Pub Chain Greene King And Lloyd's Of London To Pay Reparations Over Links To Slave Trade

Lloyd's Of London said it would donate money to BAME charities after its historic links to slavery were revealed.
A view of Abbot House, the headquarters of pub and brewing company Greene King, in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.
A view of Abbot House, the headquarters of pub and brewing company Greene King, in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.

Two of Britain’s largest companies have apologised for their historic links to the slave trade – and have vowed to pay money to charities benefiting Black and minority ethnic communities.

Insurance giant Lloyd’s of London and pub chain Greene King said they will devote large sums to projects after they were named in a database of companies connected to slavery compiled by University College London.

Greene King was founded in 1799 by Benjamin Greene, who became one of 47,000 people who benefited from compensation paid to slave owners when slavery was abolished in the British Empire in 1833.

Greene surrendered rights to three plantations in the West Indies in return for what amounts to £500,000 in today’s money.

Green King’s past connections to slavery were not previously mentioned on the company’s website.

However, following an update on Thursday, the history section of the website now reads: “Benjamin Greene handed over the Greene’s Brewery to his son Edward in 1836.

“After founding the brewery, Benjamin went on to own cane sugar plantations in the West Indies where he was a slave owner.”

It adds: “Even in the 1800s, his views on slavery were extremely unpopular and in the brewery’s home of Bury St Edmunds he wrote columns in his own newspaper that were critical of those campaigning for the abolition of slavery.”

The company’s chief executive Nick Mackenzie told the Telegraph, who first reported the story: “It is inexcusable that one of our founders profited from slavery and argued against its abolition in the 1800s.

“We don’t have all the answers, so that is why we are taking time to listen and learn from all the voices, including our team members and charity partners, as we strengthen our diversity and inclusion work.”

Mackenzie said Greene King would make a “substantial investment” to benefit Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities and work to support its own race diversity.

With regard to Lloyd’s, the database shows that Simon Fraser, a founder subscriber member, was given £400,000 in today’s money to give up an estate in Dominica.

A Lloyd’s spokesperson told the Telegraph: “We are sorry for the role played by the Lloyd’s market in the 18th and 19th century slave trade.

“We will provide financial support to charities and organisations promoting opportunity and inclusion for Black and minority ethnic groups.”


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