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The Church of England’s Historic Links to the Transatlantic Slave Trade

Church of Englands Historic Links to the Transatlantic Slave Trade

The Church Commissioners have pledged £100 million over nine years in reparation for what are claimed to be their eighteenth-century predecessors’ involvement in and large financial gains from slavery and the slave trade. Are they correct in their understanding of history?

The Church Commissioners—the august body responsible for managing the Church of England’s considerable wealth—argue that the Church, through Queen Anne’s Bounty (a corporation created by statute in 1703-4 for ‘the Augmentation of the Maintenance of Poor Clergy’), consciously invested ‘heavily’ in the slave-trading activities of the South Sea Company, allowing the Bounty to benefit directly from the profits of enslaving Africans and, furthermore, that it received tainted benefactions from individuals whose wealth might well have been earned through some connection with slavery.

After research in its archives by a firm of accountants, which formed the substance of their Report (entitled Church Commissioners’ Research into Historic Links to Transatlantic Chattel Slavery, 2023), the Commissioners announced the intention of creating a £100m ‘impact investment fund’; and they have further welcomed a report by ‘a Black-led oversight group’ appointed ‘to propose objectives and structure for the fund’ which has proposed increasing this sum by ‘target[ing] assets of over £1 billion’.[1]

Their language has oscillated between the unambiguous use of the word ‘reparation’ and the vaguer expression ‘healing, repair, and justice’—a distinction without real difference, as can be seen in the sum being offered, its supposed derivation (‘a historic pool of capital tainted by its involvement in African chattel enslavement: Queen Anne’s Bounty’) and the extraordinarily unspecific and unmeasurable aims of the project (to ‘generate returns that would replenish and enable funding to be deployed to relevant causes in the African diaspora, ideally in perpetuity’).  The disbursement seems to be practically unconditional, and principally aimed at the Black middle class: ‘Black-led businesses …Black fund managers … brilliant social entrepreneurs, educators, healthcare givers, asset managers and historians’, as the Oversight Group of the Church Commission lists them.[2]

By the Commissioners’ report’s own admission, there are flaws and shortcomings with the research on which their decision is based. These include the lack of ‘peer review to academic discipline standards’, and the incomplete and unreliable nature of the data sources, especially the benefactor registers.[3] The forensic accountancy is subject to explicit caveats about its assumptions (conceding, for example, that ‘it is very likely that some … are incorrect’) and the possibility of error. The report’s interpretation of the sources seems based on the idea that money would be morally tainted by any degree of association with slavery and the slave trade, carrying that moral stain through the generations to the present day even when the original funds and assets are long gone.  It is unclear whether this criterion is applied to any other source of Church funding.

The report seems more concerned with present day political advocacy than with objectively assessing the Church’s history or present day needs. The report states: ‘we can and will recognise and acknowledge the horror and shame of the Church’s role in historic transatlantic chattel slavery and, through our response, seek to begin to address the injustices caused as a result.’[4]  There is no indication as to how the beneficiaries of the proposed fund are assessed to be suffering from injustices caused by slavery.

Part 1: Investing in the South Sea Company

Queen Anne’s Bounty was created to receive the produce of two taxes and other church income and use it to improve the conditions of the poorest clergy. It chose to do so by buying land that would be attached to the poorest livings. Until suitable parcels of land could be purchased, it invested the funds it received.  It needed safe and liquid instruments, and from 1712 onward it held a growing portfolio of government securities.

The South Sea Company was created by statute in 1711 to take over existing government obligations such as unpaid bills and wages, and other debt instruments such as those held by Queen Anne’s Bounty. It was to absorb short-term unfunded government debt by converting it into company shares that could be traded on the stock market. In return, the government paid interest to the South Sea Company which then went to investors. The shareholders’ returns consisted of this government annuity and, possibly, profits from the trading privilege given to the company.  The nature of the privilege only became clear a few years later after peace with Spain was signed. It consisted of the asiento: a maximum number of slaves that the Company could import into Spanish colonies, plus an annual ship laden with goods also destined for those colonies.  In practice these trading activities were interrupted by frequent wars with Spain and ceased altogether in 1740.  The Company also transported slaves to British islands in the Caribbean.  From 1740 to 1853 the Company formally continued to exist, but was merely a conduit to pay out the government annuity.

From the time of its foundation the South Sea Company’s ability to absorb debt rather than turn a profit from South American trade –which astute investors doubted — defined its performance in the stock market.[5]  After passage of the South Sea Act of 1711 (which, interestingly, makes no reference to the slave trade) the new company converted some £9 million of short-term government debt into South Sea shares.  There followed further successful conversion of £1.5 million of longer-term debt in 1719.  This was the prelude to the grandiose scheme launched in 1720 for converting the remaining publicly held long-term debt.  At the time of this 1720 conversion Britain was at war with Spain, and the Company, ‘with its trade at full stop for all to see became from necessity a naked finance corporation.’[6]  These financial operations underline historian Larry Neal’s verdict that ‘From its beginning, the South Sea Company was primarily an organization for the conversion of government debt.’[7]

Queen Anne’s Bounty’s previous holdings of short-term government securities were eligible for conversion into South Sea shares in 1720, and it converted part, but not all, of its holdings, as did nearly all government creditors.  The intention was to obtain an investment that offered predictable long term returns yet was also readily saleable when funds were needed.  This transaction by the Bounty and the other investors was not a purchase at market price, but a debt conversion on terms only announced later by the South Sea Company. These terms turned out to be very unfavourable, and the Bounty was left with a serious loss.  This was the only acquisition of South Sea shares it ever made. It is this acquisition, made at a time when slave trading was not taking place, which forms the Bounty’s only connection with enslavement.

The trading activities of the Company were to be a very small part of its overall financial operations, and were most unlikely to have been the motive for the Bounty to acquire shares, most obviously because trade with Spain was at that time suspended because of war, with no clarity about if or when it might resume.

By 1723, the vast bulk of the government’s debt was to the Company, very little being held directly by the public. Many of the new shareholders did not want to participate in the Company’s trading activities. Accordingly in 1723, parliament legislated to split the existing shares into two types of security: each share of £100 became a ‘share’ (so-called trading stock) of £50 and an ‘annuity’ of £50.  Both were entitled to a half of the interest paid by the government, but only the shares receiving any profit from trading, which include trading in slaves.[8]  The Bounty’s holdings were consequently split into annuities and shares.  The earnings from its remaining shares represent a very small part of its overall income. These shares were mostly sold in 1728 (a small remaining portion was redeemed by Parliament in 1730).

The Bounty would only purchase annuities in the years after 1723—as soon as they became available. From 1728 to 1778 South Sea Annuities were the Bounty’s only investment vehicle: unsurprisingly, since (at least in the early years) there was almost no other form of government security in which to invest.

The claim that the Bounty had invested ‘heavily’ in the slave trade through the South Sea Company has repeatedly been questioned by Professor Richard Dale, an expert in financial history and the South Sea Company. He shows that by choosing to invest in South Sea Annuities, not Company shares, the Bounty was purchasing government bonds in all but name.[9] From 1723 onward, South Sea Annuities are simply government debt whose semi-annual coupons happened to be paid out at South Sea House.  As Dr François Velde puts it, ‘for all practical purposes, the annuities, both old (created in 1723) and new (created in 1733), were government debt … managed (that is interest paid and transfers registered) by the South Sea Company’.[10]  Income derived from the South Sea Annuities came directly from the government and had no connection with trade of any kind.

The 1723 legislation provides certainty that the Queen Anne’s Bounty was aware that they were not investing in the slave trade. Professor Dale states that by investing in annuities ‘they could be absolutely sure that they were not investing in slaving activities.’[11] He has concluded unambiguously that ‘If the Bounty managers had wished to benefit from the slaving business, they would have invested in the Company’s shares; but, with one minor exception in 1720—when the slave trade was shut down owing to war with Spain—they chose to avoid the risks and rewards of the commercial business and invested, instead, in what were essentially government-backed debt instruments.’[12]

The South Sea Company’s slave trading activities were intermittent and volatile due to regular bouts of conflict and disagreement with Spain. In theory the Asiento contract was a 30-year monopoly on slave trading with Spain’s colonies in South America from 1713 to 1743. But recurring conflict with Spain caused these operations to stop for extended periods. The War of the Quadruple Alliance in 1718 to 1720, the Anglo-Spanish War of 1727 to 1729, and, finally, the War of Jenkins’ Ear in 1739 caused operations to stop entirely.  The company’s commercial losses were eventually compensated by Spain at £100,000 in 1750.[13]

To sum up, the involvement of Queen Anne’s Bounty managers in the South Sea Company’s trading activities was limited: they held on briefly to the shares acquired in 1720 after peace with Spain was signed in June 1721 and trade resumed.  Half of these shares still remained after the 1723 division, and nearly all those remaining were sold in 1728.  Ownership of these shares was the sole link of the Bounty with slave trading from 1721 to 1727, when 19,034 Africans were embarked and 15,903 disembarked by the South Sea Company either in British or Spanish colonies.[14]  The Bounty managers seem to have acquiesced in this traffic.  Nevertheless, the Bounty’s involvement was remarkably limited at a time when religious bodies of many kinds, non-Christian and Christian, gave slavery moral sanction and even involved themselves directly in slave owning.  So far, the clearest explanation of why the Church of England today – perhaps alone among major religious bodies – is proposing to pay large financial reparations appears to be not that they were deeply or uniquely involved in slavery over its long and inhuman history, but that they believe that a major part of their corporate wealth was originally earned from slave trading—’a historic pool of capital tainted by its involvement in African chattel enslavement’.

However, while the connection of the Bounty with the slave trade was reprehensible and a proper cause of regret, it was certainly not the source of ‘a historic pool of capital’.  The South Sea Company never made any profit from slave trading, and the Bounty did not derive any income from slave trading during the brief period when it held shares in the Company.  On the contrary, its 1720 investment in shares made a disastrous loss, equal to 14 percent of its total portfolio.[15]

There was and is therefore no ‘historic pool of capital’ derived from slave trading from which reparations today could reasonably be paid.

Though the Commission argues that no parish funds would be used in these reparation payments, this would appear to overlook the fact that the present Commission funds include former parish and diocesan funds administered until 1948 by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The Commissioners’ proposed use of many millions in ways for which that money was never intended means that it will not be available for the important and foundational purpose of supporting hard-pressed parishes.

Evidently, if there were today an identifiable ‘pool of capital’ illegitimately gained from the slave trade, and vastly increased by investments and economic growth over the last 300 years, it would strengthen the case for reparations to be paid from it.  But as no income came from the slave trade, the case for financial reparations must logically be weaker.  Moreover, even if the planned £100 million investment fund were justified by the Bounty’s brief link with the iniquitous asiento, the fund ought surely to be directed in large part to Spanish America.  Otherwise, the £100 million becomes a normal investment or a normal charitable donation, which ought to be assessed using established criteria, of which need rather than heredity must surely be paramount.

The Commissioners’ report reflects some of these contradictions and weaknesses.  On page 18 it clearly explains that the South Sea Annuities derived their income from government payments; and on page 39 it further confirms that after 1723 the Bounty ‘invested almost exclusively in South Sea Company Annuities for the next 50 years’ and that they were ‘by far and away’ its most important investment. But this crucial explanation does not connect with the conclusions of the report.

One cannot but wonder whether the Commissioners only realized at a late stage that investment in South Sea Annuities had no connection whatever with slave trading, but persisted in allowing the opposite conclusion to be suggested in their report.

It is noteworthy that the only explicit statement in any document issued by the Commissioners that the Bounty knowingly invested in slave trading is in the section of the report contributed by Dr Helen Paul.  It is there stated (page 18) that ‘Anyone investing in the company before 1740, whether they made money on their investment or not, was consciously investing in these [slave-trading] voyages.’  As has been seen, this is simply not the case, as after 1723 annuities were wholly separated from shares in the trading company by Act of Parliament.

Nowhere else do the Commissioners’ several pronouncements make the explicit claim that the Bounty invested in slaving.  But (to put it mildly) they do nothing to discourage the reader from drawing the inference that there was significant long-term investment by the Bounty in slave trading, though without quite saying so.  Indeed, both the Executive Summary and the body of the report repeatedly imply that income from annuities was linked from slave trading activities:

By the time the South Sea Company ceased its activities trading in enslaved people in 1739, the Bounty had accumulated £191,762 of South Sea Company Annuities … [I]t has been calculated that these had a theoretical value of £204,278 (potentially equivalent to c. £443 million in today’s terms).[16]

[A] significant portion of the Bounty’s income during the 18th century was derived from sources that may be linked to transatlantic chattel slavery, principally interest and dividends on South Sea Company Annuities and benefactions from wealthy individuals.[17]

The paper to General Synod also took this approach, and one might reasonably assume that the trustees saw something similar when they agreed this unusual use of the Commissioners’ charitable funds in making controversial, arguably politicised, investment decisions and grants and dispensing money for conceivably partisan research, education, and publicity without consideration of financial return.

Part 2: Benefactions

The Commissioners’ report estimates that some 14 percent of the Bounty’s income in the 18th century came from benefactions.  While the conclusions regarding investments in the South Sea Company are based on faulty historical understanding, the analysis of benefactions rests on assumptions about flawed data. It is argued in the Commissioners’ report that slavery and the slave trade were so fundamental to prosperity in eighteenth-century Britain that a large proportion of the gifts made to the Church must have been rooted to some extent in slavery. Benefactions, according to the report, were received from individuals who might have profited personally from slavery and the slave trade, including the 1833 compensation to slaveholders. The report suggested that as much as 30 percent of the benefactions to the Bounty from 1713 to 1850 came from individuals having a ‘high’ or ‘very high’ likelihood of possibly being linked with the slave trade.[18]  This amounts to £359,242 of benefactions, judged to be equal to £482 million today.[19]

However, the analysis of the Benefaction Registers is far more speculative than the work done on the Queen Anne’s Bounty’s investments due to poor record keeping, unclear information, illegible writing, and missing entries. These figures have not been adjusted for inflation over time and ‘are not definitive’ by the report’s own admission.[20] The report states, for example, ‘it is possible that the monies provided by Alexander Colston were his own and were not derived from the transatlantic trade in enslaved people’—a caveat which must surely apply to most benefactors.[21] A range of assumptions was used to assess whether a particular benefactor was connected with ‘or may have had links’ (in some unspecific way) to slavery.  These assumptions include ‘being active’ at the time of the South Sea Bubble; involvement in politics (including being a peer); being ‘linked’ to a city involved in the slave trade; being ‘linked’ to industries such as cotton, copper, or iron; and having naval connections. No empirical basis, statistical or otherwise, is provided for these assumptions. It is easy to see why the forensic accountants were so circumspect and explicitly accepted the scope for error. Regarding the 1833 compensation, the report also states that ‘it is not possible to conclude that benefactions to the Bounty were funded directly by compensation payments received by those who owned enslaved people’.[22]

Asset tracing could not find connection between such benefactions and any property held by the Church today. While the report does not exclude the possibility of properties being held by another Church body, it is significant that it has been many years since the Church last enjoyed any direct financial benefit from these transactions.[23] The figures produced by the report regarding the possible percentage of the benefactions given by people with links with slavery and the slave trade are therefore highly speculative. There were certainly benefactors who made a profit from slavery and the slave trade, but the amount donated to the Church, and its source, cannot be determined with any degree of accuracy.

Part 3: Slavery’s role in British prosperity

As a general justification for their reparations policy, the Commissioners seem to have accepted a resurgent but highly contestable view that slavery and the slave trade were crucial to British prosperity during the eighteenth-century and laid the foundations for industrialization and the spread of capitalism. Eric Williams argued in his 1944 work Capitalism and Slavery that the wealth generated by slavery was the key to funding the take-off of the industrial revolution.  He further alleged that slavery ended not because of a moral crusade but because it became unprofitable, and goods became easier to manufacture at home than abroad. A succession of authoritative historians have discredited the Williams Thesis over many years.[24]

As a result of recent events, such as ‘Black Lives Matter’, the Williams Thesis has however been resuscitated.  A few reputable historians such as Maxine Berg and Pat Hudson have emphasised — their critics say exaggerated– the impact of slavery on the British economy. In a recent book, they have followed the trend of linking the past with present day protest movements inspired by Black Lives Matter:

Protest and debate over the commemoration and activities of slave traders and plantation owners operating centuries ago highlight major questions about the origins of Britain’s wealth as well as the foundations of deep-seated racial disparities and racial justice in Britain and elsewhere.[25]

It is therefore necessary to summarize the issue of the degree of importance of slavery and the slave trade to the British economy, and therefore whether they must have generated a large part of the wealth received by the Church from private benefactors.

Slavery and empire were undoubtedly central to the British relationship with the West Indies and West Africa in the eighteenth century –as they were for several other countries, most importantly France, Portugal and Spain — but did not determine the spread of global trade or industrialisation.  The Williams Thesis minimised the complex range of factors that played significant parts in industrialising Britain, and it has been contradicted by substantial scholarship carried out since the 1940s. Enlightenment thought and scientific discovery[26], pre-existing economic development[27], cheap mineral fuel[28] and industrial innovation are dismissed or simply ignored by ‘decolonialist’ followers of the Williams Thesis, who attribute the rise of the West to slavery and the slave trade.[29] Their conclusion is that Western prosperity was built on an immoral basis and therefore does not have legitimacy today. The ‘New History of Capitalism’ hypothesis takes this to the global level, arguing that slavery is responsible for the so-called ‘Great Divergence’ between the global north and south.[30] Their claim that slavery and colonialism (rolled into one phenomenon) have caused profound contemporary societal harm, ‘toxifying whole societies and nations … throughout the Atlantic hemisphere’, such that ‘total repair will not be possible for centuries’, is a theme of the Oversight Group’s report.[31]

The first question is whether slavery was indeed the foundation of British and global economic modernization.  The industrial revolution was the product of many different developments interacting with each other in eighteenth-century Britain, of which slavery and the slave trade were significant but not transformative. Indeed, Berg and Hudson explicitly stop short of embracing the Williams Thesis:

We do not argue that slavery caused the industrial revolution. Neither do we suggest that slavery was necessary for the development of industrial capitalism in Britain. Even less does our study attempt to estimate that the gains from slavery contributed a particular percentage to Britain’s economic growth, GDP or capital formation in the eighteenth century.[32]

David Eltis and Stanley L. Engerman show that the slave trade engaged 1.5 percent of British vessels and 3 percent of tonnage.[33] Other major slave trading and slave-owning states did not experience British-style industrialisation, including Spain and Portugal,[34] the Ottoman Empire and France (which had the biggest slave-based colonial economy).  This evidently weakens the supposed link between economic modernization and slavery.  Despite efforts to promote industrial development, France lagged far behind Britain. Slavery did have a strong role in the cotton industry and some other forms of economic activity, but these were not dominant in the British economy. Sugar and cotton sat alongside woollen textiles, coal, and iron ore. In relative and comparative terms, slavery was only one part of trade and economic activity. Engerman estimates that profits from slavery were ‘below 5 per cent of British [national] income’.[35]

The major industrialists were not slaveholders. Industry was driven by local businessmen and local capital, largely from the provinces and dissenting backgrounds. T.S. Ashton specifically linked this to dissenting sects such as Unitarians, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Quakers, and Baptists.[36] Many of these supported the anti-slavery movement and boycotted slave-produced sugar. However, slavery was more closely linked to the so-called ‘gentlemanly capitalism’ of land, banks, and merchants as Peter Cain and Tony Hopkins argued in the 1980s and 1990s, meaning there is certainly a reasonable likelihood that there were benefactions given to the Church from people associated with the slave trade and slave production.[37] The problem, as noted earlier, is that the amount cannot be accurately estimated.

The second question is whether Britain today is indeed ‘toxified’ by the legacy of slavery.  The American obsession with slavery and race, understandable because of its long history of segregation, has little in common with the British experience, and ‘decolonial’ narratives of British history warp our understanding of the past and misrepresent our present society. A central pillar of the reparations argument is that slavery has left a permanent legacy of racism and disadvantage in Britain (‘total repair will not be possible for centuries’) that commands a priority of resources.  But this assertion has been disproved by a succession of important studies.  A comparative EU study of the everyday experience of ethnic minorities across Europe showed that over a range of crucial areas (including experience of discrimination, violence, relations with the police, employment, wages, social mobility and housing) the UK enjoyed among the very best levels of race relations of all countries.[38] The report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities found that ‘geography, family influence, socio-economic background, culture and religion have more significant impact on life chances than the existence of racism.’[39]  Other recent studies, for example by King’s College London, have shown very similar results.[40]


The Church has committed itself to paying a vast sum in reparations based on the belief that it made major investments in the eighteenth century slave trade, and thereby accumulated a ‘historical pool’ of tainted wealth.  But with ‘one minor exception’[41] it did not invest in anything connected with slave-trading, and the tainted wealth never existed.  It must have received benefactions from some individuals linked with slavery, but the amount cannot be even roughly quantified.  The legacy of damage claimed to stem from this historic wrong cannot be shown to exist in Britain in 2024.  It is hard to understand why resources for which there are so many and varied needs should be diverted to a purpose for which both the historical basis and the present-day justification are equally weak.

Robert Tombs

Lawrence Goldman

The authors thank Professor Richard Dale and Dr François Velde for their expert guidance, Mr David Cowan for his research assistance, and Dr Alka Sehgal-Cuthbert and Mr Charles Wide KC for their comments and advice.


[1] Oversight Group Recommendations to the Board of Governors: Healing, Repair and Justice https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2024-03/church-commissioners-for-england-oversight-group-report-to-the-board-of-governors.pdf

[2] Oversight Group Recommendations.  On 23 November 2023 the Board of Governors met in York and accepted the 41 recommendations of the initial report.

[3] Church Commissioners for England, ‘Church Commissioners’ Research into Historic Links to Transatlantic Chattel Slavery’ (2023), p.10.

[4] Ibid, p.6.

[5] Ibid.

[6] John Carswell, The South Sea Bubble (London, Cresset Press, 1961), p. 64

[7] Larry Neal, The Rise of Financial Capitalism: International Capital Markets in the Age of Reason (Cambridge University Press, 1991), p.94.

[8] The statutes creating South Sea Annuities use slightly different wording but the intent and effect is clear.  A new ‘joint stock’ of annuities is established, the capital of the South Sea Company being ‘divided and separated in such a manner that all the [proprietors] may find their respective shares or interests in each part … and shall be deemed and adjudged to be divided and separated accordingly, any former law or statute whatsoever to the contrary notwithstanding’ (Section III of 1723 Act).

[9] Richard Dale, The First Crash: Lessons from the South Sea Bubble, (Princeton University Press, 2016).

[10] François R. Velde, ‘Winners and Losers in Britain’s 1722 Debt restructuring’, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, (14 December 2022), pp.51-52.

[11] Dale, The First Crash

[12] Ibid.

[13] Richard Dale, ‘Slavery did not benefit Bounty’, Church Times, 22 March 2024. https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2024/22-march/comment/opinion/slavery-did-not-benefit-bounty

[14] Information provided by François Velde, based on Voyages online database

[15] Information provided by François Velde

[16] Church Commissioners for England, ‘Church Commissioners’ Research into Historic Links to Transatlantic Chattel Slavery’ (2023), p 30

[17] Ibid p. 8

[18] Ibid p.34.

[19] Ibid p.36.

[20] Ibid p.36.

[21] Ibid p.35.

[22] Ibid p.35.

[23] Ibid, p.27.

[24] Roger T. Anstey, ‘Capitalism and Slavery: A Critique’, The Economic History Review, New Series, Vol.21, No.2 (Aug. 1968), pp.307-320; Hilary Beckles, ‘Capitalism and Slavery: The Debate over Eric Williams’, Social and Economic Studies, Vol.33, No.4 (December 1984), pp.171-189.

[25] Maxine Berg and Pat Hudson, Slavery, Capitalism and the Industrial Revolution (John Wiley & Sons, 2023), p. 3.

[26] Joel Mokyr, The Enlightened Economy: An Economic History of Britain 1700-1850, (Yale University Press, 2012).

[27] R.C. Allen, ‘Why the industrial revolution was British: commerce, induced invention, and the scientific revolution’, The Economic History Review, May 2011, Vol.64, No.2, p.358.

[28] E.A. Wrigley, Energy and the English Industrial Revolution, (Cambridge University Press, 2015), p.4.

[29] For example Kehinde Andrews, The New Age of Empire: How Racism and Colonialism Still Rule the World (Penguin Books, 2022); Sathnam Sanghera, Empireland: How Imperialism Has Shaped Modern Britain (Penguin Books, 2021); Priyamvada Gopal, Insurgent Empire: Anticolonial Resistance and British Dissent (Verso, 2019).

[30] E.g. Sven Beckert, Empire of Cotton: A Global History, (Penguin Books, 2014).

[31] Oversight Group Recommendations pp. 4-5

[32] Lawrence Goldman, ‘Slavery, Capitalism and the Industrial Revolution: A Dissent’, History Reclaimed, 12 September 2023. https://historyreclaimed.co.uk/slavery-capitalism-and-the-industrial-revolution-a-dissent/

[33] Doug Stokes, ‘Did slavery make Britain rich? – Decolonisation and Progressive Masochism’, History Reclaimed, 7 November 2022. https://historyreclaimed.co.uk/did-slavery-make-britain-rich-decolonisation-and-progressive-masochism/

[34] Ibid

[35] Lawrence Goldman, ‘Slavery, Capitalism and the Industrial Revolution: A Dissent’

[36] T.S. Ashton, The Industrial Revolution 1760-1830, (Oxford University Press, 1997).

[37] Lawrence Goldman, ‘Slavery, Capitalism and the Industrial Revolution: A Dissent’

[38] ‘Being Black in the EU – Second European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey’, 15 November 2019 https://fra.europa.eu/en/publication/2018/being-black-eu

[39] ‘The report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities’, 28 April 2021 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-report-of-the-commission-on-race-and-ethnic-disparities

[40]  ‘Love thy neighbour? Public trust and acceptance of the people who live alongside us’, The Policy Institute, Kings College London (April 2023)

[41] Dale, The First Crash

About the author


Lawrence Goldman

About the author

Robert Tombs

Robert Tombs

Robert Tombs is Emeritus Professor of French History, Cambridge, and a Fellow of St John’s College. He holds the Palmes Académiques for services to French culture. Recent works include The English and Their History (2014), Paris, bivouac des révolutions (2014), and This Sovereign Isle: Britain In and Out of Europe (2021).