British slaveowner’s descendants apologise for slavery in Guyana

Last Updated on Friday, 25 August 2023, 11:27 by Denis Chabrol

Apology read by family representative Charles Gladstone

Charles Gladstone

To the People of Guyana.
We, the undersigned, are descendants of Sir John Gladstone, 1″ Baronet of Fasque and Balfour, and wish to offer our sincerest apologies for his actions in holding your ancestors in slavery in Demerara, now Guyana.
We are deeply honoured to be in Guyana at the invitation of The Guyana Reparations Committee and The International Centre for the Study of Migration and Diaspora at the University of Guyana. It is a particular honour to be here at the launch of this new and important department, whose work we are keen to support. We thank both of these organisations profoundly for welcoming us to Guyana and for supporting our attempts to create a brighter future.

Slavery was a crime against humanity and its damaging impact continues to be felt across the world today. It is with deep shame and regret that we acknowledge our ancestor’s involvement in this crime and with heartfelt sincerity that we apologise to the descendants of the enslaved in Guyana. In so doing we acknowledge slavery’s continuing impact on the daily lives of many.

We understand that we cannot change history, but we believe that we can have an impact on the world in which we live; and in apologising for the actions of our ancestors, we hope to work towards a better future.

We support CARICOM’s Ten Point Justice Plan and urge the British government to enter into meaningful discussions with CARICOM so that both parties can move towards a better future together. We also urge other descendants of those who benefitted from slavery to open conversations about their ancestors’ crimes and what they might be able to do to build a better future.

We have been helping to fund some of the work of the Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery at University College London for the past two years and have committed to this for five years. We are funding other British cultural projects that seek to highlight the horrors faced by enslaved people and to educate British people about these crimes against humanity.

As a wider family, we will be creating a financial fund to assist various projects in Guyana, and we will be discussing the use of these funds with our hosts. Our aim is to create meaningful and long-term relationships between our family and the people of Guyana.
In writing this heartfelt apology we also acknowledge Sir John Gladstone’s role in bringing indentured labourers to Guyana and apologise for the clear and manifold injustices of this.

Charles Gladstone. Caroline Gladstone. Robert Gladstone. Felix Gladstone.. Xanthe Gladstone. William Merison.