According to Historical Britain, a public institution, Britain enslaved 3.1 million Africans between 1640 and 1807 and carried them to colonies around the world. According to the National Archives, most of these individuals were taken to the Caribbean to work on sugar fields, making their owners very rich with exports of sugar, molasses and rum.
When the colonial slavery was lifted in 1833, the British government paid £ 20 million ($ 25 million) to compensate the slave owners, receiving nothing enslaved. According to Historic England, in today’s terms, compensation equates to approximately £ 16.5 billion ($ 20.6 billion).
In recent weeks, Black Lives Matter protests erupted in the UK, demonstrators smashed the sculpture of the seventeenth century slave trader Edward Colston and asked for the removal of other monuments.
“Slave owners were a very important way of transferring slavery fruits to metropolitan Britain,” said University College London.
The university’s database shows that several ex-governors and principals of the Bank of England owned slaves. These individuals were compensated by the British government when slavery was lifted, in some cases it took several thousand lira to save their slaves.
The Bank of England spokesperson said on Friday that the eighteenth and nineteenth century slave trade was an “unacceptable” part of British history and apologized for the role played by former governors and administrators. The spokesperson said they would take pictures of ex-governors and principals involved in the slave trade of the central bank.
Churches and cathedrals Becky Clark, director of the cathedrals and church buildings of the Church of England, said in a statement, considering how they can address the problems posed by Black Lives Matter when it comes to monuments. This may include changing the removal of monuments, but added that this should be done “safely and legally”.
“Slavery and exploitation have no place in society,” said the Church of England spokesperson. “Although we accept the leading role that the clergy and the Church of England play an active role in eradicating slavery, it is a shame that others within the Church actively pursue and profit from it,” said the spokesperson.
Large companies around the world are struggling on how to approach racial injustice. British companies Lloyd’s of London, the world’s oldest insurance market and pub chain Greene King, acknowledged their relationship with the slave trade earlier this week.
– Clare Duffy contributed to the reports.