Party: Chair and Rule Movement


The Chair and Rule movement was a political movement in the 1930s, associated with Richard Fallowes (q.v.), an Anglican priest on Isabel between 1929 and 1934. The Anglican Church's system of government there included secular functions, which some District Officers felt trespassed into areas more properly controlled by the government. The church had installed Wardens in each village and Fallowes inflicted corporal punishments, with canings, for some offences. He came under suspicion from Tulagi when he helped translate a petition asking that District Officer Francis Filose, who had been removed in 1932 for brutality, be restored to his post. In early 1933, under investigation by the Protectorate Government, opposed by Government Headman Walter Notare and Native Medical Practitioner George Bogesi (q.v.), and suffering mental strain, Fallowes left for a holiday in Australia. On his return he was prosecuted on fourteen counts of common assault and convicted of three. He returned to Isabel but was still under strain and went to Guadalcanal to recuperate. He left the Protectorate in 1935, severely depressed.

Fallowes returned in 1938, and after discussions on Isabel helped Paramount Chief Lonsdale Gado organise three big meetings at Mbughotu, Savo and Nggela, attended by a broad range of leaders, from priests to police and traditional leaders. Participants came from Malaita, the Russell Islands, Guadalcanal and Makira. The meetings were reminiscent of the Nggela Vaukolu meetings (q.v.) of the 1880s and 1890s, except these were more under Islander than Anglican Mission control. Fallowes' suggestion that a Speaker be elected to conduct the meeting's business was accepted. The meetings produced lists of grievances against the government and Christian missions, and petitions. Several of the latter were presented to Resident Commissioner Francis Ashley (q.v.), and they asked him to establish a technical school on Nggela and a dispensary in each district staffed by a Native Medical Practitioner; to build a government hostel in Tulagi; to allow the sale of cartridges; to stop married men signing back on to plantations for a second term; that Malaitans be given a higher wage for plantation labour and as boats crews; that the Sydney price for copra and shell be posted publicly; and that the Protectorate never be handed over to Australia or any other power. One demanded, rather wishfully, that wages be increased from 10/- to £12 a month. Lesser demands related to marriage, adultery, and rights of appeal in court, compensation, and customary payments of funeral attendants. Fallowes was also defended against the lack of support he received from his church.

The third meeting was at Nggela in June 1939. Tulagi High Commissioner Sir Harry Luke visited the Protectorate immediately afterwards and before he even reached Tulagi he faced demands at Makira and Guadalcanal, where the discontents included unhappiness with goldmining bringing no return to the people. Luke received the Nggela petition after he arrived at Tulagi, was disturbed at the degree of discontent, and blamed Fallowes, who had done no more than facilitate. Fallowes was deported on 29 July. The Chair and Rule movement declined but it had become known throughout the Protectorate and was the precursor of future movements such as Maasina Rule (q.v.). (Bennett 1987, 259-263)

Related Concepts

Published resources


  • Bennett, Judith A., Wealth of the Solomons: A History of a Pacific Archipelago, 1800-1978, University of Hawai'i Press, Honolulu, 1987. Details