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Origins of the Wealth of the Barrow Cadbury Trust: Apology from the Board and Executive Team of the Trust

During the pandemic year, and in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, the Trust started to look into and reflect on the origins of our endowment. In July 2020 I posted a blog about this and about the involvement of the Cadbury company with plantations in São Tomé and Príncipe which deployed (as we then thought) indentured labour.  Read the blog.

Towards the end of 2020 we found other material and set about reading what was available more deeply. In our efforts to find out more we discovered a more complex and troubling story. It is clear that our endowment, which was established by Barrow and Geraldine Southall Cadbury in 1920 and originally came from the Cadbury Brothers chocolate and cocoa business in the 19th and early 20th century, was not free from labour exploitation. Our research has found that Angolan people were enslaved on cocoa plantations in São Tomé and Príncipe at the end of the 19th century. The company was alerted to this at the latest in 1901. An account of what followed can be found in the document. What is clear to us is that this response was well intentioned but slow and that the company continued to profit from this extreme form of exploitation for around a further eight years until they organised a boycott by British and some European cocoa manufacturers.

The Board and Executive Team of the Trust recognise the extreme pain and damage done to those people, who were forcibly exploited, taken from their homelands, separated from their children, and many of whom died from their appalling conditions.

We apologise unreservedly for this historic injustice and renew our commitment to deepen our engagement with modern day racial inequality across all of our work.

Erica Cadbury, Chair

1st July 2021