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Barbados may hit Cumberbatch family with reparation claim over historical links to slave trade

According to reports, the family of Oscar-nominated actor Benedict Cumberbatch may face legal action for historical links to Barbados’ slave trade.

The Daily Telegraph has been told by a top Caribbean official that they are in the “early stages” of trying to recover damages from the Cumberbatch estate’s ancestors.

This paper described how Joshua Cumberbatch (the seventh great-grandfather to Benedict Cumberbatch) bought the Cleland plantation north of the island back in 1728.

It was the home of 250 slaves, until the abolishment of slavery 100 years later.


This decision led to the UK government compensating the family and other slave-owning businesses across the British Empire.

In recent years, slavery has been at forefront of discussion across many Caribbean communities, largely due to Barbados’ decision to become a republic in 2020.

Image Barbados was declared a republic in November 2021

Barbados campaigners are asking Richard Drax, Tory MP and heir to a sugar plantation that was established in 1620s with slave labour, to return it.

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If he refuses to pay, he could be subject to a compensation request.

Officials say that even the Royal Family could be subject to a claim. However, they insist that there is no need to blame living relatives for the actions taken by their ancestors.

David Comissiong (second chairman of the national compensation commission) told the Daily Telegraph that he would like to see the ancestors slave-owning families receive damages.

He answered, “This is in the early stages.” We are only at the beginning. Many of the details from this past are only now being revealed.”

Benedict Cumberbatch has admitted to his family’s connections to slavery that he regrets. He suggested that it was the reason he played the role of William Pitt the Younger, which focused on the abolition.

Critical acclaim was also given to him for his leadership role as William Ford, plantation owner in 12 Years a Slave. This movie was more than a decade old.


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