Richard Drax, a conservative British MP is due to pay reparations for the role of his ancestor’s role in slavery. The MP for South Dorset recently traveled to Barbados for a private meeting with the country’s Prime Minister Mia Mottley. According to the Guardian, Mottley’s cabinet is laying out the next steps, which include legal action in the event that no agreement is reached with Drax.
The Guardian also shares that, Drax’s ancestor, Sir James Drax, was one of the first Englishmen to colonize Barbados in the early 1600s. Reports show that he part-owned at least two slave ships, the Samuel and the Hope.The family also owned a plantation in Jamaica which they later sold in the 19th century.
The Drax family were the first sugar plantation owners in Barbados and Jamaica. The family is one of the few who were pioneers in the early stages of the British slave economy in the 17th century. In later generations the family still owned plantations and enslaved people until the 1830s.
Adding to this, in 2020 the Observer revealed that the MP concealed his inheritance of the 250-hectare (617 acres) Drax Hall plantation. It only surfaced after official documents revealed him as the owner.
Given that in 2021 Barbados became a republic, there is growing resistance and scrutiny of the effects of colonial activity on the island. This is an effect that has caused Caribbean-wide reassessment of the relationship with past colonial powers. Read on for the full story.
Barbados Wants To Make Richard Drax, British MP Pay Reparations:
The Barbados ambassador to Caricom and deputy chairman,David Comissiong, shared that other families less prominent than the Drax family are being considered for reparations. He mentioned that within these families lies the British royal family.
“Drax is fabulously wealthy today. The Drax family is the central family in the whole story of enslavement in Barbados. They are the architects of slavery-based sugar production. They have a deep historical responsibility. The process has only just begun and we trust that we will be able to negotiate. If that doesn’t work, there are other methods, including litigation.
“Other families are involved, though not as prominently as the Draxes. This reparations journey has begun. The matter is now for the cabinet of Barbados. It is in motion. It is being dealt with.”
Furthering the discussion:
Following the abolishment of slavery in Barbados, the Draxes received £4,293 12s 6d in 1836 for freeing 189 enslaved people, an estimated amount worth £3 million today. Barbados MP Trevor Prescod, chairman of Barbados National Task Force on Reparations, stated, “If the issue cannot be resolved we would take legal action in the international courts. The case against the Drax family would be for hundreds of years of slavery, so it’s likely any damages would go well beyond the value of the land.”
Furthering the discussion about the effects this has on the island, Prescod went on to explain that “The Drax family had slave ships. They had agents in the African continent and kidnapped black African people to work on their plantations here in Barbados. I have no doubt that what would have motivated them was that they never perceived us to be equal to them, that we were human beings. They considered us as chattels.”