Monday, February 20, 2012

Slaves at the root of the fortune that created Richard Dawkins' family estate

He has railed against the evils of religion, and lectured the world on the virtues of atheism.

Now Richard Dawkins, the secularist campaigner against "intolerance and suffering", must face an awkward revelation: he is descended from slave owners and his family estate was bought with a fortune partly created by forced labour.

One of his direct ancestors, Henry Dawkins, amassed such wealth that his family owned 1,013 slaves in Jamaica by the time of his death in 1744.

The Dawkins family estate, consisting of 400 acres near Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, was bought at least in part with wealth amassed through sugar plantation and slave ownership.

Over Norton Park, inherited by Richard Dawkins's father, remains in the family, with the campaigner as a shareholder and director of the associated business. more