Sins of the ancestors: Benedict Cumberbatch is required to pay reparations for the fact that his family owned slaves
Benedict Cumberbatch's family could be forced to pay reparations to Barbados for running slave plantations on the island in the 18th and 19th centuries, according to the DailyMail.
The actor's seventh great-grandfather bought the Cleland plantation in St. Andrew, Barbados, in 1728.
250 slaves were kept on the plantation until slavery was canceled over 100 years later.
When the plantation was closed, the Cumberbatch family received £6,000 in compensation for the loss of “human property” – in today's money, this is about $4.5 million.
The British government at that time took out a loan to pay slave owners throughout Empire, which was only redeemed in 2015.
The Barbados government is now fighting to ensure that reparations are paid to the ancestors of slave families.
Conservative MP Richard Drax inherited his family's sugar plantation, which was instrumental in developing the sugar trade between the Caribbean and the United States. The 250-hectare Drax Hall plantation is currently in the best location on the resort island.
Drax is under pressure to return the land to the country, and if he refuses, the Barbados government will seek compensation from an international arbitration tribunal. If the ruling is in favor of the island, Drax will be the first descendant of a slave family to be successfully prosecuted.
The Secretary General of the Caribbean Peace and Integration Movement told The Telegraph: “To all the descendants of white plantation owners who benefited from the slave trade should be asked for reparations, including the Cumberbatch family.”
Denny, a self-proclaimed Barbadian “revolutionary”, campaigned for Drax to donate “hundreds of millions” to build schools, roads and health centers in Barbados, among other public projects.
David Commissioniong, Barbados' ambassador to the Caribbean Community, is also advocating that the Drax and other slave families pay reparations.
“Much of this story is only now becoming clear,” – he said.
Drax traveled to the Caribbean island back in October to meet with the island's prime minister, Mia Mottley, to discuss the future of the former plantation.
It is not known if Cumberbatch's ancestors' money helped the actor , who was educated at Harrow School.
In 2015, Cumberbatch revealed that his mother, actress Wanda Ventham, urged him not to use his real name for professional purposes, so that he would not be the target of a new Caribbean reparation campaign or compensation for the descendants of slaves.
In 12 Years a Slave, Cumberbatch plays plantation owner William Ford.
The Oscar-nominated actor first spoke about his family's origins when he starred in the film on the abolition of the death penalty “Amazing Lightness” in 2006.