Sir Thomas Picton's descendant says statue should come down

Sir Thomas Picton's descendant says he's 'embarrassed' by his links to slave-killing 'Tyrant of Trinidad' and Cardiff statue should come down - as relatives of other past heroes call for 'bigots on bo

Sir Thomas Picton's descendant says statue should come down

Sir Thomas Picton's descendant says he's 'embarrassed' by his links to slave-killing 'Tyrant of Trinidad' and Cardiff statue should come down - as relatives of other past heroes call for 'bigots on both sides' of BLM row to 'back off'

  • Relative of Waterloo hero Sir Thomas Picton has called for statue to be removed  
  • But Lord Nelson's fourth great granddaughter has insisted he was 'not a slaver'
  • Robert Clive descendant: 'It would be better if bigots on both sides backed off'
  • Descendant of Henry Dundas says 'Edinburgh needs to own him, warts and all'

Descendants of British historical figures were today split over whether statues and memorials to be removed from UK town centres over their links to slavery.

A relative of Waterloo hero Sir Thomas Picton has called for his statue to be removed and put into a museum, saying he was 'rather embarrassed' to be a descendant.

But those with family links to Admiral Lord Nelson, Robert Clive and Henry Dundas have all hit back against calls for monuments of their descendants to be taken down.

Public buildings, pubs and streets are also facing being renamed after days of Black Lives Matter protests over the death of George Floyd in Minnesota on May 25. 

Picton descendant Aled Thomas, 28, is the nine-times great grandfather of the Napoleonic Wars hero who was also known as the 'Tyrant of Trinidad'. 

Sir Thomas Picton (1758 - 1815) a military officer who enjoyed a prolific career before being killed at the Battle of Waterloo.
His statue inside Cardiff City Hall

Sir Thomas Picton (left) was a military officer who enjoyed a prolific career before being killed at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. His statue is currently inside Cardiff City Hall (right)

A marble statue of Picton stands in Cardiff City Hall, but Mr Thomas has written to council leaders to join calls led by the city's Lord Mayor for it to be taken down.

Picton was the highest-ranking British officer killed at Waterloo after the Duke of Wellington called him 'a rough foul-mouthed devil' but 'very capable'.

Sir Thomas Picton:  Hero of Waterloo who became 'Tyrant of Trinidad'  

Where is the statue?

Inside Cardiff City Hall

Who wants his statue removed?

Cardiff Lord Mayor Daniel De'Ath asked the council to remove the state in an open letter which has received support from council leader Huw Thomas.  

Who was he?

A military officer who enjoyed a prolific career before being killed at the Battle of Waterloo. He was the Governor of Trinidad from (1797–1803).

What did he do?

The bad:

  • Known as the 'tyrant of Trinidad' for his 'arbitrary and brutal' rule of the island
  • His motto was 'let them hate so long as they fear'
  • Ordered the torture of a 14-year-old girl accused of theft

The good:

  • Highest ranking officer killed fighting with Wellington at Waterloo 
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His statue has stood in the Welsh capital for more than 100 years even though he was involved in the trade and executed dozens of slaves during his time as Governor of Trinidad, and authorised the torture of a 14-year-old girl.

In a letter to the council, Mr Thomas said: 'While I am related to the Picton family, I do not defend the cruelty that Sir Thomas Picton caused.

'In fact, I feel rather embarrassed to admit I am related to him. We cannot help where we are from and who we are descended from. Also, we cannot change what has happened in the past. But what we can do is learn from them.'

In his letter Mr Thomas said his 'personal recommendation' would be for the statue to be placed in a national slavery museum.

Daniel De'Ath, the first black Lord Mayor of Cardiff, has already called for the marble monument to be removed from an array of the heroes of Wales in the council's Marble Hall.

He said: 'I feel that it is no longer acceptable for Picton's statue to be amongst the 'Heroes of Wales' in City Hall.'

The statue was unveiled by former Prime Minister David Lloyd George in 1916. The hall also includes an iconic painting of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Meanwhile, among the other figures being targeted is Lord Nelson over claims that Britain's greatst naval hero was a white supremacist and had friendships with West Indian slave traders.

Critics have also pointed out that Nelson, who secured victory for the British in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, was against the abolition of the slave trade.

But Lily Style, of South Brent, Devon, who is the fourth great granddaughter of Lord Nelson and his mistress Emma Hamilton, has insisted that Nelson was 'not a slaver'.

Lily Style, of South Brent, Devon, who is the fourth great granddaughter of Lord Nelson, is pictured on board HMS Victory in Portsmouth with her daughter Sophie

Lily Style, of South Brent, Devon, who is the fourth great granddaughter of Lord Nelson, is pictured on board HMS Victory in Portsmouth with her daughter Sophie

Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson was a British flag officer in the Royal Navy known for inspirational leadership. Nelson's column, Trafalgar Square, London (right)
Nelson's column, Trafalgar Square, London

Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson (left), who lived from 1758 to 1805, was a British flag officer in the Navy known for inspirational leadership. His column is at Trafalgar Square in London (right)

Ms Style is a descendant of Nelson and Emma, as well as Nelson's sister Catherine Matcham, whose grandchildren William Ward and Catherine Nelson married.

Horatio Nelson: One of most famous Britons who triumphed at Trafalgar but opposed Abolition of Slavert Act

Where is the statue?

Nelson's column, Trafalgar Square, London has not been targeted. But another statue of Nelson has been at Deptford Town Hall, a department at Goldsmiths University, London.  

Who is he? 

Horatio Nelson was born in a Norfolk rectory in 1758, and secured his first command 20 years later through the influence of his uncle, who was a senior naval officer. The outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars opened the way for a long succession of triumphs, the earliest taking place in the Mediterranean, where he was blinded in his right eye. He distinguished himself commanding HMS Captain at the 1797 Battle of Cape St Vincent against a larger Spanish force off the coast of Portugal, and mislaid his right arm in the unsuccessful action at Santa Cruz de Tenerife. In the following year, he commanded a British fleet in the first of his historic victories at the Battle of the Nile.

Nelson's reputation — for personal courage, aggression and tactical brilliance — won him the adoration of his captains and indeed crews. In 1801, he secured another victory, this time over the Danes, at Copenhagen, bequeathing to folklore the story that he ignored an order to withdraw by putting a telescope to his blind eye to read the flag signal. He subsequently commanded fleets involved in a blockade of French ships in Toulon harbour, and in unsuccessful pursuit of the French and Spanish fleets to the West Indies.

Only on October 21, 1805, did he finally bring the enemy to battle off Spain's Cape Trafalgar, which became his greatest victory and secured Britain against invasion by the vast army Napoleon had assembled on the Channel coast. At Trafalgar and in the actions that immediately followed, the French and Spanish lost 24 ships of the line, more than Nelson commanded when he engaged. He was shot down by a sharpshooter in the tops of the French Redoubt-able, and died three hours later.

However some believe Nelson was a white supremacist, citing Nelson's friendships with West Indian slave traders, and his description of the ideals of abolitionist William Wilberforce as 'a damnable and cruel doctrine'.  

Nelson's finest John Sugden, believes Nelson was exemplarily kind to black sailors who did good service on his ships, and in 1802 wrote another letter in support of a proposal by one of his own officers to employ free Chinese labour in the West Indies instead of slaves. 

What did he do ? 

The good: 

  • Secured victory for the British in the Battle of Trafalgar, the greatest naval victory in British history 
  • The greatest British naval hero ever to have lived 

The bad:

  •  He described of ideals of abolitionist William Wilberforce as 'a damnable and cruel doctrine'  

Who wants the statue removed? 

Goldsmiths Anti-Racist Action student group.

 

She told MailOnline: 'I have heard talk of Nelson's statues being removed. The idea of removing Nelson's column was put forward in 2017. My response is simple: Nelson was not a slaver.'

She added: 'Historians have discovered that many members of Nelson's crew on Victory at Trafalgar were people of colour.

'Nelson was famously hands on with his crew, and ultimately sacrificed his life so as to be on their level instead of hiding in safety as other naval commanders would have done.

'A black crewman is portrayed prominently in Daniel Maclise's painting of the death of Nelson, which is in display in the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool.

'Also, there is a black figure carved into the plinth of Nelson's column.'

Another descendant of a historical figure is Robert Fowke, of Shropshire, who has family links to Robert Clive, also known as Clive of India, through the Major-General's wife Margaret Clive.

Clive was an East India Company officer who helped Britain seize control of much of the subcontinent in the mid-18th century, but his reputation was muddied by his spell as Governor of Bengal from 1755 when he faced accusations of corruption.

Mr Fowke's ancestor was brought up as a sister of Margaret Clive although they were cousins, and he has done a large amount of research into his family history.

Mr Fowke told MailOnline: 'It's been said that a nation is 'a group of people held together by a fictionalised historical narrative' and I subscribe to that description.

'The problem underlying all this recent ruckus, or so it seems to me, is that some people want to create a new fictionalised narrative for Britain, one that includes them – and because their ancestors came from other parts of the world relatively recently, the new narrative is inevitably very different from the one that us indigenous Brits grew up with.

'Personally, I'm surprised at how distressed I feel by their attacks on the old narrative, even though I recognise that's essentially a fiction. It would be better if bigots on both sides backed off a little.

'A new 'fictionalised' narrative may well be good for the future of our country (of which I am very proud), but those who seek to impose it should be honest enough to admit that they're replacing one fiction with another.'

Meanwhile a plaque will be added to a statue of controversial 19th Century politician Henry Dundas who delayed the abolition of slavery - after a two-year stalemate on wording.

Dundas, a conservative politician who was eventually impeached, is commemorated at the Melville Monument at St Andrews Square in Edinburgh.

The plinth was tagged with graffiti reading 'George Floyd' at a Black Lives Matter demo at the weekend - where calls were renewed for a plaque to be added to the statue, explaining Dundas' role in delaying the abolition of slavery in the 1800s.

Scotland's first black professor, Sir Geoff Palmer, has been calling for a plaque detailing Dundas's role in Scotland's history of the slave trade - but talks with the City of Edinburgh Council ground to a halt two years ago due to a dispute around the wording.

A descendant of Dundas, Benjamin Carey, also slated a lack of enthusiasm from the council which had recently said it would no longer 'facilitate meetings' - a stance which has now changed.

Another descendant of a historical figure is Robert Fowke, of Shropshire, who has family links to Robert Clive, also known as Clive of India, through the Major-General's wife Margaret Clive

Another descendant of a historical figure is Robert Fowke, of Shropshire, who has family links to Robert Clive, also known as Clive of India, through the Major-General's wife Margaret Clive

Robert Clive was an East India Company officer
His statue stands in Shrewsbury Square and King Charles Street, London (pictured)

Robert Clive (left) was an East India Company officer whose statue stands at Shrewsbury Square and King Charles Street in London (right)

Mr Carey said: 'My ancestor is controversial, but Edinburgh needs to own him, warts and all.'

Robert Clive: East India Company officer who helped expand British Empire but amassed vast wealth subjugating people of Bengal 

Where is the statue?  

His statue stands in Shrewsbury Square and King Charles Street, London.  

Who is he? 

Robert Clive was an East India Company officer who helped Britain seize control of much of the subcontinent in the mid-18th century and was hailed back in Westminster for delivering important military victories without formal field training.

But his reputation was muddied by his spell as Governor of Bengal from 1755 when he faced accusations of corruption.

Amid a fierce backlash to his rule in India, as well as sliding health, he took his own life in 1767.

At the time of his death, Clive's fortune was worth about £500,000 - around £33million today.

What did he do ?  

The bad: 

  • Conquered Bengal at the Battle of Plassey, and helped himself to £160,000 from the defeated Nawab's treasury
  • Amassed a personal fortune by conquering Bengal and subjugating the population
  • Paved the way for the British Raj in India which ruled the subcontinent for 200 years

Who wants the statue removed? 

Two petitions started by locals including David Parton call for the Shrewsbury Square statue to be removed.

But council leader Adam McVey has now U-turned on that, promising a plaque will be sorted 'as quickly as possible'.

Meanwhile a descendant of William Gladstone has suggested the former prime minister would not have stood in the way if there was 'democratic will' to remove statues of him.

Charlie Gladstone, great-great-grandson of the 19th century politician, issued a statement after an online petition called for Gladstone's Library in Hawarden, North Wales, to be renamed due to the family's links to the slave trade.

The petition, launched by Ciara Lamb, which has only gained just over 40 signatures, claims the name is a symbol of 'oppression' and changing it 'would be progress our community so desires'.

It argues that the name is a 'glorification' of a man whose 'family was one of the largest slave-owning families in the country'.

In a statement, Charlie Gladstone, president of the library, said that 'at the core of our being' its staff 'believe that Black Lives Matter'.

The message posted on Facebook, which is also signed off by the library's warden, Peter Francis, continued: 'We also believe that if it is the democratic will, after due process, to remove statues of William Gladstone, our founder, we would not stand in the way.

'Nor, we think, would Gladstone himself - who worked tirelessly on behalf of democratic change.

'This is why we believe that what matters is how we live today, our values, our democratic process and political involvement.'

It comes after the University of Liverpool confirmed that a 'democratic process' will be used to select a new name for a hall named after William Gladstone, after students pointed out that he had defended the rights of owners of slave-run plantations, such as his father, John Gladstone.

Henry Dundas (1742 – 1811) was a Conservative politician, Scottish Advocate and the first Secretary of State for War
His state, 150ft high, on the top of the Melville Monument in St Andrew Square, Edinburgh, Scotland

Henry Dundas was a Conservative politician, Scottish Advocate and the first Secretary of State for War (left). His statue, 150ft high, is on the top of the Melville Monument in Edinburgh (right)

In their joint statement, Mr Francis and Mr Gladstone said they had had no contact from the university recently, adding: 'But we read that it was a democratic decision; so, to us the decision seems right and proper. Gladstone stood for change and so do we.'

Henry Dundas:  Tory politician who delayed the abolition of slavery  

Where is the statue?

On the top of the Melville Monument in St Andrew Square, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Who wants his statue removed? 

A petition to the Scottish government was started by Nancy Barrett last week. She proposes Dundas street should be re-named after Joseph Knight, a Scottish-Jamaican slave who won a court case and then an appeal in 1778 to free himself, by proving that slavery didn't exist in Scots Law.

Who was he? 

Henry Dundas (1742 – 1811) was a Conservative politician, Scottish Advocate and the first Secretary of State for War - he is best known for delaying the abolition of slavery in 1792.  

During his time as Home Secretary Dundas proposed that slavery be abolished in 'three stages' over a decade, which prolonged the suffering and cost thousands of lives. 

He gained the nickname of 'The Great Tyrant' which he lived up to when he was caught misusing public money in 1806 and impeached.      

What did he do?

The bad: 

  • Dundas proposed that slavery be abolished in 'three stages' over a decade, which prolonged the suffering and cost thousands of lives  
  • Blocked British reformer William Wilberforce's efforts to abolish the slave trade
  • He was influential in the expansion of British Influence in India  the affairs of the East India Company     

The good: 

  • Instrumental in the encouragement of the Scottish Enlightenment - a period of intellectual and scientific accomplishments 

They also commented: 'William Gladstone, whose politics were strikingly different to his Tory father's politics and values, was the first British politician to lead a left-leaning government and to institute dramatic democratic changes when he introduced the secret ballot, universal education and a foreign policy based on freedom and liberty and not the aggrandisement of Empire.'

The Gladstone family continue to uphold 'liberal values', with the library working for 'a more democratic, humane and tolerant society', the statement added.

Mr Francis and Mr Gladstone said the library is aware of John Gladstone's 'plantation-owning past', and has 'instituted a scholarship for research into historical and contemporary slavery'.

They said it is 'undeniable' that John Gladstone 'owned land in the West Indies and South America that used slave labour'.

While his father had received £106,769 in compensation at the time of the abolition of slavery, William Gladstone himself 'received nothing', the statement continued.

It added: 'Yes, in 1831 William did speak in the Commons in favour of compensation for slave owners. It was his first speech in the Commons and he was still in thrall to his father.

'By 1850, he was a changed man and in Parliament he described slavery as 'by far the foulest crime that taints the history of mankind in any Christian or pagan country'.'

Originally known as St Deiniol's, the library was founded in 1895 by William Gladstone who bequeathed it £40,000 when he died three years later.

Gladstone, born in Liverpool, was prime minister for 12 years across four terms between 1868 and 1894.

It comes as the campaign to radically overhaul Britain's town centres has intensified as more local authorities bowed to pressure to review their links to slavery.

Scores of statues and memorials could be removed and public buildings, pubs and streets renamed following days of Black Lives Matter protests.

Momentum is growing after the statue of slave trader Edward Colston was thrown into a harbour in Bristol. 

More than 70 memorials honouring colonial figures have been targeted for destruction by activists on the 'Topple the Racists' website

More than 70 memorials honouring colonial figures have been targeted for destruction by activists on the 'Topple the Racists' website

Business minister Nadhim Zahawi yesterday said he did not believe there should be statues of 'any slaver' and that they should be taken down if the majority supported their removal.

The 78 'racist' statues BLM supporters would like to be destroyed

 

1) Lord Kitchener, Orkney

2) Duke of Sutherland, Golspie

3) Jim Crow, Dunoon

4) Henry Dundas, Edinburgh

5) Lord Roberts, Glasgow

6) Thomas Carlyle, Glasgow

7) Sir Robert Peel, Glasgow

8) Colin Campbell, Glasgow

9) John Moore, Glasgow

10) James George Smith Neill, Ayr

11) William Armstrong, Newcastle

12) Captain James Cook, Great Ayton

13) Robert Peel, Bradford

14) Robert Peel, Leeds

15) Robert Peel, Preston

16) Robert Peel, Bury

17) Robert Peel, Manchester

18) Bryan Blundell, Liverpool

19) Christopher Columbus, Liverpool

20) Martin's Bank, Liverpool

21) Admiral Nelson, Liverpool

22) William Leverhulme, Wirral

23) Henry Morton Stanley, St Asaph

24) Henry Morton Stanley, Denbigh

25) William Gladstone, Hawarden

26) Elihu Yale, Wrexham

27) Green Man, Ashbourne

28) Robert Clive, Shropshire

29) Robert Peel, Tamworth

30) Robert Peel, Birmingham

31) Ronald A Fisher, Cambridge

32) Cecil Rhodes, Bishops Stortford

33) Thomas Phillips, Brecon

34) General Nott, Carmarthen

35) Thomas Picton, Carmarthen

36) Henry Austin Bruce, Cardiff

37) Thomas Picton, Cardiff

38) Codrington Library, Oxford

39) Cecil Rhodes, Oxford

40) Edward Colston (school 1), Bristol

41) Edward Colston (school 2), Bristol

42) Edward Colston (statue), Bristol

43) Edward Colston (tower), Bristol

44) Edward Colston (hall), Bristol

45) George Alfred Wills, Bristol

46) William Beckford, London

47) Robert Geffrye, London

48) Francis Galton, London

49) King Charles II, London

50) King James II, London

51) Robert Clive, London

52) Oliver Cromwell, London

53) Robert Clayton, London

54) Henry De la Beche, London

55) Christopher Columbus, London

56) Thomas Guy (1/2), London

57) Thomas Guy (2/2), London

58) Robert Milligan, London

59) Francis Drake, London

60) Robert Blake, London

61) Admiral Nelson, London

62) Captain Edward August Lendy, London

63) East India Estate, London

64) Stephen Clark, London

65) Charles James Napier, London

66) Earl Mountbatten, London

67) Jan Smuts, London

68) Admiral Horatio Nelson, London

69) Lord Kitchener, Chatham

70) Edward Codrington, Brighton

71) William Ewart Gladstone, Brighton

72) Drax family, Wareham

73) Robert Baden-Powell, Poole

74) Redvers Buller, Exeter

75) Francis Drake, Tavistock

76) Walter Raleigh, Bodmin

77) Nancy Astor, Plymouth

78) Francis Drake, Plymouth  

Critics accused Liverpool University of waging a 'woke war on British history' after it agreed to rename a building which commemorated four-time Liberal prime minister William Gladstone due to his family's links to slavery.

Protesters continued to target other statues, daubing 'murderer' at a memorial to colonialist Sir George Somers in Lyme Regis, Dorset. In London, Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital said it would review whether to remove a statue of its founder Sir Thomas Guy, but would not change its name.

Sir Thomas made a fortune as a shareholder of a company which sold slaves, and used it to build the hospital in 1721. 

Earlier this week protesters targeted statues of Sir Winston Churchill and Queen Victoria, even though she came to the throne in 1837 – four years after the Slavery Abolition Act was passed.

Campaigners linked to Black Lives Matter have called for around 60 statues which they deem racist to be toppled. 

Some 130 Labour-run councils agreed to assess the 'appropriateness' of monuments and commemorations in their areas. In Bristol, the city council announced a commission would review its 'true history'.

Bristol mayor Marvin Rees said the Colston statue would be retrieved from the harbour and put in a museum, alongside placards from Sunday's protests.

A statue of 18th century slave trader Robert Milligan was removed on Tuesday from the docks he founded at West India Quay, East London.

Officials in Plymouth said they would rename a square named after Sir John Hawkins, considered the first English slave trader, after a petition hit 15,000 signatures.

Another called for a statue of Sir Henry Stanley to be removed from the centre of Denbigh in Wales. The council said it would review the request. 

Organiser Simon Jones said Stanley – best-known for finding lost explorer Dr David Livingstone – was 'brutal' to Africans and shot black children from his boat to calibrate his rifle sights. 

He said: 'A statue to a man like that has no place in Welsh society in 2020.'

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has ordered a review of statues and street names. 

A spokesman for Guy's and St Thomas' said of its statue: 'We recognise and understand the anger felt by the black community.' 

London Metropolitan University said it would drop the name of Sir John Cass from its art and architecture due to the education reformer's links to slavery.

Liverpool University's decision to rename Gladstone Hall followed complaints from around 1,300 students. Gladstone, who was born in the city, was one of Britain's most prominent reformers. His father owned plantations and opposed the abolition of slavery.

Tory MP George Freeman tweeted: 'This isn't war on today's racism, it's a mad woke war on our own history – which should be a source of insight, debate and learning.' 

Laurence Westgaph, a historian and PhD student at the university, said Gladstone was 'a great humanitarian', adding: 'Deleting his name removes the chance to debate. Wiping historical references from the landscape does not do anything to cure racism, we need to talk about them.'

Dr Adrian Hilton, chairman of the academic council of the Margaret Thatcher Centre, said the university's decision was 'intellectually barren'. 

Liverpool City Council has previously made a formal apology for the city's role in the slave trade and its mayor Joe Anderson signalled he would be in favour of renaming some streets.

Business minister Mr Zahawi said any removal of statues should be done democratically, and without violence. 

He told the BBC: 'My opinion is any slaver should not have a statue, but I wouldn't be breaking the law to take statues down.' 

He said Britain should examine its history 'warts and all' without self-loathing or forgetting 'the good things we've done'.

Labour MP Hilary Benn called for an end to the vandalism of statues, after the memorial to Queen Victoria was attacked in Leeds. 

He said: 'I don't think we should be commemorating slave traders. But let's have that debate in a proper way, and not by acts of vandalism like this.' 

The statue of Edward Colston is pulled out of the harbour by Bristol City Council this morning

The statue of Edward Colston is pulled out of the harbour by Bristol City Council this morning

In Lyme Regis, protesters in their 60s are said to have cheered as they vandalised the statue of Somers, who claimed Bermuda as part of the British Empire in 1609.

Meanwhile a petition called on Wetherspoons to rename the Elihu Yale, a pub in Wrexham, North Wales, named after a 17th century merchant linked to slavery.

In Edinburgh a statue of Sir Henry Dundas, who opposed abolition, was defaced. 

Protesters also placed a traffic cone painted black – with a black power fist symbol – on the head of a statue of the Duke of Wellington in Glasgow. It is often adorned with an orange cone.

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