Heirs of British slaveowner to apologise for slavery, indentureship

Last Updated on Thursday, 24 August 2023, 14:44 by Denis Chabrol

John Gladstone who owned 2,500 enslaved Africans on his plantations

The heirs of late British slaveowner, John Gladstone, are to also apologise for both slavery and indentureship, the University of Guyana (UG) said on Thursday.

The apology is scheduled to be issued in Friday morning at the University of GGuyan’s launch of Centre of Migration and Diaspora Studies.

“The University of Guyana wishes to clarify that the apology it helped negotiate with the Gladstone heirs for Guyana includes slavery and indentureship since the particular ancestor was integrally involved in both,” UG said.

In an earlier release the University had indicated that the John Gladstone-owned plantations and managed several others not owned by him.

Quamina and his son John, who led the 1823 uprisings, which are being commemorated this month were enslaved on Gladstone Plantations amongst thousands of others. The University itself is founded on plantation lands upon which part of the revolutions were enacted.

The Gladstone ancestor is also recorded as “ one of the initiators of schemes for the exporting of indentured labor to the Caribbean” (

It is also indicated their ancestor John Gladstone who died in 1851, might have owned the Whitby and Hesperus, the ships which transported the first East Indian Indentured to Guyana.

The Gladstone family, which includes several historians will in fact offer an apology given the role their ancestors would have played here.
The short formal ceremony begins at 9:00 hrs. at the George Walcott Lecture Theatre at the University’s Turkeyen Campus on Friday, August 25, 2023.

All groups from all umbrella bodies from ethnic and other cultural groups on all sides have been invited at hear the apology.

After the formal ceremony, the moment will be marked by an inter-generational dialogue between University of Guyana students and youthful members of the Gladstone family; a linking of the University of Guyana Library with digital archives of the Council of World Missions and an exhibition of scholarly work by University of Guyana scholars throughout the day on the subject matter.

The University reasserts that no financial negotiations of any kind regarding reparations were discussed or agreed upon with the Gladstone heirs. “Reparation payments are not within the purview of the University and therefore cannot be part of any conversations between the national academic institution and the Gladstones,” UG added.

UG says it is unclear whether an amount of 100,000 pounds accepted by the Government of Grenada from the Trevelyan Family might have become infused into a story about Guyana which was carried by international news since the University was not the source of the international news stories.

The Gladstone family who are arriving upon the invitation of the University of Guyana have for decades been supporting educational, historical and cultural projects through grants which are divorced from reparations which have benefitted other Universities given the important role of Universities in the illumination and removal of systems of oppression.

The University of Guyana says it wishes to assure the public that as the national University it continues to be focused upon positive and respectful projects based on evidence, historical fact, fairness and respect for all our peoples.

The University says it looks forward to this moment as one of the national recognition of the origins of our national trauma as well as our resilience, and to contribute to processes of personal and national healing, introspection and unity.

UG says the Gladstone family apology is noted as an important first step in the process of reparation, official acceptance of historical culpabilities and the dismantling of systems which perpetuate these legacies today.
The public is invited to attend virtually or in person. For Virtual registration please use this:

The Diaspora and Migration Centre is set up to pursue five  specific areas of research interest including, but not limited to Diaspora and Migration in and around Academia, Youth, Technology and Vulnerable Communities, Indigeneity, Indentureship and Slavery as specific and integral aspects of dispersion. The research track for Slavery and indentureship is the reason why it was deemed appropriate to launch the Diaspora and Migration Centre (MiDias) in this historically auspicious month in regard to the emancipation of enslaved peoples as well as the 200th anniversary of the 1823 Slave Revolution in Demerara. ENDS