top of page

Britain colossuses with ancient slave ties supply minority programs

Two of the UK’s biggest companies have pledged to economically support projects in order to promote and assist minorities, as Britain continues to reckon with its responsibility in the slave trade.

Specifically, the Insurance colossus Lloyd’s of London and the popular pub chain Greene King made the vow after they were linked by a University College database with ties to the slave trade.

Nonetheless, the College’s analysis revealed that Simon Fraser, a founder subscriber member to Lloyds, was given 400,000 pounds ($502,00) in today’s currency, to surrender an estate in Dominica.

A chart shows slave trade records, on display at the new International Slavery Museum in Liverpool, England. Britain’s largest companies have promised to offer funds to benefit projects assisting minorities in the latest sign of Britain’s reckoning with its role in the slave trade. Insurance giant Lloyd’s of London and pub chain Greene King made the pledges after they were named in a University College database of firms involved in the slave trade, it was reported on Thursday, June 18, 2020. Image credit AP Photo/Dave Thompson, File/ABC News

“Lloyd’s has a long and rich history dating back over 330 years, but there are some aspects of our history that we are not proud of,'' Lloyd's declared in a prepared statement after the news. “In particular, we are sorry for the role played by Lloyd’s market in the eighteenth and nineteenth-century slave trade. This was an appalling and shameful period of English history, as well as our own, and we condemn the indefensible wrongdoing that occurred during this period.''

On the other hand, the pub chain was founded in 1799 by Benjamin Greene, who was among the 47,000 people who received compensation intended for slave owners when the British Empire banned slavery in 1833. Hence, Greene surrendered three plantations in the West Indies for the equivalent of 500,000 pounds ($628,000) in today’s currency.

Greene King’s chief executive Nick Mackenzie declared to the Daily Telegraph that the pub chain would immediately update its website to mention past connections to slavery. He also tried to advance an apology.

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."

The Greene King logo is seen outside the Sherlock Holmes Pub, in London. Image credit Independent Online

Yet, after the turbulent news that swipes across the UK, many companies, including Lloyds and pub chain Greene King, have taken some kind of action after the massive worldwide protests inspired by the May 25th brutal murder of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis, US.

Many protesters supported by the Black Lives Matter movement in the English city of Bristol pulled down a statue of Edward Colston, a 17th-century slave trader and philanthropist, and left it in the city’s harbour.

Pressures also called for Oxford University to remove a statue of Cecil Rhodes, a Victorian imperialist in southern Africa who made a fortune from mines and endowed Oxford University’s Rhodes scholarships.


bottom of page