Barbados May Seek Reparations from Benedict Cumberbatch’s Family for Slavery

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Barbados has begun seeking reparations from the descendants of slave owners, as The Daily Beast reports, and that may soon include the family of Oscar-nominated actor Benedict Cumberbatch.

Cumberbatch’s seventh great-grandfather bought the island’s Cleland plantation in 1728 and passed down ownership until 1834, when slavery was abolished in Barbados. That plantation reportedly exploited 250 enslaved people and became the foundation of the Cumberbatch family fortune, a fact that the actor hasn’t shied away from.

In a 2007 interview, according to the New York TimesCumberbatch revealed that his mother urged him to pursue his career under an alias specifically to avoid paying reparations. He has also said that he took his role in 12 Years a Slave because he felt sorry that his ancestors had been involved in the slave trade.

Barbados’ push for reparations follows the country’s 2021 break from the British monarchy and subsequent transition to a republic. Barbados began with a push for reparations from conservative Member of Parliament Richard Drax, who still owns the island’s largest plantation, Drax Hall. It is the only plantation that remains in the possession of the original slaveholding family and the government is asking for the land to be turned over to Barbados. If he refuses, the country will seek compensation through an international arbitration court.

No formal ask has been made of the Cumberbatch family publicly, but the Barbadian government may pursue reparations in the near future. “Any descendants of white plantation owners who have benefitted from the slave trade should be asked to pay reparations,” said general secretary of the Caribbean Movement for Peace and Integration, David Denny, “including the Cumberbatch family.”

Last year, Cumberbatch was seen in Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madnessand he is set to appear in Wes Anderson’s upcoming Roald Dahl adaptation, The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar.

Barbados May Seek Reparations from Benedict Cumberbatch’s Family for Slavery
Wren Graves

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