Family of Fmr. British PM to apologise for slavery in Guyana, fund UG research centre


The family of Former British Prime Minister William Gladstone will travel to Guyana this week and apologise for their ancestors’ role in African enslavement and help fund a new research centre at the University of Guyana (UG).

The Gladstone family, recognised as heirs of enslavement, is travelling to Guyana as the country observes 200 years since the 1823 Demerara Uprising. This rebellion is viewed as one that directly contributed to the end of African enslavement in the British Caribbean.

The UK Guardian reported that the education and career of Gladstone, the 19th-century politician known for his liberal and reforming governments, were funded by enslaved Africans working on his father’s sugar plantations in the Caribbean.

See below the full release from the University of Guyana:

The University of Guyana launches its International Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies in collaboration with the National Reparations Committee and Heirs of Slavery, on Friday, August 25, 2023, in the George Walcott Lecture Theatre (GWLT) of the Turkeyen Campus, in Georgetown, Guyana, from 8:30 hrs. to 11:00 hrs.

The Diaspora and Migration Centre is set up to pursue five (5) specific areas of research interest including, but not limited to Diaspora and Migration in and around Academia, Youth, Technology and Vulnerable Communities, Indigeneity, Indentureship and Slavery as specific and integral aspects of dispersion.

The research track for Slavery and indentureship is the reason why it was deemed appropriate to launch the Diaspora and Migration Centre (MiDias) in this historically auspicious month in regard to the emancipation of enslaved peoples as well as the 200th anniversary of the 1823 Slave Revolution in Demerara.

The University has been collaborating for several years with several Universities and the Guyana Reparations Committee on specific aspects of the impacts of the plantations’ enterprise of Slavery and indentureship as well as indigeneity on native populations, including relations being experienced today.

As such UG and the GRC invited members of the Gladstone family, part of an heirs of slavery grouping to participate in the event since Quamina and his son John, who led the 1823 Rebellions were enslaved on Gladstone Plantations. The University itself is founded on plantation lands upon which part of the revolutions were enacted. The Gladstone ancestor is also recorded as “one of the initiators of schemes for the exporting of indentured labor to the Caribbean” ( It is also indicated their ancestor John Gladstone who died in 1851, might have owned the Whitby and Hesperus, the ships which transported the first East Indian Indentured to Guyana. The Gladstone family, which includes several historians, have today confirmed that they will in fact offer an apology given the role their ancestors would have played here.

Given this development, The University and Reparations Committee have specially invited and continue to invite several elders, the Guyana Reparations Committee and other groups, Students and senior potentates to witness and receive the formal apology at the short formal ceremony which begins at 9:00 hrs. at the GWLT on Friday, August 25, 2023.

After the formal ceremony, the moment will be marked by an inter-generational dialogue between University of Guyana students and youthful members of the Gladstone family; a linking of the University of Guyana Library with digital archives of the Council of World Missions and an exhibition of scholarly work throughout the day on the subject matter.

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