Family of Benedict Cumberbatch Linked to Slave Trade, Could Face Reparations Claim
The family of British actor Benedict Cumberbatch could face a reparations claim due to their historical links to the Barbados slave trade.
According to Insider, Cumberbatch’s ancestors made a fortune from the Cleland sugar plantation that they owned in the 18th century in Barbados. The plantation reportedly housed 250 slaves. Per The Daily Mail, after slavery was abolished, the British government paid the family £6,000. Today, that sum would be worth approximately $1m.
“We have our past – you don’t have to look far to see the slave-owning past. We were part of the whole sugar industry, which is a shocker,” Cumberbatch said previously about his family’s slave-owning history in a 2018 interview with The Telegraph.
The Caribbean nation has launched a campaign to get slavery reparations from wealthy descendants of slave owners, The Guardian reports.
Barbados’s National Task Force on Reparations, part of the Caricom Reparations Commission (Caricom), recently called out the family of British Conservative MP Richard Drax over their ownership of a massive sugar plantation on the island. Drax could face litigation if he doesn’t agree to pay reparations, according to David Comissiong, the Barbados ambassador to Caricom and deputy chairman of the state’s task force.
“It is now a matter that is before the government of Barbados,” Comissiong told The Guardian. “It is being dealt with at the highest level.”
When it comes to Cumberbatch family now being targeted for a reparations claim, Comissiong said: “This is at the earliest stages. We are just beginning. A lot of this history is only really now coming to light.”
It’s worth noting that Cumberbatch portrayed a slave owner in the Oscar-winning 2013 movie “12 Years a Slave.”
According to The Daily Mail, his mother advised him not to use the family’s last name professionally as it could make him the target for reparations payouts.
“Any descendants of white plantation owners who have benefitted from the slave trade should be asked to pay reparations, including the Cumberbatch family,” David Denny, a leading campaigner for reparations and the general secretary of the Caribbean Movement for Peace and Integration, told The Telegraph.