Benedict Cumberbatch’s ancestors made their fortune in the Barbados slave trade


I’ve actually been avoiding this story for the better part of a week, but I’ve been getting requests to cover it, so here you go. It seems that many generations ago, Benedict Cumberbatch’s family were big slave owners in Barbados.

When the story began, it seemed like a cool “Anglo-American ties” story – when NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio appointed a woman named Stacey Cumberbatch to be NYC’s commissioner, people were like, “Hey, I bet she’s distantly related to that dude who plays Sherlock Holmes.” It seems that Stacey Cumberbatch has done her own research on her family tree, and she told reporters that she is distantly related to Benedict’s family – but not by blood, through slavery in the 18th century. Stacey Cumberbatch is descended from slaves in Barbados once owned by Benedict’s fifth great-grandfather. Many descendants of slaves still carry their “master’s” surname.

So, has Benedict ever acknowledged his family’s past? Apparently, he has. He’s even said that his mother didn’t want him to use the Cumberbatch name professionally because of the association with the slave trade. And what Benedict hasn’t already confirmed is well-known through the historical record. In 1728, Abraham Cumberbatch bought a sugar plantation in Barbados and through the course of years, more than 250 slaves worked the plantation. This plantation made the Cumberbatch family very wealthy for years to come, even after slavery was abolished in Britain. And centuries later, Benedict gets a posh education and stars as an American slave-owner in 12 Years a Slave. You can read more of the slave-owning history of Benedict’s family here.


Photos courtesy of WENN.

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258 Responses to “Benedict Cumberbatch’s ancestors made their fortune in the Barbados slave trade”

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  1. Just me says:

    And ? You’re not responsible of your family’s past and actions. You’re only responsible of yours.

      • SW says:

        I don’t understand why people would care about what someone’s ancestors did. I’m sure it’s hard for him to know, and the fact people who don’t even know him are judging him on his family’s past….yikes. That has to be hard.

      • V4Real says:

        Who’s judging him? The article states that his ancesters were involved in the slave trade. It didn’t say we should Judge Cumberbatch because of his ancestors.

    • Harriet says:

      It beggars belief, that people feel the contrary!

    • starrywonder says:

      I know right? I am African American and I am not going to get on Benedict’s back about this. IF he was a slave owner I have a problem. Something his great great great whatever did I am not going to get on the man about. If that’s the case I would have no white friends period these days since I am sure I could back in their family trees and find out that some of them may have had relatives that owned slaves.

      • Kate says:

        I’m black also and I’m not holding anyone responsible for what their ancestors did. IMO.

      • Delorb says:

        I’m black as well, and all I wish is that people acknowledge things. He’s done it. Others, sadly have not. His family was not alone, but you’d never know it by the silence.

        Its like when Paula Deen said, “of course”. Everyone was shocked! Shocked I tells ya. Jeez. FYI, people in her age group were quick to use that word. Its how they were raised. Pretending to be outraged by this the racist behavior of the past ticks me off.

        When those black kids integrated Little Rock, practically the entire student body turned out to scream racial epithets at them. But if you ask anyone from that time period now, where they were or what happened, you’ll get ‘it wasn’t me’, ‘it was those other kids’ ‘most kids stayed home’. Meanwhile we have pictures of screaming hate-filled distorted white faces.

        Good for Benedict to admit it. Hopefully others will follow suit and we can all heal.

    • Zigggy says:


    • pank says:

      Who said this was an inquisition? Some of y’all tell on yourselves….

      Its fascinating. And I’m proud to be in a country where her descendants could make something of themselves

      • the_porscha says:

        Right?! No one is throwing stones at the current Cumberbatches here. Just pointing out actual fact. Where is the pearl clutching coming from?

    • Ash says:


    • Gail says:

      I am not even a big fan of the man but I agree. What his ancestors did have nothing to do with him

    • jaye says:

      Exactly. And I’m a black woman.

    • Maria says:

      Heck, even Meryl Streep had slave owning ancestors. Something that was covered on Dr. Gates’ program on PBS about family roots/trees. You can’t help what your ancestors did. You can only help what you do or fail to do in your life.

  2. Shelly says:

    This is horrible, and we cannot fault him for his ancestors. But we can fault him for his classist attitudes, and the fact that he seems unable to recognise that much of his success and his pre-fame wealth came on the backs of slaves. He shouldn’t have to apologize officially, since he didn’t do anything, but he should be aware of where his lucky little life came from and how many people died to get it for him.

    I’m officially over him. :(

    • bluecalling says:

      i am sure he is quite aware… the article even said his parents made sure he was aware.

      sh!t happens… but unfortunately it continues to happen and THIS is what bothers me more as a black african native woman.

      • wtf says:

        black african native woman? – You sound very colonised. The term is African woman why would you need to put black and native to describe yourself sheesh

      • Kath says:

        WTF: Because not all women who live in Africa are black? Because some people (immigrants/children of immigrants) who grow up in other countries describe themselves as of “African” descent? I think bluecalling is just clarifying where her perspective is coming from, not being “colonised” in her outlook.

      • bluecalling says:

        @wtf – @kath got it right; I was born there and am black (for example, first African person I met college in the USA was a Kenyan of Indian descent).

    • Mark says:

      So silly your imaginary affair with him is over because of his ancestors? So him getting the lead role in star trek is due to his ancestors owning slaves? Did the maid help him with his screen test?

      The internet really does bring out the odd ones

      • WayPastMyBedtime says:


      • Annie says:

        His education and connections helped make him successful. He would not be where he is without a good pedigree. I mean look at that face.

        And it’s pretty messed up that he chose to play a slave owner btw. I don’t get that.

      • Renee says:


        I can’t believe that I am going to suggest this, and I am writing this as someone who is the descendant of enslaved people, but it could be a way of him exploring and coming to terms with his family’s history. I did read somewhere (probably on this site) that after he saw the screening for the first time he walked out of the theatre in Soho in London and could see the vestiges of slavery everywhere…from the architecture of the city to cell phone in his hand. I think that it is a bit dodgy that he didn’t own up to this at the beginning of promoting the film, he was likely worried about backlash which is understandable but inexcusable.

      • LadySlippers says:

        @Renee @Annie
        He has spoken about this before but it was before he was famous. His reasons for doing movies about slavery are very poignant; I suggest digging around for those articles.

      • starrywonder says:

        LOL you said that better than me. That makes no sense. How did slaves help him out in his life right now?

    • lillypilly17 says:

      Sorry, but do we know that any of his pre-fame success/wealth came from his ancestors’ involvement in the slave trade? I’m not denying that it could have in part, but we are talking about people who lived nearly 300 years ago and have who knows how many living descendants now, besides BC. He comes from a fairly middle-class background I think (and yes, British middle-class is wealthier than what we call middle-class here, but we’re not talking Downton Abbey or anything), and his parents are both fairly successful actors in their own rights from what I understand.

    • Harriet says:

      Public apology ? I mean seriously? “I am so sorry ancestors from the 17th century made money by doing something terrible. It’s all my fault you see, being born a couple of hundred years later.”

    • LadySlippers says:

      @Shelly: Your comments automatically assume the worst. If you dig around, you’ll see BC has some very insightful comments about slavery and he has even said that part of the reason he did ‘Amazing Grace’ was to shed light on the horrors of slavery. That also might be part of his reasoning to be in 12YaS. Plus he’s been unflinching in stating his character in 12YaS is NOT a good man even though at first blush he looks ‘kind’.

      And let’s be honest. We ALL profit from slavery whether it came from slaves that did the work 200 years ago or did the work yesterday. It also matters not to which flag we salute as slavery has and does permeate the world. Sad but true. I would humbly suggest you take your feelings of injustice and work to stamp out modern day slavery as it’s just as horrifying as what a great many people engaged in 300+ years ago.

      • Lindy79 says:

        “Plus he’s been unflinching in stating his character in 12YaS is NOT a good man even though at first blush he looks ‘kind’. ”

        Yes. I’ve seen several interviews where he corrects the interviewer who refers to Ford as good or kind.
        This being one

      • Secret Squirrel says:

        Great point LadyS. There are more people in slavery now than in the 1800′s. Child labor is rampant in 3rd world countries (Nike was guilty of this in the 1990′s) and many companies pay their workers next to nothing to intentionally keep them below the poverty line and slaves to working their guts out.

        These are the ones who need to be shamed, not those who had guilty ancestors over 200 years ago.

      • Janeite says:

        Hi Squirrel!
        I agree 100%. The fact that slavery still exists in the world now is what is appalling. No one can help what their ancestors did hundreds of years ago. That’s the past. We need to deal with what is happening in the present.

    • Nighty says:

      Taking into consideration what LadySlipppers said… Shelly… his ancestors did something awful, but it’s not his fault… Besides, we all, ALL OF US contribute nowadays for slavery (it’s a reality)…
      Where do you buy your clothes and shoes? Where are they made? In countries like Thailand and China, India, Bangladesh, etc.. Workers from factories that make our clothes (Levi’s, Zara, Mango, Parfois, Nike, Adidas etc, just to name a few) are SLAVES!!!! You should watch some programes from a French network on those brands… They work 14 to 16 hours a day to get a lousy paycheck that isn’t enough to buy them food… They work under awful human, sanitary, disrespectful to human rights working conditions… And who’s to blame? all of us…

      Here’s one article you should read:
      And that’s just one..

      • LadySlippers says:

        I’ll add to that.

        How many of you shop at Walmart? Not only does Walmart buy goods from companies that use slaves — they themselves pay so little that the majority of their employees are on welfare. AND to top it off, they have a lot of human rights violations; in fact, they are the poster child for bad, exploitive business practices.

        So if you are against slavery and human exploitation STOP shopping at Walmart.

      • Virgilia Coriolanus says:

        God, yes LadySlippers. My family only goes to Walmart because there’s nowhere else, really, for us to go, and what few local grocers we have are so expensive, it’s ridiculous.

        But my mom worked at Walmart for a year–she HATES them. They talk all that bs about how they take care of their own–the pay is shit, so they don’t have to give you health insurance.

      • bluhare says:

        Not only do they try hard to not give people insurance benefits, but they refer them to the State for assistance programs.

    • Dani says:

      Do you expect him to thank his 5th great grandfathers slaves from 1728 for helping him win a BAFTA? I’m confused as to how he’s supposed to approach something that was waaaaay before his time. It’s not like he covers it up or gloats on the fact that he came from money. Don’t look too far into it.

    • Maureen says:

      His success came on the backs of slaves?? Get real!

    • jaye says:

      That’s SO silly. He didn’t gain his education, or his career off of the backs of slaves. What his ancestors did was CENTURIES ago, and he has no culpability for it. Modern white people should only be held responsible for any racist actions and behaviors they THEMSELVES have, not the racist actions and behaviors of their ancestors.

      • Maureen says:

        Modern WHITE people? As if no one else is capable/guilty of racism against others except white people? REALLY?

      • Virgilia Coriolanus says:

        I don’t think there’s any need for outrage, Maureen. Jaye is saying that modern white people i.e. people who are being attacked for their ancestors owning slaves, like it’s their fault–which are normally WHITE people, shouldn’t have to apologize or feel shame or regret about something that their ancestors did, not they themselves.

      • Maureen says:

        Again: Because ONLY white people can own slaves and be racist?

        Please, look around the world and see who is owning slaves, oppressing minorities, abusing women and children, and violating the human rights of their own fellow citizens. These things are happening right NOW. In MODERN times. At this moment — TODAY.

        Surprise! They aren’t White.

      • Virgilia Coriolanus says:

        I think you’re being too sensitive, and are jumping on things that aren’t there, Maureen–the original comment had NOTHING to do/say about modern day slavery and sex trafficking—but the past. That’s what the orig. commentator was saying. No one was suggesting that only white people are racist and slave owners. Read the comment AGAIN.

      • Maureen says:

        The fact that anyone is even discussing “white slavery/racism” in this thread, rather than the rampant slavery among NON-whites occurring TODAY, is my point. It is my only point. I’m not over-reacting, I’m not over-reaching, I’m not mis-interpreting. I’m responding to the poster with another perspective.

        It was the phrase “modern white people” which has stuck in my craw. Why are we even talking about “modern white people”??? It’s not modern white people who are selling and trafficking minor children, oppressing women and girls, and trampling on the rights of religious and ethnic minorities. It’s NON-whites at this particular modern moment in history. We should be talking about THAT, rather than re-hashing “white racism and slavery” from 300 years ago. I’m sick of it! It really seems that many people are only disgusted by racism and slavery when white people are the guilty party.

      • Delorb says:

        Maureen, we were discussing the owning of slaves back in the 1700s. So why should modern (as in today’s) white people be held responsible for the sins of their fathers. That’s all that statement meant.

        “It’s not modern white people who are selling and trafficking minor children, oppressing women and girls, and trampling on the rights of religious and ethnic minorities.”

        Wrong. Slavery is alive and well and there ARE whites who traffic in all of the above. Don’t get it twisted. Its a billion $$ enterprise. No one is going to walk away from that kind of money. Including whites.

  3. Lindy79 says:

    *waits for the Cumberbatch bashing from people who hate him anyway to start*

    What exactly would people like him to say/do about this (I think some sort of acknowledgement from him is probably needed given these recent stories) but I have no doubt he is very much aware of it and is probably as embarrassed and appalled as we would all be, but honestly, what can he do about it?

    I’m sure if a lot of us went back to the 18th Century (or further) there is potential to find something to be horrified about. I say that as someone with a very British maiden name, who lives in Ireland.

    • AG-UK says:

      @ Lindy79
      I agree. If I went back that far my people would still be in Africa. I also was never under the impression he was super wealthy (eg owning country estates like in Parade’s End) Yes he went to a boarding school but I have friends in NY who don’t come from real wealth and still fork out $45k a year for kids non boarding education.

    • Mouse says:

      The article mentions he is ashamed and that ‘amazing grace’ was his way of apologizing. I haven’t seen that film, but surely after nearly 300 years of that slave trade being abolished he hasn’t approached this the wrong way. *ducks and takes cover*

    • MisJes says:


      It is interesting you mention that perhaps some sort of acknowledgement from him is necessary, because I was wondering about the same thing. I just read an article wherein the author argued that he should, and provided her reasoning why – I recommend having a look!

    • Sixer says:

      My ancestors are all poverty stricken slum dwellers so I can snark away most happily…

      … nah. What Fanty says below is right.

      I know! He can just do an episode of Who Do You Think You Are? and look suitably (by which I mean genuinely, as I assume it would be genuine, no reason to think otherwise) upset by it all. Athlete Colin Jackson did one – his relatives were the slaves on a British colonial plantation – easier from the wrong-was-done-TO-my-forebears side to look virtuous, I know, but he did a pretty good job of showing that the past is the past but it should be acknowledged so we can do better in the future.

    • Secret Squirrel says:

      I can see this descending into something ugly really quickly…

      I don’t judge people on their past, particularly when that past happened before their lifetime. It is how they respond to it and behave now that is important. I think Benedict’s mum acknowledging that their past is tainted is more than most “wealth built on the lives of others” aristocracy would ever own up to. She has at least tried to ensure Ben is aware of his past even though it wasn’t that pretty. It would certainly be grounding for him I’m sure.

      If we have to apologize for our ancestors, then I’m sorry my English relative got caught stealing a loaf of bread back in the mid 1800′s and was sent to Australia as punishment. He met his future wife on the way who was being sent to Australia for (allegedly) hiding stolen goods in a laundry basket. Hardly on the same scale as owning slaves I realize, but still it is only fair we all fess up to our distant relatives’ sins if Ben has to as well.

      • Lindy79 says:

        Crikey, sent to Australia for stealing bread?!

      • Sixer says:

        Lindy – transportation was also a sentence for early unionising and prisoners of war! The US was also a destination for transportation as well as Australia right up until the Revolutionary War. Some of those people were transported AND enslaved. Scary, huh?

      • Secret Squirrel says:

        @Lindy – I felt a bit prickly when I found that out. So big a deal back then, but today the Police would probably not even bother to come and investigate if someone stole a loaf of bread. Heck, these days people who steal, murder, rape, defraud etc. get less punishment. How times have changed…

        Still, it all worked out in the end and I have a good life here as a result of those decisions 150-ish years ago. I would like to think they would be proud that their future descendants have made a comfortable living the honest way! Future descendants, is that right??!!! :)

      • Renee says:

        I agree with the first part of your statement but stealing a loaf of bread is hardly on the level of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, now is it? However, the colonization of of the Aboriginal people and the seizure of their land is another and is a history that strongly parallels the histories of Indigenous people in North and South America and the treatment that they underwent also carries similarities to Indigenous and black people in the Americas.

      • LadySlippers says:

        @Lindy: Actually, even after the Revolutionary War the US kept up the practice of deporting criminals — except now we kept it ‘in house’. Several states were set up for criminals, especially the indebted ones. Georgia and Texas (they were called ‘debtor states’) were used that way for quite some time and have funky financially laws to show for it!

      • Lindy79 says:

        This is why I love CB, you learn so much!

      • pank says:

        Because the ramifications are so similar….:eye roll: next half thought out response…

      • Janeite says:

        If we are going to confess past sins of our ancestors, mine owned slaves too. Quite a a lot of them in fact. And given what we know about the relationships between most slave owners and their female slaves, I suspect I have other family members out there right now that I don’t even know I’m related to. I think about that every single day.

      • LadySlippers says:

        On the sins of our fathers’ theme.

        I have a half brother in Vietnam. And that wasn’t the only skeevy thing my father did there.


      • Virgilia Coriolanus says:

        Have you ever met him, LadySlippers? This reminds me of that Pearl S. Buck short story–can’t remember the name of it. But the summary of the story is that this man went to Vietnam shortly after he got married, slept w/a local woman, went back home—he and his wife couldn’t have kids, for whatever reason. They end up finding out that he has a son–and the son comes to live with them.

  4. T.fanty says:

    The DM article I saw was pretty crappy, but it does (inadvertently) raise interesting questions about how one deals with the fact that their privilege was built on the backs of others (as if there is any other kind?). I mean, how does one make amends for the fact that the material legacy they inherited means the continued suffering/poverty/lack of opportunity of people who share one’s name? On one hand, Cumby owes nothing; on the other hand, he owes everything.

    • embertine says:

      T.fanty, I know exactly what you mean. He shouldn’t feel ashamed or embarrassed because he’s a privileged white man, but on the other hand, he can acknowledge that he has grown up in a society which historically has prioritised his needs over those of the poor, black or female. And I think he has.

      I come from a middle class family and had access to a good education. I’m not ashamed of the fact that I am literate and have a good job, and I don’t think that means I didn’t work for what I have. But I am very aware that not everyone gets such an easy ride, either in terms of their start in life or what opportunities they get as they grow up.

    • Sixer says:

      OT for Fanty:

      No luck on the book, I’m afraid. No publicity back copies available. Sorry! In other news: I watched one episode of Benefits Street. Just sigh. It’s simply presenting disaster people. Whether or not they are agents of their own disaster and thus responsible for it or whether or not they are victims of a society with a failed economy and education system (pick your own prejudice), they are not representative of the benefits system as a whole and are presented as if they were.

      • embertine says:

        Hi Sixer, apparently they are not even representative of that street, because a number of the residents have complained that things have been exaggerated or even fabricated to make the “scroungers” look worse than they are. le sigh. A pity because it could have been an important piece of filmmaking otherwise.

      • Sixer says:

        Embertine – yep. That C4 documentary strand is SO hit and miss. On the one hand, you have 24 Hours in A&E, which is just superlative (and TRUTHFUL) and on the other, you have things like Benefits Street and Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and suchlike. It’s not just whether they’re positive or negative; it’s the difference between the narrow being presented as the whole and a genuine picture of an issue/sector.

      • Lindy79 says:

        Completely agreed. It had the potential to be so much more and a truly interesting take on people on benefits from all walks of life. They just went for cheap shots.

        (24 Hours in A&E regularly makes me sob.)

      • Sixer says:

        My favourite 24hrs was the one featuring the really posh old guy whose wife had died but who was determined to make the least of his loneliness. He decided to go and take part in Gay Pride because it looked like such a happy event and he accosted Boy George ‘ “Hello, Mr O’Dowd, I said,” and he was shocked that I knew his real name.’

      • Maggie says:

        More OT:

        I was so intrigued by your conversation (sorry and thanks?) that I found a YouTube of the show for us Americans. Looks awesome!

      • Lindy79 says:

        I loved him!

        Even on the episodes that are upsetting, you come out of it with such a good feeling because of the way people and the stories are presented.

      • Sixer says:

        (Sorry to continue the OT for so long, everyone).

        It really is a great show. Because the hospital is where it is, and because we have a universal healthcare system here, you truly do see every type of person: rich/poor, black/white, old/young. And for me, its overpowering message is that the things that really count in your life are the relationships you make, not your job, not your wealth, and perhaps even not your health, even though it’s a documentary about health. And yet it does all this without hiding the bad choices that people make. A guy in a recent episode had a diet consisting solely of milk and alcohol. Seriously!

        It makes the tabloid nature of Benefits Street doubly annoying: same channel, same documentary strand.

    • Green Girl says:

      “On one hand, Cumby owes nothing; on the other hand, he owes everything.”

      As always, you bring a unique and interesting perspective to the topics on CB. Thank you.

      On that note, I do think he should say….something. But I’m not sure what that something is.

      • Janey says:

        I believe he made mention of this when he was promoting Amazing Grace – he said he viewed playing Pitt as a kind of atonement, as in reminding people that slavery is not that far in the past and how so many people were against abolition. I also think it’s interesting (as someone upthread said) that he is very forceful and pointed about reminding people that Ford in 12 YAS is not a good man. We all know the Cumby can say and do stupid things, but I don’t think this is something he deserves backlash for, and I don’t think he needs to offer a statement. If it comes up in an interview, then engage with it, but otherwise let what has already been said speak for itself.

        Also re: C4 – sometimes it offers up truly interesting and informative content, sometimes it shows Sexbox. It’s a good example of a channel that requires advertising revenue to survive.

      • T.Fanty says:

        He already has, I think. And I think he’s apologized for it. He does a lot of charity work, and doesn’t seem to shy away from the responsibility of his past. However, I just keep thinking that the material issues at stake, matter. Not many people hesitate before handing back stolen Nazi art, for example.

        This might also explain a hell of a lot about his class defensiveness (which so many people think is snobbery).

        (and thank you for the lovely compliment!)

    • Kelly says:

      “how one deals with the fact that their privilege was built on the backs of others (as if there is any other kind?)”

      THIS. Are people so blind as to believe that any form of inherited money doesn’t come from someone being exploited (and probably murdered) for it?
      How do you think the Britain’s beloved Queen’s ancestors gained power??

      People, industrial capitalism is an 18th century invention, anyone being in the position of privilege prior to it had acquired that privilege on the backs of others – mostly by killing them and taking their land (oh sorry, it’s called defeating them in a battle that you start) or through feudalism.
      There was no equality in any form, not monetary, not political, not religious, not gender.
      Hell, many concepts we consider “normal” today did not exist – there was no childhood or “teen age”, children worked from the moment they were big enough to carry something, the typical worker’s pay was in pennies, the equivalent of exploited enslaved people in India, China, Africa today, education was given only to the richest men, not women, women were second-class citizens no matter their social status.

      I mean, this whole idea of expecting someone to compare their present situation with an entirely different historical era and ideological system is effing ridiculous!!

      What is clear here is that people are seriously uneducated and know jack about history, and that they know shit about the current situation in the world – focus on present day slavery and human trafficking, not on some movie star’s fcking ancestor from over 200 years ago!

    • pru says:

      “On one hand, Cumby owes nothing; on the other hand, he owes everything.”

      I agree. I don’t know what I would do, or how I would respond, if it were me. I do know anything I would do would never be enough. I don’t think you can ever really make those kind of amends.

      But if he is the decent person I wish/hope he is, he will respond in some way, and not just as PR. A public statement won’t cover it. Neither will taking a role in a movie, as an “apology.” It needs feel genuine, like in the form of charity work.

    • the_porscha says:

      This is amazing, and encapsulates everything I was pondering. Thank you! Your eloquence has given us something to consider.

    • bluecalling says:

      perfectly said….

  5. Maya says:

    No one should be punished or condemned for their forefather’s sins.

    If that was the case the whole of Australian population should be judged, condemned and punished because their forefathers were all criminals from UK who were sent to Australia as part of their punishment.

    If Benedict has done something like this himself then he can be crucified but not for something he had no say over.

    • Secret Squirrel says:

      FYI, there were some paying passengers who came to Australia of their own choosing to start a new life! We are not 100% criminal heritage!! However I believe you meant no malice in your comment!

      Unfortunately that is not my family’s history (although I did find one ancestor who appears to have chosen to come to Australia freely).

      • MisJes says:

        @Maya, not all Australian’s are the descendants of convicts transported from the UK.

        @Secret Squirrel, our family history is quite similar – I myself am descendant from convicts of the First Fleet, on both sides!

      • Secret Squirrel says:

        Yup, we are probably related!

      • Janeite says:

        Someone correct me if I am wrong, but wasn’t the sentence of transportation used to send convicts to the American colonies as well? I believe that ended after the Revolutionary War and Britain started sending them to Australia at that point.

      • MisJes says:

        @Janeite, you’ll have to forgive me – I’m not very solid on American History, but I can give you the timeline on our end if that helps! The decision to send convicts to Australia was made in 1786. They set sail in May 1787, and arrived here in January 1788.

      • blue marie says:

        You’re not wrong Janite, they stopped sending them here (US) in the 1780′s.

      • Janeite says:

        MisJes and blue marie,
        Thanks to you both! From what I understand, the sentence of transportation was dreaded maybe even more than execution. Just surviving that long and horrible ocean voyage was uncertain and once you got to your destination, conditions were horrible, work was backbreaking, and many more people died in that way.

    • Kelly says:

      Only the definition of a convict back then was “anyone not politically suited to the current power play” – so the excess poor, dissatisfied, hungry, desperate, angry people were being transported for minor shit like a 10 year old orphan stealing an apple.
      Australians are descendants of people who went through hell in life and still survived, nothing to be ashamed of.
      I’m certain that the majority of the people deported back then would not be considered criminals today, in the sense of murder, grand theft, rape, etc.

  6. Esti says:

    I don’t blame him for what his ancestors did, but his mother’s comment about it was kind of crappy. She encouraged him to use a stage name so that black people wouldn’t try to get reparations from him? As far as I know, reparations for slavery have always been requested from governments, not from individuals who descended from slave owners. That seems like a kind of nasty paranoia on his mother’s part. :(

    • embertine says:

      Esti, did his mum actually say that he was worried that descendants of slaves would try to sue him? I interpreted that as her being ashamed of that part of his family’s past, in which case I think she has a point and her remarks were sensitive.

      • Esti says:

        The DM article says he said that his mother “had urged him not to use his real surname professionally, in case it made him a target for reparation claims by the descendants of slaves.” I don’t see any other way to read that statement.

      • embertine says:

        Sorry Esti, didn’t see that. I would suspect that is the DM’s spin on it, because descendants of slaves suing the descendants of slave owners has no legal basis here (or anywhere?) and so I very much doubt she would have been worried about that. They don’t call it the Daily Fail for nothing.

      • LadySlippers says:

        The DM is actually being accused of making this up as there is yet no credible source for it. Not saying they did but until you actually see the quote I’d be skeptical.

        (The quote out there has his mother stating the name was cumbersome for professional purposes)

    • Lindy79 says:

      Does anyone have the actual link to where he says that, not just this “Benedict said this…”. The only reference I’ve read in interviews to his surname was his parents a) not wanting him to be an actor because it’s not stable and b) thinking Cumberbatch would limit his work offers, which is why his father went by Carlton, he’s directly quoted on these but Ive never seen anything about the association with his ancestory.

      This only seems to have come up with this latest news, given that he’s made SO many F-ups and word vomit in interviews over the years in relation to posh bashing and his family etc., I’m just surprised this wasn’t spotted and picked apart before.

      The DM hate him, have done for a while and are not exactly a reputable source so I take their “his mum said this..” as false unless they have a direct quote from someone in his camp.

      • Esti says:

        I took a quick look, and it’s from a 2007 interview with Scotland on Sunday, according to this Buzzfeed article:

        Apparently the actual quote about his name is “When I became an actor, Mum wasn’t keen on me keeping it. “They’ll [the descendants of slaves] be after you for money,” she used to say.”

        That’s… not great. And I’d like to think if my mother had said that, I’d have the sense not to repeat it to a journalist.

      • Lindy79 says:

        Thanks Esti!
        Agreed, it’s not great. I’d say even more now he needs to come out and say something on it. Not an apology as such but more like an acknowledgement..preferably with more thought put into it than this 2007 interview.

      • Secret Squirrel says:

        And lets face it, the media are known to pick and choose what parts of the interview they decide to publish, completely changing the context of the response along the way. I never trust the media to be honest when publishing sensitive responses because they just love to stir the pot to get more people to buy their product. This is particularly the case when there is a history of the magazine/paper/radio station/etc having a bias against certain ethnic groups and so on. I’ve seen it happen before and I’m sure it is happening out there all the time.

        Editing is the photoshop of the newspaper/magazine world!

      • LadySlippers says:

        Thanks for that. The DM was getting flak for making it up.

      • HolyShitake says:

        Let’s not say ancestors here like they were his cave dwelling relatives, we’re talking mid to late 1800s. I want to point that out b/c while he should not be attacked for his ancestral relative’s ownership of slaves, his immediate family has probably benefited by the accumulated wealth in some small way. Given his privilege he hasn’t done nearly enough. First his mothers comment makes it sound like their only fear/regret is that pernicious people may come out and sue him once he is famous. If this was a mis-quote, it is the kind that publicists would scream for a recant and sue for libel. Second, how is making Amazing Grace or 12 YAS an atonement for his family owning slaves? Did he not get paid for either roles? Did he not get publicity and credit as an actor for either roles? Was he offered a better role but chose to do these movies instead? Did he donate all his earnings to charitable organizations in Barbados that help underprivileged kids? He should use this opportunity to really shine some light on the huge social and economical chasm that slavery left in its wake and he hasn’t.

      • pank says:

        His mother sounds like a gross hag.

  7. Annie says:

    He best stay away from Rihanna! Guess who her ancestors are, probably.

    No, but seriously. This is where all the family wealth comes from, what made him successful. I think he has some owning up to do. His family flourished on the backs of slaves. And this guy is classist as fck. 250 slaves. They were insanely rich.

    We can’t help where we come from but we sure as hell should know how to deal with it!

    • KromBoom says:

      Yes and yes.

      Just read a book called Slaves in the Family by Edward Ball. Seven generations back his family were slaveowners in South Carolina and Ball uncovers all the history and tries to make peace with it. So honest. Like sometimes i read a page and thought wow, your family looks really bad and you are awesomely brave to retell it.
      Cumby should read it.

  8. kibbles says:

    I’ve never watched Sherlock and don’t think he’s handsome in the least, so I tend to avoid Cumberbatch posts. Maybe when I get around to watching Sherlock I’ll start to form an opinion about him. Anyway, his ancestors have nothing to do with his character today. He’s acknowledged his family history and there seems to be enough shame about their past that his mom didn’t even want him using the family name professionally. I don’t think he owes anyone an apology nor does he even need to address this if he doesn’t feel like it. Probably most white people are connected in some way by blood to the slave trade and colonisation. There were also Africans involved in the slave trade among other injustices. None of us can change the past. We can only learn from it and try not to repeat the many atrocities that have happened across the globe since the beginning of the human race. The best thing for Cumberbatch to do is to be a good person and donate part of the wealth he has accumulated, in part due to his family’s past sins, to causes that address poverty or any sort of human rights violations. All any of us can do is try to be the best person we can be and pay it forward.

  9. Drea says:

    Benedict Cumberbatch discussed this in a 2007 interview with Scotland on Sunday. While the behavior of his ancestors is obviously not his fault, I found the way he discussed it off-putting.

    For example, this was unnecessarily dismissive:

    “The issue of how far you should be willing to atone is interesting. I mean, it’s not as if I’m making a profit from the suffering — it’s not like it’s Nazi money.”

    That last sentence shouldn’t have come out of his mouth.

    Also, his comments about his mother make her sound like a jerk and it makes me wonder if he even realizes that. I mean, really:

    “When I became an actor, Mum wasn’t keen on me keeping [the name Cumberbatch]. ‘They’ll be after you for money,’ she used to say.”

    If he’s going to discuss this publicly again, he needs to put some more thought into how he approaches the topic.

    The article I’m quoting from was excerpted here:

    • Nan St. George says:

      @Drea, wow did he really say that,”it’s not like it’s Nazi money”??? I’ll have to read the article in the link you provided. What an ignorant thing to say. He and his mother sound like a winning pair if those quotes are true. I love how people like to negate the horrors and effects of the Atlantic Slave Trade because it happened “so long ago.”

    • Alina says:

      “it’s not like it’s Nazi money” WTF!!! ignorant rich posh boy

    • The word ‘Nazi’ is like a red flag in my world, largely because it’s a battle that’s still being fought. Our papers are full of a court investigation of a painting collection which probably contains works ‘stolen’ for a pittance from Jewish collectors during the Third Reich.
      Please consider that the BC interview quoted here is from 2007. Whether he would use the same phrasing today is doubtful &, of course, has nothing to do with posh or not. My understanding of what he says is that he works for his keep & that it’s not as if his profit comes from stealing from someone else, hence, ‘Nazi money’—perhaps an ill-chosen comparison but not incorrect. Whether or not he or his family could be sued for retributions after such a long time is a legal question only a lawyer could answer.

      • Janet says:

        It’s not so long a stretch from 2007 to 2014. His statement about “not being Nazi money” was as objectionable then as it is now.

    • T.Fanty says:

      Oh wow, that’s so bad.

      “It’s not like it’s Nazi money.” No, except but that it is EXACTLY like that.

      • Sorry to link back in, but what the man earns is not like ‘Nazi money’ & he is quite correct in saying so. You all seem to be conflating his ancestors with BC in the 21st century. Read it again.
        As Janet says, 2007 is indeed not far from 2014, but in 2007 BC was a promising young thespian. In the interim he has become a household word. If you follow his interviews on YouTube, you’ll notice a perceptible increase in their sophistication. A budding star as intelligent as BC is, expresses his opinions on a different level now & is much more circumspect about what he divulges.
        As for ‘Nazi’, I personally have a bellyful of disdain for the way in which Anglo-Saxons use & misuse the word. I find the statement in bad taste but unobjectionable in its content. Ladies, I live here with my family & am directly plugged in to much of what being a ‘Nazi’ still means & how much shame is attached. If there were reason to object, I’d be the first in line. It is really depressing.

    • Katie says:

      Little hesitant to comment since I don’t know how legitimate this quote is (Buzzfeed only has it?), it reads as if he means he does not have access to direct money/property (ie, inheritance, trust fund), whereas some Nazi descendants do.

      I think the whole thing could raise an interesting conversation about slavery but probably will devolve into personal attacks on him because that’s likely to sell more papers. I highly doubt the Daily Mail is interested in raising a serious dialogue about slavery. We’ll probably see more articles on other UK celebs with unsavory ancestors.

      • Drea says:

        @Katie: It’s a legit quote – I looked up the original article on Lexis-Nexis. Screencaps of the full article are posted here:

      • Katie says:

        @ Drea

        That’s the problem. Scotland on a Sunday articles are online through the Scotsman back to 2003 and that’s missing, plus full of errors and a little weird. It’s just a red flag to me that none of the major pubs, even the Mail, were willing to directly quote from it or identify the publisher. That usually means something is wrong with it and they don’t want a lawsuit (I’m not wagging my finger at the Buzzfeed reporter, she’s young and they’re not exactly a big publication).

        Bear in mind, it’s entirely possible it’s accurate and he messed up but at least he’s appeared to learn since then. I’m just not a big fan of the print news these days, so I’m always skeptic even if I like what I’m reading LOL.

  10. Renee says:

    This is terrible but I think as T. Fanty mentioned there is a lot to be said for acknowledging that one’s privilege was built off of the oppression of others, and that the societal structures that allowed for slavery to occur are still in place today and that they allow some to advance while countless others are held back and/or discriminated against. This ancestry of slave owners is true of many, if not the majority, of people of European descent who live in the Americas. Even the fact that for those of us who are not Indigenous/Native American/First Nations are living on occupied territory is something that we should be aware of and consider.

  11. Beth says:

    This is absurd. It has nothing to do with him.

  12. Bored suburbanhousewife says:

    The Atlantic slave trade was a source of riches for many many families in Europe and America, including many very illustrious old New England families that later sanitized their role by claiming their forebears were “shipping merchants” or in the “insurance busines” ( insuring what? There a new book out now exploring the close and only now being discovered relationship between the founding of our great universities like Harvard, Dartmouth, Yale and others and slave labor and slave owners. It’s called Ebony and Ivy.

    • LAK says:

      Same goes for the African kingdoms that became very wealthy and powerful due to the slave trade. No one side has clean hands.

      • justme says:

        Thanks for pointing that particular point out LAK. Sometimes people forget that it was not just white people involved in the slave trade.

      • Bored suburbanhousewife says:

        Great point LAK

      • Illyra says:

        Thank you. Reminds me: the main character of Amistad returned to Africa and became a slae trader in real life, but Spielberg conveniently left that historical tidbit out of his movie.

      • Kate says:

        Tbh I think it’s ridiculous that you’d feel the need to mention that “no one side has clean hands”. There were rulers in the African kingdoms who cruelly sold/traded their slaves who were prisoners of war, political enemies, however the numbers of this occurrence compared to slavery at European hands is known to be overwhelmingly disproportionate and pales in comparison. Your comments come across as insensitive and have an “well they did it too” ring that some have used to trivialize the horrors carried out by White colonists. I don’t believe (or hope) that was the intention behind the comments but I just don’t understand the point of them. The small legacy of Black slave owners doesn’t absolve white people from the tremendous injustices perpetrated against PoC and of the fact that they continue to benefit from those injustices in large part due to institutionalized racist power structures to this day .

      • PinkParasols says:

        Hi Lak,

        Can you name these African Kingdoms that become wealthy from transatlantic slavery? No one ever seems to know who these people were….

        Sort of like the Native Americans and their legit New York for ribbons trade….

      • LAK says:

        Kate: The original post was recommending reading on aspects of the trade that aren’t receiving so much attention or have been deliberately obscured to hide their origins in slavery. In the spirit of that, i added the African angle to the same.

        From your response to my comments, it’s quite clear that you don’t know the extent of African involvement in the Atlantic slave trade. It wasn’t a small legacy of a few evil black owners who sold only their political enemies/spoils of war.

        Europeans rarely ventured inland. People [prisoners/kidnapped people/tributes etc] were matched from 000s of miles inland to the coast were they were sold to the Europeans. who did this? Africans and Arabs.

        The slave trade was a lucrative business for many African tribes. These tribes abandoned their traditional industries for the slave trade. The trade was so lucrative for them that it enabled them to expand their territory. They raided their less powerful and or peaceful neighbours to sell them as slaves. Some less powerful tribes sort protection by paying tribute to their powerful neighbours in the form of slaves. Some Kingdoms simply sold off surplus slaves received as tribute. People going about their everyday business were kidnapped. It was a cold hard business decision that made them very rich indeed.

        And some of these tribes are still celebrated today. Look up the kingdoms of Ashanti, Oyo, Dahomey for a start.

        What came afterwards with regards the racist structures is a different discussion, but in terms of the Atlantic slave trade, Africans AND Arabs were at it as much as the Europeans. it doesn’t absolve any side. And that’s why i say that no one side has clean hands.

      • pank says:

        I am not questioning the involvement of Africans. I’m questioning the wealth of african institutions from slave trade money. You’re naming well known kingdoms but I’ve never read that their wealth was from institutional slave trading. Links would be helpful.

      • Sixer says:

        @pank – The website is your friend for wide-ranging reading on this topic but if you just want to read a quick summary then check the African participation section of the Wiki entry on the history of slavery.

      • Kate2 says:

        Lak : Nothing you said changes the fact that Europeans did the buying and transporting of slaves. Why was it necessary for the Europeans to completely dehumanize the African, and create a perpetual caste system of institutional racism, and discrimination based upon the denial of the African as human, merely because they were political enemies/prisoners of war? There were more Africans who suffered from slavery of their parents than there were beneficiaries. The Atlantic slave trade was a movement that was entirely driven by external forces – the forces of industrial revolution, the need to work the plantation system in the Americas so as to feed the industries of the west and to make profit.

        Historian Ali Mazrui on the role of Africans in the trans Atlantic slave trade

        “The Atlantic slave trade developed after Europeans began exploring and establishing trading posts on the Atlantic (west) coast of Africa in the mid-15th century…”

        Your efforts to absolve White European colonists of blame is harmful and does nothing for social progress and collective healing, and it’s important that you understand that.

      • LAK says:

        Katie2: who said anything about absolving Europeans? Pointing out that one group of people did something doesn’t make what the other group did OK.

        Slavery didn’t happen in a vacuum where only the Europeans participated and the Africans/Arabs were mere innocent bystanders.

        Clearly you don’t want to know about the kingdoms built on the backs of the slave trade or the appalling conditions those slaves were kept whilst awaiting market or even how they were transported to market.

        You only want to hear about the point at which the Europeans collected the slaves and for you that’s where the evil starts.

        The evil starts at the point where these poor people are captured and forcibly marched to the coast with bound/chained legs/arms/necks. Not even children were spared. Who was doing that? It wasn’t the Europeans.

        Those poor people were already traumatised by the time they reached the coast and waited (sometimes months) to be sold to the Europeans. They weren’t kept in lovely conditions nor was their poor treatment eased.

        And once sold to the Europeans, they were subjected to more, even more appalling treatment and conditions.

        This salient fact about African/Arab treatment involvement in the slave trade is often overlooked.

        The slaves had to come from somewhere, and someone had to supply them. They didn’t supply a few prisoners of war. They built entire Kingdoms on the back of this trade.

        I’m pretty sure they knew how those slaves would be transported, and they didn’t care.

        For the case of the Ashanti Kingdom, their original trade was gold. A trade that was so lucrative their coast line was renamed the gold coast for awhile. They didn’t have to switch to the slave trade like they did or even to extent that they did. And yet, they did.

    • Katie says:


      Just adding as I learned through my own family history research, many wealthy Arab families of today are descended from slave traders who kidnapped and sold an estimated 18 million people until around 1900 (yes, they beat out America). Tippu Tip was an infamous part of this system if anyone is curious, although he was Swahili.

      I always assumed the possibly false idea of white people being the biggest perpetrators/benefactors of slavery historically had to do with the American South. America has come up quite a bit in this post despite the subject being Europe.

      • LAK says:

        Katie: i’m from East Africa. Tippu Tip was infamous or should I say famous. He is one of the first historical figures we learnt about in history when I was at school.

        The East African slave trade is something that rarely comes up in general discussions about slavery. And the sheer scale of it is another point that is frequently overlooked.

        @Kate2 and Pank: Look up Tippu Tip. A Swahili trader who was the biggest slave trader on the East African coast.

        Look up Osei Tutu, considered one of the greatest Kings to rule Ashanti.

        These are people who benefited directly and whose descendants still enjoy the benefits.

  13. 'p'enny says:

    Benedict has his hand’s full with this, there is nothing really he can do about it. Press will no doubt keep raising it for years to come, when they want to have a go at him.

    It is a horrible period in time and no family in the UK who made wealth out of trade during 18-19th Century didn’t have some links to the slave trade. A couple of years ago the National Trust put on a series of exhibitions in each of their houses, highlighting how connected English gentry were to the slave trade, despite never having ‘apparently’ having slaves on UK soil.

    It’s all people can do is to acknowledge their past, be as knowledge as you can about it.

    • Janet says:

      This is quite true, and most of them were absentee landlords, remaining on their English estates while their agents ran the plantations 3,000 miles away, not knowing or caring how the slaves were being treated as long as their revenues came in on time. Accounts of West Indian slave conditions are positively stomach-turning.

    • Kate2notthekatecommentingoncumber says:

      Lak: What are you even going on about? The discussion wasn’t about Africans having slaves it was about the role of a few elite African rulers and their involvement in the trans Atlantic slave trade. By your account there are many descendents of those Africans benefiting how exactly? Benefiting were and on what scale? If you think any African is benefiting somehow, in the Western world, from the transgressions of their forefathers than you truly are delusional.

  14. Penny says:

    To be honest I find the outrage a bit ridiculous. Slavery is still happening and unless you live like a very ethical and well-researched monk, you’ve benefited from it. Far better to do something to help people caught up in slavery today than to focus on demanding an apology from someone who happened to be born into a family that benefited from slavery hundreds of years ago. Go back far enough and there’s some hideous and profitable misdeeds in every family history. Civilization is after all, built off the backs of slaves.

    • LadySlippers says:

      I said the same thing up thread. We are ALL living off the profits off slavery regardless of the time period.

      Case in point, the wealth and the greatness of the US is firmly based on the backs of oppressed people. Not all were African slaves either — we ‘happily’ used indentured servants (another form of legal slaves), children, immigrants, and poor/desperate people of all nationalities to build our country.

      • Dena says:

        @ladyslippers *waves from Minnesota*

        I completely agree with everything you said here and up thread re:garment industry/wal-Mart, etc. My great-grandfather came here as an indentured servant from Norway and was treated so horribly (starvation rations, beatings) that he’d rarely, if ever discuss it. We rarely want to acknowledge the role slavery, and forms of slavery, had in building our country and continues to have in supporting our lifestyle. I think it’s far more fruitful to focus on ending modern day slavery than it is to blame a guy for something his ancestors did 100′s of years ago.

      • Ah, M’Lady, the wealth & greatness of the Western world is still firmly based on the backs of the oppressed, both domestic & foreign.

      • LadySlippers says:

        @Dena: Hello!

        @Late: Actually it’s the *entire* world because, trust me, Asians are certainly not saints either. But I stuck to my country because it seems like a lot of offended people are Americans and I wanted to show that we certainly don’t have a moral ground to stand upon.

        (The Japanese are NOT well liked by their neighbours and for good reason too. No continent, save for Antarctica, is immune to atrocities and human exploitation.)

  15. Mia4S says:

    Oh please, better than 90% of old European wealth (and American wealth and Asian wealth, and African wealth) is tainted as hell. Are we going to run a story for pretty much everyone?

    • Ashley says:

      Guess they’ll going to have to. I can’t believe magazines and such have actually been running this story. Looks like Cumberbatch may be laying low soon if these stories continue.

  16. babythestarsshinebrite says:

    I could care less what he acknowledges…what WOULD be appreciated is acknowledgment from the powers that be. What I know about is black slavery in America and an apologie and equal opportunity is at the very lease what black people deserve. Black people built America and all we got in return is hate. It does matter today because descendants of slave owners still reap the benefits and descendants of slaves still suffer the consequences of slavery.

    • Ridic says:

      Are you kidding me? Still receiving hate? I disagree with a certain extent. There is now reverse discrimination towards those of non-color with affirmative action. Black people are not the only ones that “built” america. What about the Native Americans? Yes, slavery was a horrible, horrible thing, but it has been abolished in Britian and the North America for years. When will the demands for apologies end?

      I am mixed, and am so tired of these stupid debates. Whites cannot be faulted for what their ancestors did. If that’s the case, if your father committed rape or some other gruesome crime then I guess, you have to apologize to the victim for him. No, you don’t. You didn’t do it. Horrible comparison, but I’m trying to make a point, and trying not to come off as completely arrogant or ignorant.

      • PinkParasols says:

        “Reverse discrimination”? You mean the same affirmative action that has overwhelmingly served white women more than any other group?? You mean the affirmative action that has allowed white male owned small businesses to thrive by using programs targeting female (their wives) and minority entrepreneurs? You mean the affirmative action that has been fought tooth an nail since the minute it became policy (and NOT federal policy BTW). Please stop while you’re ahead.

        And discounting what she’s saying by saying “black weren’t the only ones” is hardly an argument, but I’ll bite. The greatest atrocities against blacks in America occurred between 1881 and 1970. And for that, far more than an apology is owed. Yes owed. Cry about it. And please learn your history.

        And I’m so ashamed that your mixed and you seem to be so blind.

      • Janey says:

        I am always baffled when people start talking about “reverse racism” – that’s not a thing. There may be prejudice displayed towards white people, by the people we’ve openly and less openly opressed, but that’s not racism. White people still benefit from the fact that we’re white – POC talking about that and calling it out is not racism.

  17. mazzie says:

    As someone descended from slaves, slave owners, indentured labourers and some random white people who didn’t own slaves, I don’t think he’s responsible for the actions of his ancestors. He has acknowledged his ancestry. What I don’t understand is why the assumption that he’d be responsible for payments owning? (Assuming from his mother’s comment.)

    • starrywonder says:

      You still have some descendants of slaves trying to sue for reparations in the U.S. (weird I know) and right now I know of at several Caribbean nations that are suing or were suing the European countries for reparations. It may have been a tactless thing his mother may or may not have said but I can understand the sentiment behind it since she is right.

      • Esti says:

        All of the reparations claims and discussions that I’ve heard about have been against *countries* that allowed and profited from slavery, not individual descendants of slave owners. That’s why I said up thread that his mother’s comment read like nasty paranoia — there’s just no basis for thinking “they” want her or her son’s money.

      • mazzie says:

        Fair point – that being said, his mother’s statement does reek of paranoia as Esti said.

      • starrywonder says:

        I honestly don’t know about the UK laws but I do know that some people in the US are still trying to sue the US government and families that owned slaves for reparations. I dont think these suits have gone anywhere though.

  18. Dizzle says:

    So is this finally going to make people realize how homely he is?

  19. slightly peeved says:

    And why is this considered relevant to B. Cumberbatch? His family is not the only British family to have made their money off the slave trade. Need to include not just the owners but the traders themselves. How receptive to making apologies for the slave trade do you thing the African and Arab groups who profited greatly from it will be? Not so much, I
    think given that slavery in Africa is still not completely stamped out (Mauritania, north Sudan).
    Should all descendants of Southern slave owners be required to apologize for what their ancestors did before they were born? How about asking all of Belgium to apologize for the atrocities committed in the then Belgian Congo in the 19th century? And then we can go on and demand apologies from all the descendants of American colonizers from the 17th century on who fought, murdered and pushed Native Americans out of their ancestral lands. to make room for European settlers. Let’s not forget the apologies required from the Spanish for their actions in Latin America in the 16th and 17th century

    I’ll stop now so that all those without sin can continue to throw their stones.

    • LadySlippers says:

      Let’s not forget to add that what the US did to the Native population was only recently stopped (and many argue that it really hasn’t ended).

      For those that don’t know, the US Govt systematically went about trying to eradicate the entire Native population by: purposely infecting them with diseases, kidnapping their children and asking Americans of European descent (WASPs) to raise them, ignoring legal treaties, killing off/poisoning their food supplies.

      So I agree with slightly peeved — keep throwing stones.

    • Sixer says:

      I absolutely agree with all this. 100%.

      But I will add that, for me, these types of historical injustices are something the most privileged of actors – in British terms, those who do come from historical money and who were educated at top public schools that are STILL conferring yet more unearned privilege TODAY – should bear in mind when the subject of posh-bashing comes up. Perhaps they have an extra reason for piping down instead of complaining about it. You know?

    • justme says:

      And what about those Normans eh? Came into England in 1066, took all the land, killed loads of people, burnt and raped etc. etc.

      History is full of injustice and some of ALL our ancestors were at some point those oppressing and at other times those who were oppressed.
      Live your life well today. It’s your only real opportunity.

  20. Ash says:

    I’m a new fan, and people getting angry over his 17th century great-great, etc. grandfather being a slave owner is ridiculous. If you’re going going to fault him then you need to go fault every single white man/woman who’s ever played a slave owner, because good chances are that if they are white, their ancestors had some connection with slavery.

    • judyjudy says:

      I am white and my mother, and grandmother have done extensive research of our family history and ancestors on both sides. We’re just poor folk from Scandinavia, mostly servants and fisherman. My great-great-great-great grandmother (who was white) was brought by ship from South Africa and sold as a servant (possibly as a prostitute). My modern relatives came to the US in the 1920′s and worked as laborers and in steel mills in the North. Not a slave owner amongst us.

  21. Pookie says:

    I`m of French Canadian descent. A few years ago, we did my mother`s genealogy and I was apalled to discover that my great great great great grandfather was from Louisiana and had many, many slaves. He was a ships captain so I often wondered if he not only owned slaves but was also directly involved in the slave trade.
    My greatest heroes growing up were Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. So you can imagine my dismay to learn that my ancestors were involved in slavery.
    Being a Canadian, I never would have imagined that slavery could be a part of my family`s history.
    It was truly shocking.

  22. Leah says:

    I think he is talented and seems nice enough and in no way would i blame him for his ancestors actions that would be utterly ridiculous. But i do think he is a product of class and privilege and it rubs me the wrong way when he complains about being seen such. He should really take it on the chin and have a sense of humour about it ( Hiddleston does this better). He is a very lucky and privileged man compared to most and it would look better if he could stop whining about being seen as posh especially when one knows that his familys fortune was built on social structures that were so inhumane. It just seems a bit ignorant of him.

    • LadySlippers says:

      Have you read all his interviews? There have been a few that has done exactly what you’ve mentioned.

      • Leah says:

        Not every single one. But in the ones i have read he has whined a lot about being seen as posh. Almost as being posh has been some great disadvantage to his journey in life.

      • LadySlippers says:

        @Leah: Most of the ‘whining’ about him being posh is a recycled interview that gets quoted again and again in subsequent articles. In a lesser known interview he very much acknowledges that he came from a privileged background and what doors it opened for him and how grateful he is about it. It doesn’t get people’s undies in a bundle (i.e. sales or attention) so interviewers don’t bring it up.

        As Secret Squirrel said way up thread — editing is the written world’s (especially newsprint & magazines) photoshop. And comments and phrases can be edited or manipulated to say almost anything just like a photograph can be manipulated to show almost anything. We also need to keep in mind that sales (or the bottom line) is everyone’s top motivator when writing so they will key in on anything that pads the bottom line.

      • dm says:

        Are you going to respond to EVERYONE who says something negative about him? SHEESH

    • 'p'enny says:

      He has a real bee in his bonnet about his Harrow education, he really wants/needs his fans to know he wasn’t handed his education on a platter. I get that. We have a bit of a posh-baiting culture in the UK.

      But, diplomacy isn’t his strength, I’ve said this all along and now his PR has now gone into happy drive and trying to funny/ lighten him up for the American market, no doubt. He should be who he is, he is very intelligent, and sharp. He shouldn’t try and hide it.

  23. Luca26 says:

    Not really a fan of the batch but when I read Jezebel’s take on this I felt really bad for him I wonder what some of those self-righteous Jezzies would find in their ancestry. I’m descended from African slaves. He can’t help what his ancestors did. If we could step into a time machine and give reparations to the slaves or their children I’d say do it but singling out one actor a century later is idiotic.

  24. Jana says:

    He’s even said that his mother didn’t want him to use the Cumberbatch name professionally because of the association with the slave trade

    And yet no one can find the interview where he apparently said this.

  25. MSTHANG says:

    I don’t expect Benny or anyone else to apologize for what their ancestors did to my ancestors. If he or anyone else feels the need to that’s their choice.

  26. PinkParasols says:

    If Benedict wasn’t the subject of the wet dreams of most people in this thread, the discussion would probably go differently….

    Anyway, I don’t think anyone is owed an apology, but I think the discussion alone is interesting and worthy of time. The deflecting in this thread is so effing annoying, it’s not even funny. Bringing up modern slavery only serves to derail what could be a thoughtful discussion on the LEGACY of slavery and the public’s reluctance to look at it and remember it without bringing up stolen bread or their immigrant ancestors from czechamawhatucallit. Perhaps if we dealt with it properly, people would not be so passive about the slavery that exist in the world today. Telling people to forget the past in order to focus on the present makes no sense.

    Also, I notice people saying he should feel guilty for being a person who is privilege through unjust social systems. Then why talk about privilege like it’s a bad thing if ultimately you can excuse Mr. Handsome from being thoughtful about his place in the world. That guilt is as natural as all the emotions non-privileged people feel in relation to his kind.

    Anyway I’m rambling….the not-so-subtle fake liberal hypocrisy was killing me.

    • Sixer says:

      I would say REMEMBERING the past is what helps focus on the present (and hopefully encourage us all to be agents of positive change). And, as you say, acknowledgement doesn’t necessitate irrelevant personal apologies.

      But then, Benny the Bitch isn’t on my lust list, so perhaps your comment isn’t partly directed at me?

    • Esti says:

      I agree with this 100%. I don’t think he’s responsible for what his ancestors did, but I also don’t think that boats to Australia or slave wages for Walmart workers are anything other than deflection. You can acknowledge the harms of current and past atrocities like Native American genocide and sweatshop workers without saying, as some have, that everyone has to not talk about how bad slavery was unless their hands are 100% clean.

      It seems like 90% of these comments are defending Cumberbatch from attacks that no one has made — the DM article didn’t imply any of this was his fault, and no one here has said that either. But everyone is still piling on to his unnecessary defense by claiming the legacy of slavery has no modern day effects. And I have to agree that it would be a very different conversation if it was an actor the majority of this site’s commenters DIDN’T want to bang.

      • PinkParasols says:

        It seems like 90% of these comments are defending Cumberbatch from attacks that no one has made .

        This is the most concise summary of my thoughts and it’s exactly what I find incredibly annoying about the responses in this post. THANK YOU for “getting” it. The deflection and selective reasoning is just….ugh. And I swear, I’m not here for a public flogging of Ben but the closing ranks around him is an unsettling kind of “protection”…..and so is bringing up walmart, cambodian sweat shops, etc. Where is their concern and outrage when we aren’t talking about American slavery/ history? Have some seats ladies.

      • drea says:

        I get what you’re saying, but I think quite a few people on here are also reacting to the comments that have been made on other websites. I’ve seen things like “well, I’ve never liked him and now I know why” and “I’m not watching any of his movies again.” So yes, there is backlash. It’s not just all Cumberbitches with their moist panties in a bunch, lolz.

      • kate says:

        +1 Esti and PinkParasols

    • Nighty says:

      No one is saying we are or we should be passive at the slavery existing nowadays… Are you active against it @PinkParasols? I mentioned the working conditions of many people arround the world not to excuse Mr Cumberbatch (though he has nothing to apologize for… unfortunately history is full of crimes against humanity, not just slavery, but also other types of crime) but as a response to Shelly.. She said she would stop being his fan because of what his ancestors did… Ok, in that same order of reasoning, we should stop buying 90% of the brands of clothes and others stuffs. since indirectly we are contributing to slavery worldwide… But people don’t complain much, as long as they have their Nike’s shoes and Levi’s jeans.. do they?

      • Nighty says:

        And I’m replying to you, because I was the first to commment on the brands worldwide nowadays… and their slaves….

      • PinkParasols says:

        Let me clear this up once and for all: chattle american slavery and the current global economic exploitation, sex slavery etc. are NOT THE SAME EFFING THING. They were not and they never will be. I will not entertain a discussion about the two in comparison because they simply are different, and people bring up modern exploitation to derail and neutralize discussions around slavery-like what many of you are doing right now. “Bad shit happens all the time”. So fucking what? Rapes happen all the time. Murder happens all the time? Can we talk about a specific case?

        You have no idea what I do, but you’re banking on me being culpable. Well duh. I am from the U.S and regardless of my nonprofit job, my children will inherit the legacy of what we as nation are doing now. The good. The bad. The ugly. Like Ben. I will hope that they will handle it with more grace than the “get over it” crowd. I hope people won’t bring up the Rwandan genocide when we are trying to talk about Nike sweatshops.

        So like I said, I will willfully ignore any sweatshop, sex traffic, poor Burmese children comments in this thread. It’s nothing but a deflection tool for people who don’t like uncomfortable discussions about shit like this.

      • Nighty says:

        “You have no idea what I do, but you’re banking on me being culpable.” No, I don’t know what you do, the same applies to me, you don’t know what I do…
        And you’re culpable of what? Sorry for it, maybe I’m dumb but who’s saying you’re culpable of anything?
        I’m not in the States… I’m not American, nor British.. I’m Portuguese, born in Africa… Do I feel guilty about the fact that Portuguese traded slaves? NO… It’s part of History, we should learn from it and try not to do the same mistakes again…

    • LadySlippers says:

      I could not disagree with you more.

      First, these have been my beliefs for a very long time and have nothing to do with Benedict OR any ‘fantasies’ that you imagine I have with him. As much as I possibly can, I buy free-trade items and steer clear of companies that exploit others.

      Second, current attitudes are implicitly tied to historical ones which is why it is very relevant to bring up modern day slavery. We were and are a lot more comfortable with slavery than most people realise or want to acknowledge. And just like then — we turn a blind eye to it. So how can we throw stones today for past crimes when we are committing them today? In my opinion, that is hypocrisy. And in regards to slavery, since we can’t change yesterday however, we CAN change tomorrow. We can work for a slave free world. I can’t imagine a better outcome than that.

      Third, I’m in no way try to deflect the atrocities human being inflict on one another. I include yesterday, today, AND tomorrow as they are all equally relevant.

      So unfortunately, I cannot agree with your comments. To be perfectly honest, I felt they were a deflection of the realities of slavery since it’s still being perpetrated today. A lot of people like to think we are a more advanced and humane world but the harsh reality us we are not.

      • PinkParasols says:

        You must have missed the part where I said modern complacency is due to the approach we’ve taken to looking at/discussing past transgressions. There was an awesome article on Slate magazine that discussed how soon revisionist history and the “get over it and move forward” crew emerged immediately after the civil war. Naturally, people WANTED to forget and minimize the impact because it almost tore the nation apart. Naturally, like today, people don’t like talking about it because whether they admit it or not, they feel their race is on trial. It has nothing to do with their best intentions for society or the world at large.

        You can pat yourself on the back for your free trade goods, but we live in a hegemonic, western society (and if you’re in the U.S, the ONLY remaining superpower). You BREATHE culpability. Discussing the legacy of slavery does not make you a hypocrite. It’s honesty. And even if we don’t come to terms with our behavior, our children will have to. If people were more honest from the word go, perhaps some of you wouldn’t feel overly compelled to direct your “empathy” and efforts towards other “comfortable causes” rather than the ongoing, inhumane ones right in your back yard…some of which can even be traced back to…gasp….american chattle slavery!

        Do you go into every thread where inhumanity is discussed and bring up modern slavery? Did you go into the woody allen thread and say “forget the past, Dylan” little girls in india are being sold into sexual slavery as we speak! Get off the couch and get your ass to Delhi!” Of course not. It didn’t occur to you to HIJACK a thread and DERAIL it by talking about something else. If you give all topics equal weight, then understand that EACH topic deserves it’s space for discussion. Link me to your “end human trafficking” website. I’ll be happy to read it…later.

      • Nighty says:

        Thank you LadySlippers… couldn’t agree more… Both the past slavery inflicted on Black people as well as the slavery or exploitation as PinkParasols likes to call it are atrocious… And we should discuss them both, and yes they are comparable…. They are crimes against humanity….

    • PinkParasols says:

      “Do I feel guilty about the fact that Portuguese traded slaves? NO…”

      Of course you don’t. I’ve seen the way the Portuguese in Angola act today and if there ever was a rule book on European entitlement, the Portuguese co-authored it. I will say, it’s up to the Africans to start adopting the European approach to hospitality to end that foolishness….

      But my basic point is that if we are having a discussion about the legacy of transatlantic slavery, I’m not here for the derailing and convenient concern about other causes. It’s SO contrived and offensive.

      • Nighty says:

        Oh, for God’s sake
        NO, I DON’T FEEL GUILTY because the Portuguese traded slaves… It wasn’t me… It was them, somewhere in the past…. I don’t have to apoligize for what they did or for what they do nowadays…. It’s not me… I’m responsible for my actions, mine alone… not for other people’s actions, specially those ocurred 200 or more years ago…
        That we should look at History and learn from it, not to make the same mistakes, fine. I totally agree… that we can establish a bridge between slavery in the 1700 and 1800s and nowadays to try to open people’s mentality and to try to put a stop to it… We should… Why not???
        What’s the difference?? It’s slavery… pure slavery… atrocious slavery…

      • fruitloops says:

        Of course you don’t feel guilty, you had to develop that kind of reasoning in life, you and your ancestors, or you wouldn’t be able to live peacefully in Africa knowing about all the atrocities that were done to Africans by colonizers.
        People have a habit of forgetting bad things they’ve done when they were done collectively, of saying that it was in the past, that bygones should be let be bygones, because it’s the easiest way of clearing their conscience and making them able to ignore the consequences of what was being done.

      • Nighty says:

        Oh God…. should I feel guilty? Should I apologize? Because I cleared my conscience of something I didn’t do? Why did you change your nickname by the way?
        I never said it should be bygone… I SAID WE SHOULD LEARN FROM HISTORY… stop twisting words fruitloops / pink Parasols… and putting words in my mouth (writing)

      • fruitloops says:

        I am not PinkParasols, more than one person can share an opinion. :-)

      • Nighty says:

        Living peacefully.. yeah, though I lived in the middle of a civil war, but that’s another story inside History… Ok… Ok… let’s not argue, i believe history has lessons to teach us, and we should never forget about them… those lessons are so valuable not to repeat the same mistakes… That’s what I believe, and when I say “It’s history”, I don’t mean to forget about it, but to draw knowledge from it… something mankind has difficulties in doing…

      • PinkParasols says:

        How can you remember it if you can’t even have a conversation about it without bringing up walmart or sweatshops or the “it happens everywhere” derailment argument.

        And thank you fruitloop for getting it. I would love to talk about modern slavery IN ANOTHER THREAD AT ANOTHER TIME. Not this fake concern some people here are showing.

      • T.Fanty says:

        I’m with PP on this. There is a legacy that remains, and we are still in the midst of it. It’s an economic, social and cultural legacy that routinely places black people below white, and that can be traced to the fact that for many black people, the origin in a country was came with a sub-human status (same applies for many indigenous people).

        PP’s point (I hope I am correct) is that this ongoing inequality is a legacy that’s been internalized and wrongly made peace with, because “past is past.” The only way to deal with this morally is to take a sledgehammer to our society and start afresh – it’s utterly impossible, and not happening. But, that doesn’t mean that white people can pat themselves on the back, say “that’s them, not us” when some of the most impoverished areas of the United States are predominantly black, and very few white people want to admit that they’re okay with that, because it isn’t them. People are happy to turn a blind eye, and outrage about sweatshops in India doesn’t negate that there’s still a lot of bloodstained hands around in this country.

        And for the record, I’d still shag Cumby.

      • PinkParasols says:

        Thank you T.Fanty! You summed it up far better than I ever could. And watch the deflecting continue….

        “But what about the Bangladeshi scrunchi makers??? Aren’t you totally sad about that?!?!?!!”

      • Sixer says:

        And so the question is, what do we do/say about this stuff NOW?

        I agree excusing by deflecting isn’t the right way but I also think no issue exists in a vacuum. Therefore, insisting that every modern parallel is a deflection and only a deflection doesn’t help either. Shutting down any type of discourse has to be a bad thing.

        People should be aware of their history and conscious of the current legacy of that history. And this awareness should inform their attitudes and their discourse on current events and their own position(s) within them. That’s how I see it. And so, when I see people like Benny and Hiddleston complain about their privilege being a topic of conversation, I find it so very annoying.

        PS: At the risk of being told off for deflecting (!) – that it is hard to completely set aside one’s own personal likes and dislikes and prejudices is also evident on one of the Woody Allen threads hereabouts, where Cate Blanchett is getting a pasting and there’s a little lone voice complaining about Hiddleston being ignored as an Allen apologist. We’re all witting or unwitting hypocrites if we look even a tiny bit closely at ourselves.

      • T.Fanty says:


        You’re right. On one hand, there’s no point in acknowledging the past, if you don’t use it to change the present. However, it’s still deflection from an uncomfortable topic, and people do that very freely these days. It’s easy to mistake sharing the Kony video with actually doing something, and spouting off about scrunchies in Bangladesh (I love that) is kind of sticking one’s head in the sand. It’s like looking up your slavery footprint on your mac and then feeling good about your decision not to shop at Walmart.

      • Sixer says:

        Yes. Absolutely. And in many ways, I’m arguing against myself.

        And I also think there is an underlying cyclical aspect to this debate, where I would say, for example, the UK has had slightly more time to assimilate the disgraces of its industrialising colonialism than the US has had to assimilate the civil rights struggle (itself intimately connected to slavery). So I am commenting as a person who totally accepts the iniquities of the past and whose opinions are at least partially formed by that acceptance, inevitable unconscious blind spots notwithstanding. Everyone has an angle, whether they realise it or not!

        I’m just trying to sound a warning about the dangers of insisting that any discussion must focus so strongly on the narrow that important aspects are forbidden topics.

    • Janeite says:

      In NO WAY did my brief comment above tell anyone to forget the past. But it is precisely that-the past. We need to remember what has come before but at the same time humanity needs to strive to keep moving forward. I hope that makes sense to you.

      I also take offense at your comment that this discussion would go differently if the posters here didn’t all lust after Benedict Cumberbatch. That was totally uncalled for and way out of line and not at all fair to the posters here.

      • PinkParasols says:

        “But it is precisely that-the past. ”

        But it isn’t though. And this is my problem with this convenient presentism. The past ALWAYS influences the present. It’s only in this case that people are hell bent on forgetting that. I appreciate Benedict for being thoughtful about it, and not quick to join the “but it wasn’t me” crowd.

        I think society would be very different if more people took that approach.

      • Janeite says:

        In the very specific instance we are talking about here, the fact that Benedict Cumberbatch had ancestors who owned slaves, yes, it is the past. And that is what I am referring to. I don’t exactly know what point it is you are trying to make. I am not saying that anyone should forget what happened or try to pretend that it didn’t. But we all need to live in the here and now and no one should have to apologize for what happened when they were not even on the planet.

  27. AG-UK says:

    It’s as if people don’t like the idea of him becoming so popular and everywhere they have to find something / fault with him. If it’s not this there will be something else.

  28. drea says:

    There are some questionable folks deep in my family tree (no, not slave-owners but still not very nice people). I can’t do anything about that but separate myself through my own actions. How is it fair to castigate people today for what their ancestors did centuries ago? I think it’s fair to expect awareness and, in the treatment of certain matters, a level of “delicadeza,” but it’s quite unfair to judge a person for something over which they had no control and from which they are so far removed.

  29. winosaurusrex says:

    I am direct descendant of Jefferson Davis-president of the confederacy. While doing a class project in high school where we had to trace our ancestry it turned out the one of my best friends father’s family were slaves on my family’s plantation.

    When we presented out findings people asked us how we could possibly still be friends. my family owned hers. We looked at each other and told them that i did not own her. she did not own me. what our families were and did a hundred years or more ago did not affect who we were today, so why should it change our friendship? it was weird seeing how many people thought she should hate me for it.

    I should not be held in anyways responsible for the actions of my ancestors anymore than Benedict should. That’s the end of it.

  30. MissMary says:

    Back when he filmed To The Ends of the Earth, he mentioned in several interviews that his family had ties to the slave trade and it bothered him… Why is this news again?

    • Mrs Hudson says:

      Well said! This has only been raked up and regurgitated as news by the Daily Mail as they can ‘hang it’ on the 12 years a Slave ‘hook’ to make it seem relevant again and just another excuse to have a go at Benedict – yet again!

  31. Miss Jupitero says:

    I have a lot of wonderful, gentle, compassionate friends in Germany who have grandparents and great grand parents they are not proud of. Welcome to history.

    You do not have any control over your ancestry. What you DO control is how you acknowledge and deal with the past. If Cumberbatch were pulling a Paula Dean, I would fault him, but he is not. Quite to the contrary, he seems very much aware of the past, sensitive to the issues, truthful and compassionate, and I believe him when he says he wanted to atone through his role in Amazing Grace.

    It really is important to not bury these things. I want to say that as well. I understand the temptation to look the other way, but I think it is healthier to put it all out in the open.

  32. Maureen says:

    I hope Ben will ignore this story and not feel the need to feed gossip history of long ago. No one should have to answer for their ancestors.

    • PinkParasols says:

      Oh, it’s gossip now?

      • Nighty says:

        Xii, you really hate the guy…. ? No, it’s not gossip, it’s HISTORY!!!!! Something people should learn from not to continue promoting hatred and social differences, but apparently is hard to do…

      • Maureen says:

        YES, gossip. The press and others talking about his personal family business is GOSSIP. Scrounging around in his family records and repeating and spread ing what they find is GOSSIP. It’s not gossip about Benedict; it’s gossip about his family.

        I really think society has forgotten what gossip really means. Gossip is not only chattering about un-substantiated news. Gossip also includes repeating TRUE items about people in a way that is casual and pointless. I’m not being judgey about gossip and reading gossip. I mean, look where I am, after all.

        I said BENEDICT should not have to comment on this particular item of gossip about his family, and I sincerely hope he doesn’t.

      • fruitloops says:

        Nighty, history doesn’t just stop at some point in time. You don’t get the abolition of slavery one year and then it suddenly becomes history and we can happily put it in a box, store it away for any future references, when needed conveniently.
        Nacizm didn’t vanish in 1945., for another example, if that might be a closer reference to you, since it’s more recent history.
        These thigs, even if they were widely going on 300 years ago and on a lesser or different scale nowadays, have consequences today, and they’ve formed our world largely as we know it today. So have any opinion you want about BC or slavery, or any other topic, but dont argue it by saying ‘it’s history, we should let it go’ because that’s really not an argument, just cowardice in acknowledging the past.

      • Nighty says:

        Fruitloops, where did I say history stopped at one point? WHERE??? I know very well there’s racism, xenophobia, nazism, etc… stop twisting everything I say…
        Maybe I’m not making myself clear: WE sHOULD LOOK AT HISTORY AND LEARN FROM IT….. not to make the same mistakes…

  33. Nymeria says:

    It’s also troubling that many Irish were sold as slaves in the late 17th & early 18th centuries, and yet that piece of history is buried under the rug.

    Slavery is absolutely horrifying and without justification, no matter the races of the slaves themselves.

    • PinkParasols says:

      Notice that no reputable websites discusses this, right? Because indentured servitude is not slavery.

      And this, folks, is why I insist on stopping the deflections.

      • LadySlippers says:

        It’s not deflection. That’s what you misunderstand. It’s not deflection and it is another example of what humans are capable of doing.

      • Lilacflowers says:

        Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. Constitution of the United States of America, 13th Amendment, section 1.

      • PinkParasols says:

        No Ladyslippers,

        It IS deflection. And it’s not even historically accurate deflection. Irish people were NEVER slaves in North America. You chose to ignore that part….

    • Nighty says:

      Yeap… Nobody talks about many things that should actually be discussed…. For many slavery is just what happened to african people in the past… the rest is not slavery… don’t know what to think…

  34. Kelly says:

    Waiting for the descendants of killers to start feeling worried next. Oh wait, that’s everyone!
    I’m sure we’d all be dead today if some ancestor of ours wasn’t successful in some form of physical violence.
    Admittedly, the entire country of Germany has an upper-hand on the rest of us when it comes to inherited guilt.

    Meanwhile TODAY, happening right NOW

    • fruitloops says:

      There are terrible things happening today, and they should be discussed and fought against, but that doesn’t mean that everythig in the history should be ignored just because ‘it’s history’. And when does that ‘history’ begin anyway, what is the line between present and past regarding these things (slavery, discrimination, genocide…)?
      People (nations) should have a feeling of collective guilt, because relieving them of it completely just makes them forget, allowing them to raise generations of ignorants and making phenomenons like Jobbik and Golden dawn (for example) possible.

      • LadySlippers says:

        @FruitLoops: While I can’t presume to answer for everyone bringing up currents incidents, I by no means, mean that we should ignore the past. I feel quite the opposite — I meant that we ALL have a responsibility to honour and acknowledge history while doing what we can today to stamp any forms of human exploitation out.

      • fruitloops says:

        Agreed, to honour and acknowledge history. No need to go around apologizing every day to someone for what was done to ‘their people’ 20, 50 or 100 years ago, but dismissing it as something that was done X years ago by people we don’t even know today because ‘that’s history and there are terrible things going on today’ is just shallow reasoning on a very complex subject (especially since quite a number of terrible things going on today come as some form of consequence from things that happened in the past).

      • PinkParasols says:

        ITA fruitloop. They say don’t forget the past, but when you bring it up they talk about Peruvian dressmakers. The agenda is very clear here.

    • St says:

      Yep. I don’t know who my 5-th grandfather was and what he did in 1730. Maybe he killed someone or robbed someone. I should totally be shamed and put in prison when one day some information like that will surface… People should point fingers at me and call me monster. I should totally pay for his crimes…

      • fruitloops says:

        This comparing of killing and robbing with slavery and slave owning is really misplaced in this discussion. One is a crime done individually against someone, slave owning, especially the kind that was going on on such a scale as with African slaves is something that was at a time a common thing, while very morally disputable (disputable to say the least, but in reality unacceptable) at the same time. It’s apples and oranges.

  35. Nighty says:

    OK, starting a new thread inside this one… fruitloops… or pinkparasols… stop being like that… no one is saying History should be forgotten… no one, you’re the only speaking about it…. just to throw confusion… I’m done arguing with someone as blind as the ones from our dreadful pasts…
    Bye bye…

  36. MSTHANG says:

    Okay my fellow Cumberbunnies, The Daily Fail has a clip of Benedict on Sesame Street. Damn that man’s voice!

  37. allheavens says:

    The Daily Mail doesn’t have two fks to give about slavery, the economic advantage afforded to some because of slavery or the effects of slavery that resonant today in the lives of the descendants of slaves. But the DM does know how use others to do their dirty work, let me says this loud and clear, “You are being played.”

    The DM is using this as a way to bash Cumberbatch, nothing more and a lot of you are giving them exactly what they want. They are so transparent their daddies must have been glass-makers.

    Slavery has tainted so many people, so many countries, so many races. It has left such a cruel legacy that having it bantered about like daily celebrity gossip leaves a REALLY bad taste in my mouth.

    If I were to expect everyone who ever benefited from slavery to give me a formal apology, the line would be endless and I would be dead before the last apology was delivered. Should they be aware that they have benefited? Yes, of course and they should live their lives in a way that acknowledges that fact.

    Let me be clear, Cumberbatch does not owe me an apology, he does not need to answer for his privilege unless he has used it in any way to demean or punish the less fortunate. And people, I don’t mean not signing your fking memorabilia or posing for a photo with you.

    Nations DO owe apologies because without institutionalization, this systematic brutality could not have flourished.

    *RANT OFF*

  38. LadyRay says:

    Wow, the deflection on this post is saddening but not surprising. PP pretty much called most of you out on it and I’m glad she did.

    First, why can’t we ever stay on topic about slavery and why must we always bring other worse/similar things happening around the world to make it seem like it wasn’t that horrible? Do you realize when you do that you make it seem less important? EVERY TIME YOU DO THAT?

    SMH but it’s always a different story once people speak about the Holocaust. I never see anyone derail and compare it to recent genocides. It’s more respected and actually taken seriously (which it SHOULD be).

    In regards to Cumberbatch, is anyone going to speak about the article where he is quoted
    saying it’s not “it’s not like it’s nazi money”? Yup, again, with making slavery seems like it’s no big deal which pretty much sums up the attitude of most of the comments. I’m not surprised to see that this was IGNORED by most of you or that it will be brushed off.

    Thank you Drea for the screenshots. Screencaps of the full article are posted here:

    oh, and by the way, I’m not looking for an apology from Cumberbatch.

    • Lucrezia says:

      I think you have to be careful interpreting the “Nazi money” comment. I (like Late-to-the-Party up-thread) read it quite differently. He wasn’t comparing slavery with the Holocaust. He’s talking about how far you should be willing to go to atone, about being sued for reparations, and whether HIS money comes from suffering slaves.

      Cumberbatch’s parents were jobbing actors, they were middle-class, not wealthy. So any money he’d be sued for wouldn’t be inherited tainted wealth (“Nazi money”), it’d be money he’d earned by acting. Would it be fair to sue for that money? Most would say that would be taking atonement too far.

      Given that reading, I don’t find anything offensive about the comment. I think it’s an interesting and valid question – how far should atonement go?

    • allheavens says:

      I am not trying to deflect or diminish slavery’s impact or the actrocities visited upon a people.

      Am I giving Cumberbatch a pass? Maybe, maybe not. Quite frankly any statement can be skewed or taken out of context to serve an agenda. Journalism is a wastebin of douchebaggery whose sole raison d’être is to serve an entree of controversy in order to sell papers, magazines and get hits with a side of actual reporting that serves the community.

      But I am not going to play this game of let’s hate on this person because I think he is a posh, privileged dick and now I have just the ammunition to prove I was right all along. It is childish and it reduces slavery down to a sound bite delivered by an actor in an interview.

      Nor I am I going to play “Oppression Olympics” with slavery. Slavery was and is a stain that will never come clean. It’s legacy is far reaching with repercussions still felt by peoples in many nations past and present.

      I do not care if you want or need an apology. I stated I did not need one.

      Finally my question is where was all this concern about slavery before the Daily Mail’s article about Cumberbatch’s ancestors? I’ll wait.

    • PinkParasols says:

      Thanks LadyRay.

      I notice that people sing a very different tune when we talk about the Holocaust. Nobody talks about the fact that systematic genocide took place before (in Namibia). Nobody tells anyone to get over it or that Jews helped Nazis or whatever. They say “how sad” and express support.

      But as fruitloop said, some people HAVE to minimize and diminish. How can you live comfortably if you don’t?

      @allheavens “where was all this concern about slavery before the Daily Mail’s article about Cumberbatch’s ancestors? I’ll wait.”

      Ummm….this is a celebrity gossip blog. We are ONLY talking about this in the context of a celebrity’s family legacy. Who comes to celebitchy for a history lesson? There are PLENTY of sites that discuss slavery as a central focus. You are welcome to visit. But leave your deflections here.

  39. DJohnson says:

    While he and others may not be responsible for the actions of their forefathers, they continue to enjoy and reap the benefits of those actions. There may be slavery in existence in other places, and it needs to be abolished, but it is not the same. The difference between current slavery and what took place during the enslavement of African people was the total dehumanization of a race of people. The cruelty and debauchery are unparalleled . That makes this unlike any other event in the history of this world. And as my 11 year old told me the other day, there is no real remorse for this awful event. And sadly, he is correct.

    • Mrs Hudson says:

      What about all the Africans who sold their own and their defeated neighbours to the Arab & European slavers?? They bought them at the ports in the main, they didn’t go inland to capture them. Everyone, including Africans had a hand in that part of world history so lets stop the hand wringing and finger pointing about 400 years ago and look closer at what is happening today, right now, with the people trafficking ( a polite 21st century euphemism for slavery!)

      • PinkParasols says:

        Mrs. Hudson,

        I notice that people love to say 400 years ago as if slavery in the Americans didn’t end until the 20th century in many places. Not to mention the sharecropping system that was simply a continuation of the previous system under a new name. This is just one of many ways people try to deflect and minimize the significance.

        People also love to emphasize the involvement of Africans, as if that somehow diminishes the financial and state-sanctioned institution in the west. For the most part African INDIVIDUALS, and few kingdoms were involved. A kingdom (considering there were literally DOZENS of kingdoms in one present-day nation state) is NOT a nation-state like Britain or a corporation like the east indian company. And they sure as hell didn’t get wealthy, as Lak stated. In fact, I have NEVER seen a historical record accounting for continual financial wealth bestowed on African institutions from slavery. Europeans took advantage of the lack of centralized nation-states on the continent. The same advantage that made colonialism possible. This is, once again another attempt to DEFLECT and minimize what chattle slavery in the Americas was, a race based system that is different from the economic struggle you see today that oppresses people of all colors.

        You can continue to deflect and minimize, but I am glad there are people who see through the circle-talking and avoidance.

  40. brionne says:

    Interesting how anybody even remotely connected to working for woody Allen is to be dragged through the streets but Cumberbatch gets automatic and reflexive defense for heinous treatment of others by his relatives. How is Cate Blanchett horrible and Cumberbatch gets “oh it’s not his fault” and fangs bared at those who suggest he benefits from family. Wealth illustrated with slavery. Slavery included sexual assault on so many levels…but…yeah let’s shield the cumberbunches

    • Maggie says:

      You must realise that some of those who have worked with WA had a choice and many would also have had no idea what was going on when they agreed to work with him. So I don’t know if they are all “being dragged through the streets”. I actually don’t think the situations are comparable.

      Benedict and his immediate family had no choice whatsoever in the actions of their ancestors. Benedict has addressed the issue and made it very clear that the slave owner he played in 12YAS, though more humane than most of the others, was not a good man and the choices he made were wrong and immoral.

      He also does a lot of work for charity and is very aware of how lucky he has been compared to others.

  41. Mrs Hudson says:

    Can I ask exactly what ‘pre fame wealth’ he is supposed to have had? His parents were both working actors not Hollywood stars, just ordinary actors who worked hard and scrimped and saved to send Benedict to private school because they wanted him to get a good job instead of acting! I suspect that the ‘slave money’ went down a different line of the family, not Benedicts, as if you start back that far, by the time you get to his grandparents generation there would have been something close to 128 families all directly descended from the original slave owner. I bet if we all looked into our family histories there would be many ‘skeletons in cupboards’ none of which would we want put up for public scrutiny by the media! still, I suppose they just want to make a quick buck off someone else’s back – isn’t that what theses ‘hacks’ are for?

  42. Katie says:

    @Mrs Hudson

    It’s almost funny when you consider the same paper published exactly that just months ago: “Though his parents were not rich, they managed to raise the cash to send him to a private prep school in West Sussex that took boarders from the age of eight ” and “But the fees were far beyond anything the family could afford.”

    Eh, don’t mind me, I can’t stand the Fail and am not surprised they’re directly contradicting themselves.

    • Mrs Hudson says:

      Just goes to show that the DM (as usual) won’t let the truth get I the way of a good story – trouble is the non Brits who see their trash online believe it all because they are a well known British paper and non Brits think our newspapers still tell the truth about fellow Brits.

      I think the character of CAM in Sherlock must have been based on the DM owner, what did he say to John Watson……. I’m in news you moron I don’t have to prove it, just print it! ( or very similar!)

  43. James says:

    Why does it matter? He is not responsible for the actions of his ancestors hundreds of years ago, judging the past by present standards is popular these days. Each person makes their own choices in life and their ancestors have no role in this.

    The majority of people if they went far enough back will have an ancestor who did something
    they would likely not be proud of. Perhaps we should all apologise for the actions of people hundreds of years ago even if we dont know they exist.

    • Mrs Hudson says:

      Try telling that to Pink Parasol who, judging by the sheer amount of comments on this site, seems to think they have the only view on history which is valid! I agree with you – if we all spent our time apologising to each other for our ancestors actions the world would collapse around us as no-one would have time to do anything else – then that would be wrong as we would then be held responsible by PP and others for ruining the planet! Who would we apologise to then?

  44. Mrs Hudson says:

    Just to add a little more confusion as to who should apologise to who as far as Benedict is concerned, I found this in an old article ( strangely enough in the Daily Mail)
    ….While his family isn’t exactly rolling in it, the Cumberbatches have long been extremely eminent in society circles — so much so that The Times newspaper extensively covered the 1934 wedding of his grandfather, Henry Carlton Cumberbatch, a submarine commander who was decorated in both World Wars.
    His great-grandfather, Henry Alfred Cumberbatch, was the British Consul General in Smyrna, Turkey, and ruffled feathers with his protests against the slave trade in the area at the time.
    Records show that in a single month in 1872, he made seven reports to the Foreign Office on the subject. He was also banned from sheltering slaves at the embassy.
    Later, in recognition of his diplomatic service, he was created CMG, a Companion of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael & St George.

    Seems he had ancestors on BOTH sides, strange the Daily Mail missed this particular detail as it is in their own archive??? Still, as I said before, they are known for never letting the truth get in the way of a good story even if it is from their own newspaper!
    Perhaps Ms Cumberbatch in New York ought to check ALL sides of the story before ‘stone throwing!