Norman McNeil

Norman McNeil was born into slavery on the island of Tobago on July 3, 1821. He grew up to be a stalwart on this island. He conclusively distinguished himself as one who concerned himself with bettering the lot of the enslaved.

Overall, he was a shining light to both his peers and the others among whom he existed. He did so by being a leader in the fields of education and the clergy. What is truly significant about this is that he consistently distinguished himself as one concerned with these fields at a time when slaves in the Caribbean were at the opening edge of an emancipation process that was cast in very challenging circumstances, especially as this related to basic human survival in the context of emancipation.

Besides the challenges of availing oneself with the bare necessities for basic survival, this was a period when education and the clergy were fields exclusively dominated by the master class. This included denial by the master class of basic elements of education to the enslaved. Therefore, it was a huge challenge for anyone from among the enslaved to have gained an education, far more so to have gained proficiency to a level as Norman did, to have been chosen as an educator with the title of School master at the age of 21. 

Though Norman was not alone as one from among the enslaved who pursued being an educator and a catechist, he was certainly one of those who did so exceptionally.

In the early 1840’s, the time at which Norman McNeil committed himself to lifelong labor in the dry well of education among the emancipated on the island of Tobago, these newly emancipated persons faced many severe challenges around which their existence had to be designed.

After a life of subsidized feeding where their labor was exchanged for meagre food and shelter, with emancipation, these two essentials were now their business. They were now detached from the master and the estate where daily victuals were a part of that arrangement. Norman McNeil saw the dire need for education as an imperative in leading to true emancipation, and devoted his entire life to this, starting at the age of 21 in 1842, until his death in 1897.

The Foundation

Being aware of the work of Norman McNeil, and being aware of the continuing need for education among the descendants of the African Enslavement Experience, descendants of Norman McNeil created the Norman McNeil Family Foundation (NMFF) in 2021 to continue his legacy of education of those in the Whim and Tobago communities.

The goals of the foundation are:

  1. To promote the development and betterment of Tobago, with an emphasis on Whim and surrounding rural communities,
  2. To promote a broad interpretation of Education as it applies to the people of Tobago,
  3. To promote and celebrate the achievements of people of Tobago,
  4. To promote the teachings and principles of Norman McNeil, ancestor and former slave turned teacher at the Dunvegan Estate in Tobago,
  5. To do all such other lawful things as are incidental or conducive to the attainment of the above objectives.


The Norman McNeil Family Foundation is led by the following descendants of Norman McNeil. Non-descendants are also welcome to join us in the executing the Mission of the organisation. 

Mervyn O'Neil


Mervyn is an author and the current editor of the Tobago Voice magazine. In the past he focused on building communities through sport and culture in Tobago and Trinidad, and joined others in the 1970s to establish the Carivibes Radio Program, Trinidad and Tobago Carnival parade in Boston, and the Crossover Magazine in Los Angeles. He is a retired Chemical Engineer who has worked in the fields of chemistry and education in the USA.

Mervyn is a great great grandson of Norman McNeil.

Marina Dumas-Toppin


Marina has over three decades of administrative experience. While resident in Barbados, she co-launched a management training company, which provided administrative and professional training to over 500 Barbadians. She was awarded Secretary of the Year In 1985 and served as President of the Barbados Secretaries Association in 1990.

Now retired, Marina is an active member of the Yahweh Foundation, and her church.

Marina is a great granddaughter of Norman McNeil.

Janine Taylor


Janine Taylor is the Chief Human Resources Officer at Advocates, a patient support services company. In this role, she is responsible for the strategic direction and execution of Human Resources policies, programs and practices that support and advance Advocates’ mission.

Janine is a great great granddaughter of Norman McNeil.



Over thirty five years experience in the business and accounting fields. Roma has worked her way up through the business echelon. After fifteen years as an employee in the industry. Roma relinquished her position as Financial Controller to establish Reliable Accounting and Tax Services in February 1989. She is also the Dean of the Business Department at Canada Christian College.

Roma is a great great granddaughter of Norman McNeil.

Regina Dumas


For the past 25 years, Regina has owned and managed a rural retreat – Cuffie River Nature Retreat – which, as the name implies, has created a space within nature to welcome those who put the emphasis on personal wellness and care for the environment. Rural communities and their development continue to be the front and centre of her personal and professional interests.

Regina is a great granddaughter of Norman McNeil.

Ryan F Allard, PhD

Director and Corporate Secretary

Educated in 4 countries across 3 continents, Ryan has had varied professional experiences working in academia, policy consulting, business consulting, and sustainability advising. He’s a company founder, a researcher, a speaker, formerly a business consultant and trader. He also builds full stack web applications.  

Ryan is a great great grandson of Norman McNeil.

NMFF logo

To continue the legacy of Norman McNeil. 


Trinidad and Tobago

West Indies

(+1 868) 336 2199

info [at]

ⓒ Norman McNeil Family Foundation