathaniel Butler, summoned a General Assembly to convene at the church (later called St. Peter's Church) in the town of St. George. The Assembly, the forerunner of Bermuda's present House of Assembly, included two male representatives ("chosen by voice") from each of the Tribes (now designated Parishes) into which the colony was then divided. These elected representatives met jointly with the Governor and his Council to discuss local problems, administer justice and to formulate legislation, which, when finally agreed to, was to be forwarded to England for approval.

In opening the first meeting of Bermuda's Parliament, Governor Butler expounded on the ideas which he felt should serve as guidelines in future debates.

"We come not hither for ourselves only and to serve our own turns or any man's in particular, but to serve and regard the public... We are therefore to riddle ourselves from all bases desire of gain. We are to despise all private interests, thus fare at least, as to cause them to give place to the general."

Since 1684, when direct administrative control of Bermuda's affairs was transferred to England, Bermuda's Governors, representing the authority of the Crown and acting on instructions from the mother country, have played a major executive role in Bermuda until the 1960's when, following the Constitutional Conference in 1966, Bermuda moved from a representative to a responsible form of government, a chance which became effective after the 1968 general election.

In 1815, Hamilton replaced the Town of St. George as the capital of Bermuda. In the same year, the Parliament, the courts and all public offices were transferred to the new capital. The first gathering of the Assembly took place in the Town Hall on Front Street on the 13th January 1815. In 1826 the Assembly moved to the Sessions House on Parliament Hill, meeting place ever since.