Thursday 22 September 2011

Cyril Duprey

Duprey was amongst those who benefitted as the result of reforms in the banking system in the period after the civil unrest of the 1920s. The reforms had seen the emergence of the ‘Penny Bank’, the Cooperative Bank, a saving institution, and the Building and Loan Association, a loan and property development organisation designed to help the small man. By the early 1960s, he was president of both. He also served as director on the board of E.P. Gibb, a local trading company

- Born on March 3rd, 1897, in Abercromby Street in St. Joseph. Named Cyril Lucius after Greek missionary in the 9th century and three popes of 3rd and 12th centuries. Third child of Joseph Francis Augustus Duprey and Leontine Garcia. Went to Nelson Street boys R.C. where he went by train. Worked in father’s cocoa estates for a couple years, then went with his brother Gilbert into ‘Duprey Bros, Commission Agents, in Henry Street, beer and stout, cotton and woollen goods and foodstuff.
(Describe economic, politic, social circumstances) Captain Cipriani was 23, Butler and Manley were children, grantley Adams born in 1898, C.L.R. James in 1901, Gomes in 1911, Eric WIlliams 1911
- Parents lost house, cocoa estates in Caura, Santa Cruz, Carapichaima and Talparo in depression of teh 1930s
- Migrated to US for 19 years, returned in 1936, lived in Belmont with father, brother, sister
- 1927: idea for CLICO started, when he was in Chicago and met with Trinidadian insurance man called Sobrian, who told him he wanted to return to Trinidad and start an insurance company. Plan: Sobrian goes to Jamaica, Duprey to Trinidad. Sobrian got killed in traffic accident in 1928. Plan continued in Duprey, “quit his job as assistant superintendent at United Mutual in Chicago, where he was earning $75 a week to start at the newly-formed Commonwealth Burial Association for $60, to get the esperience or running an office”
- 1931: quit Commonwealth, went to New York, his brother Gilbert got him a job at United Mutual Life of New York. Worked there until 1936
- Founded Colonial Life 15th December, 1936
- Duprey thrifty man, stingy, didn’t think loans were in the best interest of his employees
- Low wages - Leslie Brewster in 1937: 4 cents, but made $ 7 or 8 after a day’s selling insurance
- 1942: Publication of ‘The Clico News’
- Dream was to be present throughout the islands, hence the name
- contemporary of important people like Bertie Gomes, Eric Williams, but never wanted to get involved in politics
- First office: 75 Queen Street, occupied two rooms: one for Duprey and his secretary, one for the agents who had to share one table
- ‘Premiums ranged from 6 cents to 36 cents and were parid weekly, and it was the agents’ responsibility to collect them.’ CLICO was selling to the poorer classes - ‘the middle and upper classes were canvassed by the foreign companies’.
- Duprey drove green and white chevy, registration P2356. Went to oilfields deep south to sell policies.
- CLICO was sneered at because it was not run by ‘white people’, but their approach to go to the small man working in factories, behind the bridge, in stores worked
- In December 1937 company offered debenture of $25,000 at 6% per annum to gain revenue for expansion
 - October 1938: company has resolved its financial problems and goes into mortgage financing
- in 1937 competition: 330 Friendly Societies for death relief, sick relief, maternity benefits
- first death claim: $60 for Cliford Brewster who fell off the quarry in Laventille
- 1941: noone in the Port of Spain office earned more than $7 a month, a secretary would make $3 a week

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