Legacies of Enslavement at Christ's explained
Context for the project
In early 2019, the 'University of Cambridge Advisory Group on Legacies of Enslavement' was created at the request of the Vice-Chancellor. The remit of the Advisory Group was to produce advice about the University of Cambridge's historical links with enslavement and the slave trade, and to propose future action in light of this. The Advisory Group published its final report in September 2022.
Many higher education institutions undertook similar projects: in September 2019, for example, Balliol College, Oxford launched the 'Balliol and Empire Project'. As part of that project, Balliol College commissioned a report researched and written by Dr Sebastian Raj Pender into 'the extent to which Balliol’s endowment includes funds that could be linked to the proceeds of slavery'.
In Cambridge, some Colleges launched their own projects to research connections between their institutions and enslavement. Most notably, Jesus College, Cambridge formed its Legacy of Slavery Working Party (LSWP) in May 2019, which has produced research and recommendations in the years since.
The project at Christ's
'Legacies of Enslavement at Christ's' was the research project established at Christ's College, Cambridge. For their support in this, the College is grateful to the Master, Jane Stapleton, and several fellows: Helen Pfeifer, Felix Waldmann, Harriet Lyon, Carrie Vout, and David Reynolds. Also to Dr Genny Silvanus (the College's Archivist), Mr John Wagstaff (the College Librarian) and Dr Sabine Cadeau.
In 2021, four interns completed their own research and mounted an exhibition in the College Library. Clemmie Butler Brown visited the Bristol Archives and produced a presentation about four significant individuals who had attended the College, while Chater Paul Jordan studied individuals portrayed in artwork displayed around Christ's. The other two interns produced longer reports, each focused on one member of the College: Georgie Moore's report on Jonathan Blenman is available at the bottom of his profile page, and Leah Wild's report on Ralph Bernal is likewise available for download at the bottom of his profile page.
In 2022, the College's Governing Body commissioned a follow-up project, with the remit specifically 'to construct the fullest possible database of College members involved in the slave trade, slave plantations and the anti-slavery movement'. As a result, three interns worked on the project during the summer of 2022.
This website, and all the information on it, has been researched and written by Fergus Kirman and Sarah Clark, two of those interns. They focused on identifying members of College who were 'financial beneficiaries of enslavement', and integrated this with their research into key family networks (instances where multiple members of the same family attended the College), and prominent public advocates defending enslavement. The database they created is displayed and preserved in this website. An explanation of their approach and more information about that database is available here.
The third intern, Hollie Wright, decided to cover the 'anti-slavery movement' element of the project's remit. She selected and researched six individuals who attended Christ's, and were significant in opposing enslavement. Hollie's report is available to download and read here.
The 38 financial beneficiaries have individual profiles on this website, sorted here approximately by the location in which enslavement benefitted each of them.
The public advocates and family networks identified are available on the home page, or otherwise in the menu at the top right of every page.