This is a partial list of public memorials in the City of London which commemorate individuals with links to slavery, colonialism and racism. We’ve drawn up this far from exhaustive inventory in part because we are not convinced the Tackling Racism Working Party announced by the City of London council on 11 June 2020 will deal effectively with this aspect of its remit (or indeed any aspect of it). Our lack of confidence is based on the council’s past record and its failure to get to grips with issues like the business vote or ongoing complaints from its residents about its so-called standards committee – and in particular the ongoing refusal of Edward Lord as chair of the Establishment Committee to seriously address glass ceiling issues at the council. In contrast, until we see what it does we will withhold judgement on the Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm established by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan on June 9, 2020 to review and access public tributes including statues and other landmarks. Both Khan’s Commission and the City’s Working Party ought to do much more than make recommendations on all the items listed beneath when it comes to dealing with the square mile. While it would be great to have all the memorials on our partial inventory removed or renamed, tackling other aspects of institutional racism and sexism is an even higher priority for us. Our partial list:
Elizabeth I. The early history of the transatlantic slave trade lies in Elizabeth I sponsoring the voyages of John Hawkins. Between 1562 and 1567 Hawkins and his cousin Francis Drake made three voyages to Guinea and Sierra Leone and enslaved between 1,200 and 1,400 Africans. The venture was so profitable that Elizabeth I granted Hawkins a special coat of arms showing a bound African.
Statue of Elizabeth I, St Dunstan-in-the-West, Fleet Street, London EC4A 2HR.
Statue of Elizabeth I, Maughan Library, King’s College, Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1LR.
Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell oversaw the brutal seventeenth-century conquest of Ireland, England’s first colony. Writing to parliament after leading the slaughter at Drogheda in September 1649, the general reported that the Irish ‘officers were knocked on the head, and every tenth man of the soldiers killed, and the rest shipped for the Barbadoes’. Cromwell claimed that massacre and transportation were benevolent forms of terrorism, as they would frighten the Irish into submission and thus ‘prevent the effusion of blood for the future’.
Bust of Oliver Cromwell in external wall recess near entrance of Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Yard, London EC2V 5AE.
Cromwell Tower, Cromwell Place, Barbican Estate, London EC2Y 8DD. (Unusually high residential housing block at the time of its construction and well known landmark).
Cromwell Place, Barbican Estate, London EC2Y 8DD. (Courtyard at bottom of Cromwell Tower).
Cromwell Highwalk, Barbican Estate, London EC2Y 8DD. (Pedestrian walkway).
Charles II. This Stuart King granted a charter to the Company of Royal Adventurers of England (AKA the Royal Africa Company) relating to trade in Africa. This legal charter represents a continuation of official royal approval for the transatlantic slave trade which began with Elizabeth I sponsoring the heinous activities of John Hawkins. It can be seen as the legal authority on which slave trading took place in the English (later British) Empire. The Royal African Company shipped more African slaves to America than any other single organisation in the history of the transatlantic slave trade – about 150,000, roughly half of all the Africans transported to mainland North America.
Statue of Charles II, Temple Bar Memorial, Fleet Street, London EC4Y 1BD. (Statue in niche).
King Street. London EC2V 8BB. (Street in the City’s Cheap ward built after the Great Fire of London in 1666 and named for Charles II).
Queen Anne. This Stuart queen announced in 1712 that the Britain had secured an exclusive thirty year contract to provide African slaves to the Spanish West Indies. The contract was subsequently sold for £7.5 million by the British Government to the South Sea Company. Anne owned 20% of the South Sea Company’s stock.
Statue of Queen Anne, St Paul’s Churchyard, London EC4M 8AL.
Statue of Queen Anne Maughan Library, KIng’s College, Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1LR.
William Backford. MP for City of London and Lord Mayor of London. Inherited sole interest in 13 sugar plantations in Jamaica and owned approximately 3,000 enslaved Africans. Super rich on the back of slavery and said by some to be the first millionaire.
Statue of William Beckford, Guildhall, Gresham Street, London, EC2V 7HH.
John Cass. A City of London sheriff (the office immediately below Lord Mayor) and a major developer of the transatlantic slave trade. Cass had direct business contacts with slave agents in the Caribbean and Africa. Note the original of the well known statue of John Cass in his alderman (upper chamber of the City of London council) robes can be found at the Guildhall. 1898 replicas of the mid-eighteenth century original are located in Jewry Street (see below) and just across the City of London borough border with Tower Hamlets in the London Metropolitan University Archive, 16 Goulston Street, London, E1 7TP. Some memorials to John Cass in the City and across east London have recently been renamed or removed but many still remain.
Statue of John Cass, Guildhall Old Library Lobby, Guildhall, Gresham Street, London, EC2V 7HH.
Sir John Cass’s Foundation Primary School, St James’ Passage, Duke’s Place, London EC3A 5DE. (Church of England school).
Statue of John Cass, Sir John Cass Institute, 31 Jewry St, London EC3N 2EY. (Removed on or shortly before 18 July 2020).
Memorial bust of John Cass, St Botolph’s Church, Aldgate High Street, London EC3N 1AB. (Removed 18 June 2020).
Christopher Wren. A stockholder in the slave trading Royal Africa Company, Wren ‘took an active role in the operation of the company’ according to Preben Mortensen in the book Art in the Social Order: The Making of the Modern Conception of Art (State University of New York Press, 1997, page 76). As president of the Royal Society, Wren was also an institutional investor in the slave trading East India Company (which trafficked victims of slavery to the East Indies).
Bust of Christopher Wren in external wall recess near entrance of Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Yard, London EC2V 5AE.
Samuel Pepys. A substantial investor in the slave trading Royal Africa Company. Pepys was also an institutional investor in slavery through his membership and presidency of the Royal Society. In a letter to his cousin and patron Edward Montagu, 1st Earl of Sandwich, on 22 December 1664, Pepy’s talks of anger and ‘shame’ over the Dutch -through their navy taking control of forts in Africa – having helped themselves to both the wealth of Royal Africa Company and its contracts to supply slaves to the Spanish colonies. Likewise, it shouldn’t be forgotten that Pepys was a top administrator for the navy, a major enabler for English slave traders. Pepys was a sexual predator and sexually abused women who worked for him. Aside from sexual abuse, Pepys also abused his servants by beating them with brooms, canes, a birch rod, a whip and a rope’s end.
Bust of Samuel Pepys in external wall recess near entrance of Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Yard, London EC2V 5AE.
Bust of Samuel Pepys, Seething Lane Gardens, Seething Lane, London EC3N 4AT.
Plaque marking the former site of the Naval Office where Samuel Pepys worked, Seething Lane Gardens, Seething Lane, London EC3N 4AT.
Engraved pavements with images relating to the life of Samuel Pepys, Seething Lane Gardens, Seething Lane, London EC3N 4AT.
Pepys Street, London EC3N 2NU. (Street in the City’s Tower ward).
Plaque marking the former site of the house in which Samuel Pepys was born, Salisbury Court, London EC4 8AA.
Stone plaque marking where Pepys made his way into building’s demolished gallery on internal wall and wooden notice board mentioning Pepys outside, St Olave’s Church, 8 Hart Street, London EC3R 7NB.
Plaque containing a page of Pepys’s diary dated 25th September 1660 located on a residential apartment block wall that forms part of Stew Lane. This is where Pepys took boats to visit the Bankside ‘stews’ (brothels) on the south side of The Thames. Globe View, 10 High Timber Street, London EC4V 3PN.
Samuel Pepys, Stew Lane, 48 Upper Thames Street, London, EC4V 3PT. (Shepherd Neame pub).
John Maitland, 1st Duke and 2nd Earl of Lauderdale.* Maitland (1616–1682) was a powerful man of the royal court and played a key role in the establishment of the slave trading Royal Africa Company. As a member of the Cabal Ministry,** an influential group of five high councillors to King Charles II, Maitland alongside the King and the rest of his cabal, should be accorded responsibility for creating the legal authority on which slave trading took place in the English (later British) Empire by granting a charter to The Royal Africa Company. Maitland was one of the influential men who signed off on The Royal African Company. The Royal Africa Company was ultimately a joint venture between the Stuart monarchy/court and City of London merchants. Maitland/Lauderdale’s approach to politics has been characterised by historians as autocratic absolutism.
Lauderdale Tower, Lauderdale Place, Barbican Estate, London, EC2Y 8EN. (Unusually high residential housing block at the time of its construction and well known landmark).
Lauderdale Place, Barbican Estate, London, EC2Y 8EN. (Courtyard at bottom of Lauderdale Tower).
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. Colonial adventurer in India as commander in Fourth Anglo-Mysore War, Second Anglo-Maratha War & Cotiote War. As prime minister he also oversaw British colonial policy around the world which impoverished and ultimately led to the deaths of millions in order to enrich a tiny Anglo-elite through expropriation of land, labour and resources. British colonial policy across several centuries led to famines and mass deaths on the Indian subcontinent and elsewhere. The colonial issue clearly goes way beyond slavery, although earlier British colonial military officers and administrators played an integral role in enabling the monarchy and City of London merchants to organise the slave trade on the mass scale.
Statue of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, in front of the Royal Exchange, Cornhill, London EC3V 3LR.
The Wellington Monument in St Paul’s Cathedral, St. Paul’s Churchyard, London EC4M 8AD.
Admiral Arthur Phillip. First colonial governor of New South Wales, Australia.
Memorial to Admiral Arthur Phillip. Cannon Street Gardens, 25 Cannon Street, London EC4M 5TA. (Watling Street side).
Captain John Smith. Played a key role in the establishment of the colony at Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent English settlement in America. He was a leader of the Virginia Colony between September 1608 and August 1609. His publications functioned as propaganda for the English colonisation of the ‘New World’.
Statue of Captain John Smith St Mary-le-Bow Churchyard, Cheapside, London, EC4M 9DQ.
William Walworth. This Mayor of London stabbed the leader of the Peasants’ Revolt to death in 1381, in part because his victim, Wat Tyler, sought to end medieval serfdom. Serfdom was a condition of debt bondage and indentured servitude but there are important differences between serfdom and slavery. During plantation era slavery, indentured labourers from Ireland and elsewhere worked alongside slaves but enjoyed more rights and favourable conditions. Nonetheless serfdom and indentured labour are tyrannical and those who seek to defend them should not be celebrated.
Statue of William Walworth, Atlantic House, 50 Holborn Viaduct, Holborn, London EC1A 2FG.
John Scott, 1st Earl of Eldon. Scott was a British barrister and politician. He twice served as Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain. He opposed the abolition of the slave trade, Catholic political emancipation, the abolition of imprisonment as a punishment for debtors, and the reform of the House of Commons. Scott notoriously accused the political reformer Thomas Hardy (1752–1832) of attempting to establish “representative government, the direct opposite of the government which is established here”.
Eldon Street, London, EC2M 7LS. (Street in City’s Bishopsgate ward).
Eldon House, Eldon Street, London, EC2M 7LS. (Office building).
Sir John Frederick. This merchant was also an MP for the City of London and elsewhere. Frederick was elected Lord Mayor of London in 1661. He was a member of the Committee of the East India Company and died well before this organisation’s last known slave trading voyage which took place in 1765 between Angola and Indonesia. Frederick was president of Christ’s Hospital and Master of the Grocers Company.
Fredericks Place, London, EC2R 8AB. (Street in the City’s Cheap ward).
East India Company. This organisation was involved in slave trafficking during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and committed many other types of colonial crime. Since the Royal Africa Company had a monopoly on the transatlantic slave trade, the East India Company’s human trafficking took place largely across the Indian Ocean. George Street in the City’s Tower ward was renamed India Street in 1913 because the East India Company formerly had warehouses there. Likewise Rangoon Street is also named after former East India Company warehouses – at the time these warehouses were operative, Rangoon AKA Yangon (in Myanmar) was part of British India. These warehouses would not have been directly utilised for slave trading, although much of the global slave trade was organised and financed from London, the city was not on a slave trading route.
India Street, London EC3N 2HS. (Street in the City’s Tower ward).
Rangoon Street, London EC3N 2HT. (Street in the City’s Tower ward).
East India Arms, 67 Fenchurch Street, London EC3M 4BR. (Shepherd Neame pub that takes its name from the East India Company).
Lloyd’s of London. The origins of Lloyd’s go back to a seventeenth-century coffee house owned by Edward Lloyd and frequented by marine underwriters and merchants (including slave traders) who depended on shipping. Lloyd’s soon became where those wanting marine insurance went to get it. Eric Williams in Capitalism and Slavery (University of North Carolina Press, Richmond, 1944, pages 104–05) writes: “Lloyd’s, like other insurance companies, insured slaves and slave ships, and was vitally interested in legal decisions as to what constituted ‘natural death’ and ‘perils of the sea’… One of the most distinguished chairmen of Lloyd’s in its long history was Joseph Marryat… who successfully and brilliantly fought to maintain Lloyd’s monopoly of marine insurance against a rival company in the House of Commons in 1810…” Lloyd’s maritime insurance monopoly included insurance of this type for the slave trade. Just as the navy was a vital enabler for slave traders, so was the insurance provided by Lloyd’s of London – without it there wouldn’t have been a substantial English slave trade. Given that William’s was writing in the mid-twentieth century and Lloyd’s has fought a number of claims over its involvement in the slave trade – including one in 2004 where the plaintiffs were represented by New York lawyer Edward Fagan – it is extraordinary that it took until June 2020 for this syndicate to apologise for its role in the black holocaust.
Blue plaque marking the former site of the Lloyd’s Coffee House, 15 Lombard Street, London, England, EC3V 9AN.
Lloyd’s Register. Like Lloyds of London (see above), Lloyd’s Register began informally in the coffee house owned by Edward Lloyd. Customers of the coffee house formed the Register Society to assemble the first known Register of Shipping. This was crucial to the expansion of both trade and the insurance market, including slave trading and insurance for slave traders. It was another of the enablers necessary for the English slave trade to grow and operate on a genocidal scale.
Lloyd’s Avenue, London EC3N 3AE. (Street in the City’s Aldgate ward named for the headquarters of Lloyd’s Register which was located there).
Moving on, in previous posts we have addressed other problematic art in the City of London including the racist sculpture attributed to John Nost in Inner Temple Gardens, and the racist painted panels of 1696 by Robin Robertson housed in the Sir John Cass’s Foundation Primary School. To keep the main list focused on what we see as the primary targets for removal or a change of name – see above – we haven’t included all the public art and memorials that we know of in the City that raise equality and diversity issues. For example, there is a statue of Henry VIII in the gatehouse of St Bartholomew’s Hospital, and clearly a tyrant and femicide who had his wives Catherine Howard and Anne Boleyn beheaded shouldn’t be publicly commemorated in this way. The statue of Henry VIII along with the many others listed on this post should be removed to museums where they can either be mothballed or used to illustrate the horrors of English history in a suitably educational way.
Despite the role the City of London played in the slave trade and the many reminders of this in the square mile, in 2005 a new street appeared in the City’s Billingsgate ward called Plantation Lane. This pedestrian street runs between two office complexes called Plantation Place and Plantation Place South, and we can only guess as to whether or not those responsible for naming these abominations thought through the associations the word plantation has with regard to slavery and colonialism. Regardless of why it was chosen, Plantation Lane is clearly an offensive choice for a street name in a place that played a major role in the black holocaust. The injury is compounded by the fact that the City of London’s livery companies played a key role in the Plantation of Ulster and specifically the British colonial take-over of County Coleraine and its main city Derry.
Shifting gear, a number of problematic individuals now celebrated mainly as writers are also commemorated in a variety of ways in the City of London. John Milton can be taken as standing at their head for his fulminations against the Irish, something common among London based literary apologists for colonialism in the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras and which perhaps found its most extreme expression in Edmund Spenser’s A View of the Present State of Irelande (1596). Spenser advocated a scorched earth policy in Ireland including the destruction of crops, animals and the Gaelic language, and alongside his literary peers and inheritors provided an ideological justification for Cromwell’s later massacres and the colonial barbarism that continued into the late twentieth-century with atrocities like Bloody Sunday (when on 30 January 1972 British soldiers from the Parachute Regiment fired upon unarmed civilians murdering thirteen of them immediately – another died later – and wounding even more in Derry’s Bogside, during a protest march against internment without trial).
There is a statue of John Milton on the old City of London School building, Victoria Embankment, Blackfriars. There is a blue plaque for Milton in the City’s Bread Street to mark where he was born and a John Milton Passage that runs from Bow Churchyard to Bread Street. Milton Street can be found in Cripplegate and the building known as both The Heron and Milton Court is on the corner of Milton and Silk Streets – there is disagreement over whether these names memorialise John Milton or an early nineteenth-century lease owner of this name. Ben Jonson might also be added to the list of anti-Irish literary figures commemorated in the City with a housing block and an area of the highwalk named after him on the Barbican Estate.
Like many who know at least a little about how past history impacts on Ireland today, we find the memorial to the unionist Sir Henry Wilson at Liverpool Street Station problematic. Nor do we like the blue plaque commemoration in the City’s Lime Street of William Dockwra for creating the first Penny Post in London in 1680. Dockwra was also a slave trader who tried to circumvent the Royal Africa Company’s transatlantic monopoly on this inhuman traffic. That said, there are many more problematic memorials in the City and they will be found in street names, churches, livery company halls, council buildings and elsewhere. It would take a great deal of research to unearth them all. However to provide some idea of what remains to be dealt with there follows a list of some problematic memorials in St Paul’s Cathedral.
List of individuals involved in military and administrative colonial activities memorialised in St Paul’s Cathedral: Lieutenant General Sir Ralph Abercrombie, Major-General Thomas Dundas, Captain Robert Faulknor, Sir Henry Montgomery Lawrence, Admiral Lord Lyons, Captain Edward Mowbray Lyons, Major General Sir Edward Pakenham, Major General Samuel Gibbs, Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore, Major General Sir Herbert Stewart, Major General Sir Arthur Wellesley Torrens, Duke of Wellington (see above), Rainy Anderson, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Captain George Duff, Sir George Grey, Captain Sir John Hawley Glover, Major-General Sir John Eardley Wilmot Inglis, Sir Charles Metcalfe Macgregor, Sir John Alexander MacDonald, Admiral Sir Pultney Malcolm, Robert Montgomery, Charles James Napier, General William Francis Patrick Napier (author of works justifying British colonial activities in India, and in particular the military activities of his brother Charles James Napier, including The Conquest of Scinde (1845) and History of the Administration of Scinde (1851), Field Marshal Frederick Sleigh Roberts, Robert Falcon Scott, Lawrence Oates, Henry Robertson Bowers, Captain Henry Langhorne Thompson, Lt. Col Sir William Hutt Curzon Wyllie.
A memorial plaque in St Paul’s Cathedral that raises diversity issues for other reasons is the one for caricaturist George Cruikshank. Cruikshank’s The New Union Club (1819) enjoys an unsavoury reputation as one of the most repugnant popular prints of the nineteenth-century due to its stereotypically racist depiction of those of African descent. Likewise, Cruikshank’s hatred of those who valiantly resisted British imperialism and the crude racism accompanying it is evident in his lurid illustrations commissioned for William Maxwell’s History of the Irish Rebellion in 1798 (1845), where Irish anti-colonialists are characterised by their simian-like portrayal. Cruikshank also produced anti-Chinese racist caricatures.
The header shows an alcove in St Botolph’s Church, Aldgate High Street, London EC3N 1AB, that housed a memorial bust of slave trader John Cass immediately before and just after its removal on the morning of 18 June 2020.
*John Maitland (1616–1682), 1st Duke and 2nd Earl of Lauderdale, 3rd Lord Thirlestane, had a London house in Aldersgate (destroyed) but on more or less the same spot there now stands a residential tower block named after him and his lost home Lauderdale House. Maitland had other houses including a country (at the time) residence also called Lauderdale House just a few miles away at Waterlow Park, Highgate Hill, London N6 5HG (this is currently an arts and education centre, still called Lauderdale House). The 2nd Earl is sometimes confused with his father John Maitland (died 1645), 1st Earl of Lauderdale, Viscount of Lauderdale, Viscount Maitland, and Lord Thirlestane and Boltoun.
Some sources say Lauderdale Tower is named for both the 1st and 2nd Earl of Lauderdale, one internet source we’ve come across says the current building is named for the 1st Earl and doesn’t mention the second. We have found a number of nineteenth-century publications that identify the Aldersgate property with the Duke of Lauderdale, but none that identify it with the 1st Earl, his father. For example Henry Benjamin Wheatley in his work London Past and Present: Its History, Associations, and Traditions. Volume 1: A-D (Cambridge University Press, 2011, page 23, reprint of 1891 book) identifies the Aldersgate Lauderdale House as ‘the London residence of John Maitland, Duke of Lauderdale (died 1682), one of the celebrated Cabal in the reign of Charles II.’
We have to date found no pre-21st century sources that identify the Aldersgate Lauderdale House with the 1st Earl. It therefore seems reasonable to conclude the Lauderdale Tower and Lauderdale Place names currently to be found in Aldersgate are intended to invoke the the Duke and Earl of Lauderdale who had a stake in the Atlantic slave trade. Even in the highly unlikely event that this was not the case, there is now an association between the Duke of Lauderdale and Lauderdale Tower/Place, and so the names should still be changed. See, for example, the following linked piece (in which the 1st Earl of Lauderdale is only mentioned in passing, the post is overwhelmingly devoted to his son who played a foundational role in the transatlantic slave trade): https://web.archive.org/web/20170706151113/https://www.barbicanliving.co.uk/blocks/lauderdale-tower/the-earls-of-lauderdale/
**The name Cabal refers to power in the royal council of Charles II being effectively shared by five men, a cabal, rather than dominated by a single ‘favourite’. The term is the acronym for the names of the five Privy Councillors (Clifford, Arlington, Buckingham, Ashley, and Lauderdale, C-A-B-A-L) who formed the council’s Committee for Foreign Affairs.From London by David Hughson, Volume 3 (J. Stratford, London 1806). Here the author Hughson is citing an earlier writer on the character of John Maitland, Duke of Lauderdale.