UK: Racist Memorial to Slaver Will Be Removed from Dorchester Church

A cover was placed over the plaque in September 2020 while the church sought permission to remove it
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A judge has given a church permission to remove a memorial to 18th Century slave owner, John Gordon.

The plaque at St Peter’s, Dorchester has been partially covered up for nearly two years while the church sought approval to take it down.

The church took steps to remove the stone, which commends the plantation owner and bears a racist term, after calls from anti-racism campaigners.

It will be removed from the wall and stored in Dorset Museum.

In a statement the church said: “The memorial explicitly commends the action of brutally quelling a slave rebellion, using a totally unacceptable racist term, so it contradicts our aim to be an inclusive church, welcoming everyone as made equally in the image of God.”

Church warden Val Potter said: “We are delighted. We didn’t want to destroy it but on the church wall is not the place for it.”

Memorial stone to John Gordon in St Peter's Church in Dorchester
The stone commemorates John Gordon’s part in the deadly suppression of slaves in Jamaica and bears offensive language

Campaign group Stand Up To Racism Dorset previously described the plaque as “a blatant and explicit glorification of white domination and the suppression of enslaved people”. The group said: “It is offensive and has no place in public view.”

The plaque was installed in the church after the 18th Century slaver died in Dorchester in 1744, aged 46, during a visit to England – he was Scottish by birth.

It hails his “bravery” and “humanity” for his “instrumental” part in quelling the 1760 uprising by slaves across Jamaica, whom it uses offensive language to describe.

Up to 500 slaves were killed as colonial forces sought to put down the uprising.

A new memorial to John Gordon to acknowledge that he was buried at St Peter’s will be placed in the church.

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