One of the world’s largest insurance firms, Lloyd’s of London has agreed to pay reparations for slavery after its role in the slave trade was highlighted in an academic database, the Telegraph reported.
The announcement came as people around the world protest in solidarity with African Americans against police brutality and racial discrimination over George Floyd‘s death in police custody. People in the U.K. “demand that the U.K. recognise the ongoing legacy of the British empire’s extensive role in the enslavement of millions of Africans,” Kevin Rawlinson wrote for the Guardian.
When the British empire abolished slavery in 1833, the government agreed to pay compensation/reparations, but not to enslaved people. To slaveholders.
Records archived by researchers at University College London show that nine U.K. businesses including several banks benefited directly or indirectly from the compensation.
Simon Fraser, a founding member of Lloyd’s of London, owned at least 162 slaves. Fraser owned the Castle Bruce estate in Dominica and received reparations of about £400,000 (US$508,407) in today’s value to cede the plantation. The Fraser family owned other slaves in British Guiana, researchers believe.
“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.
In particular, we are sorry for the role played by the Lloyd’s market in the 18th and 19th century slave trade,” a Lloyd’s spokesman said on Wednesday. “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.”
Lloyds Banking Group is linked to the slave trade in other ways, The Telegraph reported. John White Cater, a president of London and Brazilian Bank, which later became part of Lloyds Banking Group, was compensated for five claims on estates in Jamaica. Eight former companies associated with Lloyds have links to claimants or beneficiaries in the UCL database, The Telegraph reported.
In addition to Fraser, a former chairman of Lloyd’s of London is listed as a claimant or beneficiary in the UCL database, and four others had links to estates.
Other companies in Britain linked to the slave trade include:
Greene King, one of the U.K.’s largest pub chains. The company was founded in the early 1800s by Benjamin Greene, one of 47,000 people who benefited from the U.K. government’s decision to compensate Brits when slavery was abolished in 1833, The Telegraph reported.
Greene was paid £500,000 in today’s value when he gave up rights to three plantations in the West Indies.
Royal Bank of Scotland
Lloyd’s said, “We will provide financial support to charities and organisations promoting opportunity and inclusion for black and minority ethnic groups.” Lloyd’s also said it would now review its “organisational artefacts to ensure that they are explicitly non-racist”.
Written by Dana Sanchez