Grace, Kennedy & Company Limited was founded on February 14, 1922 by Dr. John J. Grace and Mr. Fred William Kennedy. Prior to the founding of Grace, Kennedy, these two gentlemen worked for Grace Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of W.R. Grace & Company of New York City, New York.
In the United States a brief post-war economic boom which lasted from 1918 until the summer of 1921 was followed by an equally brief but sharp recession. Insolvencies tripled between 1919 and 1921. W.R. Grace and Co. of New York felt the pressure and decided to divest its Jamaican branch. Dr. John Grace realized that Grace Limited in Jamaica was not itself a failing concern but that it was being divested in order to relieve the pressure from the parent company in New York. He decided to keep it. Fred W. Kennedy, who recommended that James Moss-Solomon, then with United Fruit Company, be invited to join the new firm as Accountant, backed his decision. Like Kennedy, Moss-Solomon was of Jamaican stock.
Thus on February 14, 1922, St. Valentine’s Day and Fred William Kennedy’s Mother’s Birthday, a new firm, Grace, Kennedy & Company Limited was launched on the successes of its predecessor. The Memorandum of Association gave the Company room to carry on a general mercantile and commercial business and any other business, manufacturing or otherwise, as its Directors deemed desirable ‘…. To enhance the value of or to render profitable any of the company’s property or rights’. It was a widely permissive document. Subject to alteration or addition as the Directors might deem expedient. The Capital of the Company was £25,000 divided into 250 shares of £100 each, with power from time to time to increase the capital.
The first Directors Meeting of Grace, Kennedy & Company Limited was held on February 15, 1922, at the offices of Cargill, Cargill and Dunn, solicitors, 4 Duke Street, Kingston. Those present were Dr. John Grace, Governing Director; Fred William Kennedy, appointed a Director. The meeting appointed the Colonial Bank as the Company’s bankers; G.F. Wallace, secretary; James Moss- Solomon, accountant; and Cargill, Cargill and Dunn, solicitors, instructed to retain H. M. Radcliffe as counsel. The Company’s cheques were to be honored on the signature of the Governing Director alone, or together with that of Fred William Kennedy; and an agreement was to be concluded between the Company and Mr. Walter Fletcher for the management of the former Montego Bay branch of Grace, Limited, which had also been acquired by Grace, Kennedy & Company Limited. The former Grace. Limited branch in St. Ann’s Bay had been closed and was not purchased by Grace, Kennedy & Company Limited.
In July 1922, G. F. Wallace resigned as Secretary and R. P. Galloway was appointed in his place. In August 1922, Messrs. Wood and Carmen were appointed as the Company’s auditors and Cleveland R. Grace was appointed as Director.
The first Annual General Meeting of shareholders was held on March 5, 1923. Those present were Dr. John Grace, Fred William Kennedy, Cleveland Grace, and Walter Fletcher. R. P. Galloway attended as Secretary. The Governing Director announced that ‘…. The past year’s business had turned out as anticipated’, and presented the Balance Sheet to December 3, 1922. It was moved by Walter Fletcher, seconded by Cleveland Grace, and unanimously agreed, that a dividend be paid on shares on April 15, 1923.