THE Bank of England and the Church of England have issued apologies on Thursday night over their historic links to the slave trade.
The Church described its links to slavery as a “source of shame” after it was revealed scores of churches, clergymen and a bishop could have benefited from the trade by gaining compensation paid to plantation owners.
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The Bank of England described the slave trade as ‘an unacceptable part of English history’[/caption]
Nearly 100 clergymen from the Church of England are thought to have benefited from slavery according to a database held by University College London (UCL).
It was also found six governors and four directors of the Bank of England are also named as claimants or beneficiaries in the database, according to The Daily Telegraph.
The names include Sir John Rae Reid, who was governor between 1839 and 1841 and who was also a director of the West India Co, who was paid £7.1 million in today’s money for his stake in 17 plantations, with 3,100 slaves, across the Caribbean.
The Bank described the slave trade as “an unacceptable part of English history” and said it would block any images of its notorious former leaders from being displayed there.
The UCL database has logged the details of the 47,000 people in the UK who received some of the £20million – equivalent to £2.4billion today – which was paid in compensation under the terms of the 1833 Abolition of Slavery Act.
Three of the world’s biggest banking and insurance companies also pledged to make payments to projects benefiting black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities after their involvement in the slave trade were revealed.
Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Lloyds Banking Group and RSA Insurance said they would be making payments or were considering doing so after they were linked to the UCL database.
Insurance giant Lloyd’s of London and the brewery and pub owners Greene King said on Wednesday they would make donations to BAME causes.
As well as the clergymen, the building of 32 churches is also linked to claimants.
They include Holy Trinity in Barnstaple which, according to British History Online, was “erected at an expense of nearly £10,000, defrayed almost wholly by the Rev. John James Scott”.
The Rev. John James Scott was the main beneficiary of more than £100,000 in today’s money paid out in compensation over plantations in Jamaica which belonged to his father.
Other clergymen who benefited from the compensation scheme were Rev George Trevelyan and Rev John Thomas Trevelyan, of Somerset.
Along with other family members, they received more than £3m in today’s money when they had to give up six estates in Grenada, which they inherited from their father, where more than 1,000 people were enslaved.
The compensation cash was paid to the clergymen rather than the church itself.
The Church of England had campaigned for the abolition of slavery in the early 1800s and issued an apology 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.
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“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.”
A Bank of England spokesman said: “As an institution, the Bank 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.”
Lambeth Palace, pictured, is the London home of the Archbishop of Canterbury[/caption]