’12 Years a Slave’ Actor Benedict Cumberbatch’s Family May Be Facing Reparations in Barbados

’12 Years a Slave’ Actor Benedict Cumberbatch’s Family May Be Facing Reparations in Barbados

12 Years a Slave actor Benedict Cumberbatch, who is reportedly a descendant of a slave-owner and plantation holder, is the subject of a financial battle as Barbados government officials begin their pursuit for reparations.

According to The Daily Beast, the family of the Oscar-nominated actor is among former plantation-owning families under close watch since the republic of Barbados broke away from British monarchy’s control in 2021.

The outlet reported that Cumberbatch’s seventh great-grandfather purchased Barbados’ Cleland plantation in 1728 and maintained ownership until slavery was abolished in the country in 1834. It is believed that the Cumberbatch family earned its fortune from the 250 enslaved people who worked on the land. Though the plantation is no longer owned by the family, they were paid around $1 million in British pounds when enslaved workers became free in Barbados.

“Any descendants of white plantation owners who have benefitted from the slave trade should be asked to pay reparations, including the Cumberbatch family,” general secretary of the Caribbean Movement for Peace and Integration, David Denny, told The Telegraph.

In the past, the British Sherlock star has  acknowledged his ancestors’ slave ownership. He revealed that his mother once pushed him to avoid using his real name for fear of reparations claims by the descendants of slaves.

Additionally, Cumberbatch wanted to atone for his family’s link to slavery by accepting a supporting role in Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, per The Daily Beast. He was portrayed as a plantation owner.

Last month, Barbados declared it would seek compensation from British Parliament member Richard Drax, who inherited the island’s largest sugar plantation, Drax Hall – the only plantation that still remains within the family of its original owners. Barbados will take the matter to an international arbitration court should Drax protest.

“The money should be used to turn the local clinic into a hospital, support local schools, and improve infrastructure and housing,” said Denny.