Because Benedict Cumberbatch’s ancestors owned sugar plantations and enslaved people on the territory of Barbados when it was still under British control up until 1966, the island nation may hold him responsible for making financial restitution to them.
The Barbadian government may pursue reparations against the Cumberbatch family in the near future, notwithstanding the absence of a formal demand.
It is believed that the actor’s seventh great-grandfather owned a farm on the island in 1728 and employed at least 250 enslaved people. The abolition of slavery in Barbados did not occur until 1834. For the lost “human property,” the end of slavery was accompanied by hefty monetary compensation for the enslavers. Therefore, the ancestors of Cumberbatch received 6,000 pounds sterling, which, in today’s currency, is at least $ 4.5 million.
Following the country’s separation from the British monarchy in 2021 and eventual transition to a republic, Barbados is pursuing reparations. Conservative Member of Parliament Richard Drax, who still owns the island’s largest plantation, Drax Hall, was the first to be asked for reparations. It is the sole plantation to be still owned by the original slave-owning family, and the government is requesting that the land be transferred to Barbados. The country will pursue compensation through an international arbitration court if he refuses.
According to available statistics, the government of the United Kingdom was compelled to take out a loan in order to pay massive compensation for the abolition of slavery. It was able to repay the loan in full in 2015.
Cumberbatch disclosed in a 2007 interview with the New York Times that his mother advised him to pursue a career behind a pseudonym to avoid paying reparations. He has also stated that he accepted the role in ’12 Years a Slave’ out of regret for his ancestors’ involvement in the slave trade.
Cumberbatch appeared in Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness last year, and he is scheduled to star in Wes Anderson’s upcoming Roald Dahl adaption, The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar.