4th May 1909 - 15th Dec 1988
BOTANIST: a person who studies plant life (botany)
CLONE: an exact copy of an organism produced through asexual reproduction
CROP HUSBANDRY: the field of science concerned with the growing and harvesting of crops as a business
HORTICULTURE: the planting and growing of garden plants
HYBRID SEEDLINGS: plants produced from two different parent plants. These seedlings are developed to possess the valuable traits such as disease resistance, size, colour, taste, and other desirable qualities of both parent plants.
Mr. William Freeman always wore his trademark field gear to work, which comprised of a chocolate coloured t-shirt and short pants.
Caribbean Icons in STI Volume 2
Mr William Freeman studied the science of cocoa breeding and developed one of the world’s most commercially successful varieties of cocoa, the Trinidad Select Hybrid (TSH), which now has eight clones. These are highly regarded for their superior yield, excellent flavour and resistance to diseases. TSH is distinct and makes for the best and most expensive chocolate in the world.
William Edwin Freeman was born on 4th May, 1909 in Kent, England and moved to Trinidad as a young boy when his father got a job as the Director of Agriculture. He attended the primary school at the Queen’s Royal College and continued his schooling in England. With a great love for nature, he gravitated to studying science at the University of London. At the university, he proved to be both a good student and a good athlete. He gained first class honours in botany and did postgraduate studies at University of Cambridge where he captained the university’s rugby team and excelled on the rowing team. He attained further qualifications at the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture, Trinidad completing his thesis on cocoa.
After graduating in 1931, Freeman conducted research in Africa on various crops, including tobacco, oil palm, groundnuts, cotton, banana, cocoa and rubber. He supervised numerous plantations and did research on the use of different fertilisers on these plantations. He retired as Senior Botanist in 1953.
He returned to Trinidad in 1954 and lectured in crop husbandry at the Eastern Caribbean Farm Institute (now Eastern Caribbean Institute of Agriculture and Forestry – ECIAF) in Centano. A few years later, he joined the Cocoa Board as a research officer where he bred improved cocoa clones and hybrid seedlings during the period 1956 to 1978. He also started using methods of planting cocoa trees at closer intervals to increase yields. After many years of experimentation, he developed the highly acclaimed TSH clones.
His work was of importance to all cocoa growing nations, but mostly to Trinidad and Tobago, which produces the finest quality cocoa in the world. When the Cocoa Board stopped operations, Freeman continued his work at the Ministry of Agriculture until he retired in 1978.
Freeman loved plants and was an active member of the Horticultural Society of Trinidad and Tobago. He was honoured by the Agricultural Society of Trinidad and Tobago and The University of the West Indies, which named a street after him. He passed away on 15th December, 1988. He was posthumously awarded the Chaconia Medal (Gold) in 1991 for his outstanding contribution to agriculture.
Mr William Freeman believed in simplicity and advised, “If there are two words with the same meaning, always use the shorter one.”