A former Welsh politician has asked to be removed from research that connects her to a slave-owning relative, the BBC has reported.
Antoinette Sandbach, who was a Welsh Assembly member for the North Wales region, was named as a descendant of slave owner Samuel Sandbach in a video published in 2021 by academic Malik Al Nasir.
Samuel Sandbach was a Mayor of Liverpool who made his fortune as a merchant in a partnership that traded with the West Indies and owned slaves in Grenada and Guyana.
His family also owned an estate in North Wales, which incorporated the stately home Hafodunos Hall.
Mr Al Nasir’s research shows the the partnership had interests in shipping, banking, insurance, railways, distilleries, and plantation slavery. It was compensated for more than 600 slaves when slavery was abolished by the UK in 1833 and compensation to slave owners made under the terms of the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 resulted in a payment of £150,452 to Sandbach, Tinne & Company.
The compensation was the second-largest payment made to any mercantile concern and was a massive amount at the time, equivalent to something like 23 million British pounds today.
Sandbach’s descendants still farm land in the area, although the house and part of the estate was sold many years ago, and Ms Sandbach ran the family farming business Hafodunos Farms before she embarked on a political career.
Ms Sandbach has said that there is no public interest in identifying her as his descendant and has claimed that she has been singled out from other living relatives.
But Mr Al Nasir, who has been researching his links to the transatlantic slave trade for decades, told the BBC: “This is a fundamental right that is being put under threat by the notion that anyone, who doesn’t like what you find, can demand censorship on the grounds of their own perceived rights of privacy.”
In emails seen by the BBC, the former Welsh shadow rural affairs minister who went on to be Conservative MP for Eddisbury in Cheshire makes it clear she is not sympathetic to her ancestor, and describes slavery as appalling. But she argues that she has a right to be forgotten.
In emails sent to the University of Cambridge, Ms Sandbach questions the accuracy of elements of Mr Al Nasir’s research, including the claim that the Sandbach family made all their wealth from slavery. She also stated that she no longer lived on land connected to the Sandbach Family estate.
It has also been reported that the former politician has threatened legal action.
Mr Al Nasir told the BBC: “The threat of legal action is an affront to academic freedom, as a historian it is imperative that I have academic freedom to research history and to display without fear or favour what I find.
“Sandbach Tinne’s enslaved Africans were worked to death on their plantations and accounted for in the financial accounts amongst livestock and when they died, their perceived asset value was written off under the “negro account”. This process of dehumanisation of African people, by Sandbach Tinne and other slave traders lives on to this very day.”