Humphrey Barclay was born in the UK in 1941 into the famous Scottish Barclay family of which he is now Chief of the senior branch. He was privately educated at Harrow, where he became Head of the School. Having won a scholarship to Trinity College Cambridge, he first took time out to teach at a prep school in Nairobi, and then read for a degree in Classics.
During his time as an undergraduate he developed a talent in theatre which led to a career as a TV comedy producer, during which he engaged many famous stars including Judi Dench, David Jason, John Cleese and Ian McKellen, and developed a breakthrough comedy series set in a West Indian barbershop called ‘Desmond’s’.
One of the characters in ‘Desmond’s’ was an ‘eternal student’ called Matthew, played by the Ghanaian actor Gyearbuor Asante. Sadly in 2000 Gyearbuor died, and Humphrey attended his funeral in Accra. There the Chief of Gyearbuor’s ancestral town Kwahu Tafo decided to adopt Humphrey into the royal family of Asona, making him Nkosuohene of Kwahu Tafo. He was enstooled in 2001 as Nana Kwadwo Gyearbuor Yiadom I, whereupon his friends and family formed a UK charity to help the town. Over the next 14 years, Friends of Tafo raised more than three-quarters of a million pounds for a range of developments in Tafo including clean water, school supplies, health programmes and most notably the rescue of the ailing Presby Middle School which is now the thriving KWATSEC with over 1,000 pupils.
Humphrey retired in 2014, handing over his role to the Americans Mr and Mrs Dutch Meyer who continue to support Kwahu Tafo Progress Council through their charitable foundation Yeko Anim.
Humphrey had long known that one of his ancestors, a Quaker called David Barclay who was one of the founders of Barclays Bank, had freed some slaves from Jamaica in the eighteenth century and arranged for them to be conducted them to Philadelphia for education, skills-training and new lives as independent citizens. In 2015 he discovered that one of those slaves, a parentless 8-year old boy named October, had prospered, lived a full life and fathered a line of appreciative descendants, all bearing the Barclay name that David had given them.
In 2016 Humphrey and October’s great-great-grandson Keith W. Stokes (whose mother was Ruth Barclay) travelled separately to Jamaica to meet on the pen from which the slaves were liberated. And it is to Humphrey’s great delight that Keith is attending the HACSA conference with him – particularly as October appears to be an adaptation of the Akan Ottobah, which would point towards Ghanaian ancestry for Keith.