Media Coverage

Launch of the database in February 2013

Here is a selection of the newspaper articles, blogs and podcasts from all around the world which resulted from the publication of the database.

Newspaper articles

Britain’s colonial shame: slave-owners given huge payouts after abolition Independent, 24/02/2013

We must be honest about our role in slavery Independent, 24/02/2013

David Cameron’s ancestors received slavery compensation The Voice, 25/02/2013

’Prime Minister, where are my 40 acres and a mule?’ Lee Jasper’s proposal to David Cameron after previously unseen historical records reveals how the Government compensated slave owners The Voice, 25/02/2013

Slavery payouts fuel reparations debate The Voice, 26/02/2013

Britain’s massive debt to slavery The Guardian, 27/02/2013

Orwell family among 3,000 slave-owners who received compensation BBC News Online, 27/02/2013

Ancestors of Dorset MP Richard Drax on slavery database BBC Dorset, 27/02/2013

Site traces huge payouts slave owners received after abolition, 27/02/2013

Database lets Britons find slave-owning ancestors Associated Press (wire copy), 27/02/2013

Britain comes clean on slave fortunes Op Ed News, 27/02/2013

Database lets British see who owned slaves San Francisco Chronicle, 27/02/2013

Secret shame: the Scots who made a fortune from abolition of slavery Herald Scotland, 28/02/2013

Prof Tom Devine: Scotland has washed its hands of slavery past Scottish Sun, 28/02/2013

How Plymouth turned its back on slavery in 1833 This is Plymouth, 28/02/2013

David Cameron’s ancestors had owned slaves: report The Indian Express, 28/02/2013

North Yorkshire’s slavery links documented online York Press, 28/02/2013

Britain comes clean on slave fortunes Truth Out, 28/02/2013

Site lets kin see if family owned slaves New Zealand Herald, 01/03/2013


Today BBC Radio 4, 27/02/2013

Focus on Africa BBC World Service


Janet Finlay, Profits of misery, 14/03/2013

Anne M. Powers, Your ancestor - slave or slave-owner?, 16/03/2013

Launch of the first LBS project in June 2009

In its first weeks, the Legacies of British Slave-ownership project excited considerable interest in the media. Notably, the front page story of the Financial Times of 27 June 2009, written by Carola Hoyos, highlighted the question of the links between the banking firm Rothschilds and the law firm Freshfields and compensation for slave-ownership.

The story brought forth responses from both companies. Rothschild's issued a statement on 29 June 2009 stating:

"A story published in the Financial Times on 27 June stated that Nathan Mayer Rothschild, the founder of the British house of Rothschild, had an indirect link to the slave trade through a loan arrangement with the owner of an Antiguan estate in the 1830s.

Rothschild was not aware of the existence of this link until the FT brought it to our attention.

Nathan Mayer Rothschild was in fact a reformer and well known and prominent campaigner for equality and civil liberties in his day. He arranged a loan on behalf of the UK Government which accelerated the abolition of the slave trade by enabling the payment of some compensation to slave owners. The Rothschild family has always been on the side of those who needed help and support throughout its long history.

We greatly regret that Rothschild is linked in any way to the abhorrent institution of slavery. Rothschild as a firm strongly supports equal opportunities and human rights."

The Financial Times also carried a letter (30 June 2009) from Prof. Niall Ferguson, author of The World's Banker: A History of the House of Rothschild, arguing that Rothschilds gained less from slavery than from its abolition. Prof. Ferguson had earlier been quoted in the article of 27 June saying that the documents showed 'how pervasive slavery was in the structure of British wealth in 1830'.

You can also read and hear a brief discussion of the issues broadcast on Marketplace (part of US public radio) 21 July 2009.

NB: The project team is not responsible for the content of stories written by others and published in the media.