Thinking Anglicans

Church Commissioners and historic links to transatlantic chattel slavery

The Church Commissioners have published their full report into historic links that Queen Anne’s Bounty (one of the Commissioners’ predecessors) had to transatlantic chattel slavery*. It can be found here: Church Commissioners Links to Historic Transatlantic Slavery. There is this accompanying press release

Church Commissioners publishes full report into historic links to transatlantic chattel slavery and announces new funding commitment of £100m in response to findings

which starts

The report follows an interim announcement in June 2022, which reported for the first time, and with great dismay, that the Church Commissioners’ endowment had historic links to transatlantic chattel slavery. The endowment traces its origins partly to Queen Anne’s Bounty, a fund established in 1704.

In response to the findings, the Church Commissioners’ Board has committed itself to trying to address some of the past wrongs by investing in a better future. It will seek to do this through committing £100 million of funding, delivered over the next nine years commencing in 2023, to a programme of investment, research and engagement…

* ‘Chattel slavery’ is the enslaving and owning of human beings and their offspring as property, able to be bought, sold, and forced to work without wages. This is distinguished from other systems of forced, unpaid, or low-wage labour also considered to be slavery.

There is also a press release about a related exhibition at Lambeth Palace Library.

Archives revealing Church of England’s links to historic transatlantic slavery to be displayed in new Lambeth Palace Library exhibition

The report has attracted much press attention.

Church Times Church Commissioners to set aside £100 million to compensate for slave-trade links
The Guardian C of E setting up £100m fund to ‘address past wrongs’ of slave trade links
The Guardian C of E’s historic slavery fund – worth £100m but how far will it stretch across communities?
Third Sector Charity’s £100m promise to address ‘shameful’ slave trade links
BBC News Church of England announces £100m fund after slavery links
The Telegraph Justin Welby defends £100m fund to ‘address past wrongs of slavery’ as churches struggle

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Shamus
Shamus
1 year ago

All very worthy, no doubt. However, don’t The Commissioners have an obligation to apply all their funds to support the ministry of the Church today and the future? Does charity law permit this type of use of their funds?

Whyaxye
Whyaxye
1 year ago

The Church Commissioners have refused to release money to provide a priest for English parishes which are so materially deprived that they cannot afford to support one. But the Church leadership is deciding that it does have money to throw into the bottomless pit of “reparations”, ignoring the fact that it was the British Government which abolished slavery, bought out the slave-owners with taxpayers’ money, and then waged a long and bloody campaign to suppress it in the West Atlantic. So they are paying the modern age version of the Danegeld. I can appreciate that the current leadership are terrified… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
1 year ago

There has been a degree of rather predictable frothing at the mouth about this, especially BTL in the DT, where the reactions were uniformly visceral. QAB was funded primarily via first fruits levied on wealthy livings: it was a progressive fund but, of course, it invested some of its capital in South Sea stock which meant funding slave trafficking, since after Utrecht the company had the asiento and derived the greater part of its returns from it. It also, presumably, meant investment in HEIC (which after the 1740s was about as ethically challenged as the SSC), although this has yet… Read more »

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Froghole
1 year ago

BTL DT QAB SSC HEIC STP ramp. I think I got 3.

Graham
Graham
1 year ago

The new £100m investment fund for links to slavery. First, all the headlines are about £100m, whereas, Bishop David Walker is quoted as saying it will be built up over nine years. So, not £100m at all.  Secondly, it is suggested that it is put into a “fund” ( by which I mean a ring fenced, separate “pot”, rather than just a subsidiary pot). So, presumably separate accounts, separate details. And ( if to be built up over nine years) not £100m at all to start with. Presumably it will have separate legal and accounting status, and it’s own legal… Read more »

Graham
Graham
1 year ago

(Cont) Conclusion. It appears a slice of CC money will be allocated, over each of next nine years, to build an underlying pot up to £100m. It appears that the capital will not be touched, and is there, they hope, to grow. The “profits” or “returns” ( we don’t know which) will be spent on slavery related projects. That might be between 2% ( yield) or 10% ( prudent longer term returns) but is still nothing near £100m This is all spin. Last comment. It will take ages to set up. The ISB is still not constituted three years later.… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Graham
1 year ago

Brilliant analysis. Thank you. The primary purpose of the Creech-Jones/Cohen CDC was empire 2.0: the sterling area would be secured against dollar imperialism by exporting capital from the metropole to those colonies which did not have extensive sterling balances or high tariffs (like India), who would then become reliable vents for UK manufactures. Crucially, scarce dollars would be saved. It got off to a disastrous start with the abortive Gambian poultry scheme, the cost of which was not written off until 1977. Funding was via exchequer loans drawn under a fixed ceiling which Treasury had increasing incentives to lower as… Read more »

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
1 year ago

I am aware that some survivors of abuse have expressed concern that this new scheme of reparation has been announced whilst they are still waiting for the redress promised to them. The cynic in me wonders if it is easier to pay reparations to those long dead as they are less likely to ask awkward questions.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
1 year ago

Father Dexter raises an interesting point: if a reparations fund is to be built up (over a number of years?) for slavery-related harms involving the Church of England, then does that set a precedent for proposing the Church of England builds up a reparation fund for people who have suffered abuse of various kinds under the Church’s watch? For example to pay for counselling, damages for harm done, etc. Similarly, if £100 million is going to be built up over a decade, isn’t there also a case for a truly independent and fully-staffed Safeguarding agency to be set up as… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 year ago

Many thanks for that. As I see it, all entities with safeguarding responsibilities should be subject to a levy. There would be a national safeguarding agency, operating as an agency of, say, MOJ, DH&SC or Home Office (perhaps not the Home Office…!). The levy would fund the operations of the agency. The agency would determine what levy should be imposed, taking account of the assets of any body charged, the extent of its interaction with vulnerable people, and its current/prospective revenues. The agency would also have investigatory powers and the ability to impose fines, as per the ICO. The fines… Read more »

RobT
RobT
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
1 year ago

I suspect there is some truth in the payment being made because it is easier to pay off the long dead than the living. 1 – this is in the nature of a gesture of goodwill, so there is an extent of marking your own homework in deciding what to pay. 2 – the wrong this is intended to remedy is long outside any statute of limitations which prevents 3 – the living have a nasty tendency to take you to court if they haven’t got what they think they are owed There is also the point that this is… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  RobT
1 year ago

We are challenged to ‘discuss’ your scenario involving Dioceses A and B. Accepting that the facts are as stated, my offering: (1) Primary liability, the abuser; (2) Diocese A, vicariously liable for the abuser’s actions; (3) Third party proceedings by Diocese A against Diocese B claiming contribution or indemnity. Issues will include whether a duty owed by Diocese B to Diocese A, foreseeability, causation and/ or remoteness of damage. Who knows how step (3) might turn out? Possibly on economic grounds the practical solution would be 50/50 sharing of the claim by the two dioceses. In theory the church has… Read more »

Venessa Pinto
Venessa Pinto
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
1 year ago

But it’s not just paying reparations for those long dead but also for their families who have experienced ‘second generation trauma’ as a result of what their ancestors went through…

Cynthia
Cynthia
Reply to  Venessa Pinto
1 year ago

I’m not seeing here respect for systemic racism and the generational trauma and inequality that it causes.

Stanley Monkhouse
1 year ago

Atonement for slavery payments is “worthy” and can’t really be argued against. But why stop there? Why not atone for “stealing” from the parishes (as Froghole has pointed out), or for being foolish investors from time to time, or for squandering funds on untried and untested initiatives? The CoE must indirectly have caused misery in Ireland over the centuries (so many English organisations have done so) so why not atone for that too? (That the Irish subsequently allowed themselves to be screwed by the RCC is neither here nor there, and anyway they’ve dealt with that.) Why not seek out the families of the… Read more »

Ronnie Smith
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
1 year ago

Not fair, Stanley! There are clergy and communities for whom the experience of companionship with Christ in the Eucharist is a God-given opportunity for constant reformation and renewal in Christ – for our mission to the people around us. Money and possessions are relegated to their respective power to nourish one’s neighbour as well as one’s self. Agape!

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Ronnie Smith
1 year ago

Fair or not in your eyes, it’s how I feel. I am not alone. I’m all for renewal but phoenix and ashes come to mind.

Struggling Anglican
Struggling Anglican
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
1 year ago

Fr Smith’s response may be very pious but the honesty of Stanley’s point of view should be honoured. Honesty should be profoundly respected and is not diminished by religiosity. Whether others agree with his point of view is a separate matter.

Richard W. Symonds
1 year ago

The Church Commissioners appear adept into making injustice an ecclesiastical art form.

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