History of the Senate

The framework of government introduced under the Somers Islands Company's regime in 1620 and extended under British control from 1684 onwards remained virtually intact until 1968 following a Constitutional Conference held in London two years earlier. The only major structural change before that date being the replacement of the Governor's Council in 1888 with two newly created bodies - an Executive Council and a Legislative Council. The Executive Council was renamed the Cabinet in 1973 and the title of the Legislative Council was changed to the Senate in 1980.

As a result of these changes in 1888, the executive branch of Government consisted of the Governor and the Executive Council, which included senior civil servants and five or six representatives from the House of Assembly, all of whom were appointed by the Governor. The Legislature has been bicameral since 1888; the Legislature then consisted of an elected Lower House (The House of Assembly) and an Upper House (The Legislative Council). The Legislative Council then comprised of civil servants and other members, all of whom were also appointed by the Governor.

The Executive Council was renamed the Cabinet after the passage of relevant legislation in 1973, and following Bermuda's second Constitutional Conference held at Warwick Camp in 1979, the Legislative Council was retitled the Senate. In 1980, the Upper House met for the first time under its new title. The Hon. J.M. Smith (now Dame the Hon. Jennifer Smith), who served as Bermuda's first Progressive Labour Party Premier from November 1998 to July 2003, was the first to be appointed as a senator to this body. Before the name change occurred, Dr. the Hon. M.L. Bean, M.B.E. (latter Dame the Hon. Marjorie Bean) had the distinction of being the first and only female to serve in the Legislative Council.