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Barbados takes aim at Benedict Cumberbatch as activists demand reparations for slave-owning ancestors

Benedict Cumberbatch’s family could be forced to pay reparations to Barbados for running a slave plantation on the island in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The actor’s seventh great-grandfather, who played the role of a plantation owner in the Oscar-winning film 12 Years a Slave, purchased the Cleland plantation in St Andrew, Barbados, in 1728.

The plantation became home to 250 slaves until slavery was abolished over 100 years later.

When the plantation was forced to close, the Cumberbatch family were awarded £6,000 in compensation for the loss of ‘human property’ – in today’s money, that equates to around £3.6 million.

Benedict Cumberbatch portrayed the role of plantation owner William Ford in the 2012 film 12 Years A Slave.  The actor's family, who had their own plantation in Barbados, may now be required to return the compensation money

Benedict Cumberbatch portrayed the role of plantation owner William Ford in the 2012 film 12 Years A Slave. The actor’s family, who had their own plantation in Barbados, may now be required to return the compensation money

Benedict Cumberbatch's seventh great-grandfather purchased the Cleland plantation in St Andrew in 1728. The plantation became home to 250 slaves until slavery was abolished over 100 years later.

Benedict Cumberbatch’s seventh great-grandfather purchased the Cleland plantation in St Andrew in 1728. The plantation became home to 250 slaves until slavery was abolished over 100 years later.

The British government at the time had taken out a loan to repay slave owners across the Empire – which was only repaid in 2015.

The Barbados government is now fighting to get the ancestors of the slave families to pay compensation.

Conservative MP Richard Drax inherited his family’s ancestral sugar plantation, which played an important role in the development of the sugar trade between the Caribbean and the United States.

The 250-hectare (617-acre) Drax Hall plantation currently sits in a prime real estate location on the vacation island.

The Oscar-nominated actor first spoke about his family's ancestry when he appeared in the abolitionist film Amazing Grace in 2006. apologies' for your ancestors.

The Oscar-nominated actor first spoke about his family’s ancestry when he appeared in the abolitionist film Amazing Grace in 2006. apologies’ for your ancestors.

Cleland Plantation, owned by Cumberbatch's seventh great-grandfather, was home to 250 slaves

Cleland Plantation, owned by Cumberbatch’s seventh great-grandfather, was home to 250 slaves

When the plantation (pictured) was forced to close, the Cumberbatch family were awarded £6,000 in compensation for the loss of 'human property' - in today's money, that equates to around £3.6 million

When the plantation (pictured) was forced to close, the Cumberbatch family were awarded £6,000 in compensation for the loss of ‘human property’ – in today’s money, that equates to around £3.6 million

Mr. Drax is under pressure to return the land to the country, and if he refuses, the Barbados government will seek compensation in an international arbitration tribunal.

If the legal decision is in favor of the island, Drax will be the first descendant of slave families to be successfully prosecuted, opening the door for more ancestors of plantation owners to pay.

The secretary general of the Caribbean Movement for Peace and Integration told The Telegraph: ‘All descendants of white planters who benefited from the slave trade must be compensated, including the Cumberbatch family.’

Conservative MP Richard Drax (pictured) inherited his family's ancestral sugar plantation, which played an important role in the development of the Caribbean-US sugar trade

Conservative MP Richard Drax (pictured) inherited his family’s ancestral sugar plantation, which played an important role in the development of the Caribbean-US sugar trade

According to David Denny, a self-proclaimed

According to David Denny, a self-proclaimed “revolutionary” from Barbados, Drax should donate “hundreds of millions” to build schools, roads, health centers and other community projects.

Denny was campaigning for Drax to donate ‘hundreds of millions’ towards the construction of schools, roads and health centers in Barbados, among other community projects.

David Commisiong, Barbados’ ambassador to the Caribbean community, also advocates that Drax and other slave-owning families pay reparations.

He told the Telegraph: ‘A lot of this story is just coming to light.’

Drax traveled to the Caribbean island in October to meet with the island’s prime minister, Mia Mottley, to discuss the former plantation’s future.

David Commisiong (pictured), Barbados' ambassador to the Caribbean community, also advocates that Drax and other slave-owning families pay compensation.

David Commisiong (pictured), Barbados’ ambassador to the Caribbean community, also advocates that Drax and other slave-owning families pay compensation.

Benedict Cumberbatch as William Pitt the Younger in 2006's Amazing Grace - a role he played as a

Benedict Cumberbatch as William Pitt the Younger in 2006’s Amazing Grace – a role he played as a “sort of apology” for his family’s part in the slave trade

It is not known whether money from Cumberbatch’s ancestors helped the actor, who was educated at Harrow School.

In 2015, Cumberbatch revealed that his mother, actress Wanda Ventham, had urged him not to use his real surname professionally, in case it made him the target of a new Caribbean campaign to seek redress, or compensation, for descendants of slaves.

In 12 Years a Slave, Cumberbatch plays plantation owner William Ford.

The Oscar-nominated actor first spoke about his family’s ancestors when he appeared in the abolitionist film Amazing Grace in 2006.

At the time, he kind of joked that he took on the role of William Pitt the Younger “as an apology of sorts” for his parentage.

MailOnline has reached out to Cumberbatch representatives for comment.

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