It is still shock and silence a day after shocking details of looting through slavery as revealed by two key institutions in the United Kingdom looking back in history and reprimanding key participants in slavery. The story as carried in the UK’s Mail Online, (https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8438159/Church-Bank-England-apologise-historic-links-slave-trade.html) appears to be the longest and most detailed version. It reconfirms the theories of underdevelopment and dependency that was popular in Third World universities in the 1970s before attention was diverted from critical disciplines to courses such as Marketing and Advertising towards producing graduates who will sell products without asking any questions. It indicates in particular how the Bank of England has confirmed it is removing the portraits of 11 of its former governors from its walls. The 11 are those who profited from what the institution has labelled as ‘inexcusable’ slave trade and slave ownership totaling about 5,000 slaves.
The paper names former chiefs at the central bank in London to include Daniel Giles in 1795 who was the co-mortgagee of estates in Grenada to Benjamin Buck Greene in 1873 who was a plantation manager in St Kitts. Others were Jeremiah Harman in 1816 who had 409 slaves and three estates in St Kitts; John Palmer in 1830 with 238 slaves and two estates in Grenada; and Timothy Curtis in 1837 who had 206 slaves and an estate in St Vincent; John Reid in 1839 had 3,112 slaves and 17 estates in Jamaica, the Virgin Islands and other areas; Thomson Hankey Jnr in 1851 who owned 534 slaves and four estates in Grenada; and West Indian merchant Sheffield Neave in 1857.
The final two former governors were Alfred Latham in 1861 who owned 402 slaves, three estates in Jamaica, Nevis and Tobago; while Bonamy Dobree in 1859 had 19 slaves and two estates in British Guiana, said the Mail Online.
In the move described as landmark, the Bank has, for the first time, acknowledged its role in the kidnapping and transportation of thousands of people, lamenting the ‘unacceptable part of English history’ and saying it will remove images of governors and directors involved in the ‘inexcusable’ trade.
The move is consequent upon several of the UK’s largest companies issuing apologies and promises to make reparations after their historical links to slavery were laid bare. The Church of England is not left out, having also apologised for historic links to slavery through vicars and bishops who benefited from the barbaric practice. The Church said it was a ‘source of shame’ that clergymen, churches and a bishop may have benefited from a compensation plan that paid plantation owners when slavery was abolished.
According to the story, a University College London database revealed that almost 100 Church of England clergymen had benefited from slavery, while six governors and four directors at the Bank were reported as beneficiaries or claimants of compensation, The Telegraph reports. Church clergymen had been involved in claims that would be the equivalent of £46 million in today’s money, research of the database shows, with the construction of 32 churches linked to claimants.
Those churches include Barnstaple’s Holy Trinity, which was built at an expense of almost £10,000, paid for nearly entirely by the Rev James Scott, according to British History Online. Scott had been the primary beneficiary of payouts worth more than £100,000 of today’s money for his father’s Jamaica plantations.
The rest of the story runs as follows but without the in-boxes provided by the paper in the original copy:
The Rt Rev Henry Philpotts, a former bishop of Exeter, had been named as executor of three claims for three Jamaican plantations worth more than £1.5 million on today’s money – though researchers had said there was no evidence that Bishop Philpotts had owned slaves personally.
The cash had been paid to individual members of the clergy, not to the Church itself, which had campaigned to abolish slavery in the early 19th century. It also apologised for historic cases in 2006.
A Church of England spokesman said: ‘We are unfamiliar with this data, but slavery and exploitation have no place in society. While we recognise the leading role clergy and active members of the Church of England played in securing the abolition of slavery, it is a source of shame that others within the Church actively perpetrated slavery and profited from it.’
The City of London’s past has come under the microscope after the Black Lives Matter protests sparked a debate about how Britain should recognise its slave-trading past.
Many directors and governors involved after the Bank’s creation in 1694 had made their fortunes from the slave trade. As well as financing so-called adventurers who were involved in the brutal exploitation of people, the bank financially underpinned British wars in the 18th century to protect the slave colonies.
At one stage, Sir Humphry Morice, a governor of the Bank between 1727 and 1729, owned more slave vessels than anybody else in the country.
The Bank of England said yesterday: ‘There can be no doubt that the 18th and 19th century slave trade was an unacceptable part of English history.
‘As an institution, the Bank of England was never itself directly involved in the slave trade, but is aware of some inexcusable connections involving former Governors and Directors and apologises for them.
‘The Bank has commenced a thorough review of its collection of images of former Governors and Directors to ensure none with any such involvement in the slave trade remain on display anywhere in the Bank.
‘The Bank is committed to improving diversity and is actively engaging with staff, particularly with our BAME colleagues, to help us identify and shape concrete steps that can be taken now to progress the Bank’s efforts to be as inclusive as possible.’
Insurance giant Lloyd’s of London and the pub group Greene King said yesterday they would give substantial financial support to black and ethnic minority charities.
Benjamin Greene, who founded the pub chain in 1799, was a leading proponent of slavery, and managed several sugar plantations in the West Indies.
Royal Bank of Scotland has set up an internal task force to address racial inequality amid mounting pressure on big business to confront historic ties to the slave trade.
In a statement RBS claims it has spent the last 15 years looking into its own history, which stretches back some 300 years. The banking giant said it had a ‘responsibility,’ to address the ‘important and painful’ elements of its past.In a statement today the bank, which claims to have opened up its archives to historians, said it is setting up a taskforce to tackle racial inequality, saying: ‘We have a strong multi-cultural network across the bank and have recently set up a taskforce led by our BAME colleagues which will look at what more we can do as a bank and this includes looking at making contributions to BAME groups.’
Barclays, HSBC and Lloyds are also among Britain’s biggest high street lenders who are being urged to contribute to BAME causes.
The banks have acknowledged the more painful parts of their history and committed to tackling racism and injustices. But the companies, which are worth billions, are being urged to go further and make financial donations for their links to slavery.
Layla Moran MP, a challenger for the Liberal Democrat leadership, fronted calls for the banks to pay out and said she would be writing to City bosses.
Pressure on the banks to make donations has been cranked up after global insurance firm Lloyd’s of London and pub chain Greene King pledged to make contributions after their founders were revealed as slave-owners.
Since Black Lives Matter protesters tore down the statue of Bristol slave trader Edward Colston earlier this month, companies have been probed for their own links to slave trade in the Empire.
It has seen anti-racism raid a University College London database which archives compensation claims made by slave owners upon the abolition of slavery in 1833.
The records have dredged up links with well-known corporations, some of whom’s founders have been named.
Ms Moran, the MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, told the Telegraph: ‘No one can change the past – but these businesses can step up now and help to build a better, more inclusive future.’
RBS absorbed smaller banks whose bosses were embroiled in the slave trade, which reflects the bank’s own research into its history in 2009.
A lender to slave-owners Smith, Payne & Smith bank owned an estate in Jamaica between 1789 to 1798 and enslaved people on plants in Jamaica as well as acting as mortgagees on an estate in British Guiana.
The bank said it has set up a taskforce to do more to tackle slavery, building on existing efforts to reflect on its past.
In the statement today the bank said: ‘As an organisation with a history stretching back more than 300 years, these important and painful issues have a place in our history.
‘We recognise our responsibility to engage with that.
‘Over the past 15 years RBS Group has been aware of these issues and has looked into its past links with slavery very extensively and thoroughly, using both its own archives and the growing body of research materials available externally to understand and document the connections.
‘Black Lives Matter is having a profound impact on us as an organisation, with colleagues right across the bank driving a frank and open discussion about the challenges faced by the BAME community and how we can get better as a business.
‘Championing the potential of BAME employees and customers is a priority for us but we also know that too often there are extra barriers faced by people from BAME backgrounds. We know we have a substantial role to play in tackling these inequalities.
‘We have a strong multi-cultural network across the bank and have recently set up a taskforce led by our BAME colleagues which will look at what more we can do as a bank and this includes looking at making contributions to BAME groups.’
Lloyds Banking Group has come under scrutiny for its links with the London and Brazil Bank, with which it merged in 1923.
The president of the London and Brazil Bank was John White Cater, who the UCL records show was compensated for estates on Jamaica, including the Washington and Hibernia estate where 57 people were enslaved.
The bank said much has changed in its 300-year history, and claimed to ‘stand against racism, slavery and discrimination in all its forms’.A spokesperson said: ‘Like any institution that is so interwoven with our country’s history, we must acknowledge and learn from our past. Today we strive to create a fully inclusive environment for all of our colleagues, customers and communities, one that is truly representative of modern day Britain.’
Barclays merged in 1912 with the Colonial Bank, whose top executives were listed as claimants or beneficiaries by UCL.
The bank said it now strives to foster a ‘culture of inclusiveness, equality and diversity’ for customers and employees.
HSBC traces its links through George Pollard, who managed London Joint Stock Bank which later merged with Midland Bank and then HSBC.
Pollard was a trustee in a compensation claim for an estate in Nevis. HSBC declined MailOnline’s request to comment.
Greene King was founded in 1799 by Benjamin Greene – who was one of 47,000 people who benefited from a policy of compensating slave owners when Britain abolished slavery in 1833.
He received the equivalent of £500,000 in today’s money after giving up his claim to three West Indies plantations.
The UCL database also revealed that founder subscriber member of Lloyd’s of London, Simon Fraser, gave up an estate in Dominica for the equivalent of £400,000 in today’s currency.
A spokesman apologised for the role the company played by the Lloyd’s market in the 18th and 19th Century slave trades, adding that it was an ‘appalling and shameful period of English history, as well as our own’.
They committed to giving financial support to ‘charities and organisations promoting opportunity and inclusion for Black and Minority Ethnic groups’.
Lloyd’s added that they would review ‘organisational artefacts’ to make sure they are ‘explicitly non-racist’.
Greene King’s chief executive Nick Mackenzie said the company would update its website – which does not mention its historical ties to slavery – and apologised for the company’s role in the evil and inhumane practice.
He said: ‘It is inexcusable that one of our founders profited from slavery and argued against its abolition in the 1800s.
‘We don’t have all the answers, so that is why we are taking time to listen and learn from all the voices, including our team members and charity partners as we strengthen our diversity and inclusion work.’
Mr Mackenzie said Greene King would make a ‘substantial investment to benefit the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic community and support our race diversity in the business as we increase our focus on targeted work in this area.’
Beer historian Martyn Cornell told MailOnline: ‘The facts about Benjamin Greene and slavery have been in the public domain for 37 years, since a well-researched history of Greene King was published by Professor Richard Wilson of the University of East Anglia.
‘So Greene King has had almost four decades to deal with this. But it’s good to see firms finally facing up to the murkier aspects of their past, rather than ignoring those unpalatable facts, and it’s good that firms wish to do something to make up for what we now recognise as the crimes of our ancestors.’
The revelations come after the UN’s human rights chief urged countries to confront the legacy of slavery and colonialism and make amends for ‘centuries of violence and discrimination’ through reparations.
Addressing an urgent debate on racism and police brutality at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Michelle Bachelet called on countries to examine their pasts and to strive to better understand the scope of continuing ‘systemic discrimination’.
She pointed to the ‘gratuitous brutality’ on display in the killing of George Floyd, 46, who died in Minneapolis on May 25 after a police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
This symbol of ‘systemic racism… has become emblematic of the excessive use of disproportionate force by law enforcement, against people of African descent, against people of colour, and against indigenous peoples and racial and ethnic minorities in many countries across the globe,’ she said.
‘Behind today’s racial violence, systemic racism and discriminatory policing lies the failure to acknowledge and confront the legacy of the slave trade and colonialism,’ she said.
She stressed the need to ‘make amends for centuries of violence and discrimination, including through formal apologies, truth-telling processes, and reparations in various forms.’
Yesterday’s urgent council debate was called in response to Mr Floyd’s killing. His death was caught on amateur video, sparking worldwide demands to address systemic racism in the US and around the world.
African countries are calling for the council to ask Bachelet and other UN rights experts to investigate racism and policy brutality in the US, but potential support for their draft resolution is unclear.
Those in favour of slavery reparations argue that financial compensation should be made to the descendants of slaves for past injustices and continuing inequality, although this concept remains only hypothetical.
The most prominent demands for reparations have been made in the US and Britain.