British Family To Pay Reparations, Apologize For Ancestors’ Caribbean Slave-Owning Past

The Trevelyan family owned more than 1,000 slaves and six plantations on Grenada.

Descendants of a wealthy British family that amassed wealth from Caribbean slavery are trying to make amends.

“The Trevelyan family is apologizing to the people of Grenada for the role our ancestors played in enslavement on the island, and engaging in reparations,” New York-based BBC journalist Laura Trevelyan tweeted Feb. 4.

Family research revealed that Sir John Trevelyan obtained slaves and sugar cane plantations on Grenada through marriage in 1757, The Guardian reported. In 1835, the Trevelyans were among 46,000 families the British government compensated when it abolished slavery. The Trevelyans received £26,898 (about £2.7m or US $3.25 million today) for their 1,004 slaves and six plantations on the island, allowing that wealth to compound over the course of generations.

At least 42 Trevelyan descendants have signed an apology letter after an online meeting.

“Slavery was and is unacceptable and repugnant. Its damaging effects continue to the present day. We repudiate our ancestors’ involvement in it,” the letter states, according to The Guardian.

Prince Charles Says 'Time Has Come' To Confront The History Of Slavery

The family will donate £100,000 (approximately US $120,000) to launch a fund on Feb. 27 in Grenada through the Caricom (the 15-nation Caribbean Community) Reparations Commission.

“It’s absolutely fascinating that I am seeing history being made. It takes a leap of faith for a family to say, ‘my forefathers did something horribly wrong and I think we should take some responsibility for it’. It is commendable that the Trevelyan family has taken this step and I hope it will be followed by others,” Nicole Phillip-Dowe, vice-chair of the Grenada National Reparations Commission, said, according to The Guardian.

Proceeds will go toward creating the Reparations Research Fund at the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica, as well as for economic development on Grenada.

Netherlands Prime Minister Apologizes For Dutch Role In Slavery – But Reparations Are Off The Table

The Trevelyans would like their government to follow their lead.

“We urge the British government to enter into meaningful negotiations with the governments of the Caribbean in order to make appropriate reparations through Caricom and bodies such as the Grenada National Reparations Commission,” their letter stated.

The British Royal Family has never issued a formal apology for slavery, though Prince William expressed his “profound sorrow” for the slave trade while on a trip to Jamaica in 2022.

Last year, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte apologized for his nation’s historical role in slavery and the consequences that continue today. But reparations are not on the table for the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which reaped great wealth from its slave colonies in the Caribbean and South America.

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