In March 2017, members of the Bough family of the Virgin Islands gathered together during the Virgin Islands commemoration events, for the 100th Anniversary Transfer of the Danish West Indies from Denmark to the United States. At the gathering, family stories were featured. At one of the informal settings, it was said that James Bough had one of the sharpest legal minds in the V.I. With that, I decided to compare the legal careers, of James Bough and Raymond Finch who were third cousins.
James Bough can be considered the first in his family to break out of the tradition of retail merchants and into Government service. He was born on St. Croix. The son of August C. Bough and the eldest child of Hadassah Summersille-Bough. He was the product of the Christiansted public school system. graduated from High School at the Polytechnic Institute, St. German Puerto Rico. In 1931; graduated from Columbia Law School , New York City.
.When James Bough returned from School, he immediately became engaged in the community. He was appointed Law Clerk to Lieutenant Governor Lawrence Cramer in the Virgin Islands. Attorney Bough was a recognized authority on the history, political development and legal structure of the Virgin Islands.
He played a significant role in the revision of the 1936 Organic Act. He was appointed a member of the 1945 Organic Act Commission to review the 1936 Organic Act. Many hearings were held in Washington and the Virgin Islands. While participating in the struggle for self-rule, he cherished the hope of one day serving the Territory as its Governor. He made three unsuccessful bids.
In 1966, he was appointed US Assistant Attorney General by US President Lyndon Johnson and in 1971, legal Counsel to the first elected governor, Melvin H. Evans. In the 1970’s, James A. Bough served a professor of government at the College of the Virgin Islands. James Augustus Bough died August, 1994 in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. He was 89 years old.
As interesting as James Bough was, new leaves were growing on another branch of the family tree. Almost 30 years later, in 1994 another US President, Bill Clinton, appointed another family member, this time as a Judge of the District Court of the Virgin Islands, Senior Chief Justice Raymond L. Finch. He was born on St. Croix the eldest child of Wilfred C. Finch and Beryl Bough-Finch. Raymond Finch was a product of the public-school system. By 1965, he received his JD and LLB in Law from Howard University.
Raymond Finch unlike James Bough, was not engaged with the aspects of political changes in the Virgin Islands; however, he was dedicated to the rule of law.
After his military career, he returned home and launched his legal career. He served over 23 years in judgeship. From Army Captain in Viet Nam to presiding judge of the District Court of the VI he provided decades of service to the people of the Virgin Islands. Finch continues to be involved with the aspects of community services benefiting young people. His dedication to the community is inspiring.
Although they are a generation apart, it doesn’t mean that they both did not have unique challenges. Obviously, coming from the Virgin Islands without racial discrimination to attend schools in the North or South, both James and Raymond had to be aware of the Jim Crow Laws and Racial discrimination.
Finch and Bough contributed greatly in their own way regardless of the limitations or struggle that they faced. An ounce of determination, pound of sacrifice, tablespoon of hope and a pinch of love; dreams become a reality. The Honorable James Bough, District Attorney and Raymond Finch, Presiding Judge have made some valuable contributions to the Virgin Islands community, and brought a sense of pride to the family for generations to come.
On Thursday, June 15, 2017 the Justices of the Supreme Court honored the accomplishments of a native son, with an Official Naming Ceremony of The Raymond L. Finch Supreme Court Building on St. Croix, USVI. (act no 7626)
Raymond Finch, a true public servant filled with humility and a heart of compassion.
I am the great niece of James Bough and the 4th cousin to Raymond Finch
Source: Daily News, 50th Anniversary edition, August 1 1980, St. Thomas USVI
Bough family history booklet.
VI Profiles, Bough Family