"This history is particularly important in light of recent denials by Barclays of a link to slavery," said Deadria Farmer-Paellmann, Executive Director of the Restitution Study Group. Their statements in denial were issued as recent as February 2007, in response to community protests over their naming a New York sports stadium. Community leaders want Barclays to pay restitution to benefit slave descendants.
According to British records, the Heywood brothers founded their bank with money earned from the slave trade, and used the bank to help other merchants engage in the slave trading business. The bank's records are now in the Group Archives of Barclays Bank, according to the Royal Bank of Scotland's online archive.
The Heywood brothers engaged in at least 125 slave trading voyages acording to the Cambridge University Press database entitled, "Transatlantic Slave Trade Database," by Davis Eltis, et. al. (soon to be online via Harvard University). They enslaved 38,620 Africans, 6,045 of whom died before reaching the Americas and are buried in the Atlantic ocean.
Those enslaved were taken from 8 different regions of Africa. Most were enslaved in Jamaica, and some in the Carolinas and Virginia. Few of their living descendants have a clue of their African nationality or ethnicity -- injuries defined as genocide or ethnic cleansing in international human rights law.
Today, Barclays is poised to become the 5th largest bank in the world if it merges, as rumored, with the Dutch bank ABM Amro. With this merger, they will inherit the assets and the liabilities of ABM Amro. The Restitution Study Group urges Barclays to do the right thing and tell the whole truth about its slavery history, and recognize that it inherited the liabilities of Heywoods Bank along with its assets.
"We urge Barclays to take advantage of this moment of reflection on the closing of the British slave trade to really close their books on slavery. They should apologize and create a trust fund to benefit slave descendants," said Farmer-Paellmann, who is also lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit pending against corporations complicit in slavery. The lawsuit secured a historic victory in December 2006 when the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals held that companies that lie about their role in slavery to keep customers are guilty of fraud.
The Restitution Study Group suggests that if Barclays does nothing else, it should pay for the African ancestral DNA tests for any slave descendant living in the countries where the Heywood brothers sold the Africans they enslaved. In 2003, a test became available to the general public that identifies the African ethnic and national origins of Africans in the Diaspora. Celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Quincy Jones, and Whoopi Goldberg have taken the test that cost about $350 each. "This way Barclays can cure one of the many injuries to living people that their Heywoods Bank caused," said Farmer-Paellmann.
1. Barclay's Responds to accusations of slave history: http://www.amsterdamnews.com/News/article/article.asp?NewsID=76197&sID=34
2. Liverpool Museums (see Water Street) -- http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/maritime/trail/trail_accessible.asp
3. British National Archives (see Martins Bank/Water Street): http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/pathways/blackhistory/journeys/virtual_tour_html/liverpool/liverpool.htm
4. Barclays, the Business of Banking: 1690-1996, by Ackrill and Hannah (see page http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0521790352&id=yAwipk34KP0C&pg=PP1&lpg=PP1&ots=s_0aMyiuqL&dq=barclays+bank&sig=WjCRPzJcuvYN_0vJJ3UlwdbPnhQ#PPA1,M1
5. Barclays Group Archives: http://www.personal.barclays.co.uk/BRC1/jsp/brccontrol?task=channelgroup&site=pfs&value=11334
6. Royal Bank of Scotland Archives: http://www.rbs.com/about03.asp?id=ABOUT_US/OUR_HERITAGE/OUR_ARCHIVES/ONLINE_ARCHIVE_GUIDE/THE_ARCHIVE_GUIDE/HEYWOOD_BROTHERS